It seems like everyone had a conversation today about where they were when they heard.
I was sitting, fidgety as usual, in my second period 8th grade World Studies class, when the PA came on and announced something confusing. I couldn’t hear it perfectly over the din of my middle school classroom, and I didn’t understand why our principal would announce some kind of accident in the middle of classes — because accidents happen all the time! — and all I understood was that a plane flew into a building in New York.
The children around me froze for a moment. But the kind voice over the loudspeaker told us not to worry. So the noise resumed.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later — the second plane — that our half-developed minds started slowly wrapping around this hideous truth. But my world was still so small, and none of my family lived in the city, and I wasn’t in love with it yet, and so, at thirteen, I didn’t know what all of the fuss was about.
Until the Pentagon. My high school was located a mere 9.8 miles from there, and people’s parents worked there, and while I didn’t know anyone who lost a family member, I did see tears outside the school office, and the 9/11 tragedy felt much, much closer.
I don’t remember if we all went home early. In fact, I don’t remember anything else about that day, except that my father worked around the clock afterwards (he’s a journalist), we came to know that all our relatives on Long Island were safe, and then the world was changed forever.
It wasn’t until about two years later that I fell in love with New York, and that I stood on a street corner near World Trade and suddenly looked up and had a flashback to the footage of that morning, people running wildly, terrified, as opaque smoke chased them, across that very street corner upon which I stood. And tears streaked down my cheeks in the cold.
As a dual citizen, I frequently shrug off my patriotism, embracing the cosmopolitanism my mere four foreign years afford me. But I am proud of this country, I am grateful for the opportunities I readily embrace here, I am honored to be an American.