When we got to the classroom, my teacher was crying. She didn't tell us why. It was cold that day, so we hung up our jackets and sat down at our desks. She told us that there had been an accident in New York City and a lot of people were hurt. She could barely speak the words as we all came up to sit by her. I remember someone asked why she was crying and did she know someone that was hurt. She said no, she didn't but that she was sad for all of the people that did know someone. She turned on the TV and we sat on the floor watching the news as one by one our parents picked us up early from school.
My mom was crying when we got in the car. I didn't understand why. We don't know anyone who lives in New York City, I thought. The news had said it was a "terrorist attack," but I didn't know what that meant. My sister and I started crying, though we didn't really know why. My mom was scared and that made me scared too.
The rest of that night is kind of a blur. We watched the news and sat with my mom while she cried. I remember her trying to explain what a terrorist was, but I still couldn't grasp the idea that people would do this intentionally. I remember thinking that these terrorists were going to bomb our house, though my sister said that they probably didn't even know where Aberdeen, SD was. That made me feel better. I don't remember much else about that day.
I know my story isn't much. It isn't some dramatic it could have been me story. I don't know anyone who was injured or killed that day. I don't know any of the heroes of that day. I have never even been to New York City. But, the events of 9/11 did touch my life, like they did so many.
We grew up a Christian home and, to be honest, lived pretty sheltered lives. We weren't allowed to watch a lot of shows on TV or listen to music that wasn't by Christian artists. I don't remember ever watching the news. I think 9/11 was the first time I saw the world as a scary place. It was the first time I ever felt that I needed to be aware of what was going on around me. I had never felt unsafe until that day. I had never seen death or evil. I never worried about losing friends or family. That day showed me how precious life can be and how fast it can be taken away.
On the other hand, 9/11 was the first time I ever felt patriotic. It was the first time I really cared about anyone outside of my immediate friends and family. It made me realize that there was this whole big world outside. A world filled with people who have mothers and fathers and best friends and dogs. A world where there are heroes in the midst of tragedy. It was the first time I ever prayed for someone I will never meet.
Now, as an adult, I look back on that day and still don't know why bad things happen to good people. I don't know why some people walked away with "it was almost me" stories and others didn't. I don't understand why God would let this happen. I don't how someone could take the lives away from so many people. But, what I do know is that we are all in this life together and some way, some how, my life has touched yours just like yours has touched mine.
So with that, I pray for all those who were effected by the events of 9/11. I pray for peace in your heart. I pray for this nation and its leaders that they make the right decisions for our country. I pray for those still struggling with loss. Above all, I pray for safety and that nothing like this will ever happen again.