Today is the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and that has escaped no one’s notice. The television streams live footage of the day ten years ago, the newspaper brims with reverences, and on the interest is cropping up multiple thoughts and grievances. And it helps to remember the day. All those wives of dead firefighters, those mothers of office employees– I’ve seen them on Tv, recounting their day. How it began completely normal: raisin-bran toast and coffee. And then how their lives were changed.
When we go through a traumatic experience, sometimes the only way we can deal with it is to talk about it. I was so young on September 11, 2001 that I don’t remember quite everything. But I still remember it. And what I’m trying to say is that no matter what story is on your heart, you have to tell it.
In a story, we can make sense of what happens to us. In a story, we bring back people who have long ago deceased. In a story, we can properly deal with grief– reach a catharsis. This sentiment stretches beyond just 9/11, but to any event that affects you.
My third grade class was brought back early from recess.
My teacher wanted us to sit quietly while she talked with someone outside. I wasn’t really sure why we had to come in, because it was a clear blue day and we were playing kick ball. And no one had even been hurt, which sometimes tends to happen playing kick ball. But today there was no reason for the teachers to be upset; we were, however, made to sit quietly while they talked outside.
After a few minutes, you knew something was wrong. They were too tense. Even then, us third graders had the sense to sit silently and just stare at our desks. Then, they began to call kids out of the classroom. Something big had happened. Something huge.
An hour later, my mum showed up at the school to take me home; my brother had been home sick, I think. The first thing she said was, “Well, I thought it was the Sears Tower. I thought it was the Sears Tower and I love the Sears Tower. The architecture…” No one was really making sense that day, and everything everyone said seemed like some secret code. On the ride home, she said, “Well, we have to get home. It’s not safe at school. Parents are pulling out their children. What, with the nuclear plant so close…” She turned on the radio, and that’s the first time I heard what happened.
Of course, I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was or where the Twin Towers were– I found out that New York had been attacked by terrorists. Terrorists: that was another foreign word. All I knew of terrorists were that they wore masks in my GI Joe video game. I just want to show you how much of a disconnect it was for me to understand everything going on– I was just a kid.
When we arrived at home, we watched the footage again and again on television. I guess I still didn’t understand the significance until the next day at school, when everyone was talking about America being attacked. We would go to war, and I wondered if there would be fighting where I live. I couldn’t imagine tanks or guns in my downtown.
We remember things like this, days that make a huge impact on us. I was just 7 years old on that day, but I remember it as well. And it helps to talk about it, I think. So if you have a story that you need to tell, feel free to tell it to me. I don’t mind listening, because stories are really important. They really are.