Today’s prompt is in memory of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.
I was only in the fourth grade. We were sitting in our classroom, when one of the staff members entered the room and told my teacher to turn on the television, because the North Tower of the World Trade Center had been hit. We watched in horror as the news reported the awful attack and witnessed the South Tower getting struck. I remember the feeling of dread, the feeling of sadness for all the people that had just died. But I was only in the fourth grade, and I couldn’t understand why it happened. I couldn’t even understand the depth of sadness and fear our country felt.
Since then, I have visited the site of the World Trade Center multiple times. I went in 2009, when the place was under construction and the aftermath was still very real. It was the first time I truly felt the weight of what happened, seeing it before my eyes.
I went back to visit the memorial, while the One World Trade Center was being built. It was overwhelming to be there, but the sight of the new tower looked promising. This summer, I had the experience of visiting the memorial again and I finally understood the magnitude of what happened. At the base of the South Tower, that I had once watched crumble, I read the names of the victims and felt this deep sense of loss. I finally understood. The images of the television screen in my fourth grade classroom came to mind and I could almost see the chaos on the streets before me. Chaos that once happened where I stood. I was overwhelmed, and I finally understood that depth of emotion. It took me seventeen years, but I finally felt what the sheltered walls of a little girl’s mind kept from me.
From there, I went up to the top of the One World Trade Center. With the island of Manhattan below me, I felt like I had accomplished something, that we had accomplished something. I had seen the site at its worst, with nothing but destruction, and I had seen the site from 102 stories in the air, rising above that memory of destruction. We have come so far. We have rebuilt, and that feeling of unity and understanding can be felt at the memorial.
This tragic event still sits with us to this day, and I am grateful for the journey I have been on, that has led me to fully mourn as a little girl. Today is a day to reflect, to remember those we lost, to pray for their families, to honor the heroes that picked up our broken pieces, and to remember that we are united.