Never forget Sept. 11

Published 9:36 pm Monday, September 14, 2009

It’s one of those things like the assassination of John F. Kennedy — everyone will always remember where they were when they heard about the terrorist attacks on America.

Though I was not around when Kennedy was shot, I can tell you precisely where I was when I heard of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. In fact, I could take you to the exact spot, if there weren’t a locked door in between.

That day started normally enough for me. I was a senior at my Christian high school, and had a basketball game to play that night. My 16 classmates and I went to homeroom and Bible class that morning, and then moved on to English class — my favorite.


Email newsletter signup

I forget what my teacher, Miss K, as we called her, was teaching about that day. It all became irrelevant with a knock on the door.

The elementary school principal, Mrs. Wyrick-Jones, called Miss K outside, and we received the usual instructions to behave while she was gone, which, as usual, we disobeyed. Miss K was gone only a couple of minutes, and wore a grave expression on her face when she returned. We immediately stopped our teenage chattering upon seeing her countenance.

Miss K slowly walked to the front of the room and said, “This is a prayer request.”

That’s when we knew something was wrong. We listened to her explain that there had been a bombing, as it was thought to be at that early stage, at the World Trade Center in New York City. The English lesson was forgotten as Miss K told us all she knew from what she had been told.

Minutes later, a TV was rolled into the room, and we 17 seniors saw the first horrifying images that would later be seared into our memories.

We saw the second plane crash into the other World Trade Center tower. We heard of the attacks on the Pentagon. Some of the girls cried. We yelled fruitlessly at pushy television news crews attempting to cover the devastation. The athletic director came in the room to tell us the night’s basketball game was canceled. We saw people jump to their deaths from the Trade Center towers. We prayed.

The yearbook advisor slipped into the room with a camera to document our response to the tragic event. We stayed in that room all the way through lunchtime. When Joy and I went out later that day to sell yearbook ads, every business we entered was tuned to a news station covering the tragedy.

Ever since, I’ve tried to remember the lives lost that day. One year later, I embraced and cried with friends I’d known barely a week at a memorial service in my first year of college. Two years later, my roommate and I lay in bed in our dorm room and listened to the nearby campus bell toll 30 times — once for every 100 lives lost — at 8:46 a.m.

Three years later, the memorial services and bells were over. It seemed nobody remembered.

Please, everyone, remember.