It was a few weeks into my junior year of high school. I was in Ethics class with probably 15 other people, when a guy from our class, who had been researching in the library, threw open the door and said that a plane had crashed into a building in New York. We all sort of looked around, probably not thinking much of it, but our teacher was able to bring a TV in, and just as it was turned on, the second plane hit.
Another class came in to watch. We watched, whispered to each other, and tried to understand what was happening. There was a line outside the main office, students and teachers making phone calls to loved ones. Our class schedule continued as usual, switching rooms every period, but all the could be heard was the shuffling of feet and occasional whispers in the halls. At some point during the day, screaming and crying could be heard, and any of us that experienced it, know it still sends chills up our spine. The second plane was a flight out of Boston, only 40 minutes from our school. The pilot was a father of two girls at our school, and they were just finding out he had made his last flight.
Living close to Boston, and also Manchester, NH, both of which have large international airports, and having a small airport in our town, the constant hum of planes and their presence in the sky was just part of life. On September 11, 2001, gym class was still held outside. We didn't do much. Most of us stared at the cloudless, beautiful sky, that did not hold a single airplane.
One teacher tried to get us to take a test. Every.single.person. in class refused.
Soccer games were cancelled. Many of us didn't want to go home to empty houses while our parents were still at work. No one wanted to be alone.
It's been 9 years, but everyone I know can still recite almost every motion they took that day. And I don't doubt we'll all still be able to do so for the rest of our lives.
Take a moment today, forget about the war. Forget about the controversies. Forget about the hate, the violence, the fear. Forget about political parties, religions, and differences. And remember where you were.
Remember those we lost. Remember those who willingly risked everything, and those who lost everything. Remember the innocent. Remember the heroes whose stories will never be told. Remember the families forever altered. Remember those who are still fighting.
And remember how people came together. Remember how you felt to be an American. Remember the patriotism. Remember the tears that would well up in your eyes when you saw a convoy of fire trucks returning home, covered in American flags. Remember.
This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.
None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.