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Remembering 9/11; A Girl From New Hampshire

September 11, 2001 is a day that marks a tragic event in the history of the United States. Civilians wake up to go about their daily lives. Waking up to their early alarm clocks, turning on the snooze, then rolling up out of bed to their coffee, before getting dressed in their work attire, sending their love to their families, dogs, cats, fish, then greetings to a neighbor or others walking by on the street.

School kids say goodbye to their parents as they are marched off to school in the big, bright, yellow limos that await them, for a brighter future. In a single-file line, the elementary school children begin the day with the pledge of allegiance to their country.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

At 8:46 AM, American Airline Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower. New York is stunned in a trance, and immediately follows the world. Watching, waiting for information from the news networks that are covering the breaking story that just occurred right before their eyes. The scene can be seen from the Brooklyn Bridge, as the smoke escapes floors 93-99. The erratic calls for help and struggle against time for survival begin.

At 9:03 AM, American Airline Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower. Screams of terror erupt from the streets. Phone lines are ringing off the hooks as loved ones, that have seen the happenings on the television news, try to get in touch. Panic. Police and fire officials climb the endless number of steps, some with 100 pounds of equipment on their shoulders, to reach the floors above the crash to rescue the people trapped. Fear.

As a seven year old, I remember that day like it was yesterday. Sitting in the corner of my private Catholic school classroom, going about the morning routine of attendance and circle time, I was all set to begin my day. Around 9 AM, routine changed. The principal came on the intercom, and said we must pray. WE must sing and pray for the awful tragedy that is happening.

Being a young infant, I did not understand the enormity of the tragedy. Nevertheless, we prayed. Saying the ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Our Father,’ I could hear the tension and fear in the voices of the teachers as they came by in the hallways to talk to one another. Once we were done praying, we sang. We sang until we couldn’t sing any more. Words that ring loud and clear, are the words from Proud To Be An American.

9:37 AM, Flight 77 crashes into the Western side of the Pentagon. People rush to the aid of the survivors inside the West side before the fire spreads, to save those still trapped. Flights are all grounded. The White House and U.S. Capitol building are evacuated.

9:59 AM, the South tower collapses. The once giant skyscraper falls to the ground. Shattering in slow motion, as it speeds towards the ground. Dust. Whiteness. One tower remains, the fate already known. The question was when?

Fire officials in the North Tower, hearing the rumbling as the South Tower collapse race into action as they attempt to rescue as many people as possible. Evaluating the possible living at floors above them. The North Tower is evacuated.

The world is glued to either their radios, televisions, or phones. Eyes and ears unable to turn away from the horror. Waiting to wake up from the nightmare that is unfolding. Clinging to hope that loved ones are safe, praying for the families that will suffer. Shock and devastation unite the nation.

10:28 AM, North follows the South tower towards the earth.

An hour and a half later, I am sitting in the car; school was let out early. My father, listening to the radio intently. Silence. I tell my brother and sisters what we did during our short time in school. My brother, his first day of kindergarten, identifies with me in the activities of the day. The very quick day, unlike the other days that lasted until 2:30 in the afternoon. The day had only just begun. Arriving at the house, taking off my sturdy backpack, I walk into the living room where the television is on. Channel ABC; news.

Mom sits in the living room crying. Emotional and upset. There is nothing that she can do, yet she, like everyone else wants to reach out and reverse time. At a young age, I saw the intense sadness that engulfed the attention of my parents. Empathy. I understood the extreme of the events playing out before my eyes. I saw the effect. All we could do was reach out and help each other. Stop the sickness boiling in our stomachs.

A week later, my family was booked for the first flight since September 11th, to leave the United States, out of Boston’s Logan Airport. In my innocence, I was afraid of crashing into a mountain, just like George in the film George of the Jungle. Meanwhile, my parents were afraid of the endless unknowns, repetition of the September 11th. Security was tight. Bags were being ripped open ready to reveal harm that was trying to be concealed. Check point after checkpoint. Dogs. Guns. Intimidation. Security.

Twelve years later, my generation is the last generation that remembers that day. WE may not have understood the terrorism that was involved. Instead, we saw suffering. We saw the tears and the fear. The intensity will still follow those who lived through that day to remember.

Today, the 9/11 Memorial stands to honor the all heroes and civilians whose lives were lost. During the day, green gardens accent the pools, encased by cement, carved with the names of each soul lost. The hollow towers illuminate the night, representative of the once great symbol of America. where there is darkness there will always be light. The light of our strength and pride.

Remember September 11, 2001.

“And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me

And I gladly stand up
Next to you and defend her still today
Cause there ain’t no doubt, I love this land
God bless the USA…”

(Greenwood, Lee – “Proud To Be An American”)

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