I’m a day late.
But then again, I usually am.
September 11th still overtakes me with emotion. (As I am sure it does most Americans.) I struggle to get on Facebook and see the pictures, I struggle to watch the reminders on the news channels, and I struggle to write.
How is my experience really worth sharing? I don’t know. But somehow, writing helps me work through my own thoughts enough to be okay with them. To somehow lay them aside for another year and feel that due diligence has been given them.
I was a ninth grader. At an International School in West Africa. We had just woken up from “rest time” and I was headed for my next class. As I walked past the teacher’s lounge, I noticed there were a lot of them in there, huddled around a TV. I noticed it, but I didn’t question it. They were teachers anyway, known to do much stranger things than excitedly watch the news together.
Shortly thereafter, a friend told me that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. Ok? A plane crashed. That happens all the time. Then a little while later, we were told about the 2nd tower. I still didn’t “get it.”
But my dad picked me up early from school that day. He hugged me. And to this day, I remember asking him what the big deal was. “Shug, it was a terrorist attack. Those planes that flew into the towers were an attack on America.”
Attack? America? But why?
Up went the red “lock-down” status flag. The embassy told all American citizens, and anyone who could be mistaken as an American, to stay inside. We were to “lay low.” In town, we heard of street vendors selling shirts with pictures of the blazing towers. The shirts read, “Attack America.” Just the latest news, hot off the press, selling t-shirts.
It would be a while before I would truly understand. But I remember feeling afraid. In my lifetime, I had felt sadness over moving, losing loved ones, etc. I had felt immense happiness. I had felt fear- fear of spiders or fear of diving into the pool.
But I had never felt afraid. Rocked to the core afraid. My America. My love for her was so deep, having spent my entire life as an expatriate. And when my America was attacked, I was attacked.
Others may never understand it, but we always will.
Citizens of the US of A.
A brotherhood, a fraternity, a forever bond. No matter what part of the globe we may be filling, we are Americans.
My prayers still go out to the families who lost loved ones on that tragic day. Know to the very depths of your being that your loss is not forgotten.