9/11/2001 (or 11/9/2001 for my international readers)

I was fourteen years old. A young fourteen in that I was severely sheltered by my abusive mom. It was my Freshman year of high school, but I was being homeschooled so in order to get the necessary credits I was helping with a program at our church called MOPS. Mother’s Of Pre Schoolers. It was my job to keep a room full of preschoolers entertained while the moms had a brunch type get together with some Bible studies.

This all took place from 9am-11am so we didn’t hear about the attack until everything had already happened. All of the buildings had been hit, and it was very clear that it wasn’t just a horrible accident, but a malicious attack on our nation the United States. (Or so me Government conspiracy to look like an attack depending on your opinion) It was weird for me because I kept walking by people on their cell phones, in a panic. People kept saying the words “attacked” and that the President was safe, but no one bothered to fill me in. No one bothered to fill anyone watching the little kids in, until the study was over. We were completely in the dark about everything until almost noon.

I could sense the change in the atmosphere, panic, urgency, sadness, anger… everything was there. Eventually my mom pulled me outside of the kids room and told me what was going on. She told me that the World Trade Center had been attacked, but that was basically gibberish to me. I had no idea where the World Trade Center was, or what was happening at all aside from the “attacked” part. We all just sort of started pacing back and forth around the halls of the church building until eventually everyone decided they could do nothing else there and went on their way to different destinations.

My mom, younger sisters and I did the same. Being homeschooled my younger sisters were scheduled for their gymnastics lesson. Mom called to see if had been canceled, and when we found out that it was still on she decided it was best to keep on going on with our lives, especially for my younger sisters who were 9 and 7 at the time. So that’s where we went. Mom and I sat at a small table in the cafeteria of the local YMCA with a radio playing, staying as up to date as we could on events until we got home.

That, I think made it worse, listening to the news anchors repeating information over and over and over became a sad song of desperation and incorrect facts as everyone was scrambling to get the story first and fast. Once we got home I went downstairs and turned on the TV. I will never forget those images. Even writing this now, I can picture them in my head and it overwhelms me with grief. Watching the towers fall, watching the buildings burn, watching people jumping and falling to their deaths rather than being consumed by the flames, bodies listlessly, some lifelessly and literally raining down as others watched in shock and horror. Those things will be with me forever.

After my dad got home, it was the weirdest thing, he came down stairs and myself and my siblings just knew that it was time for dinner. We all piled into the car without a word, not muttering a sound except to place our order at a local Burger King. The very same Burger King that I would later be employed at, where I would be robbed at gunpoint, and where I would see my ex face to face for the last time. I drove by it a few months ago, only to discover that it doesn’t exist anymore. It was torn down to the ground. Which was really kind of difficult to digest really. That place held so much significance to me, and it was worthless to everyone else.

I remember exactly which booth we sat in. It wasn’t on the usual side of the restaurant we frequented, but the opposite side. Next to the TV loudly blaring the same repeating newscast that had been playing since the first plane hit the first tower that morning. Every time it went to brief commercial break, every newscaster would end their sentence with the President is safe.

It was sitting in that booth at the now non-existant Burger King that I watched members of congress stand and sing together regardless of political allegiance, which side of the aisle they were on so to speak, and I remember thinking that this was how our nation should be. Not all the political bickering back and forth, but standing united as one. We are the United States after all.

This year, looking back, it’s Congress singing together that stands out in my mind the most. Our country is going through an entirely different crisis fifteen years later, but we still need that unity. That display of strength and solidarity. I wish our political leaders could actually see that, instead of just using it as a campaign slogan.