By: Ruth Green
Thirteen years after the horrific events of 9/11, there is no doubt that it was a day that forever changed the way we view the world. It was one of the most catastrophic atrocities of the 21st century, in America and the world. The effects of that day have been far reaching on many levels, most of which are emotional.
I was devastated by what happened that day, because I lived in New York City. Out of the many feelings that overwhelmed me, one of them was utter shock. Even though I could see what happened on TV and the images danced across screens worldwide replaying the destruction, I had a hard time grasping what I saw in my mind.
Other GPC students shared with me how they were personally affected by the horrific events of that day. Even though they were young, they still can recall the feelings caused by the attacks that marred the beautiful end of a summer day.
Dahabo Hassan from Somalia was twelve years old at the time, in the fourth grade. On that day, she was thinking about her upcoming birthday. She knew what was happening was very bad, and she felt that it would taint her birthday celebration with sadness. As a Muslim, she immediately realized the validity of Islam was under attack and scrutinized from every angle. She was confused. She undoubtedly faced future birthdays with a mixture of dread and excitement.
It was a terrible time in America, because certain groups of people were targeted no matter where they lived. All you had to do was look a certain way, and you were under attack. Similar stories were everywhere. One of the ways people protected themselves against unwarranted hostilities was the open display of the American flag. It worked – as Americans of all ethnicities rallied together to defeat a common enemy.
Jeremy Baiye, who was young at that time, was conscious of the fact that Americans seemed to draw closer together. Everybody was being patriotic, because he recalled seeing American flags everywhere. He knew what had happened was a significant event of his life. Why else would people openly express such a deep sense of grief?
Elise Berry said she was home from school that day and happened to be watching TV. When she saw the plane flying into the World Trade Center, she thought, “Wow, this is happening in America!” She had never seen anything like it in her young life. No one expects to see anything like that in their life, no matter how old they are.
I can remember my first visit to New York City after the attacks, and it was disturbing to say the least. The Twin Towers, a NYC landmark since 1973 were no longer erected like proud beacons in the city skyline. For 28 years, they loomed large in lower Manhattan. To return to the same spot and not see them was emotional for me. It rocked me to my core and made me sad for the city and all the people who lost their lives.
After the attacks, people started to re-evaluate their lives and made serious attempts to set priorities about how they wanted to live. People stepped back and made life altering changes mostly, because they realized how quickly things can change for the worse.
Jerel Peterson was twelve years old and in the 7th grade at Cooper Middle School in Ga., where he was heading to his reading class. The TV was on CNN when he’d arrived, just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower. He was a youngster but shocked and surprised by what he saw. Although still relatively young, he has since learned not to take things for granted and was changed internally. He came to the realization that you can never know what will happen. He recalls the day being a very solemn one that he will not soon forget.
The images of that day are forever etched in our minds. It is a part of our history and a part of who we are as a nation. The impact of the attacks has been reverberating for thirteen years now and has affected our way of life from travel, to national security, economics, etc. We have even given up some civil liberties, so that we might feel safe on American soil.
Every year as the anniversary of 9/11 draws near we are reminded of our vulnerability as a nation. I like to think since that day we are stronger as a nation because of the events of that day. Even though it’s been thirteen years since the attacks, there will always be a place in me that mourns the events of that beautiful end of summer day.