Remembering 9/11

It’s been 14 years now since the horrific attack on the USA on September 11, 2001. Can you remember where you were? 

For each generation, there is usually a “Do you remember where you were when…” question. For my parents, it was the assassination of JFK in November 1963. My mom was 6, she was in grade 1. My dad was 15 and in high school. For my generation, this question is without a doubt related to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

Like my dad, I was in high school. I can remember it perfectly! I was in grade 9 French class, right before my lunch period. Sitting behind my best friend at the time. Our principal came over the intercom to let us know that it was happening and that more details would be released throughout the day as we received them. Our French teacher already had the tv in our room for her lesson that day, so she hooked it all back up and turned on the news. Once we were dismissed, it was lunch and all the tv’s in the cafeteria were live-streaming the news.

The rest of the day was kind of weird at our school. A few people I knew had friends in the USA so they were more affected then others. My high school was the host school for the local OHL team, so the American team members were allowed to leave school early (they were school celebrities so everyone knew what they were doing).

I remember getting home, and as my daily routine dictated, I turned on the tv to watch some shows before dinner. Every single station was covering the story – as they rightly should have been. But thinking as a 14 year old, I was annoyed. I had absolutely no concept of the scale of such a thing. It would direct almost every aspect of my life moving forward and I had no time or patience for it right then.

For the next week, all anyone could talk about was the attacks. I sometimes wish I was older when it happened so I could appreciate the magnitude of it right then. Now just thinking about it brings me to tears. I was reading a news article yesterday and it had pictures from ground zero and I just sat in my bed silently crying to myself as I scrolled down on my phone.

Whenever I think of 9/11, I think not only the people who lost their lives in the attack, but the countless others who have died since then. My mom worked as a security guard for about 8 years. She was the supervisor there and I had fallen in “teenage love” with one of her employees. He was everything I wanted in a guy but he didn’t know I existed. Then he quit working with her and enlisted in the armed forces. He traveled to Afghanistan and his convoy drove over an IED. He died from the impact, and even after five and a half years I still get emotional thinking about it. He probably didn’t even know my name, yet every single anniversary of 9/11, his death, or Remembrance Day, I find my thought gravitating back to him. I hope he’s found peace.

As a teacher in Ontario, sometimes I think that the students I teach are so out of touch with world events and with history. The system is definitely to blame – they don’t even touch on subjects like this until grade 9 or 10. Elementary students learn social studies instead and focus on early settlers and ancient civilizations (at least in grade 5). Then I remember one other important aspect: all of them have been born AFTER 9/11. They didn’t experience it, and I hope that they never have to feel what it’s like to go through such a global tragedy.

On September 11, 2001, the world stopped. It was forever changed and marred with anger and violence, misunderstandings and stereotypes.

Do you remember where you were when you heard about 9/11?

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