My 9/11 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I wasn't on American soil September 11, 2001. My family was living in Germany. My brother and I were home with a babysitter that afternoon because my mom was having her hair done. It was just after 4 p.m. in Germany when my mom heard on the car radio that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. She thought at first it must have been a small plane. When she got to the salon, the hair stylists were listening to the radio too. It soon became evident that this was something much bigger, much worse, than an accidental crash. When the second tower was hit, my mom rushed home, her hair still wet.

She was crying when she came through the door, and immediately turned on the TV. We had only one English channel, CNN International. The sight was terrifying because both buildings were on fire. The station had switched to nonstop coverage and would stay that way for the rest of the week. My father came home early from work, and we all sat in front of the TV in shock at the unimaginable horror.

My mom tried continuously for three hours to call my uncle, who works in New York City and had clients in the World Trade Center. Finally, she reached my grandparents, who had spoken to him and confirmed that he was fine. He had been in midtown Manhattan that day and could not get out of the city. It would end up taking him 17 hours to get home. He walked to the Lincoln Tunnel and asked some Japanese businessmen to take him through. My aunt picked him up in New Jersey.

That evening my mom and I went to buy groceries. Everyone in the store was silent as though stunned with disbelief. People were shopping, going through the motions, but everyone was listening to the radio to see what would happen next. We learned that the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., had been hit and that another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania while heading toward our nation's capital.

My parents decided that I should go to school the next day; I was in kindergarten. I was nervous about how the other kids would react, even though there were many other American students. We were amazed to see that many German kids were wearing red, white, and blue as a symbol of solidarity with the U.S. The principal of my school was even interviewed by a local TV station about her U.S. students. She then held an assembly to talk about what happened.

Our neighbors were wonderful that week. Many of them knew we were American, and they brought us flowers and sent cards addressed to “Our Wonderful American Neighbors” expressing their sympathy and horror that such a despicable act had happened.

Friday, September 14, was a national day of mourning in Germany. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder held a rally in Berlin that was broadcast across Germany on all the television stations. At the Brandenburg Gate where John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech in the 1960s, Schroeder said, “John F. Kennedy stood here and said, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner). Today we stand here together and say that we are all Americans.” A gospel choir sang “Amazing Grace” in English, and in a country where waving their own flag is too great a show of nationalism, hundreds of people in a crowd of thousands waved American flags.

Every church in Germany held a service that night. We went to church in Odenthal, where we lived, and it was packed. Many people greeted us knowing that we were Americans and expressed their sympathy. The priest said a prayer for us and gave a wonderful sermon about suffering and pain in the world. The choir sang “America the Beautiful” and everyone joined in.

I think that many Americans don't realize how the rest of the world reacted to September 11. The news media here, of course, was focused mainly on the American reaction. My experience on that day was different from my peers, and they are memories I will never forget. I saw the world come together that day with one voice to support our country.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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EcoWriter3 said...
Oct. 3, 2009 at 12:48 pm
You're right; I had no idea how the rest of the world reacted to 9/11! My class recently watched real footage of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, and I will never forget it. It really changed me.
Now it's wonderful to hear that these Germans were so nice to you and all other Americans. It's nice to know that others care.
 
xjordano0x said...
Oct. 3, 2009 at 9:57 am
you're right, I didn't realize how much of the world reacted to a tragic happening in America.
thank you for sharing this piece; well written. (:
 
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