I Remember...

January 15, 2008
By Jenna Grande, Branford, CT

It was silent in the commons. I recall thinking that I had never heard it this quiet. I looked around and caught glimpses of familiar faces with similar facial expressions. People's faces were filled with pain that comes from mourning and memories of that awful day. That day was September 11, 2007. Here at Branford High School, we were taking time out on that day to mourn for those who died on that wretched day. I sighed and turned my attention toward the senior class president, Grady. He began his speech and described what it was like for people everywhere that day. As I listened to him speak, my mind wandered back to what it was like for me that day and how it changed my life forever.

I was in the fourth grade and the school year had just started. Life was great; I was doing well in school, made new friends, and was finally going to get the benefits of being a fourth grader. (One of these benefits was the highly anticipated trip to New York for our fourth grade field trip). September 11 started off like any other day and I been looking forward to having my neighbor/friend Julie come over after school. Once I got to school I had my daily classes, like math and spelling.I was on the multi age team so I had two teachers. When I went to my homeroom teacher, I noticed she was strangely quiet, a change from her normal, bubbly, funny character. She even looked like she was crying! I'd never seen my teachers cry and I was worried something was wrong in my school. Little did I know that the reason she was crying would affect everyone in the country.

My suspicion grew throughout the day as kids mysteriously were disappearing from my classes. By the end of the day, there were only about eight students left, including myself. I was now extremely worried something was terribly wrong. I wanted to know what happened but I could not get an answer from my teacher. I sighed and figured my mom or dad would tell me. I walked outside and I climbed on to the bus and sat with Julie. She told me how she saw teachers crying and how a lot of kids were pulled out of her class too! I was intrigued and wanted to ask if she knew more. But just then, the bus came to a stop and it was mine and Julie's stop.

Before I could ask more, Julie was already on a new subject. I didn't want to interrupt her so I patiently listened until we both had to go home and get ready for our play date. We were going to be having our American
Dolls have a tea party in the backyard and I hoped this would distract me from the strange events from the day. I walked into the house and called out, "Mom? Dad?" My mom responded telling me she was watching TV in the family room. I walked around the corner and saw her on the couch, crying. I had never seen my mom crying so I stood there in shock. My mom told me there was an

and to please go outside and play. I nodded and ran upstairs. I put my backpack on my bed and grabbed my doll, the tea set, and picnic blanket and sprinted down the stairs. I flung the door open and Julie was standing there, just about to ring the doorbell. I half- smiled at the coincidence. I gestured her toward the backyard and we went outside and began to set up our tea party under the big tree. Once we finished setting up, we did not have the enthusiasm we once had.

We stared at each other for a few moments and I finally asked, "Do you know what happened today?" Julie nodded and told me. She said there were serious plane crashes in New York, Washington D.C. and in Pennsylvania. She said people did this on purpose and they were called
ists. I stood at her wide-eyed. I had no idea what a
ist was and how someone could do this on purpose. Julie said she did not know what a
ist was either when I asked her if she knew what it meant. "All I know is," she replied, "a lot of people have died and no one will ever be the same." I began to feel sick and didn't want to play dolls anymore. Julie and I spent a few hours under that tree talking about it. Julie's mom called and told her she needed to go home and soon I was alone under the tree. Even though I just spent the entire afternoon with my best friend, I had never felt so alone. The emptiness inside me, the feeling of loss was overwhelming.

I cleaned up my mess and walked inside. My dad had just gotten home and he and my mom had obviously tried to clean themselves up and act cheerful. But there was pain in their eyes, I could see it. I went along with the scheme until my older brother went to play playstation and my younger brother went to bed. I then cornered my parents and demanded I have the entire story. A look of reluctance flickered across their faces and after a little debating on whether or not I should know, I was told everything. I learned what a
ist was, who did it, why they did it and what time.

I sat there for a few minutes soaking it in and my parents gave me some time alone. I went to room shortly after and cried. I was so worried my house would be attacked or my family would be hurt. My parents heard me and came into my room to comfort me. They told me it wouldn't happen here and to try not to think about it. I sniffled a yes and then, exhausted from the days hardships, I drifted into a heavy sleep. The next day everyone at school knew. Our teachers explained to us what happened and some kids were finding out for the first time. Their eyes held the same look of shock, pain, and horror mine had the day before. At first it was quite and then it erupted to everyone talking about it. I tried to tune them out. I did not want to hear anymore of it...

Life was really different after that day. The fourth grade field trip to New York was canceled and everyone was worrying it would happen again. War was on the tips of everyone's tongue. I had new fears because of 9/11 that still are in my present life. I used to love flying in airplanes but now all I do on the plane is fidget and worry I may not reach my destination alive like the people who were on the plane on 9/11. I'm afraid the
ists will come again this time, someone I know and care for will perish with many others. The conflict going on in Iraq and Afghanistan just makes think that it will definitely happen again. After 9/11 I came to face on the biggest fears of my life:
. I mean my Nonno (Italian for Grandpa) had died the year before but I didn't fully understand
. This was my wake-up call
was all around me and one day, I would hav to die. (A scary fact to face when you're only 9 years old.) I had to face the fact that people actually die like that. Because of this event, I had to face an upsetting realization: this world is not the perfect and safe place I thought it was. It's just a shame that kids of my generation had to find out in such a cruel way.

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