Stolen Innocence This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Terror, panic and confusion - that's what we have felt since that day, a luminous day that turned into a black cloud of dust.

Danielle told me about the World Trade Center during lunch. "What is the World Trade Center?" I asked, not realizing that it was the Twin Towers. I thought, The Twin Towers? They're gone? Those towering silver rectangles are gone? The day was filled with rumors: one student had become an orphan because her parents worked at the Twin Towers; the Empire State Building was next; the President would die.

Practice was cancelled, of course, so I went home and turned on the TV. I flipped through every channel and the only thing I found was the news. I was baffled. The buildings were gone and so many people were walking around with no place to go. I couldn't believe that some had jumped to their deaths from high in the towers. I saw footage of a woman waving a piece of cloth to call for help. Who could help her? How was she supposed to get down? How could someone hate America so much to kill all those innocent people? A part of me died that day.

I was terribly worried about my mother. She worked in the city only a few blocks from the World Trade Center. I kept trying to call her at work, but got only the answering machine. I called her cell phone, but it didn't go through. She finally came home around midnight. She told us about her day while she cried. Apparently, my dad had called her early and was explaining that the first tower had been hit after he'd heard it over the radio. She, however, was actually watching the towers collapse from her window. I have no idea what went through her head at that moment. I don't know if I want to know.

So many people died that day not knowing what was happening. They got ready for work, drove to the city or the bus station and were going about their daily routines. Who knew that September 10 would be the last time they kissed their children good night?

Over two thousand people died that day and some are still missing, their DNA destroyed by the fire and debris. A son is out there looking, not knowing where his dad was that day. To have so many people die in one place and not even be able to give them a proper good-bye is heartbreaking.

As time passed, I saw more red, white and blue. The American flag waved in the wind. The only good thing that came from this disastrous event was the increase in unity and patriotism. But now when anything bad happens, we automatically think it's terrorism. Red, orange and yellow alerts ... I'm not scared, but I've changed, we all have. Instead of children asking, "Where were you when JFK was shot?" they will forever ask, "Where were you when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center?"

September 11, 2001 has become a momentous day in history, and future generations will read about it in textbooks. "The city that never sleeps" will never be the same and I will never be the same. The infamous skyline is bare without those soaring monuments. We should never forget this new day of infamy.

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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