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Seven is an uneventful anniversary; an uneventful anniversary of an eventful day. The school showed a memorial video this morning: the planes flying and the buildings crying debris. The last picture showed a single yellow flower on the ash-covered street. Across the bottom of the screen, the words “We will never forget” faded in and out.
Eleven is an average age. I was eleven when 9/11 happened, and I had no idea the significance of such an event. We were in music class and my friend Samantha Ritrovato told me:
“Someone blew up the Twin Towers.”
I replied, “What’s the Twin Towers?”
We’ve been using this phrase for seven years now: “We will never forget,” and now everyone just knows what the Twin Towers were. It’s just common sense. To the students in my music class, it was just another school day. We continued our day, buzzing around the school. For the rest of the world, even people as close to us as our teachers, that day was like driving without a yellow light. It went straight from green to red without a warning or an in between.
Today in class we watched a video about 9/11. It was a documentary that two French brothers were originally making on the lives and rankings of firemen, but on that day it turned into much more than that. One of the brothers went with the fire chief into the first building and captured footage from inside the collapsing buildings, the top of the building unfolding and devouring the bottom. As we watched the video we can hear people colliding with the marble floor of the lobby from where they had jumped off a balcony above. They compare Tower #1’s lobby with a beehive, as firemen swarmed the premises before walking up thirty flights of stairs to rescue people in danger. Meanwhile, the second brother walks the streets of New York. Some people stare at the burning towers in awe, others collapse into the sidewalk in tears. Strangers comfort one another. In this city, where cab drivers honk angrily at each other and sidewalk traffic has a Pac Man mentality, strangers are reaching out to one another.
Back at the towers, firefighters march up over eighty flights of stairs to their grim fate. The voiceovers on the tape dictate who the firefighters were. As they make their way out of the lobby, most of them will not return.
It was then that I realized how short life really is. We could have another 9/11 tomorrow. We could have another Columbine tomorrow. Some random act of chaos could happen tomorrow, and we would not be able to change it.
Instead of, “We will never forget,” the phrase should be, “Life is too short.” Because it is. Life is too short to waste with petty drama or fighting or going to bed angry. Life is too short for the Pac Man mentality.
Did you know that Grasshoppers travel in millions and never once collide? That’s what we’ve become. Everyday we move about our business without concern for anyone else, unless they get in our way. Except for that one day.
Maybe it wasn’t such a tragedy after all.