Blue Sky Gash

June 14, 2011
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There is one event in recent history that has shaped my views and actions, and the views and actions of my generation as a whole; 9/11. This is a date that has become synonymous with terrorism and the loss of American lives. On September 11th, 2001, almost ten years ago, four airplanes were hijacked by terrorists from the Afghanistan based terrorist group, al-Qaeda. They used these planes as bombs, and destroyed three American landmarks and government buildings. One of these planes flew into the Pentagon and destroyed 1/5 of it, killing government employees who were at work. The event that most people associate with this date however, is the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Thousands of people were killed when two planes hit each of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

I remember how beautiful of a morning it was, and how there was a cool breeze that combined perfectly with the warm sun. It was the weather you’d find in the happiest of dreams. I had no clue what was in store for the day. After my first class, the teachers had a meeting before second period. I thought that this was great, just as most other seven year olds would, because that meant we didn't have to start our classes right away. When my homeroom teacher, Ms. Griffin came back into the class room, she didn't walk in, but instead drifted over to her desk. Her complexion was not its normal tan self; she seemed pale and frightened like a ghost. At the time, I didn't realize that something was wrong, but looking back it was incredibly obvious. Throughout the rest of the day, all of the teachers seemed to have the same ghostly appearance and attitude. There were no jokes or laughs to be shared that day, just awkward silence when there was a break in the conversation, which was very often that day. The other students and I remained blissfully unaware because we weren't told anything until we saw our parents after school.

When I got out, I greeted my mom in the usual way, with a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Those hugs always felt the same; a warm embrace made more comfortable by my mother’s bright smile. This hug was different however, it seemed to last longer than usual and to be tighter than normal, and the smile that shone down like a single ray of sun through clouds was replaced with a look I’d very rarely seen my mother have. Later, I’d recognize this look as fear. Once we got in the car, my mom told my brother and me that something very bad had happened in New York City. She was surprised, and a little upset, that our school had not told us anything about the events that transpired earlier in the day. As she spoke about the terrorist attacks, I could see the tears well up in her eyes. I gazed out the window while my mom was telling us about the horrors of the day and I remember thinking, “How could something so bad happen on such a pretty day?” I would love to say that I had no idea of the gravity and emotional weight of the bombings and deaths, but the seven year old me knew exactly the magnitude of what had just happened.

Looking back, I'm furious about what happened for the obvious reasons like the senseless killing and needless loss of life; but I am also angry because of what was taken from my classmates and me. That day a little bit of our innocence was stolen. I was forced to think about and understand massive killings as a seven year old boy, something no child should ever have to do. They also tainted something beautiful for me, every time I see a brilliantly blue sky on a nice autumn day, I think of how quickly that beauty can be destroyed. That sky was gashed open and bled fire against a perfect blue pallet backing a flawless skyline. I was left scarred by actions of people I have never, and will never, meet.

I understood that life could be taken away, and I was scared to step foot on a plane for almost a year. I now fly more than 10,000 miles each year and, while there is still a degree of fear every time I board and airplane, I no longer let it impair my life. If I did let it stop me, the terrorists would have been successful in making America and its citizens afraid of them. Our country has rebounded since September 11th, 2001, but there is an indelible mark on the lives of every citizen who bore witness to those terrorist actions. My life was altered this day, but I've tried to make the best of the situation and not let the fear of something bad happening keep me from doing the things I want to do and need to do.

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olduncle said...
Jun. 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm
, so sorry that you and so many children your age had to see and hear about this tragedy. I and so many of my friends fought on foreign soil as we do today to keep that kind of thing from happening here. That need to be our governments 1st priority at all times. Always Thank a soldier/troop for keeping so much of this away from our daily lives. Great writing, thanks for reminding us, to never forget...
jamescraig2000 said...
Jun. 20, 2011 at 9:25 pm
Wow very touching.  I never thought of what it was like through a child's viewpoint.  Very sad to have to comprehend such a thing at such a young age.  It brought me back to that morning.  My kids will ask me about it this September Im sure
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