Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

This day ten years ago I was just beginning my high school career.  I was revelling in being in a new environment, high school was fun, I was making lots of new friends and I was loving my electives.  Life was good.

It was second period drama class with Mr. Scott (or Robbie Scotty, as we later dubbed him) in the second week of school when all of a sudden, the staticky PA flickered on.  Our principal, Ms. Dasko, who naturally had a slow, calm, and morbid funeral director voice,
sounded even more somber than usual, as she quietly announced to the school that two airplanes had flown into the World Trade Center.  If anyone needed counselling, she said, please go to the commons; the guidance counsellors will be there.

The PA flickered off and everyone's gaze returned to Mr. Scott's face, which clearly read, "What the f*ck?!"  (Side note: Why do people always look at the PA speaker when it goes on, as if it were a live broadcast screen?) No one could really grasp what happened.  "Flown into" - I envisioned two airplanes flying between the Twin Towers, one after another, like an air show.  I was really confused and asked what the big deal was - why would we need to speak to guidance counsellors?

A classmate angrily told me off, "Even if you don't know any of the people this affects, it's still a loss of innocent lives and it's something to be sorry for.  I can't believe how disrespectful and unfeeling you are!"  Mr. Scott said something about how it's shocking because it's so close to home and because nothing like this had ever happened before.

I couldn't really understand what went on until later that day, when all the teachers huddled around the school's TVs to watch the news coverage.  That day was pretty much a write-off in terms of schoolwork.  All the teachers were stunned and I remember my history teacher, Ms. Bush, repeating that this event will go down in history, that she couldn't believe that something this horrible was happening in our lifetimes and that we'll be telling future generations about it because we were alive when it happened.

As I watched the news channels replay the event over and over and over again, I was shell-shocked.  I felt sick to my stomach, watching people jump from the top levels of the buildings, and watching the towers collapse. I was rocked by what happened, along with the rest of the world, and like many people, I still remember exactly where I was the day I found out about the news.  A decade later, I still feel devastated and heartbroken for all the people and their families who were directly affected by this event.

These emotions take on a whole new meaning now for me, because I am at a point in my life where I am beginning my career and I head to work at my office every day - just like all the people who worked at the World Trade Center.  Those people were all just trying to earn a living, just like I am.  For people who work in offices, who would ever expect that their work places would be deadly? Who would ever think that they could die just because they went to work?  And those people who were in those planes, who would have thought?  These were all innocent people!

As today winds to an end, I'm very glad that there have been no news reports about any "anniversary attacks" - the media has been working up a frenzy in the weeks leading to this day about potential attacks that were planned to take place.  Enough.

Moving forward from here, I believe that we should never and will never forget 9/11, just like the Holocaust, just like the Rape of Nanjing, just like the Rwanda Genocide, and all the other terrible, horrific events that have happened in history because of hate.  Not so that we can nurse grudges and perpetuate anger and hate forever, but so that we can learn from these events, so that things like this don't happen ever again.

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