In 2001, I was a sophomore in high school. I didn’t drive yet back then, so I had to wake up and get a ride with my parents. And since my parents both worked a little far away, I had wake up a littler earlier than normal.
Classes started at 8:00 a.m. that Tuesday, so that meant I had to wake up at around 6:30 in the morning. (I set my alarm for 6:22 in which I hit the 8-minute snooze so I would really wake up at 6:30).
My parents aren’t the kind of people that watch the early morning news shows or even listen to the radio when they wake up. So throughout that entire morning we didn’t know what had already happened in New York.
It wasn’t until we got into the car at around 7:00 a.m. when my dad turned on the radio. My dad usually likes to listen to the Chinese station but during that time, he turned onto the news station. Right then and there, I heard the news.
The problem with me being so young was that I didn’t have any real idea of what was going on. I heard the reports but in my mind I couldn’t picture it. Planes hitting a building was not a sight I had seen before, so I initially didn’t think of it as too serious.
It wasn’t until I got to my school where we had a bunch of my friends gather in a classroom to watch the news on TV.
The previous year, I visited New York City for the first time. I actually took a tour of the Twin Towers that time. I remembered the long elevator ride up to the top. I remember my dad being angry for no reason and nearly ruining our trip. I remember the cart vendors there and the man who sold me my first ever black & white cookie (which has now become my favorite cookie in the world). I still have the entrance ticket and souvenir penny from that day.
New York means a lot to me. I returned there twice in 2007 — once for a field trip, the other for a two-month internship. The following summer, I returned for a sports road trip. The city of New York has grown on me and I’ve fallen in love with everything New York.
But at the time of the terrorists’ attack, my love for New York had not grown. It was just a stop on this cheap Asian tour my family took me to that allowed us to go to Philly, NJ, NY, Niagara falls all the way up to Toronto. So when I saw the attacks, it didn’t really get to me just yet.
It wasn’t until while watching that replay of the second plane hitting the tower when I realized it was something big. I remembered New York being a very big place with small areas to move. I knew that people would be hurt.
I don’t remember much from the rest of that day. It was all so crazy. I do remember that my first class was a religious studies class. Our teacher Mr. Mihaly didn’t teach anything in our class. We sat there, in silence, as we listened to the radio.
I don’t know if that was the best way to go about what was going on. But then again, nothing prepares you for it. We sat there, listening to the radio just trying to understand what had happened.
The very next period, I think, had the entire school go to our gym. My high school is a very small school. There are usually fewer than 500 total students each year. Most of us knew at least 75-percent of the entire school. It was a strange moment to gather inside our own gym amidst confusion.
I sat there with my friends as the faculty talked about what had happened. We didn’t know much at the time, but there was a concern that there could be more attacks later that day. Possibly the TransAmerica building in San Francisco. Nobody knew anything.
This is where my memory gets fuzzy. I think we said the Pledge of Allegiance. I think we were dismissed from school. Maybe we weren’t. I don’t recall anything else for the rest of the day.
Now we sit here exactly 10 years later and I still wonder about us not only as a country, but as a world. Are we better now? Have we stopped the war? Are we loving, caring people?
I’d like to think that we’ve moved on from that time, where we’ve healed, learned to love and accept others and continue to strive for world peace. But we’re not there yet. Far from it.
I remember when the people of the Middle East started celebrating in the streets when news broke of the Twin Towers collapsing. It killed us Americans to witness that. The celebration of death because they believed it was justice.
I recall the American people dancing in the streets celebrating the murder of Osama Bin Laden several months back. They believed that that was justice.
Sitting back, thinking back at what I went through 10 years ago that morning and to think about how things have changed since then, I don’t think much has changed.
The world is still in bad shape, people are still hating each other and there’s a convoluted perception of what justice is all about. I do pray that God does relieve the suffering in this world. We’re still a long ways from truly healing from September 11 and all the pains in the world.
As I put this post together and think about what I feel now, it’s the same feeling I had that very morning about the situation.
Helpless. Confused. Uncertain.
9/11 still hurts. We’ve gotten stronger as a country since then… but we, along with the entire world, are still suffering.