Seventeen years ago I was in sixth grade in West Hartford Connecticut. (My family had just moved to there from Ohio less than 2 years prior.) I was at my locker switching books before heading to my choir class when my friend ran up to me in a panic. She frantically told me a plane had hit a building in New York City.
My naive-self said, “doesn’t that happen all the time?”. My friend replied, “NO, this is really bad.” So we went to class, anxious for more information. Once settled in, our teacher calmly explained what was happening and confirmed that two planes had hit the World Trade Centers.
It was not until I saw the wreckage and footage that I realized what buildings they were talking about. I had been on the roof of the South Tower just weeks before with my family and friends. After fully understanding the magnitude of what had happened the rest of the day was eye-opening.
I had no idea before that day, how many people commuted from Connecticut and surrounding states to New York City every day. I knew we were close but did not understand how close. As the day went on, more kids left early, and teachers were visibly frazzled and upset. One of my teachers lost someone that day.
As the years have passed and my life has changed, so has my memory of this day. You would think that time would make this memory less clear or relevant, but just the opposite has and continues to happen. Each year I become closer to those who were lost or impacted that day. I gain a deeper understanding of the loss and tragedy as time goes by.
Now that I am married and established in my life, the thought of losing my spouse or loved ones unexpectedly hits me hard. This possible reality could happen at any time, but this day reminds me of how many people lost their lives or the lives of loved ones unexpectedly.
Life is a precious gift. Unfortunately, we never know what day it will be our last. So, in honor of those who lost their lives, those who saved others and those who carry on I will embrace today. I will live this life to the fullest and always remember to say I love you. I will never forget how this day made me feel and will carry on proud to be an American.
*Photo credit to my parents and my mom for finding these pictures for me from our visit to the World Trade Centers, August 2001. The second picture is of me and my friends on the observation deck of the South Tower.