9/11 was almost half my life ago

I was 14 when the terrorist attacks happened.

I remember the day, as most do. I was sitting in ninth grade Earth science class when our teacher walked in and told us what happened. Of course, when you’re 13, you don’t really appreciate the significance of the moment. I didn’t really think much of it. I just wanted school to end so I could go home and play video games.

Had I been 27 when it happened, like I am now, I’d like to think I would have immediately understood just how horrific this tragedy was.

Tribute in LightAnd I guess, in a sense, my ignorance at the time is symbolic of why it’s important to remember Sept. 11, 2001.

If someone like me, who was 14, didn’t really appreciate what happened at the time because of my youth, then how do we expect the kids who were infants — or who were not even born yet — to appreciate it? It’s up to us to let them know what happened and just how much it affected our country, not only on that day, but for years to come.

“Never forget” has long been the motto whenever Sept. 11 rolls around. I never really understood it. It was airplanes flying into two giant buildings … I won’t long forget that. But so much has happened in 13 years. The new World Trade Center has already been built.

More than a dozen years later, it’s pretty easy — and convenient — to forget it. And that’s exactly why we encourage everybody not to.

On one hand, we don’t want to remember the tragedy. The images of smoke poring from the towers, and people jumping hundreds of stories to their death; it’s something ingrained in our head that we wish wasn’t the case.

On the other hand, remembering keeps alive the memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died. Most importantly, we remember that they didn’t die of a terrorist attack. Rather, they died on a day that America came back stronger from a terrorist attack.

But the scary thing is that terrorism has not ceased since 9/11. Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Boston Marathon bombings are all very much a recent memory. There are still people out there who live to instill fear in others, and that’s another reason why 9/11 must be remembered.

One thing we don’t focus on enough, I think, is understanding why 9/11 happened. We all know how it happened, we all know why we commemorate those who died, but what’s never discussed is why people decided to orchestrate a plan to fly planes into the World Trade Center, other than just to cause fear.

I don’t know the answer myself.

I do know that, on Sept. 11, we should all take a few minutes to just think about what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself. To be an American. And to understand that, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.

And on the other 364 days, just try to be nice most of the time.

It won’t kill you.

 

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