September 11, 2014

Nine Eleven From A Three Year Old's Perspective

It was warm in Brooklyn. The sun was out, it was almost lunchtime, and my Grandpa had just picked me up from pre-school. We were walking back home like we always did. My feet pitter-pattered next to his; my bright Tweety-bird backpack flopped up and down my back.

I sniffed the air as we neared our block. Rice? Chicken? Something smelled good. "爷爷 (Grandpa)", I asked, "What's for lunch?"

I don't remember what he said next, because something caught my eye. Something I had never seen before --- a cloud of smoke was rising from a far distance. "爷爷 ", I asked, "What's that?"

He looked up, thought for a minute, and said, "Maybe there's a burning building somewhere."

I looked at it again. I didn't understand how I could see it so well, but I shrugged it off anyway. "What's for lunch?"

That afternoon, my aunt, who had been attending school nearby, came home early. Not too long afterwards, my parents came home early, and they looked weary. I was ecstatic, "Can we play now?! We have lots of people!"

"Not now, okay?" My mom said gently, as my parents walked away from the kitchen and into another room with my grandparents. My aunt stayed with me, and played with me.

When they all came out from behind the closed doors, my parents immediately turned on the television to watch the news. Images of tall, silver buildings on fire, surrounded by smoke, flashed across the screen.

That same day, my mom was right across the street from the Twin Towers, walking to her office as usual, when the plane flew into the Twin Towers. She, like all of the people on the street that day, turned and watched the horror. A photographer was near her and snapped a photo of her for the inside cover of a magazine on this tragedy.

That same day, both of my parents walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, along with thousands of other commuters, because the subways were down.

That same day, thousands of civilians lost their lives. Thousands more lost their loved ones.

That same day, thousands of emergency personnel gave up their lives for others. Thousands more lost their loved ones.

That same day, our entire country experienced this devastation.

“If you didn't remember something happening, was it because it never had happened? Or because you wished it hadn't?” 
― Jodi PicoultPlain Truth

I won't ever forget this day. I shouldn't forget this day. Not ever. I will remember the smoke, the news, and my realization four years later of what had really happened that day. Remembrance hurts. But "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light" (Dumbledore). There's light in this event. Believe it or not, light exists. Not just the patriotism that emerged 13 years ago today, but awareness and knowledge. Every year, this day serves as a reminder. We are reminded of this tragedy, but also of the ones who selflessly and valiantly ran into those burning buildings to help as everyone else was running out, of the ones who selflessly and valiantly gave up their lives so that others would be spared as their plane crashed in Pennsylvania, of the ones who selflessly and valiantly tried to contact others so that they would be protected as their plane crashed in Washington D.C..

We are reminded of them. We are inspired by them. We should thank them. We should thank our local emergency personnel for their sacrifices. We should appreciate our freedom. We should appreciate our peace. We should appreciate our safety. We should be respectful towards others. Power is not a deadly toy that has been passed around far too many times and far too quickly. Remember that.

If my dad had taken his job offer to work on the 98th floor of the Twin Towers 15 years ago, he would not have been waiting for me in the parking lot at school to pick me up. I am reminded every eleventh of September to appreciate him. I would not be sitting where I am right now if he were not here today.

This day serves as a reminder for us to remember. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we may forget to stop; we forget to be appreciative. So we remember this day. To remember them. To honor them. To honor their sacrifices.

We remember. I remember.

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