“The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life.” – Rudolph W. Giuliani
I’d be remiss not to notice that today is only one day before eleven-year anniversary of September 11th. In reality, that day in 2001 seemed like any other heading to Varina High School for my second week of my eleventh grade year. But before the first lecture could be said in my Biology class that morning, my teacher helped changed my view of the entire day by simply asking us, “Did you see that plane hit the Twin Towers?”
Most of us had just gotten to school when the first plan hit, so we really didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. The first thing we all saw when he turned on the mounted TV at the front of the class was a replay of the first plane colliding with the North Tower. Nobody made a sound. We all watched this unreal event replay over and over again until a live shot of the smoking tower was shown again. Suddenly, a plane crashed into the South Tower, bringing a loud, “Ooooh!” from all of us.
Biology class never commenced that day as our concern focused less on genetic traits and more on the lives of helpless people who – like myself – excepted to go in for work/school, do your duty, then head home for a nice evening with their family.
It seemed like as everyone settled to watch the current tragedy’s fallout, something else happened. Not an hour after seeing the South Tower get struck, word hit the news channels that the Pentagon had be attacked. Living in Richmond, Virginia, a lot of students felt this whole situation was a little too close to home and opted to call it day. I, similar to many of my friends, didn’t have that privilege; mentally reeling in various classes alongside other dumbfounded, almost shellshock students instead of going home.
As the day progressed, television lockdown started spreading at VHS. But no matter what our teachers did, the talk of the school was what occurred in New York. Arguments broke out about what should be done. Sides were chosen, races were blamed, and we were worried. For the first time in a lot of our lives, we grasped the reality that we might not wake up tomorrow if what happened that day was only the beginning of something bigger.
In the end, we physically left VHS the same, but mentally we were all changed. The following days seem like a blur now, but the infamous day that changed all of our viewpoints about how the world worked still sits in my mind as clearly as the day it happened. But what also sits with me when recounting that day is the compassion many people displayed – the heroics of civilians doing their best to save a life. No matter what or who you believe in; we must all know that this world works on love. September 11, 2001 perfectly depicts the dichotomy of humanity. For every grave injustice and barbaric action, there’s selflessness and purity. God bless those who have suffered and are still suffering from a moment where time stood still, and beings that are supposedly selfish at heart went above and beyond to save someone else.