Thursday, September 11, 2014

An Essay: A flashback to the fifth grade and September 11, 2001

This a personal essay reflection on my memories from 9/11/2001.

I was sitting in my 5th grade classroom when my teacher started crying.

I remember that she left the classroom and returned with wet eyes. She told us to sit down and read us a story about America, not telling us why we were starting our day with a story instead of following our normal routine.

We kept asking what was wrong. She never told us what. I thought maybe a family member had died.

Down the hall, the middle schoolers weren't gossiping in the halls.

Instead, they moved like zombies from classroom to classroom, the muffled noise of newscasts buzzing in the background. They weren't allowed to tell the elementary school kids what they were spending all day watching. But we knew they weren't doing anything in their classes.

Something felt eerily wrong.

During history, Melissa's mom stood crying outside Mrs. Murat's door. She pulled Melissa into the hallway. They both returned in tears.

By lunchtime, people's parents were calling them to leave. One by one, people were called to the office. I was content coloring signs and reading a book.

Near the end of the day someone told me there was a plane accident, or at least that's what they heard, anyway. Travis said something about a "pentagon" and Washington, D.C. ... but Melissa was from New York. Huh?

One of what anyone said --- kid or adult --- made much sense that day.

. . .

When my mum picked me up from school, she asked me if I'd heard, and I said I had, without really knowing what it was that I was saying I knew. We usually never listened to the news on the way home, but that day we did.

Slowly, it started to all make sense.

It turns out, I did know what the World Trade Center buildings were thanks to my sister's love of classic Christmas movies. In Home Alone 2, in the scene where my favorite Christmas tune is playing in the background, there's a long, panoramic shot of the two, gigantic buildings jetting from the skyline.

I never knew the "World Trade Center" is what they were called. I wondered why were they called a "center" when there were two separate buildings.

. . .

I had never watched the news much growing up. I thought it was boring and my parents thought the stories were too violent for me to regularly watch.

But that day, I remember watching that plane fly into the second tower over. And over. And over.

Graphics reading: "America under attack!"

The debris. The dust. Got bless America. Congress waved flags in the air.

By the time they started showing images of people jumping, I remember my mum tried to get me not to watch. I was just a kid. Only 10. She didn't want to make me upset.

But Jaci was watching. And so was dad. And she didn't feel like fighting. So she just let me sit there a few more minutes with everyone else.

. . .

That night I went to bed feeling antsy. It didn't seem like a good time to sleep. Why did those people do that to us? Why were all the adults so scared? Everyone seemed upset.

I didn't understand.

As the T.V. sounds clicked off and the house grew still, I listened to the sounds of the train that my parents thought was too far away for me to hear whistle in the distance.

Meanwhile, fighter pilots flew overhead, heading towards Pasadena.


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