Eighteen years ago I was in fifth grade. I remember hating my teacher, not having many friends, and not adjusting well to my new family—a step-dad and step-sister. One morning I walked out of my room and was corralled to the couch where the news was on. I wasn’t exactly sure why what was on the news was important and I didn’t pay attention to much. However, once I got to school the reality that something big had happened finally set in.
As soon as I walked into class, the desks were pushed against the wall and a large circled of chairs filled the room. We each sat in a chair as instructed. Both fifth grade classes were combined and the other teacher, the nice one I wished I had, explained to us what happened. Some students were crying, others were acting shocked but didn’t cry, and most seemed not to care. I remember one person from the other class telling us that a girl was in the bathroom crying because her aunt was in one of the towers.
What I remember most about this event is what happened the next day—we found out that my great-grandpa had had a massive heart attack and stroke. It seemed like bad things were just happening all around. It isn’t that I didn’t care about the terrorist attacks or that little girl crying in the bathroom, it that those events were so far away, but my great –grandpa was more important at the time. Thinking about it now, on that day so many people came together to help. From first responders and volunteers to prayer warriors, so many people were doing SOMETHING to try and help. But there I was: 10-years-old, not really doing or caring about anything.
I wonder if I could go back and be a more compassionate kid if that would change who I am now. I certainly still get accused of not caring and being a little nonchalant about things, but people often misjudge my peace and calmness as indifference. I think going through the shame of looking back realizing that I was a child who genuinely did not care makes me care even more today. I am embarrassed by how cruel I was. When I was in fifth grade I couldn’t care less about that little girl in the bathroom who couldn’t stop crying, but I care about her now. I care that so many people died because of that hateful acts. I also care that in the midst of my learning to care, it seems most of our nation has forgotten.
Not that I think people have forgotten what happened—rather, the general populous is not as patriotic as everyone was on 9/12 (the day after) eighteen years ago. We’ve forgotten that it was promised that the same people who caused the events on 9/11 promised to destroy us from the inside. We ARE being destroyed from the inside. We need to open our eyes and stop being stoic. Stop being in immature 10-year-old that doesn’t know what’s going on! Let’s use this day as a reminder that we can band together again to be GREAT again. Let the flag continue to mean hope and the memories of the fallen inspire us to continue on for the betterment of this nation. Wake up and stop being complacent, America! We need to continue to be the nation that inspired other nations.
On this day, as we remember all who were lost let us also remember and pray for those who are still here. Pray for the legacies that continue, and pray for our nation to wake-up to the reality that is not far from us.