September 11, 2001, is a day that I will never forget. I can’t believe that it has been 13 years. I guess it makes sense that I just missed my 10 year high school reunion, so many friends of mine have had babies and the world has been introduced to the iPhone 6, and yet that morning still feels sickeningly real.
At that point in my life I was living in a small town outside of Chicago and was in the 11th grade. I was sitting in my Algebra 2 class when my notoriously forgetful teacher told us she still hadn’t graded our last tests, and we had a test tomorrow. So she went to the office to photo copy our previous tests, like she did the test before, and the one before that, so we would have something to study from. 25-30 minutes later we all started to realize that she hadn’t returned. I don’t know why none of us left the room or didn’t do anything stupid, we just didn’t. I was actually playing on my friend’s TI89 calculator, ’cause those things were the coolest. Our teacher walked in with this dazed look on her face and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and she was listening to the radio in the office and then walked out. We all sat there confused until the bell rang.
My next class, English, we were all talking about what we had just heard and made the most logical conclusion we could: drunk pilot. It had to be a drunk pilot, how else could something like this happen. Then third period AP History, that calmness of truth was gone. Live, my friends and I watched on TV as the second plane hit the other tower and I knew that there was no mistaking, there was no question, something was wrong and we were going to war. The rest of the day was confusion and tears. All the downstairs classrooms in my high school had TVs but the upstairs ones didn’t, so it felt like you were going into a different world upstairs. A friend of mine had a brother in the Pentagon, and I was worried about my Aunt and Uncle who I knew were supposed to be flying out that week, but I didn’t know when. And my daddy who worked as a limo driver at O’Hare. There were so many rumors and so much speculation going on, we were worried that their were other planes heading for the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) or this huge nuclear power plant near us, it was all rumor and fear and speculation that day.
The truth is, though, we all saw that our generation would bear a huge brunt of this war. And that is something none of us could question, we (the United States) would be going to war with someone. I have seen so many of my friends go to Afghanistan and Iraq and come back, thank goodness. They have never come back the same, though. My generation grew up with terror alerts and heightened security, fear of the dodgy looking person near landmarks and sadly less personal liberty than the generation before. We won’t ever feel freedom from fear again because September 11th began a different type of war that Americans never had to deal with, and it will never end.
I still remember thinking that no country would ever be stupid enough to attack mainland America. And now I know a country wouldn’t do that. But a terrorist would.