I am twelve years old. I am homeschooled. I love to read and play outside with my sisters. My world is a house in Texas. We never watch the news, and my parents don’t tell us about the bad things that happen to children. We once walked out of a church service when the priest started describing a child abuse case. I know bad things happen, but I don’t know the details of anything like that. I know Clinton was impeached, but I don’t know the particulars, only that he lied to the American people.
I am twelve years old. We aren’t doing school today, because we are sick, especially my brother. He is lying down on the couch, as we always do when we’re sick, and I’m about to give him something to eat or drink.
My father comes running out of his office. “The World Trade Center towers have fallen!” He turns the TV on and squats, tears running down his face.
The first image we see is a skyscraper collapsing.
I just stand there, not sure whether to laugh or cry. My first thought is that it’s special effects, of course. But I don’t know. I don’t know what these buildings are.
And then I find out.
I find out that the World Trade Center towers have thousands of people in them every day. I find out that extremist Muslims believe that we are evil, and that by flying planes into American buildings, they are insuring eternal bliss for themselves. I find out that a two year old child was on one of those planes (who kills a two year old child??). I see people in Pakistan dancing for joy in the streets because we are reeling, because we are being killed. The Pentagon is hit. I have a cousin who may be working there, but later we find out she’s fine. A teenage girl in NYC – “I just want my mom” – biting her lip, turning away. Nameless, helpless. I’ve always wondered if she ever found her mother, or if she was one of the 3000+ who lost a parent. There are no planes flying over the US.
The news is on for three straight days, on the air and in my house, with Peter Jennings telling us everything – what we already know, what we’re just now finding out. As a nation, we learn that there are people who will fly a plane into a building, on purpose. Who does that? WHO DOES THAT??? Who would EVER do that? Especially when it’s a passenger jet filled with people????
Now we know.
And it is impossible to forget.