Today marks the 18th anniversary of September 11, 2001. I was just 12 years old when it happened. Sitting in my 7th grade history classroom, I remember teachers suddenly rushing room to room and hushed whispers. This was before every student had a smart phone in their hand, so we just figured one of the kids that liked to cause trouble was up to something, or the police were about to start a random drug sweep of the hallways. Then, our teacher cursed and ran out of the room. The bell rang, we changed classrooms. It was then I learned that planes had hit a building in New York City. I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation until my mom showed up to take my home. For the rest of the evening I was glued to the television.
After realizing that what was happening in my country, was the same thing I would see on the night time news occurring in countries in the middle east, I became panicked. I grabbed my pink diary and started writing down everything. There was so much information coming across the TV screen, and constant updates changing the information that we thought we knew. I thought something important might get lost in the constant flurry of facts, so I wrote down every single piece of information I saw. I don’t know why my 12 year-old self thought that any information she would glean from local news broadcasts may one day be vital to our nation’s security. But I know the place that it came from; I wanted to help. Somehow, I wanted to help. That’s what I remember most in the days, weeks, even months after the attacks. It was like the country was jolted awake. I saw members in my community reach out more to families or people that were in need of assistance. I started to care and become more aware of the world around me, instead of being wrapped up in my angsty teen self. I was very blessed that I didn’t lose anyone in the attacks. But it did have an affect on me, and how I viewed the world.
I feel like one of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers applies here:
“Look for the helpers.”
When tragedy strikes, and it may one day again, look for the helpers.