My memories of September 11th 2001 are vague at best. I was 6, having just started grade 1.
I remember my dad picking my brother and I up from school, a rarity. My parents didn’t want us taking the bus home in case other kids were talking about what had happened. They were worried we would be scared.
I don’t remember ever being scared. I just remember being confused.
I couldn’t even comprehend those skyscrapers in New York City. I had never seen a building that tall in my life. I had never been on a plane. I didn’t know what that was like. All I knew was that it was sad.
I remember seeing the pictures and videos on the news and feeling… lost.
I wasn’t scared because I couldn’t understand. I didn’t really even understand death.
Fast forward to this past June when I was in New York. Visiting the memorial was near the top of my list of things to do.
I tried to prepare myself for it. For the emotions that I was sure would surface. But there was no way I could prepare myself for it.
I spent hours there. Slowly walking around. Reading the names. Stopping to watch the water cascading down. Looking up, way up. Where those buildings once stood.
I couldn’t help but wonder about each name that was written. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters…
I saw families walking by. Parents looking somber as their children asked them questions about the memorial. I saw a father swallow, look at the memorial and back at his son. Clearly trying to find the right words to explain.
I found an empty bench and sat down.
I had tears in my eyes. And I still do today thinking of this.
My memories from 17 years ago might not be clear, and I’m not American. I didn’t lose a loved one that day. But the tragedy that struck the U.S. that day is on my mind.
Hold your loved ones a little closer today, and don’t take one second for granted.