September 11th

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.

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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.

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