I am six. My mother sits me and my sister down on the rug in her room in front of the TV. She tells us to remember this day. I don’t remember her telling me that, but I must have done my best to obey, because I do remember.
I am confused. I don’t understand what is going on, why this is so important. In my six-year-old mind, I wonder why the news station keeps playing the same clip over and over, telling the same story over and over, instead of going from story to story like they usually do.
The clip they show is from a pedestrian’s viewpoint—one of those raw videos taken with a blurry camera and a shaky hand, instead of the fancy news ones. There’s a short stone wall to the left, running down the sidewalk, and trees growing on the other side of it. Coming up behind the trees, fairly close and easy to see, is the single burning tower, and its twin. There’s a man on a cell phone in the right-hand corner. He’s facing the stone wall, not the person taking the video, and not the towers. In slow motion he turns towards the towers, just as an airplane slowly soars into view from the left panel, crashing into the other tower. And explosions.
I get bored after a while, I remember that, but I’m also a little scared. Because I don’t understand what is going on. I don’t understand why my parents are upset. I’m scared enough to keep my restless six-year-old self sitting in the same place and not asking if I could leave now like I might normally do if my parents weren’t upset.
I also remember, fuzzily, the disbelieving horror my parents expressed when the towers collapsed.
I remember what seems like a few days later, though I suppose it could have been longer, and my dad has gotten out the modeling clay from the basement, and he sits at the kitchen table sculpting something. I ask why he’s doing that. And he (or perhaps mom) tells me it’s because God told him to.
It’s the towers, buckling in the middle. I watch for a while, because my dad doesn’t regularly sculpt things, and it’s interesting. But I’m still confused.
I’m missing something, I think.
Years later, sitting in the car with my mom, driving somewhere, we hear something on the radio about the war in Afghanistan and a bunch of other things I don’t understand and mom turns the radio off.
“When people complain,” she says, and she’s crying, “When people complain about the wars and the fighting, remember that they attacked us first.”
~Dedicated to the 3,000 + American heroes who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
My memory may be faulty on some details, but they are real memories.
God bless America.
Images found via Google Images. No copyright infringement intended.