September 11th: Ten Years Later

10 09 2011

Tomorrow is September 11th, what I believe to be the single most defining day in the lives of my generation. For the first eighteen years of my life this date meant nothing. It was just another day to wake up, go to school, and live my everyday life. But on this day, exactly ten years ago, the lives of all Americans changed forever, including mine.

I remember exactly where I was that day. I was a senior in high school and I was on my way to pick up one of my jump rope girls who I drove to school every morning. She came running out of the house as she did every morning. She got in the car, I said hello, and the next words out of her mouth were, “A plane just hit a building!”

I laughed.

My first reaction to this news was to laugh. Who had ever heard of a plane hitting a building … especially in the middle of New York City? She said she had heard it on the radio but didn’t know any details.

We pulled into the parking lot at school, walked through the front doors, and the world around us came crashing down. The remainder of my day was spent in my homeroom class watching television. Classes had been cancelled and we were allowed to watch the events unfold in front of us. We watched as the second plane hit. We watched as terrified Americans jumped out of the windows while others roamed the streets covered in ash and rubble. We watched then cry. We watched them mourn. We watched our entire country change before our eyes.

On the one year anniversary, I was a freshman in college. I remember a very large memorial on the lawn of La Plata where students gathered with tea candles and names of those who were lost were read aloud. I remember sitting with some of my friends, a few of whom were from New York, and I remember crying. I remember feeling lucky that I was from Seattle and knew no one who was in the buildings, or even in the city. My friends were not so lucky. I remember feeling just as sorrowful that day as I had one year before.

The next year I was a sophomore in college and a Resident Assistant. A football game happened to fall on September 11th that year. I had ribbons printed with the date. I remember cutting them, folding them, and pinning them. I remember recruiting many of my friends to help pass them out to people entering the stadium. We handed out nearly 1,000 and they were worn throughout the game. I remember thinking that wasn’t enough, we should have done more. I remember being sad then too.

After that, I don’t remember. I don’t remember what I did on the third, fourth, or fifth memorial. I don’t remember what I did on any of the following either. I wish that I did. I wish that it remained just as important to me as it was those first two years. I wish I had done something important and meaningful on those days as well.

This year marks the ten year anniversary and this year it seems more poignant for me, as emotional as it was when it happened and on that first and second anniversary. This year, I’m in Thailand. This year I’m away from friends, family, loved ones who were also affected by these events. I am surrounded by my Thai community who has no idea how important and meaningful this day is for me. I’m sure they are aware of the events of September 11th, but they didn’t live through it. They didn’t mourn. Their lives were not changed. On a day like today, I would love to be surrounded by Americans, by individuals feeling the same emotions I am. It’s difficult to be away.

I am still trying to figure out what I am going to do tomorrow. I want to honor the day in some way, but it will be difficult amongst a community that doesn’t quite understand and to which, with my limited language skills, I cannot explain. The director of the Peace Corps has issued a moment of silence for all volunteers at 8:46am, marking the moment of the first plane crash in Pennsylvania. I will be taking part … I wish that I could do more. I wish that I could stand up tomorrow and somehow proudly be an American.

And to my friends and my family, I love you. Days like today remind me how short life is and how important it is to let the important people in your life know how much you care. You never know when someone might be taken from you, and as my amazing sister told me just the other day, you should never leave anything unfinished. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the best of terms or the worst of terms, it is still important for everyone to know how much you care.

So, Mom, Dad, Meghan, and Nancy, I love you all more than you could ever know. Your support means the world to me and I miss you every day.

Cory, through thick and thin, you will always be my best friend. In the grand scheme of things, our friendship outweighs all else. I love you.

The rest of my family, you are the best family a girl could ask for. We have our quirks, but that’s what makes us who we are. I love you all, too.

The rest of my friends, you have made me the person I am today. You have supported me, guided me, made me laugh, given me incredible memories. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

My PCVs, thank you for sharing this experience with me. You have changed my life in ways you may never know. I am so thankful that you all are a part of my life. Choke dii.




One response

14 09 2011

Well said, Ky! God Bless the United States of America!

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