My dad always told me that you will always remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when a catastrophic event occurs. To this day I can tell you where I was, what I was doing, and even what kind of car I was in when the planes hit the World Trade Center. We all know what went on during the fateful day of September 11, 2001, the turmoil that wrought the country, the hate that spread rampant, and the war that followed soon after.
I remember that day; my brothers, my cousin, my mom, and I in the car driving the forty-five minutes to school. Only halfway through the trip, crossing the valley and nearing Duvall, my mom got a call from my dad, telling her to tune in to the news. Having found AM 1000 on the tuner, my mom turned up the volume on our Toyota Camry’s radio. “Unconfirmed reports tell us that the Pentagon was hit as well as the World Trade Centers,” the voice on the radio blared, “The twin towers are still standing, but are being evacuated as quickly as possible. The loss of life is unknown so far, but is thought to be around 300.”
The turmoil in my own mind was astounding. Being only ten years old, I had no idea what it all meant. I was not interested in international affairs; I had no hate for other countries; I did not know what it felt like to be attacked. I was a sheltered young boy, kept in school by my parent’s money and out of trouble by their watchful eye. I was born just before the Gulf War ended, so I had no idea what war was like, or the devastating effects fighting could have on a country. All I knew was the booming car industry, cheap gas, and easy airline travel, as well as a good Mariners team. Now everything changed, and I was forced to do something I had never done before: look at the outside world. Some moments last forever because they cause important things to shift and move out of place, into an irreparable state. I now know that we live in a world that can be upset by one moment. September 11th was one of those moments for me, as well as the hundreds of millions of Americans around me.
I visited Ground Zero, and until I saw firsthand the devastation and heard the stories of the firefighters, I kept the American point of view, looking inside our borders, and nowhere else. I had no idea what true hate was, what a national debt could be, what a nation in mourning would look like, yet all because of one fateful day, one moment, one nanosecond decision by a terrorist, I learned personally what a delicate balance we live in, which could easily tip one way or another, in our favor or not. That is why I believe that a moment can last forever.
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