We Remember

By Josh Joh-Jung
New Organizing Project blogger

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(Photo Credit: hurriyetdailynews.com)

A few days ago we commemorated the tragedy of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. A day when extremists hijacked the commercial airliners and carried out a planned attack on the United States. On a clear sunny Tuesday morning, the United States felt a fear, panic and realization that had not been felt in decades. A realization that anything was possible, even an attack on United States soil which had not happened since World War II at Pearl Harbor.

The tragedy we witnessed is forever seared into everybody’s minds. I can remember everything as though it happened yesterday even though it has since been a decade. At the time, I lived in New York City and can recall every detail from that day from the clothes I wore to what I ate that morning.

I was in the third grade and class just got started. My teacher, Ms. Brown, came into the classroom and stood in the center of the room with a note in her hand. She read aloud that an airplane had hit one of the Twin Towers and that some of our parents would come to pick us up.

I remember telling myself that there was no way on earth that mom would pick me up, she wouldn’t even let me stay home from school if I was sick. As soon as I finished that thought, my mother burst inside the room and yanked me from the classroom. We ran as fast as we could and drove away like madmen. I asked her what was wrong in an innocent manner as if it were a joke. Until that point, I had never seen my mother’s face so distraught in my entire life. The worry on her face told me she wasn’t playing around.

“Look out the window and you’ll see the smoke!”, she said. I gazed out but couldn’t see anything yet and then I saw plumes of white, grey smoke everywhere, just floating above the buildings. Soon enough we arrived home and she told me, “Go into Dorothy’s house, lock the door, turn on the TV, and do not open the door for anybody!” She then drove off to pick up my brother. I ran inside seeing the elderly neighbor Dorothy with her old smile asking me if what was the matter. I rushed in, told her to lock the door and turned on the TV. At that moment I saw the second plane hit the other tower on live television right before my eyes. The first thing that came to my mind was that it must have been some kind of pilot error, but they showed replays of the first and then the second plane hitting the towers over and over again. This was no accident; we were being attacked. I sat alone in the living room, watching it all of this unfold. The whole place was dead quiet except the sound of the TV.

America witnessed the disturbing scenes of people jumping from the Towers in a dead man’s gamble for survival, people crying and praying for help, the towers quickly collapsing, people buried under rubble. But we also witnessed people, average men and women, go above and beyond the call of duty doing everything they could to help others. For the victims and heroes of that day, we honor and remember them so as to prevent such tragedies from ever occurring again and that we are a United States.