I'm starting my tribute to the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks early.
Nine years ago tomorrow, at 8:46 AM, the United States was forever changed. We were scarred. As a people, as a nation. As families and friends. I was only seven, but I remember my second grade teacher gathering my class around her to explain that something terrible had happened in New York. Around that time, United 93 was flying over my city, and another plane suspected of being hijacked was being landed at our airport.
My Dad was driving home from his shift at the fire station. My younger brother was in physical therapy with my Mom, my youngest brother in school. Later that day, my Mom caught her ankle in our screen door and started to bleed out in our kitchen. She wouldn't let me call 911.
I still remember those events as happening on separate days. I don't think I'll ever fully understand how two traumatic instances could happen on the same day, even though I know they did.
2,977 people lost their lives across the country that day: in New York City, a Pennsylvania field, in Washington D.C.
I've never visited Ground Zero. I've never been to Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I've visited the Pentagon. Such strong buildings fell that day. So many families were thrust into misery that they can never truly overcome and that I'll never really understand, because I'm lucky. I'm damn lucky. I remember thinking that my Dad would have to go to New York, to help the other firemen there. I remember praying to God that he stayed with us, because even then I knew that firemen were losing their lives as they dragged people from the rubble.
I didn't understand what had happened, but I don't think you need to understand something as horrendous as the 9/11 Attacks. You just know.
My best friend's grandmother lived in New York at the time. Her Dad was visiting her grandmother when the towers fell.
The man who raised one of my other friends is currently serving the remainder of his time with the Army in Iraq, though the mission was officially ended a couple weeks ago.
My cousins are all in the Air Force. One of them was stationed in Baghdad in the early days -- 2004-2006. I didn't know it then, but he was in the middle of a war, even though he said he spent his days patrolling peaceful provinces and streets.
There's a woman who graduated from my high school, whose husband enlisted with the Marines post-Sept. 11th to fight. She was pregnant with twins who have just started at the same preschool I attended when he was killed in action.
And today, in our class meeting that we have every Friday, my grade couldn't shut their damn mouthes for a moment of silence. My friend kept writing her damn AP Biology lab, because she couldn't be bothered to stop.
30 seconds isn't much to ask, when we've been given years of freedom at the expense of others.
I ask that whoever reads this blog post take 30 seconds from their life and remember, because we should never forget.