My Recollection of September 11th

To someone who didn’t watch September 11th, 2001 unfold on national TV, it was a day where the unknown was feared.
The majority of what transpired that day was gleaned from my dad who works at the Ontario International Airport and from surreptitiously listening to the radio while my mom wasn’t watching.

I was ten years old.

A sheltered boy who really didn’t understand the outside world or the fact that evil could become so real.

It was a regular school day for me and I did not learn about the attacks until noon (PST). We had gone to the park for lunch and I was sitting on a picnic table with my friends when I heard someone playing the news over their car stereo really loud. A group of people had gathered around the car and I could see that something was wrong.

Then as I listened, I heard the news of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the flight that went down in Pennsylvania. The news reporter then went on to say that these acts were being considered a “terrorist attack”, words that were extremely foreign to me. I had no concept of a terrorist, much less why they would do something so atrocious.

My upbringing had taught me that hating was wrong and that as a Christian, I was to be “non-violent” – both verbally and physically.

But in my ten year old head, I was mad at these “terrorists”. I had no clue who they were, what they looked like, or what religion they were, I simply was mad at them. The more I learned about the attacks and all the people who were injured and killed, the more I wanted some non-Christian to go and hurt those terrorists since my religion did not allow me that much-desired opportunity.

The thing that I most remember from that day is when I heard about the people who jumped from the World Trade Center, choosing an instantaneous death below rather than to die in the smoke and flames of the buildings.

I thought about that a lot, trying to understand only having those two options. To die now – on the cold concrete below, or to die in a few minutes – engulfed in smoke and flames.

What would I have chosen?

Of course I told myself that I would have tries to figure out some escape, but the horrendous reality was that for those people, there was no escape. I tried to imagine looking out of one of those windows, knowing  that no one can help you and that all you have left is the choice on how to die.

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched the TV footage of that day for the first time and it’s almost as if I am seeing a whole new event.

When I see the second plane, hit the tower, I think of the people sitting inside that plane and what must have been going through their minds.

When I see the towers collapse, I think of the people who were still in those offices trapped or who simply couldn’t make it out in time.

It’s incomprehensible for me to understand the depravity of those who committed these crimes but the heroism and selflessness of so many Americans that day simply outweigh the evil that happened that day.

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