Ten years ago today I was in the car with my parents on the way to be dropped off at school (10th grade), when an announcement was made over the radio about a plane hitting one of the towers of the World Trade Center. At first the DJs, newscasters and probably everyone else across the nation assumed it was a tragic accident. Soon, however, another plane hit the second tower and it became clear that this was no accident.
My first period class, and I’m sure the rest of the school, spent the morning glued to the TV. No one spoke. Some students cried. I just sat in disbelief.
At some point an announcement was made over the PA system by the principal saying that all TVs were to be turned off and that we should go about our day as normal. Thankfully, almost every single teacher at that school realized this was something we all needed to see and left the broadcasts running.
I cannot describe how I felt, and still feel, seeing footage of those jets crashing into the sides of such mighty buildings. Seeing it live, I just knew that at that exact moment hundreds of people lost their lives. As the images continued (and got worse), I knew America was changed forever. I am especially haunted by the footage of people jumping from windows hundreds of feet in the air in an effort to escape the flames. What they were thinking and feeling is unimaginable.
So today, as the flags across the nation fly at half-staff, I am reminded of what was lost but also what was gained. Americans have, and always will, persevere. And it is on days like today that I am especially thankful to be an American.