On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, the lives of many Americans were changed. Our way of life just stopped and everything was different. I remember the events that took place that day and I don’t think I’ll ever really forget. At the time I lived in Silver Spring, Md, which is connected to D.C. and the Pentagon via the metro. When the first plane struck the twin towers, I had no idea it had happened. It wasn’t until the crashing of the second plane that I knew what was happening when Mrs. Ramirez, the principal, came on the PA system and announced we were in a code red lock down. I was young and code red was always just a drill to us, it never meant anything serious until that day. We were told to lock the classroom door, stay out of sight and hide underneath our desks. We waited in silence, anxiously waiting to be set free from the prison of terror we were placed in.
My teacher turned on the TV and put the news on and muted it. I watched the screen and saw the planes crash into the towers multiple times. There was no escaping it. When the Pentagon was struck, we were placed under emergency lock down and were not allowed to leave the school. It wasn’t until around 5 p.m. that they allowed our parents to pick us up and take us home.
I remember getting home and turning on Fox News to watch it all over again but this time, there was the attack on the Pentagon. My mom was crying and she explained to us that our friend who lived with us at the time, Jose, worked there and she wasn’t able to contact him. We waited for hours for him to come home. We waited to receive word of him but none came. We didn’t have school the rest of the week and I still waited by the window to see if he was coming home. But he never did. We received word that he had died in the attack on the Pentagon. It was then that I really understood what had happened.
I lost a close family friend who always took care of us and looked after us when my mom was at work. I lost my sense of freedom as a kid during that time. We were no longer allowed to stay out after dark, we had to report straight home after school, my friend Hadeem, whose parents were from Pakistan, were forced out of our neighborhood due to hate crimes and threats.
Our airport security (TSA) stepped up its game, making it harder, yet safer to travel. A new breed of hatred developed in the nation towards Muslims and Arabs. We as a nation slowly became divided on the issue at hand. Politics became obscure and war was inevitable. People feared the possibility of another terrorist attack and found themselves lost within the terror. The events changed my life and not for the better.
Nothing was the same and I was only 9; too young to fully realize the extent of the damage done by the attacks of 9/11, but old enough to know nothing would be the same. But I will always remember; I will never forget those who lost their lives, those who fought for our freedom, the heroes who risked their lives to save others. I will never forget 9/11.