I remember being just barely seventeen, immersed in my own world. School, boys, fitting in.
I remember walking the halls before school started and hearing someone say “Someone flew a plane into a building in New York City!”
I remember rolling my eyes. Why would someone say something like that?
I remember walking into my first class to see my least favorite teacher with tears in her eyes as she stared at the television.
I remember finally not hating her, for at least a short time.
I remember that soul-wrenching fear for my best online friend, who lived in Manhattan.
I remember running to the payphone as soon as that first period class was over, calling my mother and saying “Mom, turn on CNN.”
I remember doing nothing that day in school, save watch the television. Except for my Sixth Period math class. Mrs. Pace made us go on like normal.
I remember being resentful of that at the time, but now I am thankful for it.
I remember getting home and feeling absolute relief when a message was passed on to me, that despite his internet obviously being out, my friend and his family was safe.
I remember thinking that I was almost glad my father hadn’t lived to see it, as it would have broken his heart.
I remember the patriotic fervor.
I remember the flags.
I remember my own knee-jerk reaction, that perhaps I should join the Navy after high school, so I could fight these horrible people.
…and I remember the racism. The casual hateful words thrown out by my peers— all children parroting their parents.
I remember it being completely okay to say “towel head.”
I remember the attacks on people that simply looked “Middle Eastern.”
I remember— and I still see, the absolute hatred of anyone of Arabic descent, immediately judged just on how they look, where they come from.
I remember being judgmental myself.
I remember the fear, the uncertainty, the confusion. I remember the anger, the knee-jerk reactions.
I remember the thousands who died on American soil, and the hundreds of thousands overseas who all died due to the actions and ideals of just a few.