I had never been to New York City.
At that time, it was this otherworldly place from the movies, a million miles from my Carolina town. As I walked into my freshman math class moments after the first tower had been hit, the image on the television screen looked like an action movie. Never mind Mrs. Bultman’s furrowed brow. Never mind the rattling chatter of frantic newscasters. It was some great tragedy on another planet to me. Even still, when the second tower was hit and our stomachs sank with the shattering sense of security we’d been born into, I couldn’t connect the dots. I felt the sense of history changing course as I watched the towers fall, but it wasn’t until cameras were able to get low into the streets and show me mourning faces covered in blood, dust, and fear that I understood it was real. New York was filled with Americans just like the ones I cried next to hundreds of miles away.
Today, I honor their memory and the memory of those who have paid the ultimate price since then to ensure that our definition of what it means to be an American, though forever altered, still remains. #NeverForget 9-11-01