Where Were You?

I was in 8th grade, climbing on to the school bus after an early morning swim class. The bus driver had the radio on. “A plane has hit the World Trade Center.”

Oh, I thought. How dumb do you have to be to crash into a big building like that?

That is the moment I will remember forever. The flashbulb memory. My generations Pearl Harbor, JFK assassination, Challenger explosion. The days after that are blurry. In every class we talked about what happened. Most of the discussion involved unsubstantiated or simply untrue rumors we heard on the news and passed along through the school.

I was too young to fully grasp the enormity and consequence of that day. I didn’t get why the terrorists targeted the symbols of American economy, executive, and military power. It wasn’t until this morning when I woke up and watched the day being replayed in real-time on cable when I realized how incredible those images were and how predictably passionate the response was.

The 21st century began with planes crashing and buildings collapsing on this day seven years ago. Memorials have been consecrated and wars have been started, yet there is still a gaping hole in the ground. Our wound has not been healed.