“Where were you when…?”
It’s a question we hear a lot, especially when we think about this day.
“Where were you on 9/11?”
I know exactly where I was. I was in 10th grade and the administration had called yet another assembly. My friends and I were placing bets on what we were going to be nagged about this time. Dress code skirt length? Kids sneaking into the gym during class and hanging out in the loft?
We just had an assembly a few days prior regarding graffiti on the bathroom walls, so I assumed it was yet another gathering aimed at keeping the rebellious kids in line.
I was wrong.
Once we were all assembled, we opened in prayer and then our headmaster came forward and told us the news. There had been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
It might be hard to remember pre-9/11, but back then we all needed further explanation on what exactly that meant. Words like “terrorist” and “terrorism” weren’t in the personal lexicon of the average citizen, much less a kid.
Since I was living in Georgia at the time, we were on the east coast, so for the next couple of hours kids popped in and out of classrooms to give us updates. Even the teachers stopped trying for normal classes (besides Mrs. Tucker, bless her heart. No one was interested in Biology before the assembly and we sure as heck weren’t paying any attention to her drone on now).
I distinctly remember Brittany, a girl in my class whose mom worked in the office, passing me in the hallway with a frenzied look in her eyes, curly hair bobbing and telling me, “They got the Pentagon!”
It was 10 a.m. when I was finally able to reach my mom and get the green light to leave school. No one knew; were schools going to be targeted next?
With my sisters, Lindsey (who was driving us in her Ford Taurus, aka “the Green Hornet”), Britney and I all left school to drive to the office where both of my parents worked. Although they were only 10 miles away, it took three hours to get to them. We played the radio to hear any of the latest news and sat with the rest of the commuters in traffic that was as confused as we were.
People trying to get to their loved ones, people leaving work and heading to a bar to watch the news or people heading home to watch it all unfold on their TV screens. There was the same scared, quiet look on the faces of everyone in the cars we passed.
That day was mass confusion, and in a way, I feel like we haven’t recovered. Like we won’t recover. Yes, we’re able to talk about it without tears stinging the back of our eyes like they did the first few months after the attacks happened, and we don’t have that hole in our chests where what we thought we always knew had been ripped out.
When I taught 9th graders a few years ago and asked them what they remembered about that day, most of them had been in preschool and didn’t even remember it. But our world changed after 9/11.
The world we live in now is one where we’re desensitized when we hear about terrorism. We allow our government unheard-of privileges with our personal liberties so they can “protect us” from the threats of there ever being another 9/11. We are scared.
As a mom, it saddens me to think about the post-9/11 world I’m bringing my girls up in. I want them to experience freedom from scare-tactics and tragedy that have become the norm since that day twelve years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s incredibly important to educate our children on the realities of today, to make them aware of the worst case scenario so they’re prepared if, God-forbid, it should happen.
But I also think it is my duty as a mom to make sure they enjoy simply being children. They’ll already have enough pressures at school to wear skanky clothes, to be super skinny, to be the smartest, or the fastest, or the best. So, adding another one that involves terrorism and things beyond our control, while it’s a reality, is not something I will choose to focus on.
Instead, I’m gonna focus on them being kids. I want them to get messy, to eat too much candy on Halloween, to believe in the Toothy Fairy, and to rest securely knowing whatever happens, they’re safe and happy.
I hope I do this every day for my girls, but the only way I know how to ensure this happens is to first fill them with the love of the Lord. I hope to teach them that when the world is scary like it will sometimes be, or when bad things happen that we can’t explain, that God is watching over us.
I hope they learn that bad things make God sad too, but if we keep our faith in Him, that He can use all things for good. He knows all, sees all, is in all and ultimately, loves them more than anything in the world. Knowledge like that is something that can’t be ripped away from us. That is something that won’t change.
I also think it is my duty as a mom to make sure they enjoy simply being children.