It has been ten years since this happened. Ten years.
I was sitting in my fourth grade language class. Our teacher told us to gather around her chair on the rug, and I remember being annoyed because the rug was always dirty and she never wore shoes. She proceeded to explain that something bad had happened, and if the teachers and our parents were acting strangely, that was why. I don't remember her elaborating any more, just that it was something bad.
When I got home that afternoon, my mom's face was red from crying and I asked what was wrong. She sat me down at the dining room table, and asked me if I knew what the word "hijack" meant. I thought I knew it, and I have no idea where I even got this idea from, but I told her it was when an airplane hit another airplane from behind. I remember feeling very smart and grown-up as I gave her my answer, and then very sheepish after she told me the correct definition.
She explained about the four planes that had crashed, what the buildings were and why they were important, and that it was all an attack on the United States. She told me how many people they thought were in the towers when they collapsed, and how hard they were working to recover people from the rubble. She assured me that it was going to be okay.
My parents forbade me to watch the news, but, naturally, I did anyway. I remember that they kept showing the towers collapsing, and footage of people running from the wall of smoke and dust caused by the fall. I remember a specific replay of the second plane hitting or the first tower collapsing, and the newscasters in shock, only capable of saying, "Oh God. Oh my God."
The events of September 11, 2001 are something that lay very heavily on my heart, and seem to get heavier as I get older. I don't know if that has come with the increased understanding of what happened, or if it's something else entirely, but it's there and my heart aches for it.
I know that we're never going to forget. Everyone who was alive when this happened will remember it for the rest of their lives. It is not something that leaves you, no matter if you were there or if you lost someone or if you even really understood what was happening at the time.
And I know it upsets some people that such a big deal is made every year, that America is "picking at the scab," but it's needed. No, we'll never forget, but it's important to let people know that we still remember. It was an event that dramatically altered the entire nation, and continues to define things we do today. Lives were lost, families were broken. Everything changed.
We're not picking at the scab. We're continuing to doctor it, and though it will never heal completely, it's nice to know it's getting better.