If you’re a child of the 80’s like myself, 9/11 was perhaps one of the most significant days of your young life. To this day, I remember with crystal clarity my morning of September 11, 2001.
For me, September 11th started just as another school day. My mom woke me up with the flick of a light switch. In a half asleep state, I stumbled to the shower, dressed in my school uniform, and slathered on the teenage girl makeup. At the moment, I thought I was making great time as I had yet to hear my mom yell at my younger brothers to “get the F out of bed.”
As I made my way to the kitchen to pour myself a cup of coffee, I noticed my mom sitting in the reading nook flipping through the newspaper as she listened intently to the radio.
“Omg Kendra, there was a plane crash. A plane crashed into the world trade center.”
“What? Huh? A plane hit the world trade center? How’s that happen?”
“I don’t know.”
Just then, the radio interrupted. ” This is a breaking news update. A second plane has crashed into the second tower of the world trade center.”
That morning, as I left my house to walk to the bus stop, I walked in silence as I contemplated the morning’s events. In Alberta, it was still early. The first crash occurred around 7 in the morning. As I walked onto the bus, I walked into a somber presence. The radio was on, and we rode the 50-minute bus ride in silence.
That day at school, we watched history in the making. The TV played. The news was on. Teachers were there to lead a discussion if we wanted. Although in Calgary we are thousands of miles removed from New York City, the devastation of 9/11 was felt at my private high school. (Where a few of my classmate’s parents were currently in New York for work).
While in New York, I felt it owed that I pay my respects to 9/11 by visiting the memorial at ground zero. For me, the monument is a beautiful symbol of human resiliency, strength, and grace. On September 11th New York fell, but the city refused to fall apart. At that moment, my heart cried for the school kids who watched the plane crash blocks away from their classrooms, for those who witnessed the buildings tumble, for the lives lost, and for the lives of loved ones left heartbroken.
For me, the monument was emotional, beautiful, and something I needed to see. Ground Zero is sobering, grounding, and oddly optimistic. Today where one towers stood, is the home of the freedom tower. In the field that once was destruction. One tree survived, and still thrives today.