A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY: 9/11

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Submitted Date 09/12/2019
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This week is always a hard one for me. I was in high school in Las Vegas. I absolutely remember walking to the bus stop and thinking about what a beautiful September morning it was. Blue skies, cool, crisp, early-fall air. I had just started school at Palo Verde for the year—I think I was a freshman.

 

I walked into the ladies' locker room to see the P.E. Teachers standing and staring at the T.V.s, mouths wide open. I watched, not fully able yet to absorb the magnitude of what was happening. Not yet.

 

The day was filled with loud, painful sobs. Kids whose parents were in New York. Teachers fraying at the edges, their spouses at the WTC. I remember watching, class after class, and thinking about how much paper those people in those high-rises must have gone through each day. I watched—and couldn't comprehend—how so much paper flew from the buildings, falling. Falling.

 

It wasn't until a lit class in college that I knew. It wasn't until college that I could almost wrap my mind around it. Those weren't papers, those were the horrified, resigned bodies of the choiceless people who had no hope but to fall. No hope but to fall.

 

It was white-hot debris shooting shrapnel through mortified men and women who stood on the streets, who ran for their lives, who tried to understand that the monstrosity unfolding before them was intentional. That the death of the man who just hit the pavement was not a tragic accident, but a conscious decision made by some men in a far-away land who took issue with—what? Doesn't matter. Senseless.

 

And my dad, at the end of the day: happy fucking birthday to me, he sobbed through the phone. How could he stand to exist—let alone celebrate—his September 12th birthday with so many tortured souls, so much trauma, so much death, so much fear? God, I miss him.

 

I'm proud of Orofino Elementary School today. My girls came home with a deeper understanding of what it means to be an American today. Though they were far from a thought on that beautiful nightmare of a September day, they had such profound respect for the shared pain this culture, this American country have come to know. There were tears as we talked about it.

 

So thank you to the teachers, who took upon them the magnificent responsibility of conveying the weight of the impact that day has left on survivors, on those left behind, on those brave souls who went overseas, some who gave their lives, and for the shared responsibility we all have...to never forget.

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