Although I was young and on the opposite side of the country, I will never forget that day.

Today is the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on this country. We saw planes being used as weapons fly into the World Trade Center and others destined to do damage in other parts of this great nation. It's a day that brought great loss, but also great unity. It's a day that shook our land, but did not break it. It's a day that we will never forget and a day that will be passed down from generation to generation to honor those lost.

September 11, 2001.

I was in the 8th grade and living on the west coast. The alarm sounded at 5:30 a.m. as it did every day and I stumbled down the stairs to breakfast. The house was dark and quiet. Usually my mom was already in the kitchen firing up a delicious meal to fuel us for our day. Instead, mom sat motionless on the couch, eyes glued to the television. As I looked at the screen, I couldn't quite grasp what was happening. I had never heard of the World Trade Center until the moment that I saw a plane fly into it. It was complete chaos.

Then I realized that it wasn't a movie or a show or an image of fiction. It was real. These were real people. This was our country under attack. I don't remember exactly how I got to school that day, but I do remember being swarmed by fellow students soon after I arrived. They knew me to be the church girl and they soon flooded me with questions about the end times.

Everyone thought the Apocalypse was happening.

School wasn't even school that day. Classroom doors remained open, each with a television airing nothing but the news. We were encouraged to ask questions or express our feelings, whatever was needed to help us cope, even though I know that our teachers didn't have all of the answers either. How could they? Slowly, but surely parents came to pick up their kids and the campuses emptied. The buses ran their normal route as the day continued on in an eerily quiet fashion.

More important than the events of that day, for me, were the feelings. I was filled with so much emotion; anger, confusion, fear, vengeance, love... As a 12 year old, I felt helpless. However, I saw those that could help step up. I watched as strangers helped one another and the brave raised their right hands, swearing to defend this country, even if it meant losing their own lives. Isn't it strange how tragedy can sometimes bring the best out of us?

It's ironic that tragedy is striking this country again on this day, the anniversary of 9/11. Again, we see devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and in the midst of Hurricane Irma, but we also see unity, love, humility, bravery and all that is good in us shine through. I believe it's because of what we all went through 16 years ago that we are more than willing to jump in and help in times like this. May we continue to move forward, armed with that good in all things.

May we never forget, September 11.

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