13 Years Gone

13 Years Gone
Dane La Born

Dane La Born

Third period earth science class, at Ramay Jr. High School. That’s where I was on Sept. 11, 2001.

Our teacher, Coach Childress, dragged the television out and we watched the second plane hit. Soon, students began being pulled out of class, myself included. I watched the towers collapse from my home. It was like nothing anyone had ever seen before — a painful memory burned into my brain.

What came after depends on who you ask. Myself, at 15 going on 16? I was angry. Angry this had happened, angry at my country, angry at the president I had no say in electing. I turned that anger to a typical teenage outlet and decided I was “Punk Rock,” and spent a little too long being a little too angry.

A good friend of mine chose service, to put his convictions on display and fight for what he believed in. Others chose faith, turning to God to get them through one of our country’s darkest times. The list goes on and on, but no matter who you were, we were all united under that one thing we had born witness to.

Across the world that Tuesday, everyone was American.

Buckingham Palace played the Star-Spangled Banner during the Changing of the Guard. In Beijing, flowers and memorials covered the US embassy. In Tehran, an entire soccer stadium observed a moment of silence. People in Canada, Ireland, Belgium, Albania and many other countries, people took to the streets to march in silence.

Mosques in Bangladesh, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya and Sudan heard their Imam’s condemnation of the “cowardly” and “un-islamic” attacks. No one could grasp this horror.

There was no war, there were no battles. While the world is never peaceful, it was peaceful then by comparison. A poem written about that day called the morning “beautific in it’s indian summer breeze.” It was a perfect day, across the US. Such a beautiful day that led to such tragedy, so quickly.

Watching the towers collapse is a feeling none of us will ever forget. With the advent of YouTube, we will be able to show our children and our children’s children hundreds of different videos showing the planes hitting, the towers collapsing. We will be able to tell other people exactly where we were, exactly when we heard that America was under attack.

One thing that needs to be said, as 13 years later, this has not improved; Islam was not responsible for this. Extremists were responsible for this. Murderers and terrorists were responsible for this, acting in direct opposition to their faith. They do not represent Islam anymore than Fred Phelps represented Christianity.

It’s important to remember, in these turbulent times where so much bad happens, that a small group does not represent the entirety of a faith. Islamophobia is a terrible thing, and our country is better than that. We have to be.

So mark this day, again, in passing. Call your loved ones just for the hell of it, talk to a friend you haven’t heard from in a few years. Hug your dog or cat. Mourn those who lost their lives, and mourn all the people who have lost theirs as a result; first responders who ran into the smoke as others ran out, not bothering to think about what they were inhaling. Soldiers who signed up to fight for the country they loved. Be good to one another, because the world can change for the worse in a heartbeat.

Thank you for listening. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Categories: Commentary