On September 11, 2001, I was a 17-year-old senior in high school. When I got to school that day, friends asked if I had heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. What a tragic accident, I thought.
For my first class of the day, I tutored students with special needs. When the teacher turned on the TV in the corner, all work was forgotten. I still remember the fear that tightened my stomach when the words "terrorist attack" were mentioned. Someone had done this on purpose. I could hardly understand how anyone could be so evil.
Jacob, the student I was tutoring, started fidgeting, confused by the changes to his schedule and the images on TV. I explained that bad people had crashed airplanes into buildings in New York. He cocked his head, a puzzled look on his face.
"Why?" he asked.
In my journal a few days later, terrified of the just-announced "war on terror," I wrote, "This is not pretend. This is not a game. This is not something that will end quickly. This is not a movie. This is my life. It is fear, and anger, and grief. But most of all, it is real. And now, all I can do is be American, be brave, be strong, and always, always be close to God."
Yes, I was afraid, like so many people. I was only 17, and I lived a happy, simple life untouched by tragedy before that day. September 11th taught me what fear meant. But it also taught me to be strong in the face of it. It taught me that the only thing I can do when fear strikes is to fall to it or fight it.
So, my friends, in life and in literature, let tragedy teach us to take be brave in the face of fear. May God bless America, and the victims and families affected by the attacks of September 11, 2001.