Today is a day of remembrance in the US. 18 years ago, nearly 3,000 people died in a horrific terrorist attack in NYC, Washington, D.C., and the skies over Pennsylvania.
I was 21 and a college student in my junior year at Michigan State University. I was a transfer student so it was my first year there and something like my second or third week of classes.
The dorm I lived in was mostly graduate students because it was all 21+ and many of them were international students. I can remember them crowding around the television in the lobby and crying on the phone to their parents trying to find a way home.
I didn’t know anyone who died that day, but I did know people who were impacted by the attack.
I found out that it happened because I was on the phone with my grandmother and she told me that a plane had hit a building in New York. I turned the television on just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower.
It was horrifying.
I tried to go to class that morning, but the second tower fell on my bus ride to class and the bus driver stopped the bus because he was in tears and refused to go any further.
I walked the rest of the way to my German language class hysterically crying and my professor, who hadn’t heard the news yet, excused me from class because he couldn’t understand me when I tried to explain what had happened.
I couldn’t turn the television off for days. 9/11 happened on a Tuesday and I missed the rest of the weeks’s classes because I was so upset.
I went to the open counseling hours at the campus counseling center and went home to my parents after a couple of days just to regroup.
I remember seeing flags everywhere.
I remember the walk in my community that was 3000 feet long to commemorate the people we had lost and the first responders that spontaneously showed up to block roads for us along the way. I think I stopped and hugged almost all of them and cried with them.
It’s a day that still brings tears to my eyes almost two decades later.
I had friends that enlisted in the military in the days following, and it’s sobering to realize that, as of today, there are 18 year olds that can enlist today that were born after the attacks on this day that don’t know anything except a constant state of war.
I am humbled and sad by this realization.
I am also just saddened by this day.