Every generation has a moment they remember with lucid clarity, as if each of us were immediately transported back in time. The emotions, conversations and physical interactions with people run through our veins. We still get goosebumps. It was still yesterday. For those that are older, there were the Gulf Wars, Vietnam, MLK’s assassination, JFK Jr’s assassination, Pearl Harbor day….the list truly goes on and on. For my generation, it’s today.
When I woke up that day, it was to a phone call from my best friend – I will never forget the terror and anguish in her voice; I asked my mom why she would let anyone ring me so early in the morning and with a solemn wave of the hand, I was given the remote so I could turn on the television in my room. “Which channel, momma?” But it didn’t matter, it was the only thing on TV – a tower, standing so strong and tall, burning from the inside out. As I grappled with what I was seeing, together – my mom, my best friend and I – watched as the second plane hit. I was angry, scared, and confused; as a generation, we tried to put the pieces back together but we couldn’t make them fit.
My first class that morning, the second week of Junior year, was AP United States History. The teacher, a stickler for rules and outlines, put down his notebooks and erased our chalkboard. I had always considered him a stoic man, with a dry wit and a nice smile. His eyes spilled out sadness, even though there were no tears. His voice, a powerfully calm voice, swept the room – Today, there is no lesson…because today is the lesson. This class is about the thorough examination of American culture over time; but there is no use in discussing history while we are in the process of making it.
We will never forget. We will never forget that what tore us apart as a nation also brought us together. We will never forget that we are all brothers and sisters working toward a common goal of increased awareness and human community. We will never forget that we have each other.
And we will never stop making history.