At 8:46 AM on 9/11/2001 I was 17 years old, a senior in high school. I can barely remember my schedule from my high school years, but I do remember my second period class senior year. I was over 600 miles away in suburban Ohio, far removed from the drama unfolding in NYC.

But I remember a classmate walked into class and told the teacher to turn the TV on. We were watching when the second plane hit and it will be one of those images that will stick with me the rest of my life. We continued to watch, even after the principal got on the PA to tell those of us watching to turn it off. I wasn’t one to watch the news stations at that point in my life, but the moment I got home I turned to CNN to watch the updates. I remember being worried all day because my grandmother was supposed to be flying home that day from a trip.

The horrors from that day is not something that should ever be forgotten. But it’s a downright shame what has happened in this country since that day. Being in suburban Ohio, I didn’t have a lot of friends who weren’t black, white, Christian or Jewish. One of my best friends growing up is Hindu and I knew of only a few Muslims at that point. One of them was in my Trig class that year and I do remember her talking about the vandalism happening to the mosque in town. If anything, I can thank 9/11 for my interest in things outside my comfort zone and my evolution into who I am today. I now read everything I can about different cultures and religions. I meet many people from the Arab world through work and I am extra nice to them because I know other people in the area may not be as nice. I know it wasn’t them as a religion who attacked us. I know it is against their religion to do such heinous acts and that it was the work of extremists.

That is how I remember 9/11. By remembering those who died that day, the reprehensible Islamaphobia that followed and remembering that the acts of a few does not apply to a large group of diverse people.

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