As you may have noticed in the past, I occasionally write comments on others' blog posts that are worthy of becoming their own blog posts. So, as I have done before, I have posted my comment below; however, it will make more sense if you read Will Montgomery's blog post 'Never Forget' before reading my response.
“The view came; the understanding did not.” Very poetic. Also very true.
Where I was: I was taking the I-STEP+ test in my high school. Because of the testing, no one told us what was happening, and I knew nothing…until after lunch when I got to my 5th period class and didn’t leave it for the rest of the day. We sat nearly silently as we watched over and over again the same footage from different angles and with different “important” people commenting. But, like you, I didn’t understand.
Who I was: I was an awkward 13-year-old little girl, new to high school and completely out of place. I’d never heard of these buildings and didn’t realize the magnitude of what I was seeing. It didn’t quite sink in that “we” had been attacked. I lived in the middle of nowhere far from New York, and to me “they” had been attacked, “they” had died, and “they” had suffered. It wasn’t until I saw my parents’ and grandparents’ reactions that I realized it affected “us” too.
Interesting story from that day: My little sister was three weeks short of her third birthday, and when I came home from school she was sitting on the floor just inside the door stacking wooden blocks. She built two tall, thin towers that were connected at the base and then, holding a rectangular block in her hand, knocked them down. This was before we turned on the TV to continue watching coverage. She didn’t know what she was doing, but the rest of us felt it. While we were watching that evening, just beyond the smoke a church was visible. She wasn’t at all concerned about the smoke or what had happened, but she did ask if the church would be okay."
Although this may be strange, I don't like to memorialize tragedies. The reason is not that I don't find them to be significant. The reason is not that I don't mourn for the people whose lives were directly affected or ended. The reason is that once I realized the horrific meaning of September 11th, 2001 it was too sad and awful for me to understand. It is still too sad and awful for me to understand.
I'm sure that the attack at Pearl Harbor and the Oklahoma City Bombing were just as horrible, just as devastating, and just as heart-breaking for those who were there, those whose families and friends lost loved ones, and those who heard the news. For the first half of my life, I was fortunate enough to have only read about such events in history books, overhear conversations referencing them, and watch movies inspired by these events. However, on September 11th, 2001 I became an experiencer of a defining moment.