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I was in my study period, in that weird head space somewhere between sleep and consciousness, when the teacher’s phone rang.
It was nothing unusual. She took calls all the time. Most days, the instructor was nearly as catatonic as we were. A class full of hormones, anxiety, and apathy is rarely worthy of a second look.
A gasp from the cheap, pressboard desk raised the eyes of a few from their somnolence, but it was her running to the television, a dust-covered box of plastic and tubes that would make everyone at Sony cringe in their lab coats, that roused our attention.
She heaved the black cart to the center of the room and turned the static television on with shaking hands, delivering snow and blaring white noise.
Moans and grunts of disapproval from sleeping teenagers were cut off mid-breath, for the flick of the channel revealed a plane making contact with a tower, silhouetted by a flaming skyscraper in the background.
No one questioned what they saw; this wasn’t a movie.
On 9/11/2011, the war-innocence of my generation was lost. Eyes were opened, pulled from their academic grogginess, to see that the world held more than exams and first dates, junk food and track practice.
People cried openly, jocks and nerds alike.
Classmates held each other as the news anchor filled in a room of twenty new adults, the revelation that terrorism was not only real – it was now a part of our lives.
Where were you the day the world changed?
I was among strangers turned siblings, nativity turned painful cognizance. I was among young Americans who vowed that they would change the world in whatever way they could, but for now? Now they would cry. A classroom of pride forgotten, of mommies called for, of pain and loss so thick, we couldn’t see the surface. Most of us had never known fear until 9:37am.
I was in a classroom of people who swore they’d never forget… and never have.
Where were you?
~ Victoria Elizabeth