Ten years ago, I woke up late for my elementary school choir practice.
I remember rushing up the stairs, barely listening to my little sister telling me that two planes had crashed into buildings in New York City.
"Uh-huh," I said, not really believing, too interested in gulping down my cereal.
"No, really," my mom said, tears in her eyes. "This is real."
And my perfect snow globe world shattered.
I remember sitting on the kitchen bar stool, horrified as I listened to my mom and dad describe what just happened, and that America was under attack. I was even more appalled when I saw the T.V. screen--black smoke pouring from the twin towers, announcers unsure of what was happening.
The anxiety and fear catapulted to school, as I talked to others in my class--who had done this? why? how many people had gotten out alive? There was a kind of camaraderie in this fear; we all felt keenly aware of the danger our country was in, and even more aware of the people in New York. I know my fifth-grade heart reached out to them.
But I don't think we ever dreamed there would be more attacks.
I remember sitting in my fifth-grade classroom, T.V. on. We watched in shock and horror as the cameras shifted to Washington, D.C.--the Pentagon, and then to a field in Pennsylvania. And then, back to the Twin Towers.
I didn't realize they were coming down at first--I thought it was just more smoke, until my teacher said, "They're coming down!" It was surreal, watching those beauties of steel and manpower come down like a stack of cards. It was awful to know the people trapped inside there; it makes my soul ache just to think of it.
I remember the heroes of September 11th. Firefighters. Police officers. United 93. Their courage inspired me; it still does.
I also remember the unity after 9/11. The flags on every street corner; in every window. We were a nation in mourning; but we did indeed mourn with those that mourned, and comforted those in need of comfort. There was renewed faith after 9/11. That unity and patriotism defined my childhood as much as the attacks did. I wish there didn't have to be a disaster to compel us to unity and brotherhood. And there doesn't have to be. We can choose to reach out to those in need, whatever the day.
The memorials and T.V. specials today talked about the children affected--whether by losing loved ones, or just losing innocence. September 11th surely was a defining moment for my generation. And even though we were young, it doesn't mean it didn't affect us. It doesn't mean we don't remember.
We'll have to be the ones to remember. For in time, we'll be the only ones who do remember.
My generation needs to remember the fear, the sorrow, the unity, the healing. We need to remember the heroes who lost their lives so that others could live . . . or at least have a chance to live. We need to remember the sacrifice. We need to remember that God does indeed bless America, and will continue to do so. He'll never leave us alone. Like President Thomas S. Monson eloquently stated in his excellent article in the Washington Post, God "softens the winters in our lives, but He also brightens our summers."
I hope that today we remembered. And that we never forget.