Never Forget: 9/11 Through a Teenager’s Eyes

By Tiffany Rodgers

Where were you sixteen years ago? What were you doing when the planes hit? What did you feel? Were you scared? I remember perfectly the answer to all of those questions. Here is my story.

I resided in northern Indiana during this devastating attack on our nation. I had just turned 16, as my birthday is September 10th (Don’t do the math – I am sensitive about getting older). I was attending a small private Christian school that year. All of the high school (seriously like 30 people) had taken a school wide retreat over that weekend. I chose to stay home so I could spend my birthday with my family.

Instead of getting the day off, I was helping the elementary school while everyone else was gone. I was like a teacher’s aid and really enjoyed assisting the younger kids. The teachers gave me a break like a real teacher. I felt like big stuff as I headed towards the teacher’s lounge. I sat down on the couch and turned my attention to the TV that was on. I thought to myself that the movie the teachers were watching was rather violent and unexpected. Is this what our sweet Christian teachers watched on the free time? I realized then that it was no movie, but rather the news. This was really not Hollywood.

I was so scared. That kind of stuff just didn’t happen to America. I immediately called my mom to tell her how scared I was. She was crying on the other end. She worked at the church across the parking lot, so I knew she was safe. I think everyone was still in shock at this point. We decided I could help the school for a while longer before going home.

I ended up helping in the front office after that, answering the phone that was ringing off the hook. I was a shy girl, so this task was extremely difficult for me. The office lady told me that I would be a tremendous help if I could do this for her. She was my mom’s friend and knew about how shy I was. Trying to be helpful, I swallowed my fear and assisted. What were all the calls about? Well, every one of them wanted to know if the school was safe, staying in session, dismissing early, or if parents could just come to get their children. I could hear the anxiety in each parents voice. I was told by the office lady to speak calmly. I mustered up my best professional phone voice to assure the parents that had been calling.

When the phones finally died down, I was allowed to walk across the parking lot to where my mom was. The next two weeks were literally a blur, a CNN watching blur. The news was on our TV 24/7 in the aftermath of the attack. I couldn’t get enough information about this event. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to purposefully hurt us Americans. I thought the whole world loved America. That was the moment I realized that America had enemies. My innocence was stolen that day. However, my patriotism grew that day as well.

No matter what idiot is in office (I’m talking about you, Trump) I will always be proud to be an American. I might not agree with anything being done in the government, but I love my country. I will never forget 9/11. I will never forget how united and patriotic that America had for a while after the attack. I will never forget every family that directly lost a member that fateful day. Each and every one of them are heroes. My heart breaks for you. We must absolutely never forget.

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