I was sitting in Mrs. G’s 6th grade science class on the left side of the room when I found out. She stopped teaching for a moment to tell us that a plane had crashed into a building in New York City. I was shocked by the news. But I was young too. That’s sad, I thought, but why is it such a big deal? I didn’t understand the gravity of what had happened. “Terrorism” wasn’t yet conceivable to me.
And then I began to watch the news. I saw the planes smash into the buildings as swiftly as a baseball through a glass window. I saw the towers crumble as if they were made of Jenga pieces. I saw the black figures falling through a smoke-filled sky. I saw people running through the streets screaming, panic the only recognizable emotion in their eyes.
I saw it all over and over and over again.
That’s when the fear set in.
The dream began with me at school, as if it was just another normal day. Then I heard that a plane had crashed into part of the school. People were running around screaming. Where was my best friend? I started to search for her. I couldn’t find her. Please let her be okay, I thought repeatedly. Then someone told me she was in the part of the school where the plane crashed. I knew she was dead.
I woke up crying and shaking. I’ll never forget the emotions that my dream self felt: intense panic, dread, sadness. While I felt those things in my dream, many people experienced those emotions in real life.
And that’s what they wanted us to feel, right? Terror. Unimaginable terror.
So let’s make a choice to NOT feel that. Instead, let’s feel strong, courageous, and mighty. Because we are all those things. Yes, so many photos from that day capture the terror so many of us felt. But there are indeed photos that capture the strength, the courage, and the might.
Fear is an incredibly controlling force. If we let it overcome us, then terrorists have completed their mission. If we sacrifice too many personal freedoms in order to increase security, then terrorists have completed their mission. If we put too much money and too many lives toward trying to “attack” terrorism, then terrorists have completed their mission.
On Sept. 11, 2001 we lost dearly. Let us not live forever in fear, making questionable decisions to compensate for that fear. Because that’s what the terrorists want. They want our entire country to crumble like the buildings did on that day. If we continue to live in fear, that WILL happen.
We must learn from the events of 9/11/2001. That is for sure. But ultimately, we must conquer fear and stand tall. A plane can destroy a building, yes. But it can only destroy our strength if we let it.