Wednesday, October 29, 2008


David Bernstein, class of 2009, wrote this essay for Ms Alsup's senior writing seminar. From time to time we'll post essays, fiction and other writing by students. All students are invited to submit their work to a teacher to be forwarded to Life and Times. Click "read more" to see the complete essay.

Just over seven years ago, it happened. This event changed America, changed the world, changed the way we view the globe. It was not expected, was not thought to be possible, and certainly was not believed to ever happen by the average American. Ever. One plan. One terrorizing plan halted the world in the midst of its daily routine. Stopped the world from turning. We will never forget it, that sunny, brisk morning of September 11, 2001.

Everyone remembers where they were. I was in elementary school, amidst my naive friends. We were in our own world, clueless that we would soon face the reality of death of thousands of innocent people in the world we preteens believed was completely safe. Free of all worries, my buddy and I battled out a Jenga match while munching on Doritos, our preferred cheesy snack food. We took turns yanking out small wooden blocks. On and on this match continued, the cheese from our fingers creating a fire effect on the wooden slabs. Finally, one last jerk from my friend and our tower crumbled to the desk below, its rubble everywhere. As I celebrated my win with a bottle of victory soda, the school’s intercom woke from its slumber. “Everyone to the auditorium NOW! No exceptions!” Then a click, and God was gone. In my five long years, I had never heard such a call. My teacher, bewildered, directed us into a straight line and led us to our designated spot in the auditorium. The school’s principal and vice principal arrived shortly after us, clearly distraught about a recent event. After a quick mike check, the principal began to speak.

“A terrible, horrific, unthinkable event has happened on our country’s shores,” he announced. I obviously had no idea what the principal meant as he struggled to remain calm.

“The school district has deemed it necessary for the safety of its children to send you all home immediately upon confirmation that a parent will be available. Please remain quietly seated as we call you up alphabetically. Thank you.”

I was only ten years old; it was clear something was very wrong; but in reality, I was ecstatic to be sent home. What ten year old wouldn’t be? Everyday, I would wake up thinking of that secret plan to weasel my way out of going to school and on this day I was actually being sent home. Crazy.

My mother fought through the heaps of traffic and rescued my best friend and me from the chaos at the school. We drove home in silence. I asked why. The only response I got was a shake of the head and urging to just wait until we all got home safely. As we unpacked the car, my mother made it clear that an unthinkable event had occurred and the TV and radio would have the best, most current facts. We turned on the box. Headlines raced across the bottom and top of the screen, while people yelled and a gray matter filled in the rest of the screen. It wasn’t static. It was smoke.

Watching the screen, I soaked in the horrific images. This was not the typical news footage and every news crew was airing live. There was no censor. I watched in utter horror as people propelled themselves from the twin towers, falling to their deaths. Their only hope to survive was to jump, but it didn’t work. I was, at this point, terrified. Never had I ever began to imagine such an event could even occur on our country’s soil. As I continued to watch, my mom came up behind me and gave my friend and me a hug. Finally, I felt safe.

We tend to associate anniversaries with happy memories. A birthday, a marriage, or a relationship. However, we all know this is different. No other anniversary has changed the current culture of our country. Subconsciously, another terrorist attack looms in the back of our minds. Security has been heightened from the airports to the city corners. People now glance nervously at a small piece of luggage left alone when once upon a time, it was the norm to leave your bags and go grab a bite to eat or run to the bathroom. Risks are no longer taken. On this anniversary we should all pause to remember how our world has been changed and the people we have lost. We may be working or playing or doing neither, but we must stop. They deserve it. The innocent people remain engraved in our nation’s history and in most of our hearts.