When I was in 8th grade, my history teacher assigned a project that involved us going to our family members (especially grandparents) and asking them what the days were that they remember most vividly in their lives. From my grandparents I learn about their feelings as they lived through major world events like Pearl Harbor, the end of WWII, the Korean War, the death of JFK, the first man on the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall and more.
I remember thinking then how lucky I was that I had no dates like that. Honestly, in 8th grade, there was not a single day or world event that stuck in my mind that significantly. I remember wondering how ANYONE could remember exactly what they were doing and how they were feeling on a certain day, especially one so far in the past. It wasnt until High School that I realized there are some days that are just burned in your brain.
I used to love to fly. Growing up my family always traveled. Sometime in 2000, I grew a sudden fear, and had no desire to ever get back on a plane again. On the way back from Cuba in spring 2000, I decided, in Florida of all places, that I was never getting on a plane again. This of course was a lie, since I lived in California, and still had a very long flight ahead of me. I flew again in summer 2001, each time having a panic attack when boarding the plane and for the first couple hours of the flight.
On Sept 11, 2001 my alarm clock went off at 6am. The breaking news was of a plane hitting the world trade center. Honestly, I had no idea what that was. I walked into my parents room and said "See, this is why I don't want to fly". They gave me a look, and said something along the lines of "I'm sure it was just a prop plane, nothing to worry about." I went back to my room, turned on the TV and watched the second plane fly into the world trade center. I didn't cry. I just stared at the screen in shock. Is this for real? What does this mean?
We went to school that day but nothing happened. We listened to the news on the radio and heard of the third and fourth flights that went down. We discussed the meaning of the events in all classes, and what they could mean. We felt lucky on the west coast.
I didn't cry all day, or even all week. That Friday I went to the movies with my then boyfriend, and we saw "Hardball", a movie about under privileged kids... one of whom dies at the end of the movie. I walked out of the theater in tears. Who knows why... for some reason that movie made me realize how real everything was.
Things have changed since then, and yet they havent changed. I'm living in a foreign country, but I still fight with my fear of flying every time I board a plane. I have a daughter, and part of me is fearful of the world she will grow up in. I watched the moments of 9/11 on the news again, and wondered that after 8 years the feelings of shock and fear are still there... yet in my daily life I can ignore the implications of the resulting wars, even here in the middle east.
I thank g-d for everything he has given me since that day, and for that fact that even now there are only one or two other major world events that I remember as vividly.