By Allison Schueller: I was sitting in my seventh-grade computer class. Mr. Phillips was testing our typing skills. Our school principal, Mr. Frick, came over Jefferson Junior High's speaker system and said, "All teachers turn your TVs onto Channel 2. A life-changing event is occurring in our country."
I remember thinking they never let us watch TV, except in the morning during our "Channel One News." Mr. Phillips was sitting at his desk with his feet up, relaxing as we were testing. He got up to turn on the TV, but it wasn't working. He then left the room to "find out what was going on." When he came back, he was rushing around the room, upset that the TV didn't work.
About 30 minutes later was lunchtime. All the TVs in the lunch room were on, and I was watching as the towers fell. They kept replaying it over and over.
I was so young and so naive, I didn't really think anything of it. I had never been outside of Iowa, unless I was playing volleyball, and had no idea how huge this event was for our country.
I knew it was a horrible event since my father was home when I got home from school that day. At this time, my dad was a semi driver who drove to and from New York and had left that morning to deliver to a store across the river from the World Trade Center.
I had never heard of Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida and had no idea what a terrorist attack entailed. Every teacher, every adult, every person was talking about what was happening. I got home, and my mother was very upset that we had found out about the attack at school. She did not want us scared or worried that something was going to happen to us. I was completely oblivious and went on with my day as if nothing happened, while everyone else was glued to the TV and radio.
I didn't realize the extent of the attack until a few years later when the news stations were replaying their live broadcast of that day. (I believe it was the fifth anniversary.) I was much more aware of what was happening. I was home alone watching as everything happened. It hit me like a ton of bricks -- the pain, the suffering, the fear that showed on every single person's face on the TV screen.
Then, when the first tower fell, the broadcaster's voice stuck in my head for weeks. The image of people running away in fear as the giant debris cloud was chasing them down the street made my stomach ache. People were in that building, firefighters and rescue workers were trying to save people in that building as it fell. I watched the news for hours that day, just sitting there soaking it all in.
Our country would never be the same. Someday I will be looking at my kids and grandkids and telling them what life was like before 9/11 and how it changed forever afterward.
I might have been a naive child when 9/11 occurred, but it forced us all to grow up. It was the worst attack on U.S. soil, and it will forever live in the hearts of every single American that remembers that day. I cannot imagine being in New York and seeing all the events unfold right in front of me. I struggle enough watching it on TV. I couldn't imagine being in those buildings or aboard those planes.
9/11 forced us all to grow up in a nation that has been crippled in fear, forced into a war that may never end. I was an innocent kid thinking the world was a warm, loving place. 9/11 took that security away from a lot of people. At the same time however, it brought our country together to fight for each other and our rights.
I will never forget the look on Mr. Phillips' face when he came back into our classroom, silent and stunned, upset that the TV wouldn't receive a signal. At 22 years old, I now understand so much more. Too many people have suffered due to 9/11, but our country will never forget those we lost.The lives that were lost that terrifying day will live on in the hearts of all of us that were watching that day. 9/11 will never be forgotten.