That morning, though, didn't go the way I expected. Mom and Dad had no cheery "Good morning!" for us. They told us that people had crashed airplanes into two big towers in New York, and one into a building in Washington DC. My sister and I were seven and five, so we didn't really understand what that meant. We knew that it had to be serious, though, from the looks on their faces.
I don't really remember most of that day. I remember, though, that when the baby went down for her nap, Mom sent us outside, and then watched the news. I remember coming in for a drink, and she turned off the TV. I seem to remember protesting that I was grown up enough to watch, but she wouldn't let me. That scared me more than anything, I think, that whatever was happening, it was bad enough that I couldn't see it.
I don't remember much else that day. I don't remember whether we actually did any schoolwork or not, or anything else.
What I do remember was a few months later, as my grandparents were going to take my sister to their house for a few weeks. I stood at the airport waving goodbye and cried because I was afraid that that plane might get hijacked and crashed as well.
Looking back, it seems so far away. I even had to think through which house we were living in, so I would know whether to say that I came upstairs or downstairs for breakfast. I seem to remember it in a different house than it happened in. But to many people, it is still very close.
For many people, there are still gaping holes in their life from this tragedy. Many people lost a friend or family member to that awful day. And yet, many of them, while they still grieve, are proud, too. Because many of those who lost their lives did so of their own choice. Many of them knew that if they went up, they probably would not come down again. But they went up anyway, to do whatever they could to help.
That was a horrible, horrible day. My heart aches for those who lost loved ones that day. But I, and we as a nation, are proud of those who gave everything they had for people they didn't even know. I am proud of those on the fourth hijacked flight, who fought back and gave themselves to prevent more tragedy. I am proud of the men and women who went to Iraq and Afghanistan to defend us, many of whom lost their lives as well.
The fight is still going on. Our enemies are still out there, and they are growing. But there will always be people who will give everything they have to stop them, who will give their own life to save someone else's. And when they come, we will never forget them.