For those who don't know, I am 24 years old. At the time, I was in elementary school on a cruise ship vacation with my family on a return trip from Bermuda. For a while, I didn't know what was going on. I remember seeing people crying and trying to make phone calls. Everyone was trying to watch the television, whether they were in public areas or weaving in and out of their staterooms frantically.
I remember being told that we weren't going to be docking in New York where we'd left from, but instead, we'd be going to Philadelphia. I didn't know why, but I thought this was a good thing because it meant we'd be closer to home.
I remember being informed of what was going on, but still not really understanding it. In fourth grade, I couldn't wrap my head around the idea. I remember going back to school and talking about it a little bit more in depth with our teachers and fellow students. That was the last year that September 11th was a 'normal' day for all of us.
This past week, I visited New York with family and we took some time to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. I knew that it'd be upsetting, but I wasn't fully prepared for the emotional impact that the visit would have on me. Before going into the museum, we stood outside at the Memorial with so many others and stared out at once was. I felt a light shove on my left, and quickly moved out of the way (I'd been standing right along one of the edges of the Memorial) as an older man made his way past me as he desperately scoured the Memorial for a name. It was in that moment that I burst into tears.
I was crying uncontrollably on a crowded New York sidewalk, but in that moment it didn't matter. I cried for this man who I hope found some peace that day. I cried for the families and friends who left flowers by the Memorial and who lost loved ones. I cried for the folks who had experienced it firsthand and who I know are scarred by the memory.
One day changed so many lives, a nation, forever. I can only imagine the impact that the Memorial and Museum might have on those who experienced the attack and survived or for those who were older and may have feared for their loved ones lives. I hope that the experience provides them with the closure that they might need.
The 9/11 attacks are part of the history books and classes that children are currently learning from who weren't born at the time of the attacks. These are children who have known nothing but the world post-attack. I hope that the Museum can act as a resource for them to understand the present and to appreciate why we honor this date each year, in memory of those that our nation will forever mourn.