Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Always Remember

It's been eleven years since the attack on 9/11. Somehow in all that time I've never really been able to write about my experience. I've jotted down snippets here and there in journal entries, but I've struggled to record my thoughts and experiences about that day. Though my life was entirely removed from NYC and I don't have any real connections to the attack, I still think it's valuable to share where I was and what I felt on September 11, 2001.

 I was a nineteen year old college student. I listened to the reports on the radio while getting ready for my 9:00 AM math class. I drove to school in shock, wondering, "Will we really have class when I get there? Will we just carry on as usual?" When I arrived every student on campus seemed to be a daze. We all stood frozen, watching the shocking news reports in the common hallway--class should have been beginning, but nobody seemed to care. Finally, I made my way to the classroom, where homework was collected and students were dismissed for the day. I headed to the Institute building and stood in the common area watching news reports with a sea of other stunned co-eds. I attended my 11:00 AM religion class where we studied the scriptures and prayed together.

Still in shock, I made my way to work. I had a unique job at the time, working as a teacher's assistant for a court-ordered behavioral disciplinary district classroom. While driving, I wondered how the children were doing. Did they know what was going on? Given their emotional challenges, how would they react to the things they had likely seen on the morning news. When I arrived, the school was on lock-down. The playground, usually filled with children, was silent and still. There was a wide range of emotions among the students. (Not unusual, but somehow different that day.) Some had a better understanding of what was going on than others, but they all knew that something in the world wasn't right. I remember discussing the tragedy with the children for many days following the attack. There was an increased amount of therapists and counselors in and out of the classroom during that time.

After work I returned home. I remember watching the footage for hours, discussing it over and over with family, and praying. I remember President Gordon B. Hinckley speaking as well. (I forget if he spoke that very evening, or if it was shortly after--the days following the tragedy all seemed to blur together.) I don't remember exactly what he said, but I remember feeling so much peace and hope, even in the face of such uncertain and frightening times.

Before going to bed that night I wanted to write in my journal, but I couldn't really find the words to express myself... I drew a picture of a flag, with a few brief words written in the lines of the stripes. I believe that journal had many drawings in the days following 9/11. (It was at this time that I developed a love of art therapy.)

Going to bed that night was different. For the first time I was uncertain about what would happen when I awoke the following morning. Would there be more attacks? Would my family and I be safe? I found solace in prayer, scripture study, the words of a prophet, and my art. September 11, 2001 is a day I will always remember.

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