I was 10-years-old when it happened. I should have been at school. I should have been in my Grade 5 classroom. I should have been sitting at my desk at the back left corner of the room. I wasn’t. I was at home. I was sick that day. I turned on the television around 9:20am and there it was on almost every channel. The World Trade Center was under attack. Smoke. Chaos. Fear. People. Policemen. Firefighters. Sirens. Images. So many images. It was all there right in front of me. I should have been at school.
September 11, 2001 is, unfortunately, a “where were you when…” moment in history. Almost everyone my age will say they were at school when they heard the news. Heck, even George Bush was in a school when he heard the news.
I don’t know exactly what was announced at school that day; I’ve never asked anyone.
It was a sunny, Tuesday morning. I’ll always remember that it was a Tuesday. I was sick at home and as I normally did on sick days, I went up to my parent’s bedroom to lie down on their bed and watch TV. I was 10-years-old, television was the remedy to all illnesses. Not today.
I quickly realized that something big had happened because almost every channel was covering it. A building was on fire. I yelled downstairs and told my Mom to turn on the TV.
I didn’t know what was going on at that point.
My Mom was on the phone telling my Dad and Grandparents what was going on, while I kept watching. Then a second plane hit the Tower. I told my Mom.
I had never seen anything like this before. My brain wasn’t telling me that this was a terrorist attack. I don’t even think I knew what the word “terrorist” meant. Why are planes flying into buildings? Is it an accident? I was completely unbeknownst to the events I was witnessing. I just knew it wasn’t good.
Then the first tower collapsed. Then the second. Massive dust clouds filled the city. Thousands of people lost their lives. It was incredibly sad to watch.
I spent my day in front of a television watching a tragedy. I watched people on the street being interviewed as they were covered in dirt and debris. They didn’t have to say a word; the fear on their face said it all.
Everything reporters said that day went over my head. I just didn’t understand. I knew that planes had been hijacked and were crashed into the World Trade Center, but that was it. I had never heard of the World Trade Center before that day. I didn’t know what it was or it’s importance. To me, they were just two very tall buildings.
My country was not the one under attack, yet I was scared.
People were dying. I didn’t understand why. Was I going to die? I didn’t know. Toronto and New York aren’t exactly worlds apart and my 10-year-old self worried that something may happen to my country. My city. My home.
Of course, nothing happened to me, but I went to sleep scared that night. I remember lying in bed and hearing the television across the hall in my parent’s bedroom. They were still watching the news. And there I was on my bed, looking out my window afraid that a plane might fly by and crash.
I’ll always remember that day, where I was, and what I witnessed on live television. I was introduced to things that day that I had never seen before. For the first time in my life I saw the world as a scary place.
I’ve always wondered what my memory of that day would be like if I had been at school.
I’m sure I would have come home from school and seen it on TV, but to what extent? I wouldn’t be watching it live. Would I have still watched the coverage ad nauseam? Perhaps I would have found something else to watch and then gone to sleep without a mind full of tragic images. I’ll never know.
To this day, every time there is a large news story, I find myself glued to a TV, and Twitter, following the live coverage. Could you imagine if Twitter were around back then?
The world came to a halt on September 11, 2001, and everyone has a different story. Mine is of a 10-year-old from Canada who happened to be home from school that day and witnessed everything unfold on TV.
I’ll never forget it.