I was in 6th grade at the time. Of course they weren’t going to go over the PA or announce to all us fresh-out-of-elementary school kids that the worst terrorist attack in American history had just happened and that over 3,000 people were killed. Naturally, they weren’t going to tell us that the world we had known this far in our short little lives was over and that the one we would finish growing up in would be vastly, vastly different.
My middle school was right down the street from the elementary school my brother Drew went to, and we met up as I passed it on the way home. Less than a block away from our house was a Speedway and there were two other gas stations on the corner by the house on either side of the street. I remember us both being really surprised at how far the line of cars was waiting to get into ALL three gas stations. As far as the eye could see there were cars. I was way too young to constantly be paying attention to gas prices, but I didn’t see it any different than it had been earlier that morning. At least not right away…
Mom was at the doorway when we got home. I remember her immediately shepherding is into the van and us going to our family friend’s house. I think that had always been the plan, but she did it with an urgency as if a plane were in danger of coming down in our neighborhood in the middle of West Michigan and she wanted us away from the blast radius. As we got buckled in she explained everything, and I heard the name Osama Bin Laden for the first time.
You see memes about it on Facebook all the time, the ones about missing the America of September 12, 2001. About flags being sold out everywhere. Of the common feeing of mourning and togetherness at the heart of every loyal American. A time soever briefly where there was not one single American that wasn’t proud to be one. I’m old enough to remember that feeling. I’m old enough to miss it.
Come on, America. The country is still here. The flag continues to fly. Where are you?