I had no idea the days and weeks ahead of our country - I had no idea that countless firefighters and rescue workers would be sifting through that toxic, fiery rubble for months to come, desperately looking for signs of human life - finding fragmented pieces of torn apart, unrecognizable bodies. I had no idea the way my generation would forever be changed by the events of that day. No idea that my life and perspective and heart would be altered. No clue how this event would shape my generation, how it would color how young people viewed everything and how the future would be decidedly marked by it.
That the first day of High School was a stepping stone into a less-innocent mindset. I didn't know how drastically America would change - from the economy to the way we traveled - to the bloody war that would soon begin, taking from our lives people we loved and treasured. I knew none of these realities that early morning; but I wept, nevertheless. I don't think I'd ever really wept before. Oh, I'd cried. But never wept, not like this. I was just 14 and my life had mostly been the picture of happiness, innocent, and peace. But somehow, my heart knew - my heart reeled and grieved and my body shook with sobs that morning for the people in the rubble, the people who lost family members, loved ones... the kids who started High School just like me that day, who would come home to an empty house and a missing Dad or Mom. I spent that first school day huddled in front of the TV in shock with close friends and family.
I started High School on 9/11, but not in the way my teacher-Mom planned. Instead of fresh textbooks and newly sharpened pencils, I watched CNN while my perceptions of life, dreams, loss, my future, my country, and the world shifted. A sense of fear, maturity, and a new reality set in and changed my heart forever. But I was one of the lucky ones. My heart ached for those who were there, who were directly affected. And it still aches to this day.