I distinctly remember September 11, 2001. I was in fifth grade, and it was the day our forms for turning in band instruments were due. I could not wait to get a clarinet.
I distinctly remember May 1, 2011. I was a sophomore in college, and it was the day before my last Development of Western Civilization final. I could not wait to finally be done with that 20-credit course.
On September 11, 2001, a teacher came to the door of my music class and showed Mrs. Domin a note. She exclaimed, “Oh my goodness!” and then returned to the classroom. She wouldn’t tell us what the note said.
On May 1, 2011, I was sitting in St. Dominic’s Chapel at the 10:30 p.m. “last chance Mass” when a weird buzzing came across my classmates around 11. Something big had happened.
On September 11, 2001, I remembered that I had a major project due soon in my GATE literature class with Mrs. Cantara. We had to make a list of different landmarks and events. One of the categories was “international tragedies.” One of the options she suggested was the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. I think I put down the Holocaust. I changed my answer after I got home that day to my mother sitting shell-shocked on the couch watching CNN.
On May 1, 2011, I nearly skipped going to Mass because I was concerned about the amount of studying I had to do for finals. I wanted to finish out the semester strong.
On September 11, 2001, my mother looked up from the television screen, and meekly said, “They didn’t tell you?” My mouth dropped open. I was horrified that I had missed such a big event while everyone else seemed to have watched it unfold in real time. I couldn’t take my eyes off the television and its endless replays. I cried, begging to see my father.
On May 1, 2011, I met up with two of my friends, Mike and Kenny, who asked me if I had heard the news. “News?” “They got Osama.” My mouth dropped open.
On September 11, 2001, my family and I ate dinner outside on the deck. It was around this time that the words “bin Laden” were being thrown around as the man behind the attacks. He became the enemy. He was the reason I felt so scared.
On May 1, 2011, I wandered downstairs to the campus ministry center to watch President Obama address the nation, and confirm that Osama bin Laden was dead. He couldn’t hurt us any more.
On September 11, 2001, 10-year-old fifth grade me wept for my country. We all learned the words to God Bless America and other patriotic songs. We had been attacked. Now, more than ever, we had to be patriotic.
On May 1, 2011, 19-year-old college sophomore me cheered among my classmates dressed in patriotic garb, singing God Bless America and other songs on the quad.
On September 11, 2001, I feel as though I lost my innocence. The world was a dangerous place and not everyone is going to like us. This was a hard thing for a 10-year-old to grasp.
On May 1, 2011, although my innocence could never be returned to its 9/10/01 state, things felt a little better. We finally got him.