by Jane Moneypenny

On the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, it’s impossible not to think back where you were when it happened.

I was a freshmen at college, which had only started a month ago. Since I didn’t have Art History until 11:30, I was fast asleep. The cell phone ring shattered my precious sleep hours. This was a time before most people had cell phones. In fact, I was probably the only one among my friends that owned one, due to my parents’ insistence of reaching me. But even then, if I went to class and left it at home, there was no panicked rush to run back for it.

My mom was calling, calm, but very worried. I was still half asleep and not comprehending what was going on. In rapid Chinese, she said to turn on the TV because airplanes had flown into some buildings in New York. I was still moving slowly, waking up and shuffling into my slippers to go next door to Andrew and Joel’s room to use the one set we had on the floor. They were also awake, having also been called by their parents. We huddled around the TV, shocked, scared and confused.

10 years ago, email was slow. There was no news about classes, so after watching the news for a few hours, I trudged to class, where it was completely silent. Our professor let us go and explained some of the students in the Art School had parents that worked at the WTC. One girl was crying hysterically in the hallway; her parents hadn’t gone into work that morning and were spared.

That evening, the school held a vigil in the quad. Our freshmen floor sat together, holding candles and still not really sure what had happened. We were 18, young and so naive. Up to that point, terrorism hadn’t really been in our lives. Then again, up to this point, we had lived at home all our lives, sheltered by childhood and school and self-absorbed teenage angst. Now, the real world slapped us in the face, showing us that the world isn’t so safe.

I was never intimately connected with anyone that went through 9/11 directly. I don’t know anyone that died; I don’t know have friends that had family die. I think about all those that lost their lives that day and hope that I have half the courage they did.

Sometimes, when I travel, I feel ashamed to be American due to the tendency for some tourists to be ignorant and rude. But  also, as an American, especially one that immigrated here, I find it impossible not to feel the intensity of emotion and the pride that the nation built afterwards.

In another 10 years, I’ll be 38. How much will the world have changed by then?