Paige Kelley Essay
An Attack Here and a War There
By: Paige Kelley
I was sitting on the green carpet in our living room. No one was talking. My mom sat on my right in a chair, her friend sat on my left in a different chair. I did not know exactly what was going on, but I had the sense that something was very wrong; I had the sense that whatever was happening on the screen was terrible. We were all sitting, just staring, at the television in the corner of the living room. I was looking at a tall building that looked identical to the other and it also had thick smoke billowing out of it. I had never seen anything like it. I looked at my mother who was sitting on the edge of her seat. She had a terrible worried look on her face. I was only four years old, but I knew it was bad. My mother gasped, and I turned back to the screen. We watched as one of the tall buildings began to collapse. It reminded me of something being squashed, but there was nothing squishing it there. I was too young to understand, but later when I was older, I realized just what had happened that day, why it was so awful, and how it would affect the world I live in.
Even though I was still too young to really know what all had happened to the World Trade Center towers, I noticed changes around me. When the events of September 11 happened, my older sister had been in her elementary school class. She was sent home early that day. I noticed when she was in middle school a couple years later that it seemed she was sent home quite often; the main reason dealing with alleged “bomb-threats.” I also heard the words “terrorists” a lot, “war,” and “President Bush.” I had noticed there were more police officers around the area in which I lived. When I grew older I learned even more. I learned that the security that I was used to was not quite how it used to be; it was more in-depth and much more cautious, majorly due to the terrorist attack. By then I knew what I had witnessed on September 11, 2001.
The first idea I had about September 11 after seeing it on the television that day came from a 2002 movie called World Trade Center. I remember how sad the movie was, depicting three firefighters who got trapped in the rubble from one building collapsing while they were trying to help save people in one of the Twin Towers. It was then that I realized that in the moment I was in front of the television I had seen hundreds of lives lost; knowing in an event that tragic and sudden not everyone could possibly have escaped. In fact many did not. I also learned that it was not just the Twin Towers that the terrorists had planned to attack. The al-Qaeda had crashed two planes they had hijacked into the Twin Towers, and had crashed one into the Pentagon. The last airplane had crashed off its mark due to brave passengers trying to regain control. No one on the ground was killed, but all the people in that plane died. I could say that I was happy to hear that the hijackers died too. The truth was that I was not. They had died knowing what was happening. All the innocent people whose lives had perished because of the terrorists cruel and wicked intentions either did not see it coming or died in confusion, horror, and pain.
When I think about the awful events of that day I feel sorrow and vexation. It created terrible loss of precious life and created horrid memories that will never be forgotten. However, I also tend to see it a little different perspective. This was not just an attack on my country; it was an attack for what my country stands for, and what millions of people stand for. In a constant state of war, innocent citizens living in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and Syria fear for their lives, and for their family members in the military. Terrorists haven’t negatively affected just the United States; they have negatively impacted other countries as well. The events of September 11 gave the people of the United States an unexpected insight. It created an understanding of the pain and fear, and even hate, victims in those other countries feel so often. This awareness generated a sense of wanting to help those countries’ people and of patriotism within the people of my country. Many wars are started because of differences in religions and because of avaricious motives within governments. The United States tries to keep peace by being able to at least tolerate, if not accept, other countries’ major beliefs and forms of government. This tolerance and acceptance tends to bring about a group of citizens that generally care about other people, whether they are Americans or not.
The most frightening idea is that September 11 was a great tragedy for the United States, but for countries in the Middle East, this kind of tragedy happens all too often. These terrible events happen mainly due to a hatred birthed by violent beliefs and greed; which are rooted deep into the cores of groups of people. It is a hate from not understanding, nor wanting to understand or to accept. It is intolerance of difference. Living on the sundry planet Earth, such intolerance can only bring misery. We Americans are fortunate that we do not live in such a society.