Cameron Stewart Essay
Through the Eyes of a Child
By: Cameron Stewart
September 11, 2001 conjures up many images and feelings for Americans. My thoughts about that date are a jumbled mass of limited memories mixed with stories and images I have heard and seen over the last twelve years. I was five years old and just beginning kindergarten on September 11, 2001. With the innocence of youth, I had no concept of the thousands of people whose lives were affected that day. My life in Williamston, Michigan, so far from the sites of devastation in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, continued on as much as it had before.
I was, of course, aware of the attacks. At school we were encouraged to talk about and express our thoughts on everything we were hearing and seeing on the news. We drew pictures of two towering buidlings, symbols of American prosperity and strength, billowing with flames and smoke as airplanes flew into them. To us they were simply two huge buildings on fire that seemed more like a part of an action movie than anything from real life. These were images even we as children could not escape despite our parents’ best efforts to shield us from the never-ending news coverage. We felt the tension but understood little of the causes and widespread effects of these acts of terrorism. My five year old brain was more interested in seeing President George Bush standing amidst the rubble of the twin towers and telling the crowd “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” (Bush, September 14, 2001). The idea of a war was something much more concrete for my imganination to grasp onto.
A five year old is always looking for heroes. My most vivid memory of the attacks from 9/11 is seeing the photos and news coverage of the first responders. I looked up to those who rushed forward to do what they were trained to do and help the innocent victims despite the obvious danger to themselves. I was also impressed by their fellow firemen, policemen and others whose loyalty and deveotion to one another was clear in the way they honored the fallen. To this day I have a strong sense of respect for people like these who choose to work in professions where honor and bravery is so important in the execution of their jobs.
As the years have progressed, the images and stories of what happened on September 11, 2001 have continued to be a part of the lives of all Americans. Being older now, I understand more about these attacks and the effects they had on our country and the world. In the immediate days and months after the attacks, our country seemed to come together and bond over the loss of so many innocent lives. Much of that seems gone now. People have become used to the increased secutiry measures at airports and stadiums. They are more willing to voice their annoyance over the inconveniences of these things rather than remembering just why these actions had to be put in place. Those who were not directly affected by the envents of 9/11, people like me who did not lose family members or friends, were able over time to go back to normal lives. We moved on and September 11, 2001 became another tragic part of American history for us.
Each year on the anniversary of the attacks we are reminded of what happened on that horrible day when terrorists tried to break the American spirit. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, even if you were a young child like I was in 2001, you cannot escape the memories that flood back. My memories may be a combination of actual experiences mixed with things I have heard and learned since, however, they are still strong enough to stir up feelings of patriotism and pride in my country. We were hit hard but did not weaken. We came together as a country when it mattered most. Despite the other 364 days a year when no one really seems to think about what happened, we will never truly forget. The terrorists responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 expected us to collapse like the buildings they took down. Instead they made us secure in the knowledge that together we are strong enough to endure whatever comes our way and we will fight back to protect our country, our way of life and our freedom.