The Daily Cougar editorial board speaks about their memories, growth since 9/11
A renewed hope for peace
I remember arriving to my fourth grade class on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 only to be welcomed by the most hated substitute teacher in my elementary school. I prayed so hard that my parents would pick me up early from school that day, but I’ve wished every day since that my prayers would have been answered by different circumstances.
My father pulled me out of school that day as soon as the world realized what was happening. He held my hand silently with tears in his eyes as I walked out of my elementary school that day, naïve to the world burning around me.
Nothing has been the same since.
I’m a first generation American citizen with Arab heritage. My parents and grandparents came to the United States to escape the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. It was heartbreaking to realize that we weren’t safe in the country that promised us refuge, regardless of beliefs, but I realize now that the attacks on the World Trade Center were about more than politics or faith.
Mankind struggles together every day to create a world where people can live in peace without being blinded by borders. Since that day, I’ve learned to accept each quiet morning with gratitude knowing that no one in this world is given a certainty of life.
News editor Mary Dahdouh is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]
From student to soldier
The first plane hit while I was messing around in Ms. Winkler’s fourth grade math class. I remember thinking that school had suddenly gotten easy when the teachers stopped teaching us and kept stepping into the hall to talk.And then school was let out early, and that was great because hey, no more school for today.
Maybe I was too excited about getting to go home early or maybe I was just oblivious, but I didn’t really notice at the time that all the teachers were a little too quiet or that all the parents seemed to hug their children a little too tight.
I didn’t understand much back then. I didn’t know why anyone would attack America, what Al-Qaeda was, or even what a Muslim was. All my father could explain to me was that a war was coming to America, and as refugees from the Killing Fields of Cambodia, our family owed it to our new home to do what we could to support it. Even though the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now winding down, controversies and all, I still feel committed to doing my part.
Al-Qaeda didn’t attack America. They attacked our people. No matter whether or not you believe American foreign policy actually brought this attack to us, there is no excuse for them attacking our friends and neighbors. The sworn duty of a Soldier is to defend the Constitution and people of the United States. As an Army cadet, I will proudly do my duty, whatever it may be.
Opinion editor James Wang is a history junior and may be reached at [email protected]
The birth of a global citizen
During the 2001 terror attacks, I was in my fourth grade math class. Mrs. Franklin, our new administrative supervisor, rushed into our class to turn on the T.V. to the news.
I remember looking in awe and confusion at chaos, smoke, and what I later found out was humans jumping out of windows to escape the heat. I recall sitting in class watching, not scared, but baffled that this type of thing could happen in the new millennium. My 9-year-old mind could not process it, and I was forced to understand what evil meant in a way I didn’t expect.
Growing up in America since then has made me desire to continue growing as a global citizen. I saw a ridiculous amount of prejudice build within many Americans, and I always want to use troubling times to make me a more understanding human.
Before the attacks, I didn’t know how much hatred could destroy a group of people and cause them to do such horrendous acts in our time. Sept. 11 grew me up and forced me to see the world past the Houston box I’d grown up in.
To this day, I try to watch at least two documentaries on Sept. 11 about the twin towers. The untold stories of heroism, tragedy, and redemption have always fascinated me. I think when we take the time to look back every now and then, we find new ways to move forward.
Photo editor Kayla Stewart is a journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected]
A city and nation in chaos
My sixth grade class and I were all waiting for class to start in Upper Manhattan. Suddenly the whole building went silent and then my teacher turned on the T.V. As it came on, I was shocked by the images of the burning towers. Growing up in New York, I had been to that area before many times.I could not believe this was happening so close to home. Our teacher tried to explain the tragedy, but all I heard was mumbles.
Suddenly we were ushered downstairs to the exit. My city was in chaos. My New York. My vibrant uptown neighborhood had become silent and scary. It did not feel like the comforting home that I was used to.
School was let out early that day, and my mother was waiting for me as I nervously walked out. I felt safe in her arms. For a second everything went back to normal. Back at our apartment the television kept telling us a horror story that I would never forget.
Growing up in a post-9/11 America has made me more fearful and also more willing to understand people’s differences. I feel like my freedoms are not always guaranteed and it has made me weary of my nation going to war. Still, it has made me appreciate all the things I have access to. It has made me a proud New Yorker and American.
A coast close to home
Fifth grade, that’s where I was — sitting in class with my brother, learning fractions from Mrs. Grady. We were oblivious to the devastation that was occurring outside the walls of Andrew Jackson Elementary School. In the midst of learning how to multiply, the Twin Towers had been viciously subtracted from the New York City skyline. The 622 miles between New York and Michigan were enough to make my single mother take off from all three of her jobs to pick up my brother and I, to make sure of our safety.
The office secretary came to our class and announced that our mom was waiting in the main office. We were excited. But there wasn’t anything fun about this pick-up. When we arrived at the office, my mother wrapped us in her arms. I could sense something was wrong. I remember her explaining the severity of what had happened in a form that we could understand, but somehow I couldn’t quite grasp what it meant.
I didn’t know what a terrorist was or that buildings could fall. I didn’t know that the world wasn’t as perfect as I thought it seemed. It wasn’t until years passed that it all began to make sense, and I could see how much New York citizens and their families experienced on that horrific day. I am proud to be in a country where firefighters and military personnel alike dug through debris, searching for those who were trapped beneath the skyscrapers. And now, 12 years later, we can look back and live a life after 9/11.
Editor in chief Channler K. Hill is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected]