Like most Americans, I will never forget the day our country was attacked. I was a junior in high school living in Northern Virginia. My dad worked at the Pentagon which was only 20 minutes away from my school. Walking from my homeroom to PE, the halls were buzzing with chatter that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York.
As I walked into my next classroom, the news reports blared on the TV and everyone was gathered around speechless. The Pentagon had just been hit. Seeing the panic on my face, my teacher let me use her phone to call my dad to see if he was okay. To say I was relieved when my dad answered and said he had been scheduled away at a meeting in Norfolk is an understatement. Being so close to the Pentagon, the school was put on lock down for the remainder of the day. Every TV in the school was tuned to the news all day with students and faculty glued to the coverage, many with tears in their eyes. The imagery and chaos will be burned in my mind forever.
I remember feeling an immense sense of pride for my country following these attacks, being so proud of the heroism displayed in this time of need. In the middle of tragedy came a strong sense of community, from the devastation sites to individual cities. Lining the streets of Smoketown Road, a main street in the city of Woodbridge where I lived, were countless American flags proudly waving. While fear was prominent, so was pride. But in the back of my mind and I think in everyone's mind was a feeling that America would never be the same.
On the 10 year anniversary of the attacks, my dad and I watched a powerful special that hit deep. While I did not personally lose anyone in the attacks, the loss is still felt and the surreal experience replays in my head over and over again. This tragedy shook our nation and its citizens to the core. Twelve years later and I still can't make sense of it.
I will never forget.