I was only 10 years old when 9/11 happened.

It started just like any other day: I got up, ate breakfast, and went to my elementary school. But when I got to my classroom, something was noticeably different: the TV was on. Something terrible was happening, something I didn’t quite fully grasp, but knew it was very bad.

My parents are teachers. My mom has taught Kindergarten for many years and is now happily retired. My dad, even though he retired four years ago, is still teaching high school history. I remember worrying about my dad having to be drafted, and worried that he would be sent off to fight in a war. While I knew about the draft, I didn’t know that my dad was considered too old.

I never thought to voice my concerns about Dad being sent off to war, not until I was much older.

20 years later, at age 30, I am still learning about 9/11 and all the horrible things that happened that day. But I am also learning about the kindness, unity, and bravery from that day as well.

I am blown away by the heroic acts of bravery from firefighters, police, and ordinary people. Watching the segment about 9/11, I broke down and sobbed–suddenly hit by a touching story of a couple who had lost their son in the towers, and how they stopped to pet some therapy dogs. The owner of one of the therapy dogs asked if she could name her next dog after their son. This hit me particularly hard.

The strength and kindness from complete strangers in that segment awed me. The unity that I heard of seemed like a distant dream compared to the disconnect that is currently ongoing in our country.

Seeing the 9/11 memorial made me realize just how big those towers were, and seeing the names–letters that you can touch and place flowers in–makes me think of the importance of tangibility. The flowing water made me feel at peace.

My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones on this day.

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