Certainly one of the darkest days in American history, Sept. 11, 2001 is a point in time during which every person can remember exactly where they were and what they did.
I was in ninth grade and I had just finished getting ready for school that morning. My mom listens to 99.9 — the country music station in St. George — and she had the radio tuned to it. I went to the main level of our split-level home where the kitchen was located to see my mom and dad with concerned looks on their faces, listening to the radio. The DJ announced that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
They hustled downstairs to turn on the television, and Katie Couric appeared on the screen to verify the beginning of the horrific day. My mom took my brothers and me to Snow Canyon Middle School, but the only productive thing that took place inside that building was attendance. No one did any school work, and no teachers assigned any school work. The television in each classroom was tuned to NBC and Katie Couric.
First period math class is the place where everything really changed. A bunch of 14- and 15-year-old kids from Santa Clara and St. George, Utah, suddenly realized that there were true villains in the world who sought to harm innocent people. Sitting at our desks, we watched the second plane hit the second tower on live television.
My dad often calls my age group the most cynical, pessimistic and apathetic group of people in the history of the world. Well, Dad, that moment in math class is where it comes from. That was the moment we put down our Pokemon cards and were thrust into a cynical world. We watched the live image of the second tower getting hit and realized — all at once — that the country was in danger. We came to the realization that the tragic accident became an attack.
Now, our fear, anger and sadness in southern Utah didn’t even come close to what the people of New York and their families felt, but we certainly felt those things.
Second period was drama class, and there was a girl in the class who had family in New York. She was in tears and eventually went home during that class period. We didn’t rehearse any scenes or anything; we did just as we did in first period: We watched Katie Couric.
She held on as strong as she could throughout the day, but by fifth period I could tell through the television screen that she was worn down. The usual happy Katie Couric was somber and holding back tears of her own.
I’ll never forget what my freshman football coach Mark Heppler said to us that day after practice. He said, “That wasn’t Hollywood today, you guys. That really happened.”
Yes, it did, but we also fought back. We rallied as a country, and we’re still here today. Sept. 11, 2001 was the most tragic day of my short lifetime, and we’re still dealing with the after-effects 12 years later. Sometimes terrible things happen, and in those times it’s OK to be sad and cry. But most of the time discouraging things are what we come across. Just remember that others have it a lot worse.
I’m not always great at finding reasons to be happy. I let discouraging things get to me a lot more than I should. It’s one of the struggles of being an impatient person.
But during the times when I do think back to 9/11, I realize that my life is pretty great. I have great friends. My parents have been happily married for 28 years. I’m close with all three of my siblings. And I have a great job writing about sports in Tooele County.
We can always find a reason to smile, whether it’s Friday night football, a puppy, a happy marriage, a beautiful backyard, a recent college graduation, a fully-functioning automobile, church responsibilities, good friends or simply waking up in the morning.