This past Sunday, I attended a memorial service at WSH where both top administrators and students spoke about unity past 9/11 and their experiences on that specific day 10 years ago.
This weekend was really hectic, I had gone away Saturday night with my Korean Catholic group. Sunday was lined with group projects and time reserved to work on my honors thesis. However, something was tugging at me inside all day. I guess, these past few years, 9/11 has come and gone pretty quickly. I didn’t even realize it had already been 10 years. It made me feel guilty that I did not spend more time reflecting and remembering on such an important day those that sacrificed their lives for the safety of others.
So, I decided the least I could do was to attend the service and offer prayers. I was surprised at the student turnout and even touched because so many of them had taken off that time in their days to come and pay respects. The speakers were all touching, but I was especially moved by Sara Rahman’s talk. She talked about how 9/11 affected the rest of the Muslim community she was a part of, and how, despite stereotypes and anger against her community, her parents and her small town worked endlessly to help support those victims of the 9/11 terror attack. It was an emotional speech and I could sense multiple emotions ranging from sadness of others’ misunderstanding to anger of the damages caused by that day to her as an American and a Muslim to hope from what rose from the remains of 9/11.
I remember exactly what happened that day as well. I heard over the loudspeaker my principal saying something about the twin towers. At the moment, I ignored it because I just could not believe even for a second that such an atrocity could have happened. But then, I heard one of my classmates gasp and go up to the teacher after which she was sent out of the classroom. Slowly things unraveled as I realized that this had actually happened. As soon as I got home, I frantically called my cousin who went to school in NYC. I was young back then and didn’t realize Hunter High School was miles from the twin towers, and I remember the relief from hearing her voice. Still, I was too young to comprehend the magnitude of the situation, and I feel as though I get more emotional now reflecting than I had been at the moment of the incident.
We are all Americans, whether legalized or not, if we call this land our home. The unity that rose from 9/11 was one of the goods that came out of such evil. During the Virginia Tech shooting, I remember the scare in the Asian community of backlash and racism, and there were small incidents, but nothing too overt. I can only imagine how the Muslim community must have felt and still feel from the after effects of 9/11. The important thing is not to carve ourselves out as separate communities, but to remember our similarities during such events, so that we may unite as one front against those that cause so much evil and pain. When we fragment on our home front is when, I think, America will no longer be America.