Anyone who experienced it knows the images, sounds and emotions from that day and its aftermath, knows where they were and what they did.
It changed our nation, it changed our way of life, it changed everyone of us individually.
I was 12.
I wonder how the little kids felt that day; how these kids who were in elementary school at the time, now in high school and college, remember that day. I wonder how those even younger--those like my brother who was 1 and a half, or my 3 siblings who weren't even born--view it. Is it like the way they view things like the Civil War and even Pearl Harbor and JFK: distant events that had a dramatic impact, but we didn't experience it, so it's difficult to really say what it means or understand just how everyone was touched? Is it simply the event that brought about a war and tighter airport security?
I sometimes hear people say that it bothers them that people only acknowledge the event on its anniversary. But I know that's not true. It still affects us. We, as a nation and as people, are still cleaning up the rubble. We still feel our hearts constrict and our throats close off. We still blink back tears coming to our eyes. We still wait in silence, almost feeling as if it wasn't real and didn't really happen, like the entire world dreamed the same nightmare, and one day soon we're all going to wake up.
But we're not waking up, because we're already awake. And as time passes on, perhaps those who guard the flag here on campus during the anniversary will realize less and less what that day meant, what they're watching over and honoring. Soon the flag won't even be guarded, and memorials will be all that remain of physical associations with the event. Memorials are tangible and do touch the heart, but still never come close to the feelings that even a 12-year-old girl from Idaho who wasn't specifically affected by the attacks has about that fall morning.
We will always remember. When we're 30, when we're 60, when we're 100. It's those feelings, those images and memories--intangible but very real and poignant, that will live forever with all those who experienced 9/11.