There are some things about September 11, 2001, that I will never forget. Waking up for school, only to hear my dad start yelling shortly thereafter. Driving to school, listening to the news on the radio (I lived half an hour from my school). Peter Jennings’ voice as the South Tower fell. To this day, just remembering it, I get chills and my eyes well with tears. My PE teacher telling us he was canceling class and allowing us to gather around the television in the weight room at my school after being the one tasked with telling us the North Tower had fallen as well.  The rush of stories on the news in those first hours, and not knowing what had really happened. Being forced to go about the rest of my day as if nothing had happened. Barely remembering to wish my friend a happy birthday. How quiet the skies were at marching band practice that afternoon. Struggling to understand it all.

I still don’t understand it.

I didn’t know anyone who died on September 11. To my knowledge, neither does anyone else I know. But nearly 3,000 people died that day. And for what?

Several of my classmates and schoolmates subsequently joined the military after the attacks. Many of them have served overseas, and most of them came home. One did not. I didn’t know him well, but he died the same year he was planning to get married. And for what?

I don’t think I’ll ever understand it.

The attacks began at 5:46 am Pacific Time. Everything changed in that instance. It’s hard to remember how things were before. I only know the after now.

Thank you, to the people who put their lives on the line for us every day. To the police officers and firefighters who do the best they can, even in the face of budget cuts. To the men and women who serve in the military.

To those of you who lost someone that day: I won’t ever know how it feels. But even now, ten years on, my heart aches for you.