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How Can I Remember What I Never Knew?


20 years.

I've never been to New York. The furthest I've been from my little hole of the world in NC is maybe Michigan or Florida in opposite directions. Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio countless times. Tennessee, too. But never New York. I never saw the twin towers. They fell before I lived. Year after year, for 18 now, I've sat and heard the names called out, posted a picture of two beams of blue light shooting into the city skies and I've never so much as looked at the site. I know that my mom ate Life cereal and nursed her two month old son. My dad came home early and grew misty as the towers went down in what looked like impenetrable dust, dirt, debris, and Lord knows what else. My elementary school music teacher told us how she waited for awful news of her cousin, who worked in the Pentagon. I saw the Pentagon in 8th grade and looked with innocent eyes on the hub of liberty, corrupt though it may be sometimes, and couldn't believe my great luck that the right people stepped in and I don't know it as ruins. This catastrophe has always been history for me. I have, until only recently, been blissfully unaware of the fact that I live history. I remember when Bush was replaced by Obama, I can remember being 7, wearing camouflage cargo pants and a pink t-shirt too big for me, grazing my hand over the piece of the tower that sits in a park 4 minutes from my house. And now I babysit children who don't know what a VCR is, let alone who Osama bin Laden was. I remember the day he died. My mom picked up my brother and I from school and no one spoke. No one dared. Limbaugh and Hannity, as well as other live news coverage informed me of something I had seen my parents, my country wait for with tangible impatience and expectation. The details were fuzzy. I celebrated. I celebrated a child's celebration for the justice brought to a horror I never knew. As far as I knew, he was a cartoon character and the anvil fell. Next episode, I thought. The world can't extend much farther than Colfax. Impossible. But I've since seen and understood attack after attack. I've since opened my eyes. I've since wept over shared manuscripts of phone calls from flight 93.

And I will never forget.

I can remember what I never knew, even if with veiled eyes.

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