September 11 Digital Archive


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How has your life changed because of what happened on September 11, 2001?

I was six years old on 9/11/2001. I lived in California, so when the attacks happened I was getting ready for school, eating breakfast. I heard my mother scream from the family room across the house, so I ran in to see what was wrong. She was still in her nightgown and bathrobe, staring at the television with her hands over her mouth. The buildings were falling. I didn't really understand at the time the magnitude of the attacks, so on the anniversary of 9/11 I always get chills remembering how unaware of the devastation I was. Since the video was live, they were showing the people jumping from the buildings. I asked my mother if they were jumping to try to reach the flag pole near the building. She somberly replied that no, that was not what they were trying to do, but did not elaborate further. At school that day the children were all buzzing with excitement. We knew it was a big deal, but not why it was a big deal. The teachers were in an absolute frenzy, screaming at children who were commenting on how "cool" the explosions were. It seems so surreal now, looking back; not knowing that my entire childhood and adolescence would center around a war and nation building in the Middle East. At the time, I did not know I would go on to study government, I did not know I would take an interest in national security. But those attacks shaped my political views, the way I think about the world, the way I harbor a slight fear in the back of my mind every time I get onto a plane. I did not know it would mean my whole childhood would be spent listening to debates about our involvement in the Middle East. I did not know that twelve years later, whenever I see those videos replayed, I cry because I feel like that confused six year old again; afraid and confused. My whole life has been shaped by these events, and it will continued to be shaped by something that happened when I was just six years old.

How will you remember the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks?

I will watch the memorial videos in order to remember the lives lost, and the consequences of the actions of terrorists. I will observe a moment of silence in remembrance and patriotism, and remember that my country is stronger for that event. I will remember that my country is safer and better equipped to deal with such threats, and that I am extremely proud to be an American today and every day.



Tara McCortney, “[Untitled],” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed May 25, 2019,