I was finally a real live teenager -- but really, I was still just a kid. My days were filled with middle-school crushes, algebra and AIM, and although I would have never admitted it, I didn't know much about the world.
That Tuesday morning, after waking up and getting ready for school, the carpool came to pick me up just like it did every day. I still remember sitting in that grey minivan, driving to school, and hearing the news on the radio. I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know what the Twin Towers were, or what terrorists were. I had never been to New York and I cared more about boys than I did about politics. I had never heard the word terrorist. I didn't know that I should be scared. I just didn't know anything.
When I got to school, every television was fixated on the news channels. FOX, CNN, MSNBC. They were all covering it and we sat there -- all of our little preteen eyes fixated on the screens -- unable to imagine what in the world was going on. I remember people whispering behind teachers' backs, rumors circulating that the terrorists would attack the nearest nuclear power plant, located an hour away from us and that it would blow up the whole state of Arkansas.
I sat there scared, with my friends, eyes glued to the screens. All the while not knowing that the world our parents knew had changed. That it had shifted to allow for such a terrible act upon our country.
Americans everywhere were affected, whether they knew it then or not. I was affected. And today we are all changed because of the events that took place that day.
Hopefully we are better because of that day. Hopefully we are a stronger nation because of it -- more united, more human, more aware of our vulnerability and more caring towards our neighbors. I hope today you are thankful for our country, and that you remember those who have fallen. I hope you can remember how far we've come, and how far we have yet to go. And once you've thought of those things? Well, I hope you never forget. I hope that we never forget.