The human mind works in mysterious ways.
In psychology, it’s called “flashbulb memory,” where an individual remembers the exact place they were when certain news was given to them. Nine years, four months, and four days ago, I sat as a young fifth grader, practicing division and fractions in my small classroom. All of a sudden, the principal came on the loudspeaker; a very odd occurrence considering morning announcements were already made.
“Attention students, class will remain today as scheduled.”
We looked around at each other with strange expressions. After a few moments, a classmate or two were excused from the classroom, in the hands of the teacher and principal. Our day continued on.
It wouldn’t be until I arrived home to see my mother hovering over the TV that the severity of the situation became apparent. In a seamless loop my young eyes witnessed airplanes fly into the same buildings and area I visited with my family one week prior. There was a blend of clips, such as people running from the falling buildings to entrapped victims free falling from the towers, that flashed before me as I attempted to understand the scope of the situation.
Fast forward almost 10 years. After a weekend of youth jubilation, with healthy helpings of empty beer cans and cups littered on fresh grown grass, the preparation for the final weeks of this semester began. Over a pile of delayed work, the news came across that the single most uniformly hated figure in this country, Osama bin Laden, was dead, at the hands of our own soldiers no less.
With feelings of shock and awe, I did the only thing any 21st century college kid could: run to the Internet. Throughout all mediums of social networking, friends and family cried out in joy, humor, but most importantly, unity. For the first time in more than 10 years, we could be unified for something that we could all agree on.
Images from television broadcasts of college kids across the country rallying in the wee hours of the morning would replace the images I saw 10 years ago of people fleeing the streets of New York City. The image of my father returning from Ground Zero the the night of 9/11, covered in nothing but debris and dust, was replaced with the image of my friends chanting “America” in unison, as if the world was listening.
For the first time in years, the world is.