Dear Seventh Grade Me:
Today your life is going to change. You woke up this morning blissfully ignorant (as most seventh graders are) of what is going on around the world. You woke up completely unaware of the massive amounts of hate strangers can hold for someone. You woke up looking forward to your favorite class—history—not knowing that you would be living it today.
As you sit in your Language Arts class, you begin to hear whisperings that a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. You think, “I was just in New York in the Spring and remember looking at them from the Empire State Building.” You will get the urge to “go get some water” and when you go into the cafeteria, you see that the lunch ladies are watching the live coverage from New York. You watch as the second plane comes out of nowhere and slams into the second tower. You return to your class stunned—as do the other students that were watching with you. You notice the silence that follows you the rest of the day. Your next class is history and your teacher discusses what is happening, as he realizes the importance of this day and that it will be something that is written in future history books.
It will be hard for you to put into words what you are seeing and feeling. You know that something absolutely terrible has happened, but think “how can this be happening here?” You will be confused. Today is the day that you lost your “innocence”—you should have been playing and running around outside, not listening to the eerie silence from no planes flying overhead except for the ones that were flying low to monitor the nearby natural gas lines that could have been a target. When you get hom from school, your mom will ask you what you know about what happened. You can tell that she doesn't want to tell you things that will scare you, but you know that she will be honest and tell you the truth. You shouldn’t have to watch the scenes from the day play over and over again on the news, but you do. You stay up late watching everything unfold, because you understand the impact that this day will have on the rest of your life.
In the days that follow, you will begin hearing about changes in America, changes that include increased security at airports. Again you think back to earlier that year when you flew to New York. You vividly remember your mom and sister walking you all the way to the gate to wait for you to board the plane. You remember a service member getting off of another plane and them receiving a standing ovation from everyone waiting to board the plane and think how that made you so proud to be an American, but not realizing what they sacrifice on a daily basis. Even though the attacks changed America, it did not change what we stand for. You will realize that although you are no longer the naïve seventh grader that did not follow the news or know anything about what was going on in your own world, you will now value the freedom that your country has afforded you. You know that your childhood has changed—sure, you will stay have plenty of days ahead for fun and to be carefree, but you will always have this day in the back of your mind.
Stay strong, Seventh Grade Me. Today will be a day you will remember for the rest of your life and it will change you. But, it will be a day that made you appreciate everything you have and not take a single day for granted.