It was an ordinary class. Nineteen seventh-graders, glancing wistfully outside, watching a beautiful day melt into English class. No one particularly liked English class, except the teacher. So, when the principal entered the room and called her outside, we all silently cheered. But when the teacher walked back in, we could tell that something was wrong.
"Class, the World Trade Centers have just been struck. Let's pray."
And we prayed. Not as a class, not as children, but as twenty collective souls bent towards heaven, and interceding for the innocents. None of us knew the particulars, but we didnít need to. We knew enough to pray for them, and trusted God to know the rest. When we stopped speaking (for we never exactly stopped praying that day), we all went down the hall and huddled around a radio spewing static and crackle, and the news. The station didnít matter, no one was playing any music anyway.
Our hearts chilled when we heard that the Towers fell. Few of us knew what they were. I didnít. What we did know, though, was that thousands of candles had been snuffed out, without warning. Children were now parentless, and marriages were halved. We would later learn that one of our ninth-graders lost his father in the collapse. Shortly thereafter, he left school.
Each of us stopped at the flag on the way out, and for the first time, we understood the stripes. We were alive, and we were American. Our limbs were cold, and our hearts ached, but our candles were still lit. And on that horrible day, they blazed brighter than ever.
September 11, 2001. Never forget.