I was 15 when the 9/11 attacks happened. Over 14 years later, I can still tell you where I was when I heard the news, how the rest of my day went and how I felt. At 15 I was plenty old enough to understand the severity of the attacks, but my teenage brain was so much different than the nearly 30 year-old brain I have now. My first thoughts were how relieved I was to be in the States with my family.
I had been in Whistler, Canada the day before with my cousins and had missed being stuck in Canada by just a few hours. Those feelings were followed by confusion. Were the attacks over? Was the west coast going to be hit? Fear really isn’t the best terminology to use, I lived on a farm 45 miles from Vancouver and 70 miles from Seattle. Call it selfish youth, but I knew I would more than likely be okay for the short-term. As time went on and a mourning country became more and more angry with each replay of the planes hitting the towers, I started to wonder what my future would be. Would we go to war? Would I be drafted when I turned 18? My mother told me as a kid that I had nothing to worry about. Vietnam and the Cold War were over and my generation would never have to worry about anything like that again.
I don’t remember crying on September 11th. Not because I didn’t care, it was just a different time for me and conflict was relatively new to a 90s kid who grew up in a relatively peaceful world. It took me a long time to process everything about it.
Yesterday, I watched the attacks on Paris unfold in front of my eyes much like everyone did. A large portion of my family is French, but if you met me in person, it’s not like you would know it. I come across just as American as the next guy and the same would be said for my aunt and mother who were both born overseas. Obviously, my first fear was for my family and friends over there, as I checked my Facebook every few minutes to make sure they had either commented on my status or had marked themselves as “okay”. For the rest of the day though, I couldn’t help, but feel like I was always on the verge of tears. Lemonade Owner, Aaron Mannari and I messaged each other simply saying, “There is nothing left to post today, some things just matter more.” It didn’t help that Japan – where Aaron has many friends and family – had also been struck with a large earthquake at nearly the same time.
I am not sure why my reaction to yesterday’s events were different. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that since 9/11 we have seen far too much of this and it has all just built up. Maybe it’s the fact that the victims were enjoying the same things that we here at Lemonade do when we want to just have fun. We go to soccer matches and we go to concerts. We do these things, because we enjoy life and living can be so fantastic. Nobody should be scared to enjoy life!
These people weren’t enemies of anyone, they were humans, just like you and me, living. Of course, with all the upsides social media brings, seeing first person accounts of what was happening inside of Bataclan gave us all the most helpless of feelings as well. I think it was all of these things together that finally took their toll on not just me, but so many people around the world.
France wasn’t the only country that was attacked yesterday either. My heart goes out to the citizens of Libya, Lebanon and Iraq as well. I think I can speak for Aaron and Wyndi to say that theirs do too. I saw many reactions from friends and strangers yesterday. Many were from here in the States saying, “Let us know when and we’ll be there help you get them.” While I completely understand this sentiment and felt the same way initially, I am not sure if it is so simple. We still have so much to learn about who “they” are and the way evil like this seems to justify acts of terror. What we witnessed yesterday makes justice a very complex thing. I hate too much to be a lover and I love too much to be a fighter, so all I have is to be a student. I – much like the world – have so much left to learn, but I hope that we can use what we have learned to deal with these attacks properly.
With that said, every tribute over social media and from around the world made me realize that no matter how heavy hearts can grow, no matter how much hatred and evil exists in this world, a simple message of love can keep those hearts beating no matter how much weight they’re carrying. To all of those affected yesterday, we love you.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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