Are all of our lives now because of what happened then?

I didn’t find out about 9/11 until that evening. My eighth grade class had left for a hiking field trip, and around 10 am our bus pulled over and the teachers got out. They came back on and told us we were going to go back to a lake and swim instead for a little while. We all took turns jumping off a cliff into the water - I don’t think my stomach could handle the height now but back then it felt like a little badge of honor.

The teachers were smiling too, maybe we made the day less hard for them and vice versa. I only caught wind that something might be up when they gathered us all into a circle, with some scattered among us. Two of them sat in the center and told us what had happened. I think my first thought was it sounded like the plot of an action movie - and they were telling us it happened in real life? They apologized for waiting to tell us, they had to get confirmation that all our parents had been accounted for because half of us, myself included, had parents who made the commute each day. I wonder now how much it took out of our teachers to hold it together.

When you’re a kid and the adults fall apart, it’s scary. You don’t quite know how to work out that you’re OK in time and space, so if they are, then you are. Hugs to all of them for holding it together.

Can any of us who are old enough to recall that day perfectly, separate it out from the rest of our lives? Did it affect our career choices somehow, even the seemingly unrelated ones? How many of us were put on a path toward hate crimes and domestic terrorism? What will they say about us?

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