Today’s prompt is another hard one.
Where was I on September 11, 2001?
Well, first a little background.
I was 10 years old. This is what I looked like at 10 years old:
I was a missionary kid. I lived in West Africa, and I loved West Africa. I was a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed African. I had an American passport and I knew that my Grandparents lived in America and that trees and grass grew in America and that it snowed in America. I loved Africa, and I knew Africa as home. America and being an American was not on the forefront of my mind.
The other thing that you should know about me on September 11, 2001 was that I lived in a country that is predominantly Muslim.
I do remember the day clearly. I was playing with my friend Rachele. I’m sure we were playing Barbies or fighting over something or swinging from trees. Anyways, Rachele’s Mom came in the room and very seriously told me to go get my parents. NOW. And to tell them that a plane had crashed into a tower. I’m positive that she told me more details that than, but that is what my brain registered. I had no idea what/where the twin towers were. Also, Rachele’s parents were Canadian. Just a little fact in there.
So I trotted myself next door to the apartment where we were staying at in Niamey. My parents were having their afternoon siesta/nap (it was afternoon in Africa). I knew I was NEVER supposed to wake my parents up from rest time, but at this point I knew it was something serious. What I didn’t realize is that most of the missionaries were aware it was very serious from a security standpoint (remember…Americans in a Muslim country). I gently nudged my Dad awake and told him that a plane crashed into a tower. I’m sure he thought I was referring to something happening in Niger, and as many questions as he asked me I had no answers for them. I really had no clue what was going on. So my Mom and Dad ran over to Rachele’s house to ask for more details, which they were given.
Living in Niger meant that no one had cable. And back then internet was sparse. Pretty sure no one had it. But there was one TV program that we could get overseas called AFN (American Forces Network). It was broadcasted for all the military overseas. There were only a handful of people in town who had the AFN network, and the closest one to us happened to be at the Sahel Academy Dorm, which was right down the road. I don’t remember leaving the compound or driving there, but I do remember there was stunned silence mixed with a little bit of fear. We got to the dorm and went immediately to the dorm parents apartment. It was a tiny little living room with an equally tiny TV, but there was probably at least 50 people in the room, watching the footage over and over again. I’m SURE that there were tons of security phone calls going around. No one knew what would happen. But I don’t remember any of that (maybe I need to ask an adult who was there?). I just remember that everyone was really, really sad…but I honestly didn’t feel any grief connected with it being an attack on America. I felt really sad that so many people were hurt and it was a horrible, horrible thing to watch on TV. But I felt the same way that most Americans may feel when they watch horrible things happening across the world. It just didn’t affect me like it would have if I lived in the States.
Like I said, I don’t remember any other details from that day or the week. I don’t remember if school was closed, or if we were in lockdown at all.
I do know that when my parents went back to the village (Tera), they were met with much sympathy, mourning and grief. All of their neighbors and friends were shocked and stricken when they heard about the attack on the American buildings. Remember, these people are Muslims. They were ashamed that a Muslim had done this to another country, and they grieved and shook their heads with horror right along with the Americans. They even boycotted the Middle Eastern shops in town, refusing to buy from them simply because they were Middle Eastern. I clearly remember my parents talking to their African friends about that, and encouraging them to continue to shop at the Middle Easterners shops, since they were not directly associated with the terror attacks. But I thought I would include that in this little story since it is important to know that there were many Muslims across the world who were also grieved by the events that changed on 9/11. Not only Americans were affected, and I’m truly thankful that I was able to experience this event from an international perspective. Having that perspective truly changes a lot of things.
So what about you? Where were you on Septmenber 11th, 2001?
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