It was just a regular morning at Avon High School. I remember sitting in Ms. Conrad’s class when I heard the announcement.

Two planes had flown into the World Trade Center in New York City, and one into the Pentagon. I honestly had no idea what to think. As more details emerged throughout the day and we learned America was under attack, I was terrified.

Throughout the day there were a lot of people crying. A few kids knew people who lived and worked in New York or had family flying that day. I was aching for them. We had never experienced anything like this in our lifetime, so none of us knew what to think.

I walked home alone knowing all flights were grounded. I heard military planes, so I ran, not sure what the hell was happening. I was home alone trying to watch anything BUT the news, but it was on every single channel. It was on MTV, ESPN, Nickelodeon, every single channel. The footage shook me to my core like nothing I had experienced in my life to that point. Was America about to become a war zone? Was more coming?

That night, when we heard more planes, my mom and I stood outside as military planes flew over heard. We both just openly wept. What kind of evil would take so many lives in an instant? What was in store for the future? How would America respond?

Within that chaos, though, a country grew stronger. Despite tremendous loss, a country came together as one. Let’s remember those who were lost and those who weren’t, but still suffer today from what they went through that day.

Let’s remember them by being kind to one another. Let’s remember them by not letting fear divide us. Let’s remember them by truly being the UNITED States of America. Let’s remember and never forget.