5:45 a.m. PDT / 8:45 a.m. EDT:
That morning, as I was getting ready for what I thought would be another day at Norwalk High School, the world was shifting in unimaginable ways.
American Airlines Flight 11 had just crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
As I tied my shoes, I was oblivious to the news broadcast that was quietly relaying the terrifying events on the other side of the country.
6:03 a.m. PDT / 9:03 a.m. EDT:
While I walked along the familiar path, greeting friends and talking about trivial things, United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower.
Both towers were now on fire. America was under attack, and I was none the wiser.
6:37 a.m. PDT / 9:37 a.m. EDT:
By the time I settled into my first class, the Pentagon had been hit by American Airlines Flight 77.
Teachers switched on televisions, and the atmosphere grew tense.
Whispers, confusion, and fear threaded through our school corridors.
7:00 a.m. PDT:
The reality of what was happening began to seep in.
Fellow students huddled together, some calling parents, others just seeking the comfort of shared disbelief.
The weight of what was unfolding rendered our everyday concerns insignificant.
7:59 a.m. PDT / 10:59 a.m. EDT:
As I sat in class, struggling to concentrate, the South Tower collapsed.
Soon after, our principal, in a voice thick with emotion, tried to bring some semblance of understanding to what we were witnessing.
But how do you make sense of the incomprehensible?
8:28 a.m. PDT / 11:28 a.m. EDT:
The North Tower followed suit.
The television images were haunting, and the realization that so many lives were lost was overwhelming.
The world seemed a shade darker as the day came to an end.
Usually eager to hang out after school, all I wanted was the familiarity and safety of home.
The journey back was quiet, introspective, and filled with the weight of a changed world.
September 11 is etched in my memory not just as a day of national tragedy but also as the day my worldview changed forever.
My teenage routine in Norwalk, CA was interrupted by a distant, yet, all-encompassing event, reminding me of the fragile thread that connects all of humanity, especially in the face of profound sorrow.
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