My Shout: 9/11, The most awful day

Charlotte Guedry
Charlotte Guedry is the Editor of the Gonzales Weekly Citizen. You can reach her at editor@weeklycitizen.com.

Ten years have passed since the attacks against America on Sept. 11. Ten years that have been different from any I have ever known. We are more guarded, more unsure, and more questioning of things unfamiliar to us. We are more frightened.

I was a school teacher in the middle of a Geography lesson when I heard about the attacks.

I was teaching in?London,?England, and the headmistress of the school knew that I had lived in?America, and that it was where my family was.

She came to my classroom to tell me what had happened. I was excused to go into the staffroom and watch television. To say numb was how I felt isn’t exactly the right word. It was more like disbelief, shock, and sadness all rolled into one.

I left work and met some friends in the Rose and Crown Pub. Not to drink the sadness away, mind you, but to just be with people. To feel closeness and familiarity at a time when everything seemed so unsettled.

I called my mum in Louisiana. She was okay she said.?Scared and upset, but okay. I called my brother in?Atlanta. He was on the Eastern seaboard, and I was frightened. I couldn’t reach him for what seemed a very long time, but when I did, he said he was fine. Also sad and confused, but fine.

I remember watching the big screen television along with hundreds of others in that small London pub and thinking, how could this happen. It’s America, after all. They are infallible, aren’t they?

Realizing that they weren’t, was perhaps the most aware I have ever been when thinking of world affairs.

We have changed since Sept. 11, 2001. On Sept. 10, 2001, we were as we had always been. We were westerners who took for granted the freedoms we have. We were westerners unable to comprehend that such destruction would ever happen to us.

The very next day, though, everything changed. It’s as if the world before Sept. 11 just stopped.

Many men and women died on that day. They had no idea that their fates were sealed.?They had no time for goodbyes, no time put their affairs in order. They simply had no time.

I think of that and get very emotional. It seems so unfair that without warning, lives can be dramatically altered, and it’s not just those who died. Our own lives have been altered, and unfortunately will continue being altered.

Sept. 11 has left a bad taste in the mouths of many Americans, and westerners. Many of the world’s population are dubious of what they don’t understand. They are cautious of those now who don’t look like the majority, or who act a little differently.

That in itself is incredibly sad.

I loved living in the melting pot of humanity. I was happy simply moving along in life not paying much attention to those of us within a society who don’t seem to fit in. We all make the world go round, I used to think. I was neither racist, nor prejudice. I was a kind person who accepted everyone.

I remember my first flight back to America after the attacks. A Muslim family was on board, and I found myself feeling uncomfortable. I looked at them a lot, and felt my insides tense up when one of them reached into the overhead compartment for something.

I have thought a lot about how I acted then, and it makes the sadness I felt on Sept. 11 come to the surface each time I think of it.

I had changed.?The attacks had changed me, and I cursed the bad guys for that.

How dare they make me frightened of those around me. How dare they make me look at people with fear and reservation. Did this mean that they had indeed won?

Throughout the last ten years, I have worked diligently to become the person I once was. I have made a conscious effort to remember what the world was like before that most awful day. I have once again learned to accept those around me who I had allowed to make me so uncomfortable.

I am ashamed to say that my prejudices were brought to the surface by a select few extremists.

I am ashamed to say that they got under my skin and caused me to be afraid.

Men and women of all nationalities died on that day. People of all races, creeds, and religions were destroyed.?Their families all mourned as we did. They, too, suffered great loss.

As I look back and remember, I am proud that I have overcome the fear a little bit. I will always be more cautious. I will always live with the realizations that something can happen at anytime, anywhere. I will always be changed in some way.

So again I ask, does this mean they won?

The answer to that is simple. No, they didn’t. They may have made me look at the world a bit differently, but they never, ever took from me what is most important. They never took my ability to learn.

I will never forget that day. I will never forgive. But I will make the conscious decision, each and every day, to learn from the past in order to better prepare for the future.

They can’t take that away from me, or from any of  us.

It is what makes us different from those who preach their evil. It is what makes us better.

We will forever move forward, with more awareness because future is ours.