I was a seventh grader in Darien, IL when 9/11 happened. All of us, students, teachers, administration, walked around in a daze that morning. I was 11; I had no idea what the implications of it would be in my life.
Third-period Biology: my teacher and basketball coach didn’t look at me at all when he explained to us that the attack wasn’t a “tragedy,” as people on the news were describing; it was an attack, he emphasized. Later that year, when I would ask the basketball team to donate money to a global poverty initiative for which I volunteered, he would be more direct: “How do we know this money isn’t going to some jail cell in Iraq?” he’d ask me, in front of the team.
Seventh-period Language Arts: my teacher explained to us that we are *American* and we would get through this together, like we always have. We were silent; I was filled with pride and hope. The boy sitting in front of me later turned around and asked if I was a spy from Afghanistan. My response: “My family’s Indian, Mike. That doesn’t even make sense.” He chuckled.
That is the first time I remember thinking, “Oh. This is going to, like, be a thing, in my life, forever.”