September 11, 2001.

It is a day that is etched in history as one of the most tragic, most devastating, but most important days in this country's history. On that day, four commercial airliners were hijacked by members of the al-Qaeda terrorist group mid-flight.

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Two planes hit the Two Towers of the World Trade Center. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth plane, presumably headed for either the White House or the U.S. Capitol, was taken back by the passengers of the aircraft, who steered it away from the intended target and into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Altogether, the 9/11 attack resulted in 2,977 fatalities and countless injuries. It led to an economic recession, the aftermath of which is still being felt today.

We all know what happened on that fateful day, twenty years ago. But where we? Where the citizens of Casper, Wyoming? What were we doing? Who were we with? How did we feel?

This writer was 13 years old at the time. I was in 8th grade at Centennial Junior High School. When the first plane hit, I was in Mr. McMullen's algebra class. The gravity of the situation didn't immediately register for myself or my classmates or teachers.

It wasn't until I was in Mr. Wilcox's science class that I really began to understand what had happened. Mr. Wilcox opted to postpone the day's lesson, instead choosing to roll a TV into the classroom so we could watch, as a class, what was happening in New York City.

Even then, I didn't fully grasp what had happened. But then, a fellow student made a dumb comment, a stupid joke, about the incident and Mr. Wilcox immediately told him to shut up. Then he kicked him out of class. That's when it hit me.

The rest of the day is a blur. I remember sitting in the cafeteria at lunch with my friends as we discussed whether more attacks would occur. We were scared, we were confused, we were angry. We weren't alone.

That day, for those who were there, is a day that will never be forgotten. Lives were lost. Families were torn apart. Life had changed, for better or worse, and it would never be the same again. But it also brought the country together in ways never before seen. From the rubble of 9/11 came a new country, a better country. For just a little while, we were not on one side or another; we were standing united because we knew that divided we would fall.

 

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