- Posted August 14, 2011 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Share your 9/11 story
9/11 - A monumental change in a moment
When September 11, 2001 happened, I was an 11-year-old 6th grader in Seattle, Washington. I remember being shaken awake by my mom at 6 in the morning telling me to get up because my dad wanted to show me something. My first real memory of 9/11 is walking into our living room and looking at the TV where there was live coverage of the first plane's strike. I remember sitting there on the couch with my dad talking and then watching in shock and horror as the 2nd plane crashed and realizing that it was all intentional and that we were under attack.
Going to school that day is blank for the most part. The only thing I remember is the principle coming on over the school's TV and making an announcement about the towers falling and then spending the entire day watching the news in whichever class we were. My parents had close friends in New York and spent hours trying to get ahold of them but could not and I remember the worry and fear on their faces.
It was not until a few days after Al Qaeda had claimed responsibility for 9/11 that I truly realized how much it had changed the world around me. My family is from India and we are Sikh. Sikh men wear turbans, have beard and have similar clothing to that of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I remember going to a store early in the morning one day before school to buy markers with my dad. At that time, my dad wore a turban and had a full beard and I remember being stared and glared at as were shopping. Then while standing in the checkout line we heard someone behind us loudly whisper “get out. We don’t want you here”. That was my first experience with hatred and eventually it started to become routine.
My dad was a taxi driver in Seattle at the time of the attacks and I remember walking in on my parents have heated discussions with worried looks on their faces. Eventually I figured out that they were talking about steps my dad should and could take to make himself safer. We had started hearing stories of other taxi drivers lured into dark neighborhoods and badly beaten among other things. The neighborhood my family and I had been living in at the time was most white American and we started noticing that a couple of our neighbors now ignored us or glared at us. We were lucky though that most of the neighbors surrounding us were decent people who understood that we had done nothing to deserve being ignored or accused. A couple of weeks after the attacks my parents started picking my younger brother and I up from school. I noticed that many of my Indian friend’s parents were doing the same thing and though I did not understand it then, they were afraid of something happening to us.
As I have grown older, I have started to recognize the reaction that some people had to the attacks. I can understand people being panicked and afraid that they were in danger. However, I do not understand the almost blind hatred of anyone wearing a turban, salwaar kameez or having a beard. The attacks had a major impact on my life and the way I react to things like discrimination and racism and I hope that we, the people of world, not matter what religion or nationality, never have to live through anything like that again.