When 9/11 happened, I was only three years old, and at such a young age, I had no idea what was going on in the world — the only thing that mattered to me was my stuffed animals and food.
As I grew up in elementary school, I was always reminded every September about the attacks with an assembly my district put together.
We always were given little American flags to place outside the front yard after the presentation was over.
I was born in a time where it was no longer safe to walk around by myself like it used to be. I remember my mom telling me about her time as a young child, and how she’d walk all around the neighborhood with her close friend Sue Hill from morning until dusk, no cellphone, no contact, relying on complete trust in her community and town.
However, when 9/11 happened, that trust broke completely. I asked her why I wasn’t allowed to do the things she did as a kid, and she told me that “times have changed.”
I didn’t always see the big picture as to why things were the way they are, because it’s the environment that I grew up in. It’s something that I’ve been accustomed to since I was born, but as I grew older and moved onto middle school I started to understand more.
I’m not sure exactly what age I was when I found out why my next-door neighbors, Timmy, and his brother Tommy weren’t around anymore, but I remember they were dedicated to their jobs as firefighters and were always very friendly to me and my family.
My mom had told me that Timmy rushed into the North Tower while Tommy, who was a Battalion Chief, led his men into the South Tower. Both of them tragically died whilst trying to evacuate 25,000 people from the World Trade Center.
When Timmy was younger, he planted pine trees next to our house that continued to grow for decades after his death. To me, it served as a memorial, remembering how free-spirited yet brave these two brothers were.
To some people around the country, 9/11 is a distant memory, but for me, it has been prevalent in my community since the day it occurred. Neighbors, friends and family members, all have people they hold dear to their hearts, serve in our local fire and police departments.
In one way or another, regardless of age, 9/11 has touched everyone in some form. It truly is one of the most important events of our American history to remember, as well as commemorating our brave service members who gave their lives to save others.
Kimberly Brown is a reporter with TBR News Media and a recent graduate of Stony Brook University.