By CODY McGEHEE, Ranger Reporter:
Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001. On this day I was in 5th grade, age 11, living in Hays, Kansas. It was just one day after my birthday. I woke up just like any other school day at 7:15 a.m., put on my slippers, walked out to the living room and turned on the TV to see the weather report. Instead of the weather, I saw a building on fire. Not understanding everything that the media provided to the world at my age, I walked to the door and checked the temperature to figure what to wear for school that day. As I walked back to my room to get in my school clothes, I noticed my mother sitting on the couch in awe. Not thinking anything, I went and prepared for another day of education.
My brother, mother and I loaded up in the car and I turned on the radio to find some music to listen to on our drive to school. None of the stations were playing music, which I found it quite odd, just a ton of people talking. I start realizing that everyone was talking about New York. Still set on my goal to find music, I put in a cassette converter in the deck and I connected my CD player and put in a Pillar CD. I watched the town go by as we drove to Washington Elementary.
We arrived and, as always, my mother wished us a safe and wonderful day. She told us she loved us and asked that we learn something. I went to my classroom, sat at my desk and I took a moment and look around. I didn’t know what it was but today was different. Something was going to happen today. Morning announcements started and my principal asked everyone to stand for the pledge of allegiance. Everyone in the school joined in… “I pledge allegiance to the flag… With liberty and justice for all.” My principal then requested all the teachers to turn their TVs to channel 7 where once again I saw this building burning.
This time there was something different. There were two buildings burning now. My principal then continued to explain to all of us that something had happened and our nation had been attacked. Everyone in my class watched the TV in awe, as we were told who was responsible, when it happened and, yes, that what we were watching was live and happening at that very moment. Just as we were told that, the South Tower fell. The school fell silent, and at that moment the classroom phone rang. My teacher told us all that school was being canceled and that our parents had been informed and had been asked to pick us up. At that moment everything became a blur.
My father and my grandfather both served for this nation. Protecting us, giving us the freedoms we have, asking for nothing in return except our gratitude. As I have grown, I have learned the total of people lost by the attack that happened 15 years ago. The number of lives lost since that day of men and women lost fighting for each of us against what has been called a War on Terrorism. I ask everyone that you don’t just remember the lost on Sept. 11, but every day. They are the reason we wake up everyday and continue to move forward. Until next week, take a moment and reflect on how this one day in history affected you and how it will continue to affect others.