On September 11, 2001 my two older boys were seven and four years old, and one of the main things I remember about that day is my overwhelming urge to run to their schools and hug them and bring them home. I remember wanting to keep my fear from showing so they wouldn’t be as terrified as I was, and wanting to keep the details of the day’s horrors from them for as long as I could. But, I also wanted them to understand what happened and, at some point, also understand the magnitude and scope of the loss. They’re now adults, and this morning as a news announcer was saying that one quarter Americans were born after 9/11 and have no personal memories of the day I was wondering how their perspectives have changed on the events of 9/11 since then.

This morning I came across a post on Facebook from my friend Lauren Lee, who was in 7th grade on 9/11. Our families have been close for years, and when Lauren was a teenager I was her youth group leader at church. She has two preschool-aged sons, and currently lives in northern New Jersey.

I was touched by what she wrote about her thoughts on 9/11/2001 and how they’ve changed over the last 17 years, and with her permission am sharing it here.

I’m struggling today for so many reasons. I’m not one to share my “mushy” feelings, but I’ve also never been afraid to speak my mind and I feel like I can’t let it go. Just an FYI, this is a long post.

17 years ago I sat in Mrs. McLean’s 7th grade classroom, knowing something was up when all of the teachers were called into the hallway. Shortly after that, I was called to the office because my mom was there to pick me up. We gathered the rest of my sisters and we went home to say family prayer. After we said “Amen” we opened our eyes to find that the first tower had collapsed.

As a 7th grader I couldn’t begin to comprehend what was actually happening. Each year on this anniversary I understand a little more.

I understood a little more after an earthquake hit DC while I was there and I couldn’t communicate with my husband back in NC because cell phones didn’t have service.

I understood a little more after the first time I visited NYC and ground zero for the first time and I realized how enclosed and trapped those people must have felt in that city, not knowing where a safe place to run was.

I understood a little more after I had my first child and I was responsible for his safety.

I understood a little more after I had my second, and I was outnumbered while my husband was at work.

I understood more as I saw thousands of 9/11 memorial riders this last week honoring the heroes that emerged because of that day.

I understood more when I got a reminder from Tyson’s school to dress in Red, White, and Blue for Patriot’s day today and realized how much September 11th still effects this community.

I understand a hell of a lot more as I sit here in NJ, 14 miles from ground zero, while my husband is in NYC. The disaster that took place 17 years ago would separate us if it were to happen today. He is a member of law enforcement and would have been called into action in some capacity. I’m sure of it. And there is a pit in my stomach just thinking about it.

What I still don’t understand is how some people can be so evil and hurt other humans. I can’t understand how Americans can post political jabs on this day, a day that hurt so many, but also united us more than ever. I can’t understand how people are using Hurricane Florence, a storm that is currently hurtling towards the east coast and expected to cause catastrophic damage…how are people using it as a selling tool to “push their products” instead of offering advice, supplies, or services to help another?

Be respectful to your fellow man. Be a help to others around you. Be a better person.

You are not promised tomorrow. Please remember what happened 17 years ago and be prepared for what’s coming. #america #neverforget #beprepared

Perfectly said, Lauren. Thank you.

(P.S. One of life’s great rewards is watching someone you taught as a child grow into an incredible woman and mother.)

Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jenvanlaar or Facebook.

Tags: 9/11