Where Were You: 09/11/01 / by McKenzie Roers

It was a Tuesday. Seventeen years ago. The year two thousand twenty seemed unfathomable.

It was a hot day, the air conditioning was still blasting in our buildings on the military base in southern Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country.

Still in class, I was just a first grader with no understanding of the distress and chaos unfolding in the country that I had spent all of less than three years in.

My parents had never been glued to the television like that, my mother shielding my eyes and eventually convincing me to reside in a different room for a little bit. She told me later, that people were jumping from the buildings, she didn’t want me to see that. I wouldn’t see the footage from 9/11 until I was a sophomore in high school attending a summer camp in Washington D.C.. I starred at that museum television’s muddled footage of the billowing flames and the people jumping for their lives from sky scrapers, I couldn’t swallow it.

They wept, my parents.

In the years that followed the 9/11 attacks, we watched our normality of living peacefully beside our Muslim friends diminish rapidly. Our cars were scanned, one by one, before we entered back onto the base; they were looking for explosives, for threats. Our nannies began to disappear one by one, every week a family had lost one because the military base was increasing regulations.

Then 2003 happened.

My third grade class size began to dwindle. More families were returning back to the United States. And then came the mandatory civilian evacuations and our world was ripped from under us as we were packing our bags with no idea of when we would return. The worst part was that we were leaving behind our fathers, our mothers, the only ones in the family that were active duty - they were staying behind. I spent four months away from my father, my mother pregnant with our third sibling. I have never talked to my mother about where her mind went during that time frame; we were all in shock until I think we were on the floor of our home months later, still standing next to my father as one family.

9/11 shaped my generation, it shaped my parents’ generation. It was shocking, rattling, unbelievable. I learned the most about corporate media in those years, dumbfounded at a young age that they had control over wrong portrayal. I watched as the Muslims that I called my friends, my family, being painted in a light that didn’t match them. It rocked me with confusion and never knowing which side hurt the most, my american or my cultured side.