about something else initially, but there were some extenuating
circumstances that compelled me to write this. Mostly it’s because
I’ve been having an off few days.
Actually, it’s been more like an off 11and a half years…
I had almost forgotten the way post-terrorist-attack anticipation
felt, but Monday’s reminder fixed that for me. I was twelve on
9/11, and I could see the towers burning from a vista about a block away
from my house. I remember the news; I remember seeing people
being swallowed up by smoke; I remember wondering when and how and what
would get hit next. That feeling of dread stayed with me for a
long time. For years I was sure that the next
attack was imminent, that any second we’d hear the news, pile back into
the car, and drive away from the destruction like we did in 2001.
It was a tough thing to shake, but time (combined with an almost
excessive amount of medicinal video games) eventually triumphed over the
constant unease and pushed most of those thoughts from my mind.
And then last Monday happened. Thankfully the floodgates held.
When Monday’s attack came, I was calmer than I thought I’d be.
It turns out that seeing tragedy, even terror, at 24 is at least a
little bit easier to cope with than dealing with it at 12. I was
on the Internet the whole day, trying to figure out as much as I could
about what happened in Boston, but even that was pretty much business as
usual in terms of where my head was. Sure, I mourned with
the whole country, and I was certainly sad and angry, but the
anticipation of the next attack wasn’t there.
And then on Wednesday night a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded, there was an unknown number of dead, and many wounded.
The floodgates burst and in poured all of those familiar discomforting feelings that augur more evil acts.
I felt nauseous. My first reaction was that it HAD to be
connected to the Boston bombings, it was too big a coincidence to not
be! That idea was quickly bolstered by reports of a propane
explosion in Oklahoma City; no specifics, but again, no chance it was a
coincidence! I was on high alert, my terror-threat level was on
red and I was not calm; there were going to be more attacks, and
soon! I thought about all of the things I needed to get ready and
how life was going to change.
And that’s why I’m writing this.
I am ashamed to say that, just like when I was twelve, I fell victim
to terror for a few days this week. Instead of living my life as
usual, I let the threat of terrorism overwhelm me. I let it take
me off of my usual routine. I let it impact my thoughts. In
doing so, I let down all of those who were actually harmed, killed, or
responded to the attacks, and I let evil achieve its goal of disruption
and terror. For that momentary weakness, I am truly sorry.
However, I can assure you that I won’t succumb to the long-term panic
my twelve-year-old self did. After all, I’m older now.
In addition to my increased ability to cope with the initial shock of
the Boston attack, being 24 for this attack has also made me far more
aware of America’s heroism and resilience. You see, when you’re
twelve, it’s hard to distinguish between the heroism of a group of
people banding together to help others escape a collapsing, incinerated
building, and that of cartoon characters defeating a villain and
saving the world. You know that both are heroic acts, but that’s
probably about it. It’s only with age and experience that
you realize the true gravity of the acts of our police,
firefighters, military and other first responders. You gain an
understanding of how much they willingly put on the line in order to
save lives and bring those who have harmed us to justice. The
knowledge of the fact, the reality, that regular people actually DO
these things, at the risk of life and limb, is not fully appreciated at
But it is at 24.
In addition, I also have a better grasp of how important, how vital,
the return to normalcy is. While wasted on me at twelve, the quick
reopenings of both Broadway and the NYSE post 9/11 are now almost
miraculous to me. So too is the near-instantaneous bounce-back of
the people of Boston, Watertown, Cambridge and New York City.
They got hurt, sure, but they weren’t defeated.
And that’s what America does. If we get hit, we recover, and we make
sure that those who hit us learn just how bad of an idea it is to mess
with America. That’s something to be confident about.
And so I am.
And that’s enough to keep the panic away.
Because, while in my 24 years I have witnessed icons as they were
destroyed and people as they were slaughtered, I have also seen the most
incredible acts of kindness and decency and heroism. I’ve seen
strangers, friends and rivals all find strength through our common bond
as Americans, and accomplish things that otherwise couldn’t be
done. I’ve seen example after example of Americans rising to
whatever challenge we face, regardless of how tired or hurt or enraged
And that’s why I’m done panicking.
Because I know, and can say with conviction, that no matter what gets thrown at us, America always rises.