Thursday, September 8, 2011

I remember where I was; do you?

NOTE: This is a revised version of my post from last year, which went largely unnoticed due to me being on a sabbatical from Facebook at the time. I thought about waiting until this Sunday to re-post this, but I might be quite busy this weekend. Thanks for reading!
As pretty much everyone around the world knows, this Sunday is the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I'd like to talk about where I was when I first heard about not only that tragic event, but also other ones I can somewhat remember that caused nationwide, if not worldwide, panic.
I'll start with 9/11. It was right at the beginning of my eighth grade year. The school day had barely even started when my good friend Jakob got picked up to go home, and he was not sick, nor did he have an appointment. I didn't even know what was going on until I got back home, and I saw only a few minutes of the news before I went to my weekly counseling session at my church. When I got in the building, they had CBS News playing in the fellowship room, and I can still remember my counselor saying a prayer at the end and praying not only for me, but also for the state of our nation.
April 16, 2007 was probably the most traumatic national event for me, because I had (and still do have) some friends at Virginia Tech. It made things even worse that I didn't even know anything of that sort was going on until I just innocently logged into AOL Instant Messenger like I did (and still do) pretty much every day, and saw Away messages like, "Let's hope and pray everyone is okay at Virginia Tech," or something like that (it's been so long, I can't remember.) I was quite glad that all my friends were okay, and that incident taught me a lesson: Even though in countless fictional stories--from classic Disney animated movies to R-rated, graphically violent action flicks--killing someone (or a group of people) brings peace, it rarely does in real life. When you do as that Cho guy did, not only do you end a person's/people's life/lives, but you also bring serious emotional pain to that person/those people's family/families.
February 1, 2003 was, while not as tragic as the events I just mentioned, still terrible. For those who don't remember--and I wouldn't say this if it weren't for at least one person I've talked to who is older than me and doesn't remember this incident--that was the day the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon returning to Earth. I was watching ABC's Saturday morning block (known as ABC Kids) as was usual for Saturdays back then, and I was waiting for Lizzie McGuire to come on. Out of nowhere, the national news comes on. At first, I thought it was just some short educational program, but it stayed on, and that's when I realized something was wrong. I had it on mute, so I turned the volume up, and all they were saying at first was that NASA had lost contact with the astronauts aboard Columbia and they kept going back and forth from the same person to the typical, "In case you're just tuning in..." summary. Eventually, they ended up saying the shuttle was gone, and that all the astronauts inside were dead. My mom was asleep through all this, because she had worked the night before. I told her about it as soon as she woke up, and it shocked her as much as it did me. Even WGN decided not to show Star Wars: A New Hope that afternoon like they were planning to, only because of that event. As bad as it was, I'm glad it didn't happen when I was little; back then, I wanted to be an astronaut, and a tragedy like that would have devastated me.
There are many other tragedies I could talk about. There was the Asian tsunami on December 26, 2004, which was quite horrible. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was as bad if not worse; although forecasters did correctly predict where it was going to hit, and some people did evacuate, the storm was among the deadliest natural disasters of any sort to hit our nation, and seeing all the debris, as well as people mourning their loved ones lost in the storm, just broke my heart. The Columbine shooting in 1999 is an event I remember more because of the aftermath than the actual event. At the time, I was a student at an elementary school where my mom worked, and they talked about a code phrase--no, I'm not going to name it here!--that meant the school was under attack. I also remember my friends' mom not wanting them to play GoldenEye for Nintendo 64 because it was very similar--at least, to her--to Doom which supposedly inspired Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to do as they did. Although I know tons of people, my friends included, had fun with that N64 game, I can still somewhat understand my friends' mom's feelings; seriously, do you want any of your kids to grow up to be mass murderers? Didn't think so. One of those friends told me during summer of 2000, about a year after they'd moved hundreds of miles away, that a guy he knew had gotten in big trouble, including not only suspension from school, but also a summer-long grounding by his parents, only because he told the bus driver that she didn't want to drive the bus on the last day because something bad was going to happen, and, because everyone was up in arms about school security back then, the bus driver took it as a threat and wrote the kid up. That same fear was proven by an incident involving me early that following school year, but we don't need to get into that.
This might sound trite, but here it is anyway: No matter what happens, God is in control. Some people think recent events are signs that the end is near, and that may be true; however, as I've heard at least one preacher say, it could just as easily be a thousand more years until Jesus comes back. I don't believe in that December 21, 2012 stuff; after all, research just shows that it's the end of the Mayan calendar, not the end of the world. People who get all up in arms about that mess sound as ridiculous as a kid saying, "Oh, no! My Wizards of Waverly Place calendar only goes to December 31, 2011! After that, life as we know it is going to come to a complete end! I better warn all my BFFs!" (No, I do not have a Wizards of Waverly Place calendar; I have an iCarly one.)
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