For as long as I can remember, my family and I traveled a lot. In January of 2009, we visited New York for the third time. My siblings and I were born in New York, but we never got an opportunity to stay there for a long period of time. It was a great feeling knowing that I was going back to my birthplace. Ideas fluttered in my mind and I wondered things like, “Have things changed?” and “What will I encounter?” We stayed with my aunt during that one-week vacation, and there, my mind’s adventures began.
One cold and windy afternoon, my family decided to sightsee around New York City. When we arrived, the presence of the “city that never sleeps” was already hitting me. The streets were filled with cabs, cars, and people scurrying along the road. We saw the Empire State Building, the little sight of the Statue of Liberty, and much more. Most importantly, we took a glance at “Ground Zero.” Usually, when a person thinks of New York, one of the first things that will run across their mind are the Twin Towers. In my situation, I never tried to recollect that dreadful day.
But as I took a glimpse of “Ground Zero,” a flashback occurred in my mind. I remembered first grade on September 11, 2001 in William O’ Schaefer Elementary School located in Tappan, New York; I was sitting on the floor, having fun in class. Suddenly, recess wasn’t allowed and everyone was required to stay inside the classroom. I was scared, confused, and ignorant of what was going on. Then I saw my parents fetching me early, looking relieved to see me and worried at the same time. When we arrived at my aunt’s house, my parents watched the news. I, being young and innocent, asked if I could play outside with the neighbor. Surprisingly, the answer was “no.”
Seeing “Ground Zero” for the first time in my life with an older and more mature perspective made me realize that eight years ago, I was once there taking pictures by the Twin Towers. I was once watching the painful news as a child; but then, I never really understood the significance of that day. There, under the sun in the cold winter day, the image of a United States Flag flickered in my mind. I felt patriotic at that particular moment. I felt that I was unfolding a hidden part of me. I knew that feeling of realization was a life changing experience, a vision that I will always remember.
On that day we also visited the Statue of Liberty. As we arrived and stepped out, Lady Liberty seemed to be this majestic figure of justice and freedom. As I walked closer, I felt a strong presence of nationality within me. She always seemed to watch over this emancipated land we live in, and I felt proud being an American.
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