I will never forget (because I can’t)

When they say never forget, it’s not a reminder. It’s a promise.

YWP Photo Library, photo by Tess LaLonde, 16, of South Burlington, VT

I saw the planes for the first time.

I don’t know how I’d never seen the footage before. I’ve heard about it, everyone has — but for some reason, whenever we went over that in class, we saw only pictures of smoke rising over the once-clear New York skyline. We only heard numbers, quickly recited, before moving on to the normal topic of discussion. But today, I saw the planes.

I’ve always thought of planes as graceful, soaring above and through the clouds and taking people to far-off, distant lands. There was nothing graceful about these planes. Or maybe there was, and that’s even worse.

I don’t know when I started crying. Maybe it was when I first saw the planes hit. Maybe it was when I saw pictures of people jumping to get out of the flames. Maybe it was when I saw the pictures of people on the ground, powerless to do anything but watch — just like me, powerless to do anything but stare in horror at the newsreels from before my time covering the event that has defined my time.

When they say never forget, it’s not a reminder. It’s a promise.

Because I can never forget what I just saw.