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I Can't Forget.

It was 15 years ago today that I went on a camping trip with my 6th grade class, along with the others from across the San Diego Unified School District up in Palomar. The whole idea is to to get the students to learn about nature, the environment and to enjoy meeting new people from another school; it's a tradition that's been going on for decades in the school system in SD. 

That was also the day everything changed, as the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. & a fourth plane taken over by ordinary passengers on United Flight 93 crashed into a meadow in Pennsylvania, put us on a different path, one that led us into a fearful place, driven by our need to feel secure, whatever the cost. It also shined a light on the people we might take for granted - police officers, firefighters, first responders - men and women who went into harms way to save as many lives as possible, and lost their own in doing so. It signaled that even in perilous, evil times, the best of our race as homo sapiens comes forth. 

For me, it was one week of hiking, swimming in the river, and learning about plant life. The counselors at the camp never told us that our world was changing in real time, nor did they show it in their faces when the news kept pouring in about buildings falling, ash clouds engulfing the most populous city on earth and how names like Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda would become boogymen that would haunt us for years to come. 

How could they tell us that we were a nation under attack, soon to be a nation at war? 

How could they turn our week of peace into one of fright, confusion and despair? 

How could we understand the grasp of something as heavy as a terrorist attack, or how a senseless and cowardly attack has and will continue to change the very landscape of our lives, our generation, our country in the days, weeks, months and years to follow?

They didn't. As far as we knew, the world was still spinning with its comings and goings as it had done the minute we left for camp. For that, I am grateful. The world - as dark and uncertain as it had become on September 11, 2001, could wait. 

That was an act of charity us kids at the time could not begin to comprehend, nor I could repay now.

Always remember, never forget.

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