I had just finished my third-shift stocking job at the Oakville, Ontario Wal-Mart, and I was taking the train home because my bike had a flat tire. As I waited for the train, a middle aged woman barked at me– We’re under attack. She and her two gal-pals were middle-aged wealthy Texans, on their way to Toronto for a shopping spree. Their faces reflected the fear and confusion that was spreading quickly.
I looked to the TV screen and watched a plane fly into one of the Trade Center buildings. It was gut wrenching. It had to be an accident.
When I got home my brother and my mother were in front of the TV watching the horror unfold. We sat for hours, in disbelief and shock, watching and listening as reporters spat out bits of information as they received it. We watched and listened to reports of what was to happen to the school children whose parents worked in the towers. We watched and listened as reporters discussed the strength of the towers, we watched and listened to reports of hundreds of first responders entering the towers and we listened to reports of how more than 300 first responders were gone forever. Over and over, we watched footage of the planes hitting the towers. Eventually, we watched the towers collapse.
The next evening at work, my coworkers and I were each given a small American flag. I never thought I would see the day when Canadians would proudly present American flags to other Canadians, and a day that Canadians would lovingly accept American flags and wear them with honor.
There are only around 40 million people in Canada, compared to the over 300 million people in the US. I was born to an American mother and a Canadian father. My mother’s parents were the same mix. I’m proud to claim both countries as my own, and I am not afraid to admit the existence of Canada’s little dog syndrome; our beer is better, our music is better, we’re not loud like those darn Americans— and if 911 had not happened, Canadians would have continued to boast about the superiority of Canadian everything. Because 911 did happen, the little dog welled up with love, sidled up to the big dog and nurtured its wounds. American flags burst onto Canadian flagpoles and porches, there were American flags displayed in Canadian windows and on mailboxes. Canadians planted yard signs telling the big dog to the south: We Love You, America; We Stand With You. This blaze of love that swept across the first nation of hockey was something I had never witnessed before in my life, and the remembrance of it still brings tears to my eyes.
People from around the world proudly proclaimed their love for America that day, and America came together as a nation.
May we never forget those who lost their lives on 911; the people who worked in the towers, the first responders, the innocents on the planes, and the heroes who caused one plane to miss its target.