20 years ago, I was 14 and living in a medium-sized town in Southern Germany. It was sometime in the afternoon, I had returned from school and snuck up to my parents’ room to secretly watch TV, as I tended to when I was home alone.
Instead of the anticipated afternoon program, almost all channels where covering the live events in New York. And even though I did not fully comprehend, what was going on, I was glued to the small TV set in shock.
I remember the newscasters trying to explain the unfolding situation, but it all seemed surreal. The concept of terrorists or a terrorist attack were so foreign to me, let alone on that scale.
Up to that point, in my limited youthful consciousness, natural and human disasters were something that happened far away and in regions unrelated to my little world. And even though New York was far away on the map as well, that day it felt very close to home.
I don’t remember how my consequent conversation with my parents went, but I remember the next day in school. My classroom was buzzing with questions and speculations. We did not understand the first thing about politics or international relations, but we were all shaken and afraid of the unknown to come. Somebody brought up the possibility of war. Someone considered the possibility of nuclear retaliation. Some became afraid of World War III. One girl started crying. Together with one of our teachers, we had a minute of silence for the victims.
We did not know what was going to happen, but it felt like the world had shifted. Like it had been on a steady path and suddenly been shaken to the core. And still it was hard to properly assess how much that day would readjust the world.