On the topic of 9/11, recently I and my pen pal, Nhung Nguyen from Vietnam, had a long and emotional conversation. I’m very delighted to share what her thought on the 9/11 attacks. Here is Nhung Nguyen from her words:

The World Trade Center–Before 9/11

When the attacks occurred, we were at the 7th grade and did not care much of news, especially international news. I still remembered the 1st time I heard about it was on the 7pm news on the national broadcast station. The images of the airplanes crashed into the North and then the South tower appearing on the screen. I saw panic people running in the streets, some desperate trying to escape from the twin towers. I didn’t think much, it was like many Hollywood movies I saw. I was young, I just thought that in every movies, when the world was in panic and chaos, some heroes would show up and rescue people. Therefore, I did not understand why my parents and other adults made a big deal out of it. According to the announcer, I knew the tragedy was terrible but there were always happy ending in the end.

However, my older brother was studying in Boston at that time. When my parents watched the news, they didn’t think much of my brother there. But when the two towers collapsed, my parents worried a lot about him. They tried to contact him. Not until did they talk to my brother, they would be at ease. I didn’t remember much of their conversation but I only knew that my brother was safe up there. He said that other students and teachers at his university were in panic too. Every one talked on the phone, called their families, relatives or any one they knew in Washington D.C or New York. People tried to calm each other down.

Days after, my parents kept calling my brother there to ask how he was, but I thought they were more curious of the situation there than worrying for my brother. Before my brother told that Americans were always in a rush, they seemed not to care for any one. But after that day, my brother talked about the warmth of people. They cared for each other, especially the ones who had family or relatives working in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. Everyone seemed to slow down when they passed by strangers in the streets, people came closer. Only hearing the conversations between my brother and parents and between my parents, at that time, I knew that 9/11 attacks affected badly American people. These attacks shook the US severely. Only the television broadcasted and newspapers gave more detailed information of the attacks on the financial and military symbols, the failed attack on the political symbol and the numbers of the death, like many other Vietnamese people, I felt that Americans were so vulnerable, insecure and easily to get hurt. It was more terrible because no hero showed up to save the US. They broadcasted it several times a days and couple of weeks after the crashing into and collapsing of the two towers, the burning Pentagon, I saw people were crying in the streets and praying in silence. My teachers at school and my relatives talked a lot about the attacks. The US was like a promising land to everyone so no one had any slightly ideas this could happen: The most powerful country in the world was at stake.

That all I remembered of the 9/11 attacks. I remembered the flashing images, which to tell the truth I am not really impressed because they were like scenes in many movies. I remembered the faces of Americans who tried to escape from the collapsing towers, who were covered in dust and blood. And the most things leaves in my mind was what my brother told about how strangers became closer and how the 9/11 changed America and Americans. From my perspective, the 9/11 attacks have fuelled patriotism and changed American thinking: even a strong power could be defeated and their self-confidence was shattered.