Friday, May. 06, 2011

Corey Howell, 19

I can still remember the day in Fourth Grade when I learned that the United States had been attacked. Our teacher, Mrs. Bradshaw, was reading to us from Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I wasn't paying much attention. Another teacher walked into the classroom and whispered something into Mrs. Bradshaw's ear. That's when the class knew something was wrong. Her eyes watered, the mascara slid down her nose, and she had to leave the room. We found out about what happened on the playground. A girl named Nicole was picked up by her father, a police officer, and she left the school. As she was leaving, she told us that America had been attacked in New York.

That's all I can remember from that day, but there are two other important observations that I'd like to share. On the one hand, there was a division among the students, even at a young age, who wanted to go to war and those who did not want to go to war. On the other hand, there was similarity between the two divided groups which plagues our culture today: prejudice. Even the students who did not want to go to war did not understand what Islam is. This is a problem I still see among my peers at the college.

This day is precious for many Americans who have had relatives die, but also many more who have grown up in an ominous aura of war, one that was misunderstood by many, one that was on the other side of the globe. I've marked the day with fears that anti-Muslim prejudices will again fester because many Americans still do not understand the difference between an extremist and a regular person who practices Islam. But as the president made clear in his speech, we are not in a war against Islam, and for this I am delighted — this day, I hope, will get rid of the ignorance still floating around out society.

Howell is a sophomore at Lone Star College in Kingwood, TX, studying education. He was 9 years old on 9/11.