It was the day. The day that has inscribed fear into the hearts of every American individual. The day that Americans will never forget. The day was September 11th. This was not just another ordinary day in the United States. This day will always be known and will be taught in history classes for many and many years.
On September 11, 2001, nineteen Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York City, which killed everyone on-board and thousands of other people working in the buildings. Both buildings collapsed within two hours of the planes crashing into them, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. Hijackers also crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., and a fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in Pennsylvania after some of its passengers and the flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane. The horrible images of the Twin Towers crashing to the ground in a plume of smoke are embedded in many American minds and will never be forgotten.
This day was not like any other September 11th day for me. I was in a Muslim country. Not only was I in a Muslim country on September 11th, I was in this country with travel alerts issued, Semester at Sea alerts, and dozens of emails from my worried family back home. A Florida preacher, Terry Jones, was threatening to burn the Quran, the Muslim holy book. U.S. State Department traveler alerts were sent out warning Americans to be careful in Muslim countries.
I did not want to step one foot off of the MV Explorer. The ship felt as a body guard to me. I felt secure and protected, but I knew as soon as I walked off the ship I would feel uneasy and nervous the whole time. I do not know exactly what I was worried about. I still, to this very moment, do not know what I thought was going to happen to me. Even though I was a blonde- haired, blue-eyed, all American girl, I knew they were not going to pull me to the side and kill me.
I thought I was going to experience the Muslim people of Casablanca running around and celebrating the attack on the United States. For some strange reason, I was terrified. I felt like I was going to be frightened the entire time until I returned to the ship that served as my armor. However, I was wrong; this fear only lasted for a couple of hours. Once I let my guard down and allowed myself to experience the Moroccan culture, I began to realize that this horrible day in U.S. history was not on the Muslims’ minds in Morocco.
In the end, I realized that we were both thinking about this day, but in two different ways. My American friends and I were thinking about this day and were missing loved ones whose lives were taken in this horrible attack. I do not know, but I can only assume, that the Muslim individuals were feeling guilty about this day because people who were associated with them committed this heinous act. However, their feelings were not positive.
I was so glad that I was able to spend this day in a Muslim country. I felt I was able to prove to the Muslim people I met that I, as an American, do not hold this attack against them. I learned that I cannot associate someone’s ethnicity with other peoples’ mistakes. The Muslim people I met were beyond welcoming and extremely nice. This day was very powerful to me and was able to turn my feelings and judgments around. If I was not able to have the experience of spending September 11th in a Muslim country, I would have returned to my life thinking that all Muslims are evil, and they all played a part in the attack on September 11th.
— Mackenzie Walsh