I was born and raised in Brazil. Everything about me screams my country and it has always been this way. I’ve been living in the United States for a few years now and I’m embarrassed to say that the American pride bugged me a little in the past, but things have changed.
When I was 17 years old and still living in Brazil I was hired to work in a bookstore that was opening at the mall. For many days the other employees and I spent hours and hours organizing the store in closed doors. The silence and boredom of putting books in shelves all day was making the minutes look like years, so one day I decided to bring a radio to play some music while we were working. My manager liked the idea but for our disappointment we couldn’t tune in to any music station. The only station available had a very emotional narrator telling a scary story with explosions and many people dying.
Probably because anything was better than the dull silence, all the workers and I were very attentive to that horrible story.
Maria, one of the co-workers was the funniest of all the employees; she was about 4’10” tall and a mother of 2: “Science fiction stories always put me to sleep but this one is good. It’s making the Narrator pee in his paints” – She joked.
We all laughed and agreed with her. The Narrator’s voice was shaky and he sounded terrified!
I left the store to use the bathroom and on my way there I passed by a sport equipment store and gave a quick look at the TV they had in there to check if there was any soccer game going on, and then I froze. My body couldn’t move, my eyes couldn’t blink, my hands started shaking and my heart raced like never before.
The day was September 11th 2001 and I was watching in real time the attack to the World Trade Center and before I blinked I saw the second airplane crashing into the tower.
I ran to the store, opened the heavy glass door screaming with tears in my eyes: “It’s real! It’s really happening! The Narrator is not telling a random story, it is happening!
Everybody ran to the Sport Equipment Store and stared at the TV in unbelief until the President of Brazil announces that he contacted the President of the United States offering any help necessary.
Maria said in despair: “If the people that did that attack us too for supporting the US I want God to take my kids! I want God to take my kids!”
I immediately called home:
“Mom, Where’s dad where’s Gustavo (my brother)” – I asked frantically.
“Your dad went to work and Gustavo is at school, why?” –she asked
“Turn the TV on Mom! Turn the TV on” – and then I hear her saying: “No, I can’t believe it!”
That day there were no Brazilians or Americans for me, we were all one in my eyes, and all I wanted was to be with my family.
Last year it was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and I believe I watched every single TV Special about that day. That night I was watching one of the shows, I turned off the TV with swollen eyes from crying for many hours. I thought of my country and how much I love and respect my culture and my people and I saw myself in a very humbling place when I realized that indescribable courageous men and women were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the people I love the most: my american husband, for my 2 year old american daughter and for the baby boy was caring in belly.
That night my tears of gratitude didn’t allow me to sleep.
That night I thanked God in prayer for our heroes, for their families and for their work.
That night another heart grew in my chest; an American heart.
And on this Memorial Day that’s what I want to say: Thank you