"9/11" I was an exchange student living in Houston on that September day



Hi, I’m Erika. I’m a Japanese-English interpreter based in Tokyo. If you wish to know more about me before you read my article, please go to my homepage to see my self-introduction video clip. 


Tomorrow will mark 18th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks. Today I'd like to share my memories of that day and year to remember what happened 18 years ago.


I was 16 years old when that shocking incident occurred. Back then I was living with my host family in Houston, Texas as a high school exchange student. I remember it was middle of my dance class which was the second class of the day. All of a sudden, a voice came out of a speaker in the classroom directing all the teachers to stop the classes and turn on TVs. As I first saw the TV screen, I didn’t know what was happening. I knew that something terrible was happening, but my English was still very poor and couldn’t understand the situation. It was barely my third week at school there. I asked my teachers for an explanation. They looked at me and rolled their eyes expressing their irritation to me for asking such a thing in that intimidating situation. It was apparent that they couldn’t help it and after all, it is entirely understandable considering the chaos at that moment.


After the attack, I, my family in Japan as well as my host family were confused and scared. But it didn’t take long for such feelings to be settled and they didn’t affect our daily lives much. My host family didn’t talk about it much either. I suppose that they tried not to so that I won’t feel unsafe.


Though we didn’t talk much about it, I remember listening to some music on radio related to the terrorist attacks almost every day from a while later of the incident to the last day of my stay in Houston. They were the songs that became popular because of 9/11. These were the hits of that particular year, and they are the exceptional songs which remind me of my days in Houston. So now, please let me share some of them.


The first song is “One More Day” by Diamond Rio. Back in 2001, I was too young to find it touching. Eighteen years later, listening to it with my love one, I find it not only moving but also heart-breaking. Every time I hear the song, it makes me realize how blessed I am to be with the one who I wish to be.



The second one is “Where were you (when the world stopped turning)” by Alan Jackson. My host mother was a huge fan of him, and so we listened to Alan Jackson a lot. Among so many of his songs, this was the special one in 2001. I don't know how many times I listened to it while I was in Houston as the music and his sweet southern accent vividly brings back memories of 18 years ago. 



The last piece is “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye. The song was covered and recorded by a group of famous artists from a variety of music genres in 2001. My husband admires Marvin Gaye, and this is one of his favorite songs. Though it is not my memorial song from 2001, I’d like to share it here too with my wishes for a peaceful world.