Similarities between 9/11, Boston gives me a sense of lost innocence again

The Daily News

Kelly Dickey is a senior journalism major and writes ‘Sarcasm & Smiles’ for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to Kelly at

History tends to repeat itself. It’s true in national events, and it’s true in every day life. That’s often just what life is like: it feels like déjà vu, whether it’s in our control or not.

That’s how I felt this week.

There are a lot of things I remember about Sept. 11, 2001; I was 12 and supposed to get my braces on that day, but I had to cancel my appointment with the orthodontist because of ISTEP testing. In between exams, my friends and I learned about a plane hitting the first tower. While we knew it was bad, we didn’t truly grasp what it meant, we just knew our math teacher was in the back of the classroom bawling. 

A week later, I heard the word anthrax for the first time after letters containing the substance was sent to two senators and media offices. Once again, I didn’t understand what was happening when just a week prior I lived in what had felt like a relatively safe world. 

This week, I found out about the Boston Marathon bombing as I got out of class and instantly got into reporter mode, trying to help the rest of the Daily News editorial board figure out how best to get information to students. After an exhausting day and night in the newsroom, I got home around 3:45 a.m. Tuesday and hit my head on the pillow as soon as I walked in my bedroom. 

After I woke up from my slumber six hours later, I really got to watch the footage for the first time and, like my sixth grade math teacher 11 years ago, I bawled. Just a day later, I heard the first report that a letter containing ricin was sent to Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. 

Although I understand more about the hatred in the world as an adult, my 23-year-old self still struggles with comprehending events like 9/11, Aurora, Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon. In a lot of ways, I’m that 12-year-old all over again. 

An arrest was made in the ricin case and as of Wednesday night, there have been conflicting media reports regarding if authorities have a suspect in the Boston bombing. But even if we find out the culprits’ motives, the “why this happened” will be trivial. The pain after these events is the only thing that will make sense. 

After the bombing Monday I heard someone say, “You just don’t see this type of thing in America.” But that’s not true. We’ve seen it time after time: 9/11, Oklahoma City, Centennial Olympic Park, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  

And it will happen again. History will repeat itself. Like a lot of people, I’ve compared Boston to 9/11, and someday someone will compare another act of hatred to the marathon bombing. I’ll cry for the lives lost and the survivors. I’ll search for unanswered questions. My two young nephews will lose their innocence.

I don’t know when. I don’t know how. I don’t know where. But when it happens, I’ll become 12 years old again and lose my innocence all over again, too.