It was the second Monday of the eighth grade when terrorists came to my school and killed six people. They came with AKs, fully expecting to slaughter as many children as they could.
I was walking from a classroom to the library when the first shots went off. My initial thought was that someone was lighting off fireworks as it was a friend’s birthday, so I just sort of stopped and listened for a moment. Seconds later, a woman screamed. I had never heard a scream like that before, though in my adult life I would hear a few more.
She was screaming for her life as she had just been shot in the wrist. I made my way to the library, where my friend Simon and I would hide under the desk for several hours. I peeked out the second story window, saw some movement and ducked back. Other than that I did little but hide; there was little else I could do. My heart would nearly leap out of my throat every time someone crept around the corner.
In a moment of facetiousness, Simon and I carved a note under our desk: “Luke and Simon, August 05, 2002, Hiding from Terrorists.” I think humor in combat is an essential quality for anyone who hopes to make it a career later in life, though I certainly wasn’t thinking that far ahead then.