"What's the World Trade Center?"

We were middle school students, and we asked that question when we overheard two teachers gossiping about the incident on the way to mass.

Some buildings in New York City, we ascertained from their brief explanation. An accident, we figured.

But by the service's end, the second plane had hit.

And by the end of the hour, a classroom full of 8th graders in Broussard sat wide-eyed in front of the TV as it flashed those orange explosions over, and over, and over.

Monochromatic frames of ash-covered businessmen and women. Firemen. Bloodied babies. A confusing image of a Pennsylvania field.

Then the collapses.

Over, and over, and over.

We didn't know what any of it really meant. But we knew it wasn't right.

A decade later and I stood 1,450 miles away at street-level where the towers once marked the iconic Manhattan skyline. I felt guilty taking photos, like an imposer upon an eternal funeral. Like a thief.

This wasn't my grief.

But the faces that day in New York City — on the eve of the attack's 10-year anniversary — they reminded me of that moment at age 13 when the gravity of nearly 3,000 deaths weighed upon my classmates and me.

"Never forget," the nation vowed. Until it went on with its life.

The families of the perished, how could they go on? A lifetime with a loved one is lost, and all they get is a red and blue wreath? A hoard of tourists clamoring down the sidewalks with cameras in hand, capturing their tears? Hollering conspiracists pockmarking Ground Zero street corners while surviving firemen recite a prayer for their fallen comrades?

But I shot the photos anyway, as a reminder of those who live each day affected by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

And that's everyone.