Every year on 9/11, New York City turns into one giant funeral. The city that never sleeps becomes quiet, and every person around you, no matter if you know them or not, becomes your closest friend. It is on this day that I miss my home the most.

If you ask any person in New York City over the age of 20, they can tell you exactly where they were, what kind of bagel they were eating, who they called first, who they knew that was there, the choices they made that day that could have changed the course of their lives. I was only 1 when the planes crashed into the twin towers, killing more than 3,000 people. I don’t remember the event clearly, but I know where I was. I was in the park with my mom, near our house. My father was at work, but he and his colleagues were soon evacuated because of fear that their building could be next.

Every year we are reminded how lucky we are that we weren’t there, that we were in the right place at the right time. Others were not as lucky.

On 9/11, family members who lost loved ones stand at the World Trade Center and read the names of those whose lives were taken by the terrorist attacks. This tradition is always the hardest to watch, as these people face the place where their loved ones were lost.

This year, a woman used her time at the podium to not only honor her brother, but to stand up to gun violence. “This country — in 18 years you would think it had made changes to bring us to more peace. However, gun violence has gone rampant.”

The insane number of mass shootings that have been occurring as of late has been an especially big topic of conversation, but on a day like 9/11 it puts these killings into a different kind of perspective.

That day, 9/11, is when Americans join together under one clear understanding: that the people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, should not have had to die. So, why can’t we use that same understanding when it comes to the issues we have today? On 9/11 we were attacked by an outside force, but now we have become a country that attacks itself.

According to Gun Violence Archives, there have been 295 shootings and 39, 537 total incidents of gun violence in 2019 alone. This has resulted in 10,443 total deaths. We are a country murdering ourselves.

On 9/11, I often find myself reflecting on my own life, contemplating what I’m grateful for and how much I could have lost had one of my family members been in the wrong place. I know that is what so many Americans now feel every single day: that they too could end up in the wrong place.

So, I would like to join in that woman’s plea. Because she knows what it is like to lose someone to destruction, to anger. And no one wishes to experience that.

Samantha Milowitz is a contributing writer for The College Reporter, the student newspaper at Franklin & Marshall College. A junior, she is from New York City.