6th grade, and my mom was a flight attendant

Date Submitted: 09/04/2013
Author Info: Alexandra (North Andover, MA - USA) 
Occupation: Student
Lived in NY on 9.11.01?: No
Knew someone who perished?: No

I always feel so guilty for being so traumatized about 9/11, when I knew nobody who died — like I shouldn’t have the “right” to experience such trauma — but I still get flashbacks of that day. I guess it’s compounded over time. Each new horrific event in the news kills me inside a little more. The Sandy Hook shooting made me sob for weeks, but then I sort of put it out of my mind. But my daughter started kindergarten today and when I got back home from dropping her off, I curled up in the fetal position and cried and cried because of how frightening life is. About how people who want to hurt others “go for show”. They want it to be stunning and… spectacular, in their minds. This made me start thinking again of September 11th, 2001.

I was in the sixth grade. A teacher ran into my classroom and said, “Turn on the TV, NOW! Turn on the TV!”

My teacher turned on the classroom TV. There we saw tower one billowing smoke. I have to admit, I think my teacher behaved improperly (and so did many, many other teachers) by letting us just watch that. But she was stunned. She was in shock. I totally get it, how someone could be in shock like that and just not think straight.

Then it happened. The second plane hit. We watched it live.

My teacher said, “Oh my God. They did this on purpose. We’re going to war. This means we’re going to war.”

My mom was a flight attendant. Not for one of the airlines with planes involved, but I had no idea at that point which airlines’ planes had been hijacked. I was frightened for my mom. Very frightened.

But also, I was painfully aware of the fact that I was watching people die on live TV. I didn’t have to see their individual faces to be aware that watching a plane crash into a building = watching people’s lives end.

Maybe my mom’s life.

I had no idea which planes those had been.

But I’d heard about hijacks.

The thing is, be nice to your flight attendants. When they’re working and you think they’re being rule-enforcing waitresses, they are in Crash Mode. They’re always in Crash Mode. But they’re also always in Terrorist Mode. How many jobs with such a crappy wage are there where you’re trained about how to keep people calm when they all know they’re probably about to die?

I have problems riding in planes. I do it often, for practical reasons, but it sends me into a panic attack every time. I have to put my head between my knees and just breathe while I wonder if I’m about to have a heart attack.

Where was I on 9/11? I was in a sixth grade classroom, states away, wondering if my mommy was alive while I watched people die and heard my teacher say it meant our country would go to war.


Site Design & Development
Robb Bennett @ Visual23

Site Design & Logo Design
Vince Pileggi

Managed By
Ali Imran Zaidi

Originally created in 2001 by
Robb Bennett and Ali Imran Zaidi.