I remember the morning of September 11 just as vividly now as if I were still living it.
I am a junior in high school, and he had just switched classes that morning at about 9:00 AM. I went from my first period class into journalism, where we immediatley went to the computer lab to begin our days work. Upon entrance to the lab, it was blatant to me that something had happened.
A group of teachers and students surrounded a television set hanging from the ceiling. I looked to a friend of mine, who assists in the library during this period. He said to me as I asked him what was going on, “I don’t know, someone crashed a plane into the World Trade Center.”
The first plane had already hit, no sign of the second just yet.
When he first told me what happened I remember letting out a chuckle. I found it funny, calling the pilot of the plane an idiot and making jokes at his expense. Those jokes, as I continued to watch, became something I would forever regret. I did not understand the severity of what was happening, nor could I comprehend anything more than a plane being crashed and a few possible injuries.
I watched on then as the second plane smashed into WTC2. I remember us sitting as a class, some on the floor, some in chairs, and some standing, watching the television with a blazing uncertainty in all of us… silent. Not a voice could be heard, only an occasional exhalation or whimper.
We watched this for awhile, until I noticed a large puff of smoke filling the skyline of New York City. I mentioned to someone that the towers had just fell, only to have my comment shunned.
The towers HAD fell… one of them, at least.
In a situation where I would normally point out my denied correctness, I was otherwise beside myself. Words were hard to come by, my vocabulary being almost entirely replaced by an astonishing array of emotions, most of which I had never felt before.
I was engulfed by an estranged hopelessness. It was a situation in which I wanted to speak with a friend or a family member, but instead I sat in a lock-down situation in school, clinging to every word of what was being said on the television.
I remember everything from that morning, that day… that moment.
I remember watching as the biline across the bottom of the screen shifted, announcing the crash in Washington’s Pentagon. I remember the thoughts of my uncle working for the government wasting through his head, unable to recall the exact position of his workplace. Fortunetly, my uncle was safe and sound, evacuated from his office.
I’ve learned much from the attacks of September 11. It hit me that I was not alone in my thoughts. For once, an entire class of high school students sat not just as acquantances or classmates, but as a family, united in hopes for the safety of all those involved. I learned the severity of what I had originally made light of, striking a deep-seeded regret within myself that I will rest assured will never vanish.
I also realize, as I post this story in the early days of May 2002, that my story is no more important than any other. The entire country was linked on that day just as I was with my classmates. We were not white or black, male or female… we were alligned as Americans, watching our country bare it’s weakness and struggle to it’s knees. We watched the single most notorious event in the history of this country, and undoubtedley the most destructive force that we will ever be struck with in our lifetimes. We watched this as a unit, as a country, and as a family identified as Americans.
I am proud to call all of those who gave their lives and lost their lives on that day my family. I did not know their names or their faces, but I will never forget them all the same.