Virginia. September 11th, 2001.
It was a Tuesday. I woke up just like any other day. I went downstairs. My parents were watching Fox & Friends. I looked outside. It was a nice day. My mom packed me and my sister into the car and we went to school. My sister was being home schooled, so she didn’t get out of the car when Mom dropped me off at school. My dad was working. He was a commercial pilot back then.
I get to school. First few periods were normal, not much going on. It was a new school for me. I was about two-three weeks in my sixth grade year at a prestigious Christian private school. Well, we’re halfway through Math when one of the other instructors enters the room. Her expression is completely blank. She asks my teacher to come out in the hall for a chat. My teacher disappears for a long time. My fellow classmates and I didn’t think anything of it. Suddenly, she returns. She addresses us all, “Boys and girls, a event just happened in NYC and we’re bringing in a TV so you can see it.” We asked what she was talking about. She sat down and stared at her desk. For the rest of the day, she remained almost completely silent.
A teacher brought in the TV. She switched it to a few channels. Personally? I thought it was some Presidential speech. Some boring CSPAN thing about whatever. The TV turns on. Instantly, the image of one of the World Trade Centers was burning. My heart sank. It’s still somewhere down by my stomach. We were overwhelmed. A joke was made at one point that maybe it would fall down and knock another tower down like a domino. We didn’t understand. We couldn’t comprehend. I remember constant noise on the TV. Lots of confusion. A bomb? A missile? What happened?
Suddenly, the camera cut to another plane. People screamed. My room screamed. Then, silence as it dove into the second WTC. Utter silence amongst the classroom. We just watched something happen in real time. Life stopped for me. A plane? My dad flies airplanes! Over and over the video replayed. What the hell is going on?
There were constant murmurs amongst the room. A girl shouted out, “My uncle works in one!” She ran out of the room crying. We kept watching. There was smoke in the White House! What the hell? Thank God they were evacuated. It turned out to be nothing. A second plane at the Pentagon got us riled up and dreadfully scared. What the hell is happening? “Are they going to nuke D.C.?” someone screamed. More tears. I went to a private school that was literally a 20 minute drive from the outskirts of D.C. The teachers calmed us that we’d be okay if a nuke was dropped. The thought never left my mind.
Suddenly, my teachers turned off the TV which led to several protests by the students. They wanted us to take our minds off the events that have transpired. They took us to the computer lab and she told us to write our feelings down. The girl aside me wrote that she is praying for all those in the Towers.
It was time for Science class. We huddled in. She turned on the TV. The towers were falling now. We were silent throughout watching it. Suddenly, my teacher said that I was called to the office. My mom was here. I grabbed my stuff to go.
The girl outside in the hall was crying. I tried comforting her. She told me that he worked on a floor somewhere above the 100s. I said something to her that I completely forgot about. She said back, “What?” but I didn’t repeat. I think I said something cynical about how this is all part of God’s plan or something. It was a private Christian school. Anyways.
I went downstairs. I got in the car. Mom’s face was frozen. The radio was on. I heard the sounds of the Tower crashing down onto the ground. She said, “Dad was flying today.” It was a silent drive home.
After that, it’s a blur. We watched TV for the rest of the day. My Dad was OK, so don’t worry. However, in a weird twist of fate, that morning he flew out of Boston, one of the same airports as one of the hijackers. He tells me of that day. He constantly replays walking around the airport, trying to remember if he saw the faces of those men. I didn’t see him for two weeks. All of the airports were closed! He was stuck in Charlotte, North Carolina all that time. I stayed home all that week.
My friend’s uncle wasn’t so lucky. I’ve forgotten exactly what his name was. I lost contact with her shortly afterward.