On the morning September 11, 2001, I was a young 11-year-old kid living in the town of Scott Depot, West Virginia, just a small suburb outside the capital Charleston. I remember this morning being just like any other day around that time in my life. Class at my private school started at 8:30 a.m. and my mother would drop me off on her way to work. Everyone will tell you that the sky on September 11th was crisp and blue, and it was. Weather has always shaped my behavior and I remember that bluebird sky day really got my mind off the dreadful uniform I had to wear for school everyday. So I was in a pretty good mood and ready to take on the day.
Class started normally as usual right on time. It was a tradition at my Christian school to have a big prayer that was full of everyone’s thoughts and wishes for their loved ones. Just as Mrs. Miller started to say the prayer aloud in front of the class, my friend Lincoln walked into the door 15 minutes tardy for class. As Lincoln got his books and hung up his bag on the hook Mrs. Miller asked, “Lincoln do you have any prayers you would like to add?” Lincoln calmly responded, “Yeah, we should pray for the people killed and trapped from the explosion at the World Trade Center.” I will never forget Mrs. Miller’s facial expression after those words came out of his mouth. She looked at him almost with disgust, but with confusion at the same time with her head tilted to the left. Lincoln looked around the classroom confused too, maybe thinking he said something bad or that he was in trouble I’ll never know. She replied slowly, “the World. Trade. Center…. exploded?” He stated it was the last thing he heard on the radio before his mom dropped off at the front of the building.
At this moment, I am thinking in my head why is she so troubled by what he’s saying? Stuff explodes all the time. I’ll painfully admit that I didn’t know exactly what was the World Trade Center at the time. I was a young kid; I didn’t know its size or whether it was in Paris, London, or New York. It just didn’t mean much to me, but by judging my teacher’s facial expression it was a pretty big deal. After Lincoln’s little conformation, she put the whole prayer idea aside and immediately turned on the television. It was a rather big and old television in the corner that we never used before. As soon as she turned on the television, there it was on CNN a huge gaping hole right smack dab in the middle of this huge building. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing because I had never seen such terror on live television.
Minutes passed and Mrs. Miller finally started the prayer that we tried to finish at the beginning of class. Little did we know at this point in time as our prayers and thoughts went up to the heavens above, Flight 77 is in the middle of making its U-turn right above our heads flying back to Washington D.C. Back to the television, we observed that another plane crashed into the other tower. Everybody in the room was in a state of shock because now things just got real; this is not an accident, we are at war. You could feel the sense of fear and anxiety in the classroom. Nobody knew what was going to happen next, anything horrible that could of happened that day was believable and possible it seemed. Minutes passed and our principle announced that the whole school is going to meet in the gymnasium to pray for the victims in New York City. We all gathered in the bleachers holding hands saying the Lords prayer, “Our father who art in heaven….” as well as individual prayers hoping to reach the Lord up above to fend off future acts of evil that day.
When everyone dispersed from the gym and returned to their classes, there was a sense of enlightenment that things were going to get better from here on out, but we were wrong. When I walked into that classroom, I saw one of the towers had completely collapsed and a plane had struck the pentagon too. That’s when the feeling of no hope settled in. I was thinking in my head that there was no God watching over us today. Everything was just out of control at that point and all I wanted to do was go home. Shortly, my mom left work and picked me up early from school. I had many thoughts juggling through my head on that car ride home. The thought of how many lives were forever ruined from a senseless act of terror on a scale that nobody could have predicted. Looking out the window into the beautiful green West Virginia countryside, it was hard to image that 500 miles away thousands of people are dying and running from plumes of debris and fire. A scenario unimaginable and my heart goes out to all of them, they are forever heroes.