I can remember September 11, 2001 as if it were yesterday. It was my 4th day of my new job as an art teacher. I was wearing a purple flowered shirt with a black blazer and black pants. I was in the teacher’s faculty lounge grading some of my student’s artwork. Another teacher comes in and announces that we are under attack and that someone has crashed into the twin towers. My first thought was how could someone fly into such a large building? How could they not see that coming towards them? As I am thinking these thoughts, she also mentions that there are now huge holes in the buildings. I take out my cell phone and go on the “web” to see if this is true. It really didn’t seem like such a big deal. A small plane hit. So there is a hole in the building. Everything will be fine. All of these thoughts are running through my mind…. until… I read the news on my cell phone. It states that we are under attack by terrorists and that one of the towers had actually collapsed. I couldn’t believe what I had just read. I read it out loud to my fellow colleagues who had gathered in the faculty room. I immediately call my mom and see if she heard from my dad. He works for the New York City Fire Department. I was very nervous and concerned because he was so close to this incident.
The bell rang to start class and many of my students had heard about the tragic news and were panicking. Rightfully justified, however, I needed to keep some type of order in my class. Some time had past and many parents came up to the high school to pick up their children. It was total chaos. I’ve never seen so many people crying and screaming for their children.
Once school had ended, I immediately went home. As I traveled along Sunrise Highway, I saw many fire trucks traveling west to help. I also heard helicopters and fighter jets traveling to what is now known as Ground Zero. I tried to listen to the radio but every station had “radio talk” and shout outs to all that are helping. I knew that this was a tragic event; however, so much has changed in a matter of minutes that I drove my 45 minute commute home in silence, except for the siren sounds from the many fire trucks and ambulances responding to this horrific tragedy.
Once I arrived home, my family anxiously waited for my dad to come home. We all watched together, the reports on the news and saw over and over again footage of the planes flying into the towers and the towers collapsing. A few hours later, my dad pulled into the driveway and we hear a cry from a neighbor across the street, “Frank’s Home! He’s Home” Our neighbor was also concerned for my father. My family was ecstatic that he was ok. He immediately took a shower and ate dinner and went back to his shop to help fix fire trucks that were out of service before the attack. For the next two weeks, I rarely saw my dad because he gave his time to help fix and restore fire department trucks into working condition. The city was in desperate need of fire trucks to keep on hand just for their regular emergencies. On the weekend’s my dad would come home and tell us stories of random people’s generosity when they stopped by his shop in Long Island City. Cases and cases of water were donated. My dad’s workplace even received letters from students in Wisconsin, saying thank you for fixing “their” fire trucks. The New York City Fire Department uses fire trucks from Seagrave which is in Wisconsin.
As a teacher, I teach my students learning tools to help them succeed in the future. From what happened on September 11, 2001, it taught me to forgive and not to be angry with someone and hold a grudge. This experience has made me realize exactly how life can be changed in an instant and nonsense fighting between loved ones can truly hurt in the end.