I remember waking up on September 11, 2001, at my irregular time of 6:00 AM CST. I got up early because my favorite History Channel documentary, Civil War Journal, was on. The show only came on on Tuesday mornings so this was the only day of the week that I woke up at this time of the day. I was a Freshman in high school and my mind really wasn’t focused on going to school when I woke up but more on the football game our 9th Grade team was going to play that night against our rival Jacksonville. I was playing Free Safety, a position on defense, playing for my injured best friend who was hurt in the first game of the season. So, naturally, I was nervous about starting my first game. I remember taking a shower, thinking about the new miniseries on HBO called Band of Brothers, a show about a 101st Airborne unit in World War II. The show had premiered that previous Sunday, September 9, with two episodes. I was looking forward to the next Sunday when they’d show Episode 3 of the series. After getting out of the shower I went down to breakfast to eat my usual bowl of Raisin Bran and then went back up to my room to watch Civil War Journal until my mother, sister, and myself walked out of the door at 7:00 and headed off to school. She always took me to school first, as it was closest and also I had to get to school earlier than my younger sister had to.
I got there probably at 7:04 or 7:05 with class starting at 7:20. I had English first period and around 7:50, Miss Word, the English teacher across the hall,(I always found it funny that an English teacher was named Miss Word) knocked on the door and said to turn it on Fox News and that there was a lot of smoke coming out of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Miss Justice, OUR English teacer, obeyed and turned it onto Channel 65 only to see Fox and Friends, the early morning Cable News Show that sort of resembles Good Morning America, was on, but the hosts were also talking about what appeared to have been a light civil aircraft that had flown into the World Trade Center. Just a few moments later, they finally showed us the first live picture of the burning North Tower and my jaw dropped. Since my father worked for the FAA at the local airport I had SOME experience around planes and I could tell just by looking at the size of the hole that there was no way that it could have been a light civil aircraft that slammed into the tower. I knew it was a commercial jet. What I didn’t know was why it had slammed into it. By looking at the clear skies surrounding the North Tower I really couldn’t see any reason why the pilot couldn’t see this massive skyscraper right in front of him. But the thought of terrorists really never flashed through my mind. At about 8:05 AM another plane came into view and, before it even crashed, I knew exactly where it was going and what it was trying to do. As the second plane flew into the South Tower I knew what was going on…someone was attacking us.
Virtually the entire class let out a long, continous gasp of horror as the fireball erupted from the other side of the South Tower. A few minutes later our principal came on the intercom and announced that at the end of first period bell all classes would report to their homerooms and stay there until dismissed from school. At 8:13 the bell to end first period sounded throughout the school and just about everyone ran through the halls, trying to get to their homerooms so they wouldn’t miss anything. My homeroom was in the other building and I found myself running as well. I ran all the way to my homeroom and sat down in front of the television, eyes fixed on the two burning towers in front of me. A little while later, long after the bell had rang and everyone was in homeroom, they moved on to a shot of Washington D.C. and, to our horror, we saw a huge fire outside the Pentagon and it turned out that a plane was responsible for this.
Almost instantly my thoughts began dwelling on my Uncle Mike who worked RIGHT ACROSS the interstate from the Pentagon. What if the plane had gone through that building before crashing into the Pentagon? I had asked myself. But those thoughts quickly left me when, probably about ten minutes later, the South Tower collapsed in on itself and fell in a massive heap to the ground. A girl behind me started to cry and, after asking why, I found out that her best friend’s favorite uncle worked in the South Tower. It would turn out later that he was alive and well. A few minutes later another report came in of another plane crashing, this one was a United 93 from Newark to San Francisco. It had crashed in a field south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania near the small town of Shanksville. Why would they crash it in a field? I remember asking myself. Once again, my thoughts were diverted from that subject when the North Tower likewise collapsed. By the time school was out at 3:07 I really couldn’t believe or understand what had just happened throughout the course of the morning. When I got home I continued to watch the coverage of the attacks, although it was pretty much obvious all of them were over, I still continued to feel fear that another one would come.
That night I, like just about every American, tuned in to watch President Bush give what was probably is greatest speech as president, telling us that we would hunt down every terrorist cell wherever they may be and that it would take years, if not decades to finish them all off. I fear was replaced by anger, an anger that still persists to this day. As I study now to become an army officer in college, I can’t help but wait for my turn to fight in the war on terror.