Where I Was: September 11, 2001

Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

I was just 2 days shy of my 17th birthday.  I had not yet been to New York, and I had never heard of Al Qaeda. I really didn’t associate the “World Trade Center” with the two tall block buildings on the Manhattan skyline, and I certainly wasn’t savvy enough with the world to consider warfare in America.

On that morning, like every morning, I got up, and was in my “0 hour” Show Choir rehearsal by 6:25 a.m.  When I entered rehearsal that morning, the country was still at peace.  I walked through the doors to the choir room while others were at their desk, checking email, conducting business as usual in the Twin Tower buildings.

By the time I walked out an hour later two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. Walking to 1st period, a few people were talking about plane crashes (which aren’t terribly uncommon), but nobody really knew the impact of what had happened.  When I got to class, my teacher had a TV on, and from that point, we knew that this was the day that would live on in infamy for our generation.

Some of the things that stand out in my mind from that day:

1) We had just gotten a new crop of foreign exchange students.  They had been at the top of the towers 5 days before.  They were scared enough to be in a different country far from family, but to add an attack on a place they had just come from was terrifying and very confusing for them.

2) Listening to the radio in 3rd period,  a reporter was talking from outside of the Pentagon. Suddenly her voice turned to panic, she started to run, and then we heard  a plane crash into the building in the background.  I will never forget the terror in that reporter’s voice as she realized that a plane was about to slam into the Pentagon right next to her.

3) My dad was in Scotland.  He had flown out 2 days before and we hadn’t heard from him yet which was very unusual.   He works for the federal government, and for many hours I horrified that something may have happened to him (early on nobody really knew what the attack was about or who was being targeted or where).  It was a huge relief to finally get a phone call that evening.

4) The complete eeriness of having every radio station and every TV station covering the event.  The country literally stopped and there was no way to ignore what was happening.  We were saturated with coverage, and we couldn’t escape.

5) I remember sitting in class, watching the coverage, and some girls were sitting there giggling and brushing their hair, gossiping about who knows what.  I have never felt such frustration as I did with those girls who didn’t seem to care about what was happening.  I still remember exactly who they were, and I am still annoyed over it.

Whether you hold Bin Ladin responsible, or you think it was an inside job. Whether you think the attacks were deserved or not.  Whatever you believe about the motives and events leading up to September 11th, I don’t think anyone can argue that every American was shaken and scared that day.

Thousands of  people woke up that morning expecting to go to work and come home at the end of the day.  Thousands of those people didn’t make it home.  Millions of people stood, watching helplessly as two buildings collapsed in front of their eyes.  Hearing stories like Mark Wahlberg’s who made a last-minute change to his travel plans, getting him off his original plane (a plane that went down) are scary.  How easily could I have been there?  How easily could those planes have crashed somewhere I was?  No matter what my views are of that day,  knowing that so many people lived out a complete nightmare still affects me 10 years later.  Remembering how I felt that day still affects me 10 years later.

Aaron’s family is from New York.  His dad grew up in Brooklyn.  Aaron spent his summer vacations there.  He was at the top of the Twin Towers on August 11, 2001, exactly 1 month before they would be destroyed.  His aunt’s brother was a fire fighter with NYFD.  Michael Bocchino was a responder at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He didn’t make it back out.

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