September 11, 2001—This day is etched in my memory forever—the horror of being an eyewitness to this tragedy! Our world has never been the same since. Three thousand lives lost! Many injured and maimed. Families torn apart. Fear injected into the hearts of all Americans across our country on that day. Air travel interrupted with people strained helter-skelter.
My Mom had just flown to my brother and his wife’s a couple weeks early to take part in preparing for my nephew’s wedding on September 22.
My ex-husband lay in bed watching the morning news on the TV. I could also see the TV from an adjacent bathroom as I prepared for work, putting on my makeover and blowing my hair dry.
We both rushed nearer the TV as we saw the replay of the first plane crash into one tower of the World Trade Center. Trying to grapple with what we had just seen, the second plane crashed into the second tower, and we fell limp on the bed, trying to take this all in.
I raced to finish dressing and went to work. When I got to school and settled in my room, I turned on the TV to see that both towers had collapsed. Children streamed into my room silent, unusual for lively six graders. Shock permeated the room.
Military helicopters flew around Albuquerque, concerned about more attacks across the country because by now, we had learned another plane had cracked in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the terrorists had flown another plane into the Pentagon.
I taught no classes that day. The TV and the news became the focal point in my classroom. Later administration admonished us for letting the students watch such horror. I had faced nothing like that before. I wanted to keep up with the news of the day, and so did my students. No one cared about learning.
Several of my students had parents at Kirtland Air Force Base and feared for their parents’ lives. Cell phones rang, and I ignored the no cellphone policy, knowing parents needed to connect with their children.
The horror of that long day drug on—anticipation of the unknown. The United States had never faced a terrorist attack like this. Finally, school ended, and I sped home.
During the 6:00 PM news, Peter Jennings gave an emotional report and ended with, “Connect with your family, near and far, right now!” So, I called my brother and talked to him and Mom. Her voice cracked but as we talked, she reassured me she was safe, but I shuddered at the thought: what if she had traveled a couple days later to California? She could have been stranded somewhere alone amid this craziness, scared to death, instead of secure with my brother.
On this September 11, nineteen years have passed, yet the memory and the trauma linger. Children have grown up without a parent. That fateful day splintered families. Those of us who watched the planes crash into the towers, then saw the towers collapse and people running for their lives will never be the same. I live thousands of miles from New York City, but I felt like I was there. Time eases the pain, but the memory still lingers.
I shudder and sob today for our loss! I hope you do, too!
Here are some resources:
Where were you on that fateful day?