I remember it clearly. I’m sitting in Mrs. Donnelly’s homeroom around a hexagon table waiting for the day to begin. I’m in sixth grade and the only thing running through my mind is when Jackie is going to come back with the hall pass so I can catch a glimpse of my adorable crush, who is always in the king square at recess when we play four square, and luckily located in the next classroom. How long does it take to get a drink of water? I’m annoyed.
Mrs. Donnelly draws the class’ attention, “Everyone in their seats.”
Her normally kind, gentle voice that provides comfort has a sense of urgency to it that au
She turns on the news and my adolescent mind doesn’t understand why we are going to be watching T.V. and why Mrs. Donnelly is so upset about it. Jackie walks in with the hall pass but I’m too distracted by the T.V. to even care about my all-star foursquare love.
The news is showing two extremely tall buildings and one of them is on fire. The caption below the screen reads, “Plane Crashes into one of the Twin Towers.” Why are we watching this? What is so important about a plane crashing into a building? My dad always told me pilots went to school to learn how to fly planes, so how did they not see that huge building?
I’m extremely unamused and bored with the news as any sixth grade child would be. I raise my hand to get the hall pass, “Mrs. Donnelly, I have to go to the bathroom.” She walks over to me, “Melissa honey, can you please just wait a couple more minutes. I want everyone in their seats for right now.”
I guess something really is wrong. I’m watching the T.V., as is everyone in the room. Mrs. Donnelly looks upset and confused and worried and…frightened. As we all watch the screen, another plane comes into view. Why is it flying so low? What is going on? Go around! Go around! It crashes into the identical building right next to the one already hit. People on the news are screaming, there are sirens and the people that normally talk on the news are talking with such passion and urgency. I know this is so bad.
Did people fly those planes into those buildings on purpose?
The teacher across the hall who talks to Mrs. Donnelly a lot comes into our room, “Did you see that? What should we do with the kids?” Everyone is confused. At this point the news is only scaring everyone and bringing more and more trauma into the classroom. I want her to turn it off so we can go about our day normally. Enough of this. The T.V remained on the rest of the day.
One by one my classmates were getting pulled out of class. Eric, your Mom is here to pick you up. Maggie, your brother is here to take you home. Eli, your Dad is here to get you. Eventually they said your name and you knew someone was here to take you home. The principal came over the microphone and announced we would be getting out early today, September 11, 2001. My mother picked me up along with my sister and brother. I returned home safely with my family.
I am lucky to say no one in my immediate or extended family was hurt this day. As an FBI agent, my dear friend’s father went over seas twice throughout these past ten years to serve our country. The amount of stress, pain, anxiety and terror her family went through when he was away is something I would not wish on my worst enemy.
As we come up on the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 this Sunday, I ask you to take a moment and remember all the lives lost on this day ten years prior. Take a moment to remember all the soldiers who gave their lives fighting for our country throughout these past ten years. Take a moment to pray for those currently over seas and wish for them a safe return home.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?