My realization that the students who are now entering college might not even remember the day is what prompted me to write this article.
Eleven years ago, the United States stood together and watched in horror as our nation was attacked by terrorists. It is remembered as a day that we will never forget. For the 10th anniversary last year, I wrote an article about what I remember of that day. It affected me on a personal level since my dad is a firefighter and I live in close proximity (about an hour) from New York City. I decided to ask people about their experiences on that day and to share exactly what they remember. The stories that these girls shared further made me realize the capacity of the events on our nation as a whole.
Here is a story straight from New York City. It is told by Janie, a senior at Towson, who on 9/11/01 was in the 5th grade.
“I remember there didn’t seem to be a cloud in the sky that morning. I was sitting in my 5th grade classroom about to get a new set of reading assignments for the week when suddenly my principle walked in with this frightened look in his eyes. We all thought we were in trouble, but then he uttered those unthinkable words “one of the Twin Towers has been struck by a plane, but it was reported that nobody was hurt!” He was urging us to remain calm, but we all looked at him as if he was an idiot. We weren’t geniuses, but we knew that somebody had to have gotten hurt. We all then went to the aid of our fellow schoolmates whose parents worked in the towers. We all tried to comfort them the best that we could, but in our heart we knew this was the beginning of something really bad. When my mom came to pick me up I finally remembered my father who worked about a block away, and began to cry. Phone service was nonexistent that day, so all we had was prayer! From my apartment building I had a clear view of the towers. On the ride home that day as we slowly approached my apartment, I was overcome with chills when I noticed that I was no longer able to see those monuments that once marked home. This time I cried the tears of a city whose veins flowed with nothing but fear and uncertainty.”
The next story is told by Emily, who is also a senior at Towson, and was in the 5th grade on 9/11/01. Her hometown’s close proximity to New York City made her experience on that day one she will never forget.
“My hometown’s proximity to New York City made this catastrophe hit everyone around me at a very personal level. I was in 5th grade and during lunch they would not allow us to go outside for recess and none of the students knew why. As the day progressed dozens of students were getting called out of class to go home and the teachers did not reveal what was going on until later in the day. I remember being extremely confused, as an 11 year old I did not know what to think about what my teacher was explaining to the class. It was my sister’s birthday and we were having a family party so my Aunts and cousins were at my house when I came home from school. My dad was stuck in NYC and could not make it home until late. It was the same situation with all of my Uncles. I was crying on the phone with my best friend because I was scared that my dad was not home and all the news kept saying was how many people were dead. Many people I knew had not heard from a parent that was in New York and it went on for days. My friend’s dad was pronounced dead a week after the event and within the next few years a memorial was built for the seven people in my town who died on this terrible day.”
The next three remembrances of 9/11/01 come from Dorothy, Diana, and Chelsea, all three are juniors at Towson, and were in the 4th grade.
“When the events of September 11th happened, I was about 9 years old and in the fourth grade at Hampton Elementary. Just like every other student who describes the day, I remember too many people being called out of class over the intercom for there to not be something fishy going on. Finally, after most of my class had left, I got called out. I was a little bit peeved with mom for taking me out of school right before my favorite class. But of course, I was not yet informed of what had gone down earlier that day. Walking out of school, my mom told my sister and me not to be scared, and then informed us of the attacks. We ate our lunches from school on the floor of our basements and watched images of the attacks on television. When I think back on that time, I remember most the general brief era that the attacks created in their aftermath. All of the “Time for Kids” scholastic news articles we would read in school were loaded with information and happenings regarding 9/11. Everyone was more paranoid, but also more patriotic. It’s also weird to me when I meet a kid nowadays who mentions 9/11 and then I realize “oh my god, you weren’t even alive at the time!” It was such a significant event that it’s hard to think not everyone has memories of it!” ~Dorothy
“Well I was 9 and in the 4th grade when 9/11 occurred. I was in the middle of snack time when our principal came on the announcements and told us there had been terrorist attacks, but no one knew what that meant. I learned that my uncle had been in one of the towers but had gotten out just in time. That day really taught a lot of people to enjoy life and savor it, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.” ~Diana
“Although September 11, 2001 was 11 years ago, the specific details and memories of this tragic event are still, and will forever be embedded into my mind. My dad, Drew Miller worked at the U.S. Capitol for the United States Senate. As my dad was driving into work that morning, he got a call from his boss that detailed all the events, and that the U.S. Capitol had been evacuated. His boss ordered my dad to immediately turn around and return home to his family. Back in Columbia, Maryland, I remember sitting in music class and being the first among my classmates to have an early dismissal that day. When I was called to the office, I immediately knew something was wrong, seeing that it was rare that I ever had early dismissal, and my dad and all of the administration team were in tears with their eyes fixated to the television. I vividly remember the office television showing news clips and live video footage of the Twin Towers on fire and burning to the ground. As my sister and I returned home we sat in the family room for hours that evening watching the news. There seemed to be constant commotion that evening. The phone was constantly ringing off the hook, the television was left on for hours, and after several attempts and tears, my parents tried their best to explain this horrifying turn of events. I am fortunate and extremely thankful to say that no one in my family was harmed or lost their life from the events of 11 years ago; however, the memories and detailed stories of that horrific day will always live on in my mind and the minds of all Americans that were somehow impacted that day.” ~Chelsea
The final story comes from Brittany. She was in 7th grade when 9/11/01 occurred.
“I remember 9/11 as if it just happened yesterday. I was sitting in class completing an assignment when all of a sudden, the emergency alarms went off. As an announcement was made that our country was under attack, I got nervous and the only thing I could think of was the safety of my family. Everyone in the building was told to wait patiently for further instructions and within 10 minutes, we were told to go home. I felt relieved and quickly left school. After turning on the TV and viewing the damage that had been done, I knew it was real.”
My realization that the students who are now entering college might not even remember the day is what prompted me to write this article. I think it is extremely important to share our personal stories with the younger generations, even if we weren’t right in New York City or Washington. By doing this, we allow them to experience what it was really like to be alive at that time. An event which is so significant to our American history should forever be discussed and recognized. September 11th, 2001 did not only affect a few people, but an entire nation who remembers to this day.