Her Story: A Kid in New York During 9/11

16 years ago I was sitting in Mrs. Fischer’s first grade class in Long Island, NY. We were about to sit down for story time when another teacher came into our classroom. She was crying. Mrs. Fischer left the room and when she came back, she was crying too.

Remember those big TV rolling carts that teachers would roll in for movie day? Well my teacher did that, but instead of a movie, we were going to watch the Twin Towers collapse.

As a first grader, I had no idea what that meant. I had no understanding of war or terrorism. All I knew for certain was that my parents had come back to pick my twin sister and I up from school and we were getting the rest of the day off.

We spent the next few days in front of our TV watching each tower collapse, over and over again. We saw our president come on the TV and talk about terrorism…whatever that was.

We missed the next 2 days of school too. That was good because I wasn’t sleeping much. I remember crying every night thinking that a plane was going to come through our house too.

I had just turned six years old, six days prior to 9/11. My cousin had gotten married 2 days prior. We had family stuck in New York because no flights were leaving. That was fine by me because I didn’t want them in a plane that was going to crash into anything anyway.

16 years ago today, less than 100 miles away from me,  thousands of people were losing their lives. Kids, just like me, were losing their moms, dads, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents. For days, people were wondering if their loved ones were okay and if they’d ever come home.

My dad was a police officer at the time and although he signed up, he didn’t have to respond to Ground Zero.  My uncle, a firefighter, did. I thank God every day he made it home safely, like so many did not.

16 years ago today, I had no idea that “9/11” would forever have a new meaning. Today is always sad. It is always a reminder to me of how fast things can change and how fragile life is. Today is always a reminder to me to be thankful for the men and woman who risk their lives day in and day out to keep us safe.

This past March, I visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It was absolutely incredible as well as absolutely heartbreaking. I did not realize how much of 9/11 I didn’t know about, how much, as a first grader I was shielded from. I didn’t live in NYC but I felt the aftermath in Long Island. I highly recommend visiting this museum if you ever get the chance. It was a life changing experience.

Hug your loved ones today and never forget the ones lost on that dreadful day. 

We remember those who lost their lives in 9/11. We will never forget.