It may be a cliché to say, but 9/11 was the “where were you” moment of my generation. My grandparents had Pearl Harbor, my parents and grandparents had JFK’s assassination and all three of us had 9/11.
I was in 7th grade. In Ms. McCoy’s English class in New Haven, Conn. It was the second week of school and the weather was perfect. She came into class completely distraught. Crying, she told us that there had been some sort of terrorist attack and that half of the World Trade Center was destroyed.
I was really confused. I remember trying to picture half of one of the twin towers gone. It didn’t make sense at all. I had just visited the towers last year (we only went to the lobby, not up to the Windows on the World) and it didn’t even seem comprehendible. All of us were asked to report to an auditorium for an assembly.
We got more details of what had taken place. Two planes had flown into the two towers and both had completely collapsed. We were reassured that there was no threat to the school. The rest of the school day was kind of a blur, but I remember feeling low and physically bad.
My mom picked me and my two younger siblings up from school. My youngest sibling didn’t even know what happened yet. We stopped at a family friend’s house on the way home to commiserate. One of my siblings, or maybe it was me, I can’t remember particularly clearly, asked if this signaled the start of World War III.
We got home and turned on the news. Playbacks of Bush’s statements were interspersed with some truly horrific images of people jumping and falling from the towers. The panic of people running from the collapsing buildings was seen over and over again. We watched Bush’s evening speech and then went to bed.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I remember seeing the best of humanity and the hope that emerged from the tragedy. The rescue efforts of the first responders were heroic. The positive ways that our country pulled together were inspiring.
To continue ongoing efforts to help those affected by 9/11, please consider making a contribution to the FealGood Foundation, a non-profit started by a 9/11 first responder to assist with ongoing efforts to help 9/11 first responders. A first responders memorial and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum could also use your support.