Sitting in Mrs. Mogan’s first period class, I was talking more than I should have been–the usual. Mrs. Mogan, after getting fed up with my thirteen-year-old-too-cool-for-school non-stop chatter, moved me to the front desk of the classroom.
Moments later, Mrs. Santana opens the side door into our room, a worried look on her face.
She speaks to Mrs. Mogan quietly, “An airplane just hit the World Trade Center. Do you know anything about it?”
“No,” Mrs. Mogan shakes her head, stunned and seemingly unable to comprehend what she just heard. “Was it an accident?” She asks, confused.
“I don’t know,” Mrs. Santana frowns.
Chaos starts to blanket the classroom as we all talk about what’s happened. Was it an accident? Now we had heard that there were two planes that hit the towers. This can’t be an accident. What’s going on? Are we under attack? The questions went unanswered as we went to our second period classrooms and turned the TVs on.
We watched as the first tower collapsed, disbelief running through our veins. Shortly after, the superintendent of the county schools ordered that all TVs be turned off and that we would not be allowed to watch.
As third period came and went, classmates were being picked up early, friends were crying for their relatives who lived in New York, and still our questions went unanswered. We tried to make sense of everything, but it didn’t make sense.
Our fourth period history teacher, Mr. Eckert, turned the TV on, “This is a part of history. You need to see it, and you need to live it–to be present.”
Sitting in silence for the entire period, our previous know-it-all teenage mindsets were humbled into a place where we felt empathy, compassion, disbelief, confusion, despair, and extreme sadness.
At this point, The Pentagon had already been hit and the fourth plane had already crashed in Pennsylvania. It was becoming clear that we were under attack, though the details were ambiguous. Things like this just did not happen in America, but now it had.
In Mrs. Small’s algebra class, we continued to watch the events unfold. The entire class became one. No longer were we labeled as nerds or the cool ones or the jocks–we were just humans; Americans. We were united, all feeling the same fear, anger, and worry.
As this next hour crawled by, all of us candidly discussed our distressed feelings and thoughts on the events which were unfolding before us. We were not afraid of being judged by one another, nor were we afraid of being labeled or made fun of, we were supportive and compassionate. The politics of junior high were dissolved and all that remained was human nature and unionism.
By our last period, nearly one quarter of the students had been picked up by their parents, classmates were still crying, worried about their loved ones in NYC that they could not get a hold of, and all of us were left wondering what was going to happen next.
I got in the car with my step dad once he picked me up from school and our ride home was filled with conversation and radio news as we again tried to comprehend the incomprehensible events. My mom was at home and the three of us just watched and cried and watched and cried again until we went to sleep.
No one could believe what had happened, and words cannot explain the pain and the sadness that we felt for those directly affected, and for America as a whole.
The following day at school, everyone was wearing red to honor the heroes and to remember those who passed.
To this day, every year, I wear red in remembrance of this heart wrenching day in American history. Every year, I participate in the moments of silence, and I bring myself back to that day; I feel it, and it’s sad and it’s painful, but it’s necessary. It’s necessary to feel it and to never forget what that day felt like.
In addition to the sadness, there’s the feeling of pride and of unity. On this day every year, the political arguments and disagreements vanish, and we as a country truly feel as though we are ONE NATION under God.
God Bless America!
What’s your 9/11 story?