Just a fair warning, this post has absolutely nothing to do with fashion, beauty, music, or anything like that. This is a raw and emotional look back at 9/11. If you choose to keep reading knowing it has nothing to do with the rest of my page, please do, I would appreciate it. If not, I totally understand, and I’ll see you soon.
When I was a senior in high school my friend Kevin and I had to do this project for our History class where we had to interview someone who had a significant impact on history. I don’t remember the exact details of the project, but we ended up interviewing his neighbor who had survived World War 2.
His neighbor was a dear sweet old man who was still filled with so many emotions from so long ago it was beyond comprehension for me. As we sat there with a small tape recorder nibbling on ginger snaps and sipping on lemonade, of course, this man was brought to tears as he told us the story of how he watched all, yes all, of his best friends die right in front of him. Sitting there listening to the passion in his voice and seeing the hurt on his face it was almost impossible not to lose it myself but by some small miracle I managed to keep it together long enough to make it through the interview without balling. I understood how upset he was, but I couldn’t understand how he still got so emotional about the experience. Not that it wasn’t completely traumatizing and life-altering, but it had happened so long ago. It made me sad to see him sad like that.
As we sit here today, exactly ten years from the date our lives changed forever, I start to understand his emotion. Living on the east coast, New Jersey, being so close to the city, being physically able to see the smoke from the Twin Towers from your house, I can understand his emotion. Even ten years later it is impossible not to get emotional watching all of the coverage from that day or hearing the stories of the survivors on that day. I bet everyone who was old enough will, for the rest of their lives, be able to tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 11th, 2001.
As we all know from my very first post on this website, my mother owns a local newspaper. When I was in 8th grade (2001) I decided to write an article for my mom’s paper on how I felt on that day. In my opinion, my school handled 9/11 horribly. At the time, the column was just to convey my feelings about the school and the situation, but it ended up almost being a diary entry for me. My mom re-ran the story a couple years later in her paper on another anniversary of 9/11. We thought maybe you guys would like to read it today, 10 years later. Keep in mind… I was 12 years old when this was written and published. So here we go…
It was September 11th and I was in 2nd period (Language for me). Our secretary came in and handed my teacher a note and asked her if she knew what it meant. The look on my teacher’s face was really unexplainable. No one really knew what was going on.
My teacher and the secretary walked outside in the hallway, and the kids that sat close to the door said it looked like my teacher was crying. When she walked back into the room her eyes were red and watery and she didn’t look happy. That’s when we all knew something was wrong, though the thoughts that we had in our heads were very far from the truth.
When the bell rang I went to Social Studies. We had a substitute and some of the kids that were in my language class started to spread rumors. Some, like maybe our Social Studies teacher had died and that’s why our other teacher was crying (Of course that wasn’t true). So all through the class the kids were asking a lot of questions. But, for some odd reason, no one would answer them.
Later that period I asked to be excused from the class to go to the bathroom. When I walked by the cafeteria all of the teachers that didn’t have classes that period were in there watching the news. The doors were closed and there were pieces of paper covering the windows so the kids couldn’t see. But I managed to get a look at what they were watching. It looked like smoke and flames.
When I went back to class all the kids asked me what I saw so I told them. And the rumors started to spread even faster. This time someone said that our teacher had died in a wild fire. That wasn’t true either… obviously.
So in my next class the questions flew wildly around that class too. But my teacher still wouldn’t answer them and she snapped at us, “If you ask any more questions you’re spending the rest of the day in the office with detention.” That made all of us shut up. This continued on until lunch when it got really bad. This girl from the 7th grade had walked over to our table to talk to one of my friends. She said that some of our planes had been high-jacked and crashed into the Twin Towers. But some of the less mature boys in our grade boasted that this wasn’t true, they all said that the George Washington Bridge had collapsed. And, now you know for yourself why they are less mature.
My next class was Art. Our teacher is pretty cool so everyone thought that she would tell us what was REALLY going on. She had a serious expression on her face and she told us that it would be better if we found out with our families. That scared just about everyone I knew in that class. Throughout the day I noticed that a lot of kids were being picked up early from school, but I didn’t know why.
So finally, after the long frustrating day of school, we got to go home. When I walked in everyone was sitting on the couch watching the TV. They didn’t look happy. That’s when they explained to me what was happening. And my brother told me that my Uncle Mark had been in the first one that had been hit. Before he could explain to me that my Uncle was okay, I ran upstairs and closed the door. I sat in front of my TV with my remote and my phone.
I was so upset about everything that I didn’t want to be around my family, I know it’s odd but that’s how I am. Suddenly I felt tears streaming down my cheek. I was so overcome with emotions that I couldn’t help but cry. I walked downstairs because I wanted to be comforted by my family. They finally got the chance to explain to me that my Uncle Mark was okay. I was so happy and relieved that this time tears of joy streamed down my face. I also learned that my other uncle, Uncle Mike, and my grandfather were also in the area. But they were fine. Even though they couldn’t get home until the next day. My uncle Mark got a ferry home.
This whole experience was very scary for me. I am so relieved that all of my family is okay, but at the same time I am sad for everyone else who is missing a loved one or a friend. All of my life I thought that our government was strong and would never let anything like this happen. In class when we read about something that happened many years ago like Pearl Harbor, kids ask if anything like that would happen today. And the teachers always tell us that it’s impossible because our government is too strong. But they were all wrong. And that’s the scary part, something like that did happen. I even heard that it was worse than Pearl Harbor.
I wish our school would have told us what happened. My brother, who is only two years older than me, got to watch the news in school. I don’t understand what my school was thinking. I guess it was because there could have been some kids in school whose parents worked at the World Trade Center and they didn’t know yet.
Not knowing was much, much worse.
This is the first time I’ve also read this story since then, in ten years. It brings back so much for me but there is also so much I left out. After my family sat me down when I got home and explained to me that the rest of my family was safe I wanted to be alone again, but not completely. I called my best friend Gabby. We had this routine that we followed every single day after school. We would take a walk from her house, through the community center, to Black Berry Bay (a park on the water in Oceanport). I met her at her house and we walked in silence the whole way and didn’t talk til we finally sat down on the wall separating the field from the bay. We sadly watched as more and more black smoke filled the sky over our own heads. We talked about everything and nothing because the way I remember it now, I don’t think anything we said made much sense. How could it? Ten years down the road it still doesn’t make much sense to me. When I think about everyone who was directly affected that day, whether they lost someone close to them, or were physically too close to the situation, my heart breaks for them. I had a friend whose mom made eye contact with the pilot as he flew the plane sideways past her building. Her life will never be the same, that is an image she will never be able to forget. It saddens me to think that someday this is going to be a world where all of the generations who were alive when 9/11 happened will be gone and the only thing to remember it by will be documentaries and text books. However, it also makes me happy to think that someday there will be a world that is not inhabited by people with so much heartache, confusion, and anger. There will be children who only grow up with passed down stories instead of their own memories.
I don’t know how much else there is left to say and I’m sorry for changing the entire vibe of my blog right now, but being that I was so close to the situation and it is the 10 year anniversary of something that changed my life forever, I hope you’ll make this exception for me. I hope that you will also share with me where you were when this tragedy took place and how you feel today.