Every year, I see posts asking “Where were you on 9/11?” Everyone has a story, they were at work, they were in school, they were at home. That day is as distinct in my mind as yesterday was …. well, maybe not yesterday as we are all dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
It was my senior year of high school; I was in Civics class taking a test that I pretty much knew I was going to fail. I had studied my butt off, but when the teacher passed out the test, my mind was not able to focus on anything. Our principal came over the loudspeaker and broke my not so good concentration announcing that two planes had flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and they didn’t have much more information at this time. She let the teachers know that they could turn their TVs on the news so we could all see what was going on. Of course, we were taking a test, and at the time, everyone thought it was just an accident. So, my mind whirling and thinking only about what was happening in New York, we finished our test and moved on to the next class.
I think it was my Religion class where we sat on the floor and watched the news. We watched as the first tower fell, the tower that was hit second fell first, then we watched as the second tower fell. Then the Pentagon was hit, and then we saw a plane had crashed in Pennsylvania, which later we find out that the brave men and women onboard United Flight 93 stormed the cockpit to save probably either the White House or the Capitol as another target.
I lost it. I have family in New York; we visit there every year for New Year’s Eve. My mind went straight to my cousin who lived in the city, because she was working in the Empire State Building, so we didn’t know if that was also one of the targets. We didn’t have the kind of technology that we have today. I couldn’t pull out my cell phone and check Facebook or Twitter or any social media platform to see if everyone I knew was safe. They finally allowed us to call to either get picked up from school or just to check in with our family. I remember asking my mom and dad immediately if my cousin had checked in somehow and was safe. They had evacuated the Empire State Building after the second plane hit out of caution, and she was safe back at her apartment.
The rest of the day was a complete blur of sadness and anger. We will always have our “where were you…” moment. The Seniors this year will have their moment as well, between virtual learning from a global pandemic to Category 4 Hurricane Ida displacing and disrupting our lives. The Seniors of Hurricane Katrina & Hurricane Laura know the words “Where were you…” all too well.
So, where were you on September 11, 2001?