Note: I wrote this post last year but at the time wasn’t comfortable posting it, since I’m not the best writer out there. However after reading the call for 9/11 stories on BlogHer this morning I have decided to public post this entry. This is the post as written last year, on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
10 years I had just turned 17.
10 years ago I was looking forward to being to seeing “O” at the theater.
10 years ago I was counting down the months, weeks, days until I could leave for college.
10 years ago I saw images on the TV that still haunt me, and probably will the rest of my life.
On that Tuesday morning I was focused on taking a placement test in my AP Statistics class, and since math had always been my weakest subject I was more than a little distracted. The period before the test was Chargers Mediation, ChaMP, a class that had been established after Columbine as a way to improve communications between teachers and students. I’m not sure who I spoke to during that period, I just remember reviewing my statistics study guide and then sprinting upstairs so that I could ask the teacher, Mr. King, a few questions. I reached the door at the same time as my friend John, and as soon as we entered the room we knew something was wrong. Mr King was frozen right inside the class, right arm raised with the TV remote and left arm clasping his chest. My first thought was heart attack before seeing the look on his face was one of horror and not pain. I heard John sharply breath in and then I turned and saw the TV, just as the second plane made impact. From there every minute felt like hours, filled with classmates drifting in finding seats and trying to come to grips with what we were watching. Too soon, but yet not soon enough, Mr King turned the TV off and passed out the test.
A few moments into the test this strange guttural sound came from the hallway, the TV was turned back on and tears started flowing as the Pentagon flashed across the screen. A number of students in my class had parents who worked in the Pentagon, and nearly everyone in the class had at least one parent who worked in DC myself included. The TV was muted, the test continued, the silence broken only by sounds of grief. One student was pulled from the class moments later, called in as a member of the Volunteer EMS. Soon the class ended and we all poured in to the hallways, banned cell phones appearing from every pocket and backpack. Stories starting coming out from students who had been able to watch all of the broadcasts and I’ll never forget the look on John’s face when we heard that the plane that hit the Pentagon was a flight from Dulles to California, a flight that his father was possibly on. I’ll also never forget the look on his face when it turned out his dad was still at Dulles Airport, still waiting for his scheduled flight to CA.
As the day continued the school was put on lock-down while I went on a mission to find my sister and get home. Phone lines were jammed and I had no idea where my dad was, and knew that if I got home everything would be alright. I attempted to go to my next class but spent 10minutes in there before heading towards my guidance counselor’s office in an attempt to come to terms with what I had seen. Seeing teachers crying in the hallways brought a whole new dimension to the situation that was unfolding.
Soon after leaving my guidance counselor’s office I found my sister, grabbed her arms and headed towards the doors. I remember security yelling at me to stop, I remember yelling something back (Sorry Mr. Gallagher), and I remember the sun hitting my face as I left. We got home and upon seeing my dad’s car in the driveway I released all the emotion I had held inside and started sobbing. I eventually got inside and he was there with a phone in his hand, trying to find out about his friends worked at the Pentagon while explaining to us that his car didn’t start that morning.
It has been 10 years, I have long since graduated high school and college and have lost contact with many of the people who are a part of my 9/11 story. I can still name most of the people in that class, and when I close my eyes I can picture many of them as they were that day. I can also picture the image that caused my teacher to turn off the TV, the image of two women holding hands while falling through space and time.
10 years ago I was 17 and the world was a much safer place. Now I am 27, I have seen my friends and loved ones leave for war and have been blessed in being able to welcome all of them back home. I have not allowed the events of 9-11 to change my outlook on life or my passion for traveling.
For more blog posts on Remembering Sept 11th, be sure to check out BlogHer.