It doesn’t seem like six years have passed since September 11, 2001. The memories of that day are still so vivid in my mind, that it may as well have been six weeks or six days ago. An event like this is one of those things that you remember your entire life; one that you can tell grandkids years down the road exactly where you were when you heard that planes had flown into the World Trade Centers.
It started out like any other day for me: asleep. I had an early morning class at Foss, and when my mom woke me up, I thought it was just to get me in the car to go to school. Once dressed and ready, I went downstairs and saw one tower on fire. It boggled my mind, but it also brought back memories of the Oklahoma City bombing—surreal, yet familiar.
If I stayed to watch any longer, I was going to be late for school. I rushed out and got to class just as the bell was ringing. Our teacher started out saying that he knew that something major was going down, but we weren’t going to worry about that; we had more important things to discuss. To this day, it boggles my mind that our teacher could be so arrogant to believe that anything could be more important than seeing history in the making.
My next teacher was much more down to earth, and had the television on and watching the news when we arrived. By this time, everyone had heard what had happened, and everyone was talking about it. We didn’t know that a second plane had crashed into the other tower, but the images I saw next will be forever burned into my mind.
The first thing I saw was pictures of the two towers burning and encased in smoke. Next was people jumping out of the tops of the buildings and falling to their death. I can’t imagine how horrible it must’ve been for them to actually consider jumping out of the building, from 800+ feet in the air. What scares me, however, is the thought that I might do the same thing in that position.
Then, suddenly, the top of the first tower collapsed. And in the space of 30 seconds it was gone, turned into a pile of rubble. The video of the dust cloud was not nearly intense as the tower collapsing, yet it was more real—it was as if I was actually there, seeing the tower collapse and then swallow everything up.
Then the second tower disintegrated, and another cloud of dust swallowed Manhattan. The news camera cut to a wide angle view of Manhattan, and the entire island was in a haze, the smoke clouds stretching for miles out to sea. It was as if the spirits of the people inside the towers were clinging to the last shreds of life so cruelly ended.
I remember the fear, the paranoia, and the shock that came after. No one was thinking clearly from that point on. One reporter was interviewing someone about the number of people that just died. The interviewee stated that around 10,000 people go in and out of the towers everyday. All of a sudden, everywhere on the media, reporters were claimning that 10,000 people had just died. They missed the fact that not everyone goes would go to the towers at the very beginning of the day, and stay until the end; people come and go.
I remember in class everyone was scared of what would come next. I was afraid that it would start a major world conflict—after all World War 1 started over a single person being shot. I was afraid that we would retaliate against our attackers, and their allies would retaliate against us, and soon everyone would be sending more and more troops off to die in countries that don’t even share the same sunlight as us. In a way, that’s exactly what happened.
When the dust settled, and the smoke finally blew away, it was as if our way of life was blowing away along with it. Everything we knew was going to change. Much of the fear and paranoia that began that day has clung to us like a mother clings to a baby. It’s infected every facet of our lives, and some people have even said that the fear and uncertainty is as bad now as it was during the Vietnam era.