Monday, September 5, 2011

Ten years later: Where were you on 9/11?

As I watch the News with the countless reports on the upcoming decade anniversary of the most impending day in America, I sit in quiet reflection. Ten years? Really?? It is such a vivid memory, even though I was so young, that I have a hard time believing it's been so long ago.

I was in 6th grade at my private Catholic school, the Northwest corner of Ohio. I was in one of two upstairs classrooms: my Religion class with Mrs. Forkin. She had hairy arms and a mustache. I hated my uniform jumper because I had long spider legs that stuck out like, well, like long spider legs. JT sat across from me and I loved staring into his blue eyes with the thick black lashes behind his wire frames that somehow looked cool on him but not on me. It was Interview day, and the stars had aligned and paired me with my one true love, JT. I was giddy and so excited to ask him questions about his life. And this day, I still remember his favorite color (blue) and his address.
The classroom phone rang and Mrs. Forkin warned us to behave while she was out because she had eyes everywhere. Which was totally true. Mrs. Forkin was not the teacher to mess with, so we were good little students who remained in our seats, although the interviews were definitely put on hold for jokes and paper balls (Come on, 6th grade? Who followed all the rules in 6th grade)
Mrs. Forkin came back in, quiet as stone, shut and locked the door. That stopped some of us midlaugh. She turned the TV on to the news channel, went to her desk and seemed to slump into her chair, which was far from her usual rigid character.
She didn't have to hush us. We whipped our heads to the TV and slowly, our voices disappeared and we stared, confused and aghast at what was on the small screen mounted to the wall.
"We have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.."
To be honest, I don't think I really new what the World Trade Centers were. I was young, and nowhere near New York, so I had no reason to. But I saw a very tall building billowing with smoke, and that was scary. I heard the nervous voices of otherwise calm and collected reporters. I saw the white face of my stoic religion teacher, and the tears that gathered under her wide, astonished eyes.
At 9:03am, our hearts stopped as we watched NBC's live coverage show the second plane flying into the other tower. The panicked voices of witnesses, the gasps from Matt Laur and Katie Couric. We knew how serious it was, and we were scared. I wanted my mother, because she always knew how to calm me down.
We were all gathered into the gymnasium immediately, and we filed into the bleachers in stunned silence. The Principal briefly explained what had been assumed to have happened, and we were told that our parents were being contacted and we were being sent home. I only lived two blocks away, so my sister, who was in 8th grade, found me and we ran home and turned the TV back on. My mother arrived home shortly after from her job at the bank. We laid on the living room floor to get the closest view of the TV we could, and just watched.
We then watched the Towers collapse, and my sister and I cried harder when we saw our mother dissolve into tears. I don't think it had been suggested yet at this point that it was terrorists, but I was already terrified so it wouldn't have mattered the reason.
I didn't know anyone who died in the towers, or in the Pentagon or PA. There were some students at school who had family members either killed or near the tragedies, but I was just an onlooker. For me, it was the most vivid and horrifying experience of my life, and my heart breaks to think what those directly affected were feeling, and still are feeling ten years later.

Where were you on America's Defining day? Where were you on 9/11?

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