I was in high school, on my way to class that morning, in the backseat of a friend’s powder blue Geo Prism. While listening to Mancow’s Morning Madhouse, we heard a report that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
My two friends in the car were having an argument concerneing their thoughts on a particular movie and barely registered the broadcast. I was shocked by the news, but assumed it was some sort of terrible accident, picturing a small prop plane that had somehow flown horribly awry.
We arrived at school and started the day. Just as morning advisory period was ending, a girl ran to the classroom door shouting that there was a second plane. It had hit the second building.
My head was spinning. These were commercial planes. America was under attack.
By the time I got to Ms. Steenveld’s first period Econ class, every TV in the building was on.
As the daughter of a perpetual business-traveler, I was absolutely paralyzed with fear; I didn’t know where my father was. Even though we lived in the same house, we routinely went a few days without crossing paths and I never could keep track of his schedule.
I didn’t know if he was in New York that morning; if he was traveling; if he was on one of those planes.
I excused myself to the nurse’s office. I don’t think Ms. Steenveld even heard me say I was leaving- she was staring slack-jawed at the TV monitor, like everyone else.
From the nurse’s office I called my mother, just as reports broke on TV that a third plane had hit the Pentagon. As soon as I heard her voice I started crying hysterically. I managed to get out a very broken “Where’s Dad?” between waves of panicked sobbing.
“He’s here. He’s safe.” She was crying too.
The rest of the day is blurry. My mother came and picked me up from school but I have very little recollection of the drive. Once home I turned the radio in my room to NPR and spent the rest of the day listening to the news reports while, literally, hiding in bed, under the blankets.
I remember holding my breath the rest of the day, the rest of that week, maybe the rest of that year, waiting for the “other shoe” to drop. I was deeply afraid the Sears Tower in my hometown of Chicago would be the next target, a thought that overwhelmed me completely.
The fear was profound, but in time it lessened. The hurt, pain, loss, frustration, and enormous sense of violation also began to heal with time, but still can be recalled vividly and is never too far from mind.
This last decade has perhaps been America’s humblest; this anniversary marks a decade of war, terrorism, financial crisis, natural disaster, infringement on civil liberties, and political polarization. But it also marks a decade of fearless, unwavering patriotism, resilient spirit, and relentless effort to keep us, and the world-at-large, safe from future attacks.
We still have a long way to go on the road to being a more-perfect nation, but I am deeply grateful and proud that we did not give into the fear of that Tuesday. We continue forward as a nation unbroken, and even though we have differences, United We Still Stand.
LadyKBrandt, Editress-in-Chief, The Brandt Standard
My father was supposed to be there that day. He was supposed to be on a red eye flight out to NY for a morning meeting. When the planes hit I was paralyzed. I didn’t know which building he was in or what floor he was on. After the first tower fell I ran out of class and tried calling my mother but the network was overloaded and I couldn’t get through. I tried using a pay phone by the theatre department but had no luck. I was stopped by the narcs when I tried to leave. I felt like a prisoner when all I wanted to do was see my family. I will never forget watching the first tower fall and how I fell with it because I thought I had just watched my father die on tv. And then the panic and desperation in watching the people in the second tower…I was trying to scan their faces and bodies trying to look for a familiar shape or distinguishing feature to see if my father was in the second tower and praying to God with every fiber of my being that he wasn’t on top of the second tower and he wouldn’t jump. I didn’t want to look at the jumpers but I had to because I wanted to make sure that wasn’t my dad. Every second felt like a lifetime and my heart stopped with each person that jumped. I remember feeling awful because my dad and I were fighting at the time and I think I was not speaking to him. I just remember thinking that I would give anything to see him and tell him I love him. I was afraid and numbed at the thought that my last words to him were ones of anger.
It took me what felt like eons get through to my mother. My father had decided to not go to the meeting so he was safe and sound but in shock no doubt. All 64 people at the meeting had died, I think most were vaporized because the plane had crashed very near that floor. Others have been found in bits and pieces (I won’t go into it because it’s graphic). If he had gone to the meeting, he surely wouldn’t be here today. I can’t begin to put into words how lucky and thankful we are to have him.