Sep 25 2010

9/11

Published by at 2:27 pm under Uncategorized

On the morning of 9/11, everything seemed normal. Class was starting. Kids were arriving late. The morning news was about to start. Instead of the usual lunch menu and quotidian happenings of elementary school life, the intercom in our classroom told our teachers told teachers in grade 4 and above to turn on the TV to channel 5.

Something was happening, and it wasn’t our usual morning news.

Watching the television, fixated on what we didn’t know was going on, our teacher left the room to talk to the other 4th grade teachers. We could hear confusion in her voice. This wasn’t normal. This was serious.

Then, I saw an image I would never forget. A plane, flying over the New York City skyline, met the iconic World Trade Center Twin Towers. In a flash, the building’s top half was met with an unfathomably large fireball of unadulterated destruction.

Someone flew a plane into downtown Manhattan.

Something was happening, and it wasn’t our usual morning news.

Our teacher ran back inside and stared in horror at the TV. We asked what was going on, but we were met with, “Shhhhh!” We were told to keep calm, despite the fact that everyone was eerily quiet and plastered to his or her seats.

Minutes later, the fireball of destruction aimed its fury at the second Twin Tower. Then came footage from the streets below. Equally chaotic as what was happening 40 stories above.

In a desperate attempt to normalize this, our teacher tried to take the opportunity to educate us on what a primary source was. Our morning news was a primary source. The footage was a primary source. Do you understand? OK.

She sat back down in her desk chair. I think she was crying.

This was definitely not our usual morning news. But if it wasn’t, what could possibly be going on? It couldn’t possibly be on purpose… could it?

Most people were leaving at the behest of their worried parents. I stayed for the rest of the day and learned a vocabulary word: “awesome” (n) – inspiring wonder or awe.

Later on, I naïvely told my dad that what we saw was “awesome”, because it filled me with awe. He told me not to say that again. My mom ran up to him and asked him how D.C. was, how the Pentagon was, and how all the other buildings were.

Fine, he said, but D.C. is worried and scared.

I was never told the real reason for the events of 9/11 or what was happening that day until the day afterward, when my mom had me stay home. She sat me down and told me what the news outlets thought had happened.

And I still can’t believe it was on purpose.

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