• SumoMe

I still can’t believe a decade has passed since the attack of September 11, 2001. Everyone has their 9/11 story, here is just one more:

Early that morning I was waiting for 9th grade math class to start. I sat in the second row, farthest to the right. I remember one of my classmates saying that “an airplane hit one of the twin towers.” Knowing little more, I didn’t think much of it, and I pictured a propeller plane skimming the side of it and knocking some windows out. Before I could think about it too much, class started.

No more than 10 minutes pass, and we get an announcement over the intercom system: “Bzzt. Teachers and students: please make your way to the chapel for a mandatory meeting…immediately. Bzzt.” At the time, I went to a very small private school and the chapel was our biggest room where the whole school had enough room to fit. Dutifully, we filed down the hallway, down the stairs, down another hallway, and into the chapel. When I arrived, the headmaster was pacing back and forth on the stages as the students filed in. Once all the students were seated, he told us all to pray. “Pray for what?” I asked the student next to me. He shrugged.

Now, I’m the queen of England if all 300-something students (I told you it was small) prayed for more than ten minutes. We felt like we were in a massive detention hall, knowing nothing other than we had to sit in silence. Half an hour passes, an hour, three hours. We sat in (relative) silence until lunch and I was debating whether this was better or worse than going to class when my debate was cut short. The headmaster returns back in with some news: “Ladies and gentlemen, today we were attacked by terrorists. After lunch, classes will return as scheduled.”

This was not helpful information. In fact, I remember thinking it was worse than not knowing anything. Who was attacked by terrorists? Where? Why? I never equated my prior knowledge about a plane hitting a building to this knowledge, and I don’t think any of the other students did, either. We didn’t have public computers with internet in the school, nor did we have televisions that weren’t solely dedicated to VHS tapes. The students really had no way of knowing what happened unless the faculty told us.

So we went to lunch, and finally free to talk, students made up all sorts of rumors about what happened. I took no interest in the rumors. I didn’t realize the day’s significance until art after lunch, in which I remember my art teacher slumped over all class holding his head in his hands. He didn’t teach any art that class, but he still didn’t tell us what was going on. It was like the faculty was afraid or prohibited from telling the students what was happening in the world that day.

My classes continued in this manner until I was released from school. I think my sister picked me up, as usual, from school. The ride home is fuzzy, but walking in the house is not.

Before I walked in the back door, I saw through the glass. My father sat in front of the television in disbelief. He was home early from work. I opened the door and he looked at me, still stunned like the rest of the Nation six hours after the event. My ignorance continued to shield me up until the moment I walked in front of the television and saw the constant loop of what happened.

It was then, I knew.