Ten years ago (since I wrote this), September 11, 2001, I was just a college freshman living in New Jersey. That Tuesday morning I was in school when, at approximately 9:00AM, my 8:30-9:45 morning class was interrupted by a professor who stormed in with a television set. He called my professor outside of the classroom for a brief moment and when she returned, with a very perturbed voice she said, “There’s something going on and we’re going to watch the news now.”
A young silly me just got very excited about class being interrupted, but at the same time I was hoping it wasn’t anything bad. That’s when my other professor who had walked in with the TV turned on the news. It might’ve been NBC or MSNBC News, I can’t recall. At first, I was not too sure of what I was watching. I was very confused—extremely confused—as were my younger classmates. We thought we were watching a movie. But shortly after we started watching the news, the second plane hit the south World Trade Center tower. At that point I knew that whatever was going on couldn’t be good.
News of the Pentagon attack were also coming in during those moments. An older classmate from Cuba, who had witnessed all sorts of devastating events back in his country, said to me that he was sure those planes had been hijacked, that it had to be on purpose, and that a terrorist attack was developing before our eyes.
I just remember feeling emotionless and paralyzed. I did not know what to make of it. I had never experienced anything like that in my life. When the news announcer said that he “believed those were acts of terrorism” to America, I then began to panic. I thought the whole country was under attack. That sort of woke me up from my state of disbelief; it was real, it was happening. My knees felt weak. I worried about my friends and family in New York. I just wanted to get out of there.
Following the collapse of the towers, we were dismissed from school. There was too much pain already in the face of everybody in that room. Everyone — I included — was just scared for their life. We just wanted go home. I rushed to a bus station, not knowing who or what was responsible, whether Jersey was also under attack or not, and not sure if my friends in New York were okay. I got on a bus and it was the longest ride home ever.
I got home and I think I was glued to the TV for weeks. I contacted everyone I knew in New York — they were OK. Finally, I tried to make sense of everything. My views of the world changed forever.
Ten years later, it is still very difficult for me to watch the images. I lived in New York City as a teenager (and it is my favorite US city) and I have my own memories of the “Twin Towers”. So, watching them fall…knowing that thousands of innocent people were trapped and died there that day, it was just awful. It was a sickening feeling, the most horrifying real-life episode I have ever witnessed.
Today, what I like to see and remember is the amazing stories of heroism, the evident sense of community among Americans throughout and after the tragedy. (I just wish a tragedy didn’t have to occur every time for the people to come together like they did after 9/11.) It was a great feeling and I think it made us stronger.
September 11 will never be forgotten. The terrorist groups trying to terrorize us and take away our freedom will never have their way. This is a stronger nation. I’m always reminded that love always wins and humans are capable of living in peace with each other if they worked at it. Call it a “fantasy world” or whatever you want to call it, but world peace is possible…the proof is there.
I am so sorry for the children who lost a parent and everyone who lost a loved one that day, and those who got cancer due to the asbestos. May you find peace and strength throughout your recovery. Volunteers, rescuers, and troops: what a tremendous job you’ve done. Be proud of yourselves. You’re loved and your work is very much appreciated.
We will never forget
Where were you on that awful morning of September 11?