I had just started my sophomore year of high school. It happened during my second class of the day, which happened to be chemistry lab. My next period (or band as they called them in my school) was lunch. My friend and I headed to the lunchroom when she realized she’d left her textbook in chem lab. We went back to get it.
I’d never seen my chemistry teacher look so distraught. He was going on and on about something terrible that had happened. I asked him what was wrong. He explained that a plane had hit one of the towers of the world trade center then 15 minutes later another plane hit the second tower. They hadn’t collapsed yet.
Me being from the generation that still had yet to see a major American war, I didn’t understand the severity of the situation. I didn’t immediately register to me that the country was being attacked. My first thought was wow that’s one hell of a coincidence. I actually remember saying to my friend once we’d left the class, “What the hell kind of drunk ass pilot would crash a plane into a building?”.
We went on about our lunch as normal. It wasn’t until we were on our way to our next class that reality would finally slap me in the face. The hallways were a circus. People were flocking to pay phones (those who didn’t have cell phones that is) and calling their parents. People were talking about this being the start of World War 3. I was still confused until I bumped into some more friends of mine. They had just gotten out of class. Their teacher had been showing them the news.
I asked one of them what was going on. It wasn’t until she explained to me that a third plane had hit the pentagon that I realized that this was no coincidence. My stomach dropped. I also learned why y chemistry teacher was so distraught. His best friend was in one of the towers.
I was actually upset my math teacher still went on with the lesson as normal. Not just my country was being attacked but my city. This wasn’t some far away place. This was my own damn backyard. I didn’t want to think about math.
They shut down the subway system that day. My mom knowing that I normally went home via the subway got in a cab and picked me up from school early. When I walked outside with her I could see the dust and ash settled on the cars in the parking lot. I thought wow how dust from an explosion in Lower Manhattan travel all the way to Coney Island, Brooklyn?
My chemistry teacher was never the same since that day. Another friend of mine’s mom worked at the world trade center. Luckily September 11th just happened to be her day off.
Me personally I was mostly worried about the males in my generation. I knew a war was coming. I wondered if there’d be a draft. I wondered if any of my friends would volunteer for the military. Some of them did. One of my former class mates actually died in Afghanistan last year.
So that’s my 9/11 story. I was fortunate enough to not have known anyone who died personally but the stories I heard in the next few weeks were simply heartbreaking.
So what’s your story? Where were you when the attacks happened?