It’s been 13 years. 13 years of anything is a long time. But 13 years since a national tragedy seems worse. It’s been 13 years since families have seen their friends, parents, aunts, uncles… etc. They knew they went to work that day just like any other day so they didn’t worry. They went to school like they always did. But then 9am hit and their lives changed forever.
On September 11th, 2014 I was sitting in my 5th grade class, Mrs. Andersons class doing (I believe) a social studies assignment. The first thing I remember is hearing what sounded like jets above us. I think there were two. And then we heard some big BOOMS. I thought It sounded like a big truck hit a speed bump or something innocent like that.
Then I see teachers in the halls running back and forth. A teacher from across the hallway interrupted our teacher mid-sentence and she walked outside with her. When my teacher came back in, she had us move our desks to the edges of the room so there was enough space for us in the middle and had us sit down in a circle.
Still confused, we sat around just talking. At 10 years old, I finally got a chance to sit next to my friend and we just started talking and laughing like nothing happened. We didn’t know anything. Then, one by one, classmates were being escorted out by Mrs. Anderson. That was a red flag. What happened that all these kids get to leave early?
I don’t remember if we were sent home from school early or if we had a regular dismissal day. But when I got home, both my parents were home in front of the TV. The first thing I saw was the twin towers burning and a man was hanging outside a window waving what looked to be a towel or shirt. Then 2 seconds later, he jumped.
At 10 years old, I watched God knows how many people jump out of a huge building to their deaths. I don’t remember asking any questions, I just remember staring at the screen. At the time, my dad was a private investigator but he had many friends that were officers and he was on the phone pacing back and forth. He was trying to get some answers and then I heard him and my mom talking about him heading out there to help. I got so scared. These people were throwing themselves out of a burning building. What was going to happen to my Dad?
I will never be able to understand the pain that must have been felt by the families watching the news not knowing where their family members or friends were. Knowing that you know someone in that burning building, seeing people throwing themselves out of it because they can’t get out must have been so stressful and utterly heartbreaking.
I’ll never forget what happened on this day 13 years ago. I don’t think anyone will. New York is supposed to be untouchable. The state that holds the city of dreams and happiness in the palm of its hands. But on that day, they took a piece of us New Yorkers. And though we are the toughest people in the world, we are still struggling to stand back up.