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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Floridian memories of September 11, 2001

Last year I wrote about my own memories of 9/11/2001. This year I asked David, my 9/11-born brother in Florida, to share his memories, and he did. Links added.
The morning of September 11th, 2001 was originally just like any other Tuesday morning. Classes went as expected, it was my birthday, my 16th no less, but being in high school, that really did not mean as much as it did when I was a kid. Little did I know that my birthday that year would end up as anything but ‘sweet.’

While I was walking on my way to my American History class, I started to hear some commotion. This was in the days before smartphones so information did not travel nearly as fast as it does today. When I arrived at the classroom there were a few students telling the teacher to turn on the TV, but at first, the teacher thought they just wanted to goof off so their requests were denied.

However, one student heard what had happened and said that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings! We were shocked to hear that because this came from a student not known for making outrageous, false claims. So, the teacher promptly turned on the television. On the screen was a picture of one of the World Trade Center buildings, on fire! Every network was covering the news — we were witnessing American History that day!

I remembered traveling on a family trip to New Jersey where we took an excursion to visit Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty. On the boat, we had a family photo taken with the World Trade Center buildings in the background. That trip and the family photo flashed through my mind while I was seeing the events unfold on the TV screen.

A voice from the front office soon came over the PA and advised all teachers to immediately stop classes and turn on the televisions for us to see what was happening; and while we were watching the TV, we witness the unthinkable, a second plane flew into the World Trade Center buildings!

After this, we heard the voice from the front office come over the PA again, this time telling us that guidance counselors would be ready to offer assistance to any students that needed it and if any students needed to leave for the day, they would be excused. Being a native of Florida, I did not know many people from New York, however, several students in my classes did have family or originally were from New York and they did take up the offer to go to the front office. Others were simply overwhelmed by the events and were also excused from classes. Ultimately, many students were picked up by their parents and went home.

I remained at school, attending classes, however, the rest of the day certainly was not like the rest of any other day. Two more planes were hijacked and crashed, one into the Pentagon and another into a field in Pennsylvania. Also, the two Twin Towers of the World Trade Center completely came down after the plane crashes. I do not remember seeing that happen live as I believe I was walking to another class at the time but students in various classrooms reported the events to us as they occurred — every classroom had televisions on, watching the news.

While I did not know anyone that was directly affected by the attacks, all Americans felt the pain like we were all attacked. This was not an attack on buildings, this was an attack on America and Americans. I remember the immediate aftermath being a time of the most cohesive patriotism I have ever experienced.

9-11, I always liked being born on that day, I actually have it shared with multiple friends and family. It was easy to remember, being the number you call for an emergency; but after 9/11/2001, it has always remained a bittersweet day and always will. “Never forget.”

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