Can you believe it’s been 15 years? As cliche as it sounds, it seems like just yesterday, but so much has happened in the wake of that devastating day. All of our lives have inevitably been affected in one way or another, whether directly or indirectly. It’s staggering how one moment can shape your entire future, and how little control you have over that moment. Even though I was prettying young I know exactly what I was doing, where I was, who I was with, what I was thinking, and I was at an age where memories were more fluid. But not this one. This one is cement.
That moment was different for all of us, but it’s something that we all share. It’s a moment that binds us, and in honor of this weighty anniversary, we want to take a moment to remember, pay homage, and honor the lives of every individual affected on that day.
Here are a few of our memories. Please feel free to share your own in the comments below.
"I was 11 years old, and in the 6th grade. I was sitting in Mrs. Nuggents social studies class at St. Christopher’s Elementary School…
...when the head Nuns came in looking white as ghosts to pull Mrs. Nuggent aside. They must have told us we were all going home early. I’m sure we were all confused, and a little scared. I don’t remember them telling us what happened, deciding it was best to leave that complicated talk to our parents. My mother picked me up from school. She was clearly upset. She didn’t try and hide anything from me. She gave it to me straight, although simplified. She told me that something terrible had happened. Planes had crashed into some buildings in New York. We went home, and we watched the news. I remember sitting in front of the television watching the replay over and over again. Not really understanding the gravity of the situation, but knowing that this moment deserved my attention. I’m not going to lie and say that I felt grief. I didn’t cry. I just was too young to understand. I knew nothing of New York. I knew less than nothing about politics and hatred. To me watching that replay was like watching an action movie. It wasn’t until the days that followed that I really understood that this was something truly bad, but I was comforted by everyone’s willingness to be there for each other, even perfect strangers."
- Chelsea Nickerson
“I was a Junior in a high school in rural Maine in my AP art class, when another teacher came in to announce, as her voice trembled and she choked back tears,...
...that a plane had just struck the World Trade Center in NY. She also said they were arranging how to dismiss everyone for the day and send everyone home, but until then we were welcomed to gather in the gym on the bleachers where they had set up a TV. I went to the gym and sat down with the rest of my class. It was the first time seeing anything. I was witnessing the aftermath of the first plane hitting the first tower. It started to get loud in the gym as kids started to find their friends and sit together. People were excited to go home and get out early for the day, not realizing the gravity of the situation unfolding.
In the next second I saw the second plane hit and the towers crumpled down. (I’m not even sure if that is the correct order of events, with the shock of the tragic event that’s how it seems in my memory.) Shock waved over our group of onlookers. In some areas people were still gabbing away. I turned around and told a group of chatty girls to shut the #%*@ up because this could be WWIII. Eventually the entire gym grew quiet and a thick somber cloud enveloped all of us.
I drove my 92’ White Ford Taurus home. Then I remember watching too much TV for approximately three days straight. I was glued to the TV. Then I had to give it a break (similar to a lot of other people, I think). I personally did not know anybody who worked in the buildings, but I did hear a lot of stories: good, bad, sad, and/or miraculous ones following the events that were connected to people from the New England area. It’s incredible how many stories there are, and how many New Englanders were affected. I will always remember how the world and the US changed that day forever.”
“I had just dropped my son off at school, and had heard on the radio that a plane had hit the first tower...
I walked through the door and turned on the news. As the anchor was talking, with the towers in the background, the second plane hit. I remember feeling complete disbelief. My cousin was working in the Pentagon. We did not know if she was okay for several days. We were under attack. How dare they attack my Country?! My husband at the time was a police officer, and we were both separated from the Air Force. I was terrified that he would get called back to active duty. I can remember just wanting to hold my children and never let go. Though completely horrified and saddened by what happened, I was never as proud of being an American as I was then! To see how we came together to support those affected by this tragedy was amazing. There were lines to donate blood. Donations of food, clothing and money poured in. We were no longer rich or poor, black or white. The differences didn’t matter. We were all AMERICANS! To this day, I remember that tomorrow is not a guarantee, so I always tell the people I care about how much they mean to me.”
- Sherri Hudson
“I was in my 9th grade math class when we first heard about it. The classroom phones rarely ever rang so the class began to buzz over what it could be about…
...as usually it was a student being called to the office. I can’t remember her name, but I remember how the teacher’s face was getting pale as she hung up and turned toward us, moving over to the TV in the corner of the room without saying a word. Something was wrong and everyone in the class knew it.
It took a moment for us to see what she was turning it on for as she fussed with the channels to turn on a newscast, and that’s when we saw the footage. The classroom grew so silent that you could hear a pin drop. The rest of the school day went along, but no teacher really dared to attempt to teach us anything. Every classroom had their corner TVs on, and we were all glued to it in various kinds of shock and horror.
I was stunned. It felt surreal to see what had happened, like I was watching some mock-umentary movie. I was upset for the people that were involved, but I held no connection to New York or anyone in that area so I didn’t feel the grief as keenly as others did. I didn’t know what exactly I should have been feeling, but I think many other students felt the same. The whole school seemed to have this dark cloud hanging over it as we all absorbed what had happened. Eventually it dissipated but it was still an uneasy topic, so very few attempted to even bring it up. We all just tried in our own ways to accept it and move past it.”
- Jessica Mader
"I remember watching the second plane hit the towers on the TV in my 4th grade classroom...
I remember being picked up from school early by my father and sitting in his recliner watching the news for hours until my mother arrived home from work.
While I don’t remember all of the details of that day, I do remember exactly how I felt. For the first time in my life I truly felt unsafe. I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of an attack happening in New Hampshire. It wasn’t until my mother helped me to notice how our country united in the wake of such tragedy that I started to feel safe again. The love and support that emerged in the days after September 11th was a reminder that there’s always hope and goodness in world despite all of the darkness."
Reflection is a way for us to pay our respects for those lost, and to show gratitude to those who gallantly threw themselves into harms way. It's also a way for us to keep things in perspective. It's so easy for us to get caught up in our hectic lives, but if horrific events like this can possibly teach us anything, it's to not take life for granted because it could be snatched from us in an instant. In an hour of need, actually in any and every hour, we must come together to support one another. To enrich each others lives in the short time we have on this Earth, and that can all start just by sharing our similar memories and experiences. All of our lives changed on that day, so let’s take a minute to come together and remember that we’re all in this life together.
Where were you? What do you remember about the moment when you first heard about the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11th, 2001?
Feel free to share your own personal memories in the comments below if you’d like. If sharing isn’t your thing, then just take a moment in silent reflection.