Where Were You?

The memorial where the Twin Towers stood (Photo courtesy of Maureen Shuler).

Maureen Shuler

The memorial where the Twin Towers stood (Photo courtesy of Maureen Shuler).

Today is the seventeenth anniversary of the event we know as 9/11. It is an event that shook the entire country, rippling from New York City, where the World Trade Center was hit, not once, but twice by two planes, as a planned attack. America stood still in shock and fear, as the realization washed over them that they could be attacked at any place, at any time; our oceans were not protecting us. The impact of this tragedy resonates with everyone to the point that there are thousands of perspectives of the unfoldings of the attack and just as many stories of where they were.

“I was in school and it was a normal, boring Tuesday. We were looking for insects for our science class and some way or another my friend, Josh, got sent to the office where he heard about the attack, and he came back outside to tell us what was happening,” said mathematics teacher Mike Diener.

This puts everything into perspective. The day was normal. There were no threats. People were at work, at school, joking, laughing, insect hunting, and even sleeping. Our shell of normalcy was completely shattered in a split second, our society’s life would never be the same.

“I was a teacher cadet. We were about to graduate high school, our world had completely changed, and we were watching these second graders playing outside who were completely oblivious. It was a weird, weird situation,” said social studies teacher Joel Perry.

The American public were front seat viewers to this tragic incident. Every television and radio station broadcasted it livestream, no matter what the channel was, and continued updates of what was happening in New York City.

“Every single channel was all talk about 9/11,” said Diener.

Everyone wanted to be with their family, even if they were not in any immediate danger. No matter what coast they were on or what city they were in, families were trying to get to each other or contact each other. However, the travel shutdowns and communications overload made contacting loved ones quite difficult.

“My sister was on the west coast, cellphones were messed up, I couldn’t contact [her]. It was stressful. Even if you knew they weren’t in danger, you just wanted to talk to everyone you were close to,” said Senior Project teacher Lauren Lehman.

The day was not the only thing that changed, the attitude of the people changed too. Kindness and love spread throughout the nation. This kindness and love was not the hippie nation kind of wholesomeness, it was a strong burst of patriotism. People treated others like family, no matter who they were or what they looked like, because everyone was an American going through the same horrors.

“At the time, we were the most united. Nobody was disrespectful to the president, he was a rallying point for the country. People who did not get along politically were giving hugs to each other,” said Diener.

Future generations will never come to understand exactly what it felt like to live through that day until they have a catastrophic event like that happen to them, nor will they know anything different because of it.

“You’ll never know what it is like to live in a world where [an attack like this] isn’t a crazy thought. Before a bookbag left alone in the street was weird, now it is suspicious,” said Diener.

Even though the event of 9/11 left the American people suspicious today, on that day we were blessed to witness heroes coming out of all the corners and crevices of the nation. Firefighters and police officers were coming from states over to ground zero to help out. However, some of the heroes were not even wearing uniforms.

“There are a lot of stories of people who did dramatically heroic things; I admire those people who ignored the danger and saved others. One story I heard was that a window washer in one of the towers saved an elevator full of people,” said social studies Eugene Kennedy.

This burst of patriotism that came from the attack was short lived, and everyone began to let their fear take over. Prejudices started to plague our country.

“[The attack] makes people feel uneasy today when they see people [of a certain] ethnicity; [there] is a strong sense of prejudice [because of it],” said science teacher Stephanie Maves.

No matter how much time passes, 9/11 will always have a lasting effect on the United States of America and its people, and it, as well as the lives lost, will never be forgotten.

“I hope that people [will never] forget what happened [that day],” said Kennedy.