Sept. 11, 2001: Four planes. Three buildings. Two thousand nine hundred seventy-seven victims. One grey day we’ll never forgot.
Although members of our staff were only 7, 8 or 9 years old, we each have distinct memories of that fateful day. Join us as we remember where we were on one of the most tragic days in recent American history…
I was in third grade. Other than the Backstreet Boys concert I occasionally read about in my school diary, there aren’t many details from my 8-year-old life I remember vividly. But I remember that day.
No, I can’t recall whether I ate a PB&J or roast turkey breast, and I can’t remember which of my three uniforms I wore. I do remember sitting in Mrs. Segovia’s class at Fox Trail Elementary School on Sept. 11 as something strange started happening.
Kids were always jealous of others who got picked up early from school, but on this particular day an abnormally large number of students were called out for early release. When the front office rang for the eighth student, Mrs. Segovia picked up and said, “Really? Another one?” Something was odd, but I remember thinking, “Well, my parents never pick me up early. I’ll probably be the last one left here.”
More calls came in, and more kids left. Soon, there were five of us left. Then the phone rang, and it was for me. I was shocked. This never happened. Something was wrong.
I didn’t fully understand what happened, but I understood the way my mother, a native New Yorker, squeezed the palm of my hand. I understood the urgency of getting home to turn on the news. I understood the way the phones were tied up and we couldn’t call my uncle who worked nearby. I understood that, for the first time in my young life, the “Land of the Free” wasn’t the safest place to be.
– Marisa Ross, Art Director
Everything seemed ordinary on the single-file trek from the cafeteria to Mrs. C. Scott’s third-grade classroom. To my surprise, I found my teacher staring wide-eyed at the TV and clutching a Kleenex to her cheek. In a flash, we rushed to music class earlier than scheduled. My music teacher explained something bad happened in New York City.
As an 8-year-old, I didn’t know how to react or feel so I mimicked the emotions of surrounding adults. I felt concerned. I knew my grandparents lived in New York, but at the time I didn’t know the difference between the city and state. One year later, still a bit perplexed, I recall passing through the cafeteria into the hallways feeling guarded in red, white and blue.
– Rachel Kurland, Senior Editor
It was like any other day. I woke up at 6:30 a.m., brushed my teeth, ate my eggs, put on my St. Paul Lutheran embroidered white polo shirt and navy uniform skort, said goodbye to my mom in the drop-off line and walked to classroom 3A.
The moment that stands out most about that day is Mrs. Hovan taking a call during class. When she hung up, she ran to turn on the tiny box TV that hung high in one corner of our classroom. My classmates and I looked around wondering what was so important that it could interrupt long division. Suddenly, teachers were running in and out of the classroom, calling the principal on the intercom and telling us everything would be OK.
Soon enough the school mandated parents come pick up their students because the United States had fallen victim to an act of terrorism. At home, my parents explained what happened and what it meant for the country so a 9-year-old could understand. After that, the day became a blur of worry and confusion. One thing stuck in my mind that I hold onto today: America can handle anything thrown its way because it is the land of the free and the home of the brave.
– Justine Giancola, Photography Director
I distinctly remember my palms sweating and my heart racing as my third-grade teacher explained to the class what was happening in New York City on Sept. 11. Confused thoughts raced through my mind: “Why would someone do that? Will it happen again?” I was traumatized mostly because CNN kept replaying the clip of the plane going through one of the towers.
Everyone in class knew things were bad when more and more parents came to pick up their students at the front office. The gray clouds and gloomy skies lingered as we waited for the PA system to announce the next name. The atypical Miami weather mirrored our sullen moods.
– Jennifer Hernandez, Copy Editor and Photo Assistant
Sept. 11 will forever be engraved in my mind. I was in the 5th grade and stayed home sick from school. However, I soon forgot the symptoms of my illness after a single click of the TV. In the other room, my mom began to panic as footage of the 9/11 attacks flooded the airwaves. The green recliner I was sitting in suddenly felt unsafe like maybe I was in danger, too.
Every worry, every thought, every emotion suddenly seemed so minuscule after watching the day’s events unfold. My eyes were glued to the screen as more information continued to surface. Then, as the first tower went down, I tried to make sense of who would do such a horrible thing. Who would want to hurt that many people? After the second tower collapsed, my mom contacted my dad to leave work and pick up my brothers. That night we continued to watch the news and pray for those who lost their lives.
– Nicole Germany, Social Media Editor
I was living on Long Island, N.Y., and my mom worked on Wall Street near the World Trade Center. I saw glimpses on the news about what was going on, but I didn’t really process what it meant. When I got to school, my classmates were getting picked up by their parents. I was never picked up, and I kept wondering if my mom was OK in the back of my mind. Luckily, she was fine but wasn’t able to make it home until two or three days later.
– Meghan Pryce, Media, Video & Commercial Director/Editor
I was in Mrs. Natolly’s second-grade class on Sept. 11. I remember the principal made an announcement over the intercom, and my teacher rushed to turn on our classroom TV. She seemed antsy and shaken as we quietly watched the news. There were huge clouds of black smoke billowing from the second tower on the screen, and everyone was panicking. My mom later explained there had been a terrorist attack in New York City, and a lot of people were hurt and upset. As a 7-year-old, I don’t think I understood the severity of the situation. But now that I’m older, I recognize the impact this event had on me, and I know I’ll never forget.
– Lauren Richardson, Copy Editor
The sun brought out the brightest baby blue in the sky that morning as I headed to school early for recorder band practice. I remember walking into my third-grade classroom and having no idea how to comprehend the panicked look on my teacher’s face as she spoke to her co-workers and glanced at the TV. I took a look myself and saw buildings collapsing to the ground, frightening grey clouds of smoke and blazing orange and red flames.
It was pure chaos. The broadcast anchors seemed flustered reporting the news despite trying to calmly do their jobs.
I still didn’t get it, though. “Buildings fall every day,” I remember thinking. Although I was an innocent-minded 8-year-old, I still cringe when I remember being so naive as I watched the South Tower collapse live on TV.
As quickly as all my peers arrived for school that day, their parents came to pick them up. My brother and I were two of the last to go. I remember sitting in my car looking up at the baby blue sky to see if I saw a plane, wondering if my little town would be attacked next.
Suddenly, I felt that what started off as a bright, beautiful day was now full of darkness; a darkness that somehow would never go away.
– Noelia Trujillo, Co-Editor-in-Chief
I’m from Long Island, N.Y., about 40 minutes outside of New York City if traffic didn’t exist. At 9:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, I stood in my classroom in my lime green shirt and jeans with my frizzy shoulder-length hair recently cut for the very first time waiting for our class to say the Pledge of Allegiance. My mom was taking my brother to his first day of Kindergarten. My dad was making deliveries in the city and crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into Staten Island. Within a minute, an announcement came over the loudspeaker asking teachers to turn off all TVs and to close all doors and windows. I was in third grade, and I had no clue.
Parents started picking up their kids left and right, but mine never came. By the end of the day I was one of only five kids in class. We still hadn’t said the pledge, and I still had no idea what was going on.
After school, I went door-to-door with my best friend selling wrapping paper to our neighbors. But then I saw it – news footage of my favorite buildings in the world, the Twin Towers, falling to the ground – and all I could do was run. My dad hadn’t returned, and my mom had the difficult task of trying to explain that, unlike some of my friend’s fathers, he was still on his way home.
– Cara Chiaramonte, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Where were you on 9/11? Tell us in the comments below.