I thought I would go ahead and post my memories of September 11 since I had no students to share it with this year...
I was a Freshman at Texas A & M. Waking up for my 8 a.m. classes had started getting more difficult, less because of my sleeping habits and more because of my annoying roomie who had a terrible habit of staying awake typing furiously on the computer until 4 in the morning. I woke up none the less and staggered to Heldenfels where my Business Math class was located. I managed to stay awake through class and when it was dismissed began making my way to Harrington for my next class. As I walked through what should have been a fairly populated courtyard I began to get an odd feeling I was missing out on something. I know now that the only students on campus at that point were fellow 8 a.m.-ers like me who woke up and got to class too early to hear about the first planes. I shook it off as just being one of those off days and sat down prepared to be fully enlightened by Dr. Reese in Western Civ class (I am still in contact with this brilliant man today). As I waited for class to start I heard a few students talking...did you hear? Why haven't they cancelled class? A plane hit... I thought to myself, oh...a plane crash...not common, but non entirely uncommon...I wonder where and if the passengers are ok...
We were dismissed from class and I walked outside to head back to my dorm in FHK. The stillness on campus was unsettling. I could literally count the number of students within my sight on one hand. At almost 11 this should not be the case. I hurried back to my dorm to see what had happened. Along the way I passed a girl I knew from high school. She vaguely told me that planes had crashed into some buildings in New York and D.C. and that nobody knew exactly what had happened. My immediate thoughts went to a man I had learned about in my elective Geography class in high school...Bin Laden. I know the news reports were hesitant at first to mention his name, but it soon became clear that this was the case.
As I got back to my room I was relieved to find it empty of my roommate who I definitely did not want to be a part of the outpouring of emotion I was bound to have. I turned on the t.v. and saw images worse than I could have ever imagined. I cannot recall now if the towers had fallen by that point or not, but the panic in the reporters voice (even as they tried their best to remain calm) was evident. I sat on the floor, watched the news reports, cried, and never felt so alone in my life. I called home to see if Houston was in a panic as a potential target, mom and dad said that many office buildings were closing early as a precaution. I asked if I should come home and was met with a most resounding and firm no. They both felt I was safer in College Station and that was their primary concern for me. Again, feeling alone...
I eventually began to wander around campus. My new job at Chick Fil A called and said not to bother coming in to do training because the mall was closing...so alone. My good friend Jenn was over at someones house and I couldn't get in contact with her so walking around seemed like a good option. Classes were voluntary that day so I made it to my afternoon Psych class where we just kind of talked about what was going on. The rumors had started settling in about needing to fill your cars up with gas so I debated giving up my precious parking spot to do that, but decided against it. I called my parents again that evening after watching more t.v. Nobody really knew what to say. I began trying to make tick marks for the number already declared dead, it was overwhelming. The people that died were just trying to live their daily life. Workers, tourists, bankers, teachers, students, business men, food service employees, custodians...all just doing what they did... Firefighters and policemen rushing into the building as others rushed out. Their number one goal was to rescue whomever they could from inside not knowing the building would fall on them moments later. Passengers who heard of what was occurring and knowing that they could take their destiny into their own hands and could at least prevent others from harm.
The memories begin to fade from there. Images on t.v. are still burned into my mind. An organization on campus put together Red, White, and Blue Out to help raise money for the Fallen Firefighters Fund. First deck wore blue, second wore white, third wore red. I had never been so proud to be part of the 12th man than to see us standing together in that way. From there, our lives continued on, but occasionally something makes me stop and remember.
My students today have few recollections of what happened. They remember some of their parents trying to pull them out of school for the day, but that is as pungent as the memory gets. In years to come, my generation will be asked what our memories are of the day...my students, my daughter, my children will not be asked because their memory is absent.
The Cross Beam at the WTC site
It is so empty, even today
Red, White, and Blue Out...even a large number of the opponents fans participated