I wrote this blog post originally after a trip I went on to New York City with my mom in 2017. I’m feeling moved today to re-write this and share my story, like so many others are doing today, to remember that beautiful fall September morning, 18 years ago, when the world, as I knew it, changed forever.
I remember so vividly. Turning on the tv in my residence hall room to watch a few minutes of the Dawson’s creek episode I had taped the night before, before going to class, and the image of the burning tower on the screen in front of me.
I called my mom to tell her that someone had accidentally flown a plane into the twin towers. We wondered aloud how someone could make that kind of mistake. I hung up with her and continued watching and as I did, I saw the second plane hit the second tower and instantly, I knew, as did the rest of the world, that this was no accident.
My roommate, Michelle, walked into the room and I couldn’t even speak to tell her what had happened.
I went to class and then quickly, classes were cancelled. I stood in the campus center at MCLA, and watched, in deafening silence, surrounded by dozens of other students, as the first tower fell. Gasps permeated the room as we watched that enormous building crumble to pieces.
What followed was such an intense inability to comprehend what was actually going on. The loss of life. The unknown. Reports of other planes. The pentagon. Pennsylvania. Fear was palpable.
I watched my fellow students struggle to get in contact with loved ones. Friends. To try to determine if they were safe. Alive.
I called my brother who was in college at UMASS and learned that they had evacuated all of the high rise towers on campus.
We had only been in college for 10 days. I was a freshman.
It was a cataclysmic moment. It rocked the world I had known. The idyllic sense of safety I had grown up in. The days that followed were a blur. 24 hour news coverage of Ground Zero. The entire nation holding it’s breath, praying to see survivors emerge from the smoking rubble. We quickly understood the reality of the situation.
We mourned. For the innocent people who boarded American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 77 that morning who had no idea of knowing what lay ahead of them.
For those that simply went to work that morning in the North and South Tower of the World Trade Center, and watched the New York City Skyline through their windows darken under the shadow of airplane wings.
For the police officers, firefighters and EMT’s that ran into those two burning buildings to save others with no thought of their own safety and unknowingly entered into their final resting place.
We mourned for those that took a stand on Flight 93 and sacrificed themselves to save hundreds, thousands of other lives.
For those in the Pentagon, so many people that had already sacrificed to proudly serve our country who went to work that morning to continue their service and never went home.
We mourned as a nation. For every soul we lost that on that blue skied September morning.
For everything we lost that morning.