#2492 | Friday, September 13th 2002
On September 11, 2001, just as the first plane hit the world trade center, i was sitting in my speech and debate classroom, hanging out with friends and watching the news. We saw it happen. Gasps and stifled cries ran through the room. A few 'oh my god's were said, as we ran out to find and tell friends.
I was late to my first class. Walking in, with tears streaming down my face, i was the one who told my class, my teacher, what had happened. We turned on the radio, and sat, and listened. We listened as the other plane hit. A man was interviewing a woman on the radio, right near the towers. Suddenly, a rumble was heard, the radio cut off, then back on, and we could hear her scream 'oh my god. we're going to die.'
That was when the first tower fell. The radio cut off again, leaving us stunned.
As my first class ended, and my second class was to start, i headed to the principal's office. I was one of two students to do the morning announcements every moring. Our principal took us aside, and asked us to sound cheerful, and to act as though nothing was wrong. Most of the student body didn't know anything was out of the ordinary, and they were getting students whose family members worked in the WTC out of class before anything was announced.
It was the hardest thing i ever had to do in my life.
You see, my father was flying home that morning. And we didn't know anything, except that planes were being flown into buildings.
I went to my second class, and called home sobbing. We didn't know anything.
Third class came and went, and our teacher demanded that we work on our classwork, but we'd seen students being taken through the halls, crying. One of my friends had a sister who was interning in the WTC, another, a father who worked there on the weekdays.
Every chance we got, we snagged computers throughout the day, sitting, staring in horror at what had happened. Though a plane had already hit the pentagon, and Flight 93 had gone down, rumours circulated the rest of the day. Were they going to hit the White House? Philadelphia? Baltimore?
Watching the TV, waiting, we all prayed. People would burst into tears in the middle of class at random moments.
And the TVs were on--every one the school had. They had taken the televisions into the cafeteria during lunch. Very few people ate that day. And the halls were dead silent, except for the sounds of people crying, and comforting, and the shuffling of feet and papers. Many people went home early that day, and all activities after school were called off.
My father is okay. His plane was diverted to Houston, and he was stuck for a few days. He drove back home to St. Louis with his boss.
As i drove home after school, i kept the radio on, in fear that something else would be hit.
That night, we went to a prayer service held by our local church.
I had nightmares that night.

The next day, i went early to pick up a paper, and started crying all over again. The number of dead, the senseless terror. I think the most horrible part..was the picture on front of the paper that showed the people leaping from the windows high above where the planes had hit.
Our principal wouldn't allow us to hang up "God Bless America" signs, because of the seperation of church and state. We did anyway, even though they kept getting torn down. I don't really think he cared.
The way that all of New York City changed, they way they cared, and came together, shocked the whole world. I think that in many ways, this attack was a blessing as much as a tragedy. People learned how to give again, how to care. I gave hundreds of dollars the next two weeks. For the Relief funds, Backstoppers, anything and everything. Being terrified of needles, i didn't want to give blood. Giving money, in some ways, was better, more useful.
We organized drives for medicine, clothing, food--anything that would help the efforts in NYC. We adopted a sister school, the NYC High School of Education and Finance. And in the spring, we flew out two of their students for our Academic Pep Assembly, to show them our love and support.
I never was really proud of being an American. Yes, i loved the politics of our country. I liked the opportunities given to me, but i was never really grateful to be an American citizen. I am now. I fly an American flag, and i mean the words when i sing the Star Spangled Banner. And by God, the Pledge of Allegiance should be left alone, the way it was.
I am an American.

Emily | 18 | Missouri

#2440 | Thursday, September 12th 2002
I went into the kitchen to make lunch for my older (9-year-old) son. I turned on the TV news - which I NEVER do (my other son was 3; who can watch the news with children in the house?) - and saw what I thought was a clip from a movie. I suddenly realized, as I saw the second plane hit, that it truly was real - and more horrifying than could be believed. I started to cry. I started to scream. I grabbed my son and held him, just held him, for the longest time, crying, so glad that we were safe. (I told my son yesterday, on the first anniversary of 9/11, "That's why I don't make your lunch any more. Bad things happen when I do.")

I called my Dad to see if he had heard; he was reading, having breakfast, and had not yet had the TV on that day. At first he thought I was joking, but my crying clued him in. "They say we're under attack, Dad," I sobbed. "They say a plane went into the Pentagon, too."

I had made it almost all the way to work that day when the second tower fell. I started crying, and couldn't stop for a long, long time. I still avoid TV news, preferring to learn it on CNN.com and newspaper websites. In the car, I listen only to music, never news.

There are people who never will be born because of what happened. Whole generations of scientists and composers and more who never will know the wonders of life on this planet because their forebears were ruthlessly murdered, assassinated. People I will never know suffer horribly - and will forever. People my sons will never meet will never be born.

KMB | 41 | Missouri

#2337 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was at home that beeping noise came on the T.V. My mom said "Oh great. What now?". After i had heard about the first plane my mom rushed me out the door to stand at my bus stop or i was going to be late. As i was standing at the bus stop i was thinking that they were playing a joke on us. When I got to school everybody was like "Did you here bout the twin towers??" and so on and i was like "Ya, I'm sure it was a mistake!" I am gifted as in smart and my gifted class is called kites.
When i was at kites we went into another teachers classroom to watch and that was when I saw the 2nd plane hit. I was like "Oh, my god." I just couldn't believe it. then i heard about the tower falling and then we saw then 2nd tower fall live. I just started crying and so did almost everybody else. I will never forget where I was and what I was doing at that time. Never, ever, ever. I can't believe it has been one year already. i feel so sorry for all of you that had loved ones in one of those planes or in one of those towers.

Michel | 13 | Missouri

#2336 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was at work at JB Hunt in northwest Arkansas. Hunt is like the second biggest trucking firm in the U.S. I had just gone into the break room for a soda and saw where the first tower had been hit and I said what a moron, it had to have been an accident, then as I was watching the second plane hit and I just went numb and thought oh, my God we're going to war my son is going to war. (He is in his early twenties)
The rest of the morning we all just wandered back and forth from our desks to the break room, you'd work till you had to see what was happening, then you'd watch till you couldn't stand it anymore. I saw the first tower collapse.
Later that morning someone said they heard on the radio that the police had captured a car load of Arabic people near Fort Smith and we realized that we could be targets also, because if they were trying to cripple the U.S. they'd go for transportation also, and also the Wal-Mart headquarters are right here and that would screw up commerce and some of the people went home.
My job was to call companies that had worked on our trucks to get invoices of the repairs for warranty, and I would be talking to people within sight of the towers and right in the middle of hell have to ask for something as meaningless as an invoice. I talked to a woman in Pennsylvania who was six miles from where the plane went down. We were crying together, realizing it could have hit her, and again my job was to ask for a piece of paper.
I have since quit my job, partly because of the attacks. I have PTSD from a lot of earlier unrelated trauma and this just brought it all back. We were under heavy security for a few months and everybody was walking around on pins and needles. The worst part was the stupid people, the ones who made jokes about it all, about how we could be next. I couldn't take the stress.
But I have learned in the past year to be grateful for every moment, to tell the people close to me thank you for caring, for being my friend. I have joined a PTSD support group. It helps.
I still worry that my son will have to go, he is talking of enlisting, it just breaks my heart and yet I am proud of him. His worthless father went to Mexico to avoid Vietnam. He is choosing to serve rather than run. Good boy/man.

Linda | 43 | Missouri

#2321 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was at an elementary school in the inner city here in St. Louis, Mo. where I work. As the assistant principal, in that environment, over time, you become conditioned to pretty much expecting anything at anytime from anyone. However, I will never forget that day as the events unfolded. I was actually just finishing up a conference with a parent who had brought their son back to school after another fighting suspension. The usually jovial custodian poked his head into my office and told me that, "Two planes had just crashed into the Twin Towers." I could tell by the look on his face he wasn't joking. We went to the television in the library where a small crowd of teachers had gathered. We stood there silently, expressionless, and unbelieving that what we were witnessing as the towers collapsed, could ever be for real. The rest of the day was a flurry of phone activity and visitors to the office. A continuous flow of phone calls from worried parents, and those who came to pick their children up from school. Consoling and assuring other parents that their students were safe took a colossal effort on the behalf of the administrators, teachers, and support staff. I can never begin to fathom what it must have been like to have been there, nor the total devastation that resulted from the attack. Our hearts go out to those who survived, and those who lost their lives. As a nation, we must never forgive or forget the cowardly actions of those who were involved in the attack.
Ed | 38 | Missouri

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