#445 | Monday, December 10th 2001
I was in the bathroom, washing my hands, when one of the girls that lives on my dorm floor looked into my half-closed eyes (I had just woken up)and asked "if I had heard." I still am shocked by the redundancy of that statement, as if she were asking "if I had heard" some ridiculous rumor. But it was against that backdrop of expectation that I heard the words "Someone just bombed the World Trade Center a few minutes ago." I stood there, in shock, swimming in disbelief. I thought, "Oklahoma City" and ran back to my room and stayed glued to the TV for the rest of the day. I watched in horror as the second building was struck; watched as the buildings crumbled down on everyone who were risking their lives to save those they could. I could hear people screaming in the background, see people running. It was so surreal.
But as horrible as the events were, the unity and love that resulted from them still amazes me and always will. The weekend following the events, I went to visit a friend of mine who attends Indiana State University in Terre, Haute, IN. He's in their marching band and they were going to be performing at a local candle-lit vigil. Old and young, rich and poor, brown, black and white--the make-up of the crowd was amazing. As he warmed up with the band, I sat in the audience as volunteers went through the throng of people handing out flags, ribbons and asking for volunteers to donate blood. Two little girls in front of me, with their arms around eachother, wildly waved their flags and sang the loudest of anyone through the whole program. While the whole service was inspiring, it was the end that still flushes me full of pride and fills my eyes with tears when I remember it. The lights had been dimmed and the sun had just set, everyone was turning to their neighbors and lighting their candles. There was a moment of silence (even the little girls in front of me bowed their heads respectfully). Then the ISU marching band began their strictly instrumental rendition of "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. I have never heard the song sound more beautiful. My heart was pounding wildly as the song crescendoed and I was crying freely along with the woman next to me. Softly and slowly, people began to sing, until by the last chorus, it sounded like a full-fledged, patriotic choir. The conductor was moving his arms wildly, and the band responded. My friend later told me that they were all crying by the end of the song, especially the conductor. But perhaps the MOST amazing thing was the end of the program. It ended officially with the playing of the National Anthem. But as the host said his good-byes to dismiss the crowd, there were grumbles and no one moved. Confused, I looked around wondering how such a united crowd could possibly bicker mere seconds after the end of such a beautiful program. Then a gentleman next to me shouted, "We didn't say the Pledge of Allegiance!!" Shouts of agreement were heard all around and those in our general area stubbornly turned towards the flag behind us before the hosts could find their microphone. The man started, "I pledge allegiance.." and others quickly joined in until the end was nearly in a shout, "...with liberty and justice for all." I have never felt more pride for myself or my country than in that single moment, shouting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Kristen Branch | 18 | Indiana

#389 | Saturday, December 8th 2001
I was sound asleep that morning....dead to the world. The phone rang and I fumbled to find it and turn it on to answer it in my groggy confusion. It was my husband at his office. "Do you have the TV on? Are you awake?" he asked. Confused, I said No. He said "Turn it on NOW!" A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center." I thought...."ok, but why wake me up for that?"....I struggled out of bed and limped around the room to get the remote, turned on the tv and saw flames pouring out of the first tower. I was stunned , it looked so awful. I told my husband I felt so bad for the people in the bldg and on the plane but how did they get so far off course? And as I said this, the second plane came in and hit the next tower. I screamed, NO! No! No! He couldn't see what I was yelling about as he didn't have a tv where he was. I told him about the second bldg and we both immediately said,"It's an attack." Two planes wouldn't have done that at the same time by accident. He had to go back to work but I sat in bed and watched in fascinated horror for hours. My chest was tight and my heart cried out for all the people who were trapped. And it was with sheer agony that I watched in disbelief as people jumped from the bldgs. Dear God, how bad must it have been in there for a person to even contemplate jumping from that high up? Then the buildings began to collapse and the horror was compounded. So many lives gone without a chance....even the rescuers. It was almost beyond comprehension. It looked so much like some of the movies we watched that I wanted to tell myself it wasn't real. But it was.

Even when I had to get up to feed all my animals, I kept the tv or radio tuned in to the broadcasts and have not stopped watching CNN since then..now 3 months later. Prior to that I couldn't even tell you what number CNN was on on our cable system and rarely watched news programs. NOw I seldom watch anything else.....out of a fascination I guess with the minds of people who could perpetrate such cruel actions and feel righteous about doing it.
Yes, my sense of security is shattered, tho, in the back of my mind, I always knew it had to happen one day. Those who's lives are filled with misfortune so often blame those who are more fortunate and want to "punish" them for what they have due to their place of birth rather than realize and understand they are circumstances of fate and that they too , but by accident of birth, could have been on the other side. And there will always be those who feel it is their destiny to control others by force.

Fear does not keep me from living my life however. I have flown. I have ridden the subway in NYC even tho I don't live there. I have driven thru long tunnels knowing it would be easy to commit a terrorist act in them. I open my own mail. Life goes on.
My thoughts are with the soldiers from all countries who are giving up their time with their families and, in some cases, their lives to try and make this entire planet a safer place in which all people can live.

Paula | 54 | Indiana

#357 | Saturday, December 8th 2001
I was at school, taking a test called the "ISTEP" tests. When we were released for a break from testing, one of my friends came up to me and told us that the WTC was bombed. I thought he was just kidding around, because he usually does. I went to the cafeteria and there was a TON of people crowded around this big screen TV watching CNN. I couldn't believe my eyes. Then, we were all dismissed to our homerooms. Luckily, my homeroom that day was in the cafeteria, so I got to stay and watch the coverage. Me and one of my other friends were trying to make jokes about it, but we were both in a state of shock. After homeroom was ended, I went to lunch with my friends and we were all speechless, or making fun of other countries. There were about 15 people in line at the pay-phone waiting to call their loved ones. I then went to Biology class and my teacher was trying to keep the class in order and try to keep us calm. Then, my father cam to pick me up right in the middle of Biology because my mom was freaking out. That was probably the worst day I have ever lived, but it was probably the best day for democracy.
Cody Blevins | 14 | Indiana

#232 | Friday, November 2nd 2001
It was during ISTEP week, and at the end of one of the tests, our teacher turned the TV on to the news to see the world trade center. He was telling everyone to be quiet, and that this was live history, but no one acred, and everyone was talking. After that, I went to Art where the teachergot every quiet and said. "I don't know if you heard, but a plane crashed into the World trade center, and another one just did. They were acts of terrorism, we might go to war."
I remember my legs shaking, and everyoen started talking in hushed tones.
All day, all the TV's were on in every classroom, even in the cafeteria.
I was scared, really scared, for the first time in my life.
That day, I went home and cried for the first time about something besides an injury.

Annalise Lowe | 13 | Indiana

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