#1563 | Sunday, August 18th, 2002
It's been almost one year since the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, injuring thousands of lives and changing America forever, but I still remember it like yesterday.

I was in school, specifically on my way down to the auditorium for a Junior class meeting. The meeting was held @ 9, when the first plane had already crashed. As I sat down in my seat, awaiting whatever boring news our class meeting was about to hold, my friend told me that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn't think much of it at first, just some aviation accident, but nothing too big. Our meeting continued and the principal didn't mention anything about the attacks. As the meeting ended i headed back to my Programming class. As I walked in the class I saw 15 faces mesmorized by the shocking images being displayed on TV. I sat in my seat and watched for the next hour of class, the images of the planes crashing into the WTC and the Pentagon. It was seemed so unrealistic, like a scene from Independence Day. For the rest of the day in my classes the images of people jumping out of the WTC, and the buildings falling were engraved into my brain forever.
Patrick James McFadden | 16 | Vermont

#1564 | Sunday, August 18th, 2002
Like most mornings, I was hitting the snooze button one too many times. My bedroom door opened and I knew it was my mom coming to rouse me awake. Instead of just shaking me a bit, she turned my TV on. Her voice was trembling. I was still in that drowsy, not-really-awake state.

She said something about planes going into the World Trade Center. What she was saying just didn't make sense. It didn't make sense because it is so horrific, seems to impossible on many levels. For a split second I thought maybe I was still sleeping, and I was having a very scary, very real nightmare. To this day I wish that were the case, because nothing has been the same since that morning.
Laura L. | 21 | Missouri

#1565 | Sunday, August 18th, 2002
It is, to this date, a difficult thing for me to describe. Being one time zone behind the Eastern Seaboard, I suppose I was in the car on my way to school at exactly 7:45 A.M. local time when the first plane hit. Looking back, I think the most chilling part was that this day couldn't have been more ordinary.

After my first class, I spent the passing time talking to friends in the hallway, the way I always did. Amidst the typical daily conversations, rumors were beginning to filter throughout the school that something had happened somewhere in the world. Something big. Confusion and misinformation quickly flooded the hallways, and I remember the first report I heard involved President Bush being killed somehow. At first, I thought it was a joke, but the tone throughout the voices of my friends told me that something wasn't quite right.

Obviously, the information regarding the safety of our president turned out to be false.

In my second class of the day, I spent a good portion of the time watching my history teacher fumble with an old, school issued television that showed nothing but static. I had no idea what was going on, until about 9:30 local time (10:30 in New York City), when an image started appearing amid all the static on the screen. The first thing I made out was the "Breaking News," bulletin. The second thing was the Statue of Liberty.

Then, I gasped in horror when I realized what I saw. New York City was gone. It just didn't exist. In it's place rested a giant curtain of whitish smoke, encasing everything for what must've been miles.

The first thought that came to my head was, "It's a nuclear explosion. Some kind of nuclear blast just leveled New York City..." I would later discover that this was the debris from the collapse of the twin towers, but at the time, on the fuzzy television, there seemed to be no other explanation.

In a dramatic fashioned that seemed like a scene from a movie, the static on the television took over, it was the last of the footage I saw until my next class. During the half hour until that happened, I just stared at the blank screen, not knowing what to think.

English class came eventually, and thank God my teacher finally had the information I sought. Her words to us students, to the best of my memory, were, "I don't feel much like talking about [our current subject] today. Hijackers have crashed two planes into the buildings of the World Trade Center. They're gone. They're no longer standing. They took another plane and crashed it into the Pentagon. They drove a truck bomb into the State Department and blew it up. It just makes me sick to my stomach. So, instead of our usual lesson today, we're going into the next room to witness these events."

The report of a truck bomb destroying the State Department did turn out to be false, but having witnessed the destruction left in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, it was the report that scared me the most at the time.

When I finally received a clear picture of the events of September 11th on the T.V. screen in the next room, the first image was of some sort of law enforcement official holding a gun and urging people to, "Run! Get down into the f---ing subway! Move!" All the while, an expanding cloud of debris enveloped the city in the background. I distinctly remember hearing someone giggle slightly, and I remember being within a half second of walking over and punching this kid in the face. It angered me to no end that someone could laugh at such a situation.

Right after that is when I first saw the first footage of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, as well as the collapse of the buildings. It all just seemed like a slap in the face: The picture of a fire in the Pentagon... The masses of people running through the streets... Listening to respected newscasters like Tom Brokaw breaking down on screen... People jumping from the 110th floor of the North Tower... It all melted together in a mass of swirling emotions that I wouldn't make sense of until later that night.

I distinctly remember, however, one feeling that churned its way out of my gut. One feeling that stood out above all others. That thought which stood in my head for so long was, "Who did this? I want someone to find out, and kill that person. That's all I want." I was, very much, angry above all other things.

I heard a news anchor issue a report that even though all flights had been grounded, there was still an unresponsive fifth plane up in the air somewhere over Ohio, and heading westward. I immediately thought Chicago, and the Sears Tower. I know people in Chicago. I started becoming worried. Fortunately, the plane landed, citing a communication problem as the reason behind its unresponsiveness. It was a breath of fresh air.

One of my teachers, later in the day, said, "I did have what I thought was a fairly important lesson plan for today. I didn't expect that twenty, thirty thousand people were going to die in New York."

To which one of my classmates responded, "Is that how many they think it is?"

"Oh, at least," he replied.

When I got home, I did nothing for the rest of the night than watch the news channels. President Bush's earlier words of, "Freedom itself was attacked today by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended," stuck in my head above all others. And his address to the nation in the evening comforted me, telling me everything I wanted to hear at that point. People can criticize Bush all they want, but September 11th was a day I was proud to call him my president.

I've often said that I witnessed over a million people die on September 11th. Sure, only 2,823 actually died at the World Trade Center, but the footage of those planes barreling into the buildings, and the towers collapsing in a heap of rubble, was shown hundreds of times that day. I saw that plane hit the second tower dozens of times from every conceivable angle, and every time, it was like watching those people die all over again. The same goes for the collapses of the towers, and the people buried on the streets, and the people opted to jump off the buildings rather than wait for them to collapse. I saw all those people die hundreds and hundreds of times. Each time, my heart sank a little bit more.

In the days following the attacks, all I did was wait for a U.S. retaliation. I would come home from school and ask my father, "Are we bombing anyone yet? Are we killing those murdering f---'s yet? I was bloodthirsty for revenge. It's not something I'm necessarily proud of, but at the time I wanted nothing more than to see Bin Laden's head on a stick. I wanted to see the United States military light up the scoreboard. When that happened on October 7th, I was overcome with relief. Now, the ball was in our court.

To this date, I watch the footage of the plane hitting the World Trade Center every chance I get. Why? It took me a long time to figure that out for myself, but now I think I understand. I want to remember. I want to remember what the best of America is all about, and I want to be reminded of the bravery of our finest on that dark day in history. I want to make sure I don't forget the sacrifices that have been made for the freedoms I enjoy today.

I've promised myself that I'll never forget why America struggles so ceaselessly for freedom. The horrifying footage recorded on September 11th should be witnessed by all school children for generations to come, lest we forget why we fight for the freedom we have.

God bless every one of you. Never forget why we fight. Never.
Anonymous | 16 | Wisconsin

#1566 | Monday, August 19th, 2002
I was sitting at my desk in the Chase Plaza building, two blocks away from the World Trade Center, when I felt and heard the first explosion. I remember thinking that it was too sunny out for it to have been thunder (we had a bad storm last night). A few minutes later, several people came over to my desk and said that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and they tried to
look out my window. All we could see out of the window was smoke and loads of papers flying all over. We went to our break room/pantry, and were standing around watching the news coverage of the first crash when the second plane hit. We felt the second explosion as we watched the second plane hit the other tower. That's when we realized this was no accident.

We were told by our managers to leave the building. Once down in our office lobby, it looked like everyone else in the building had the same idea. Someone from the building's Fire Safety staff was announcing that our building was not being evacuated, that it was secure, and that they were encouraging people to return to their floors. The manager who had instructed us to leave our office said that was the dumbest announcement he ever heard. Three of us watched the smoke pouring out of the hole in the South Tower, and the full reality of it had yet to sink in. We stayed that way for a few more minutes, trying our cell phones in the hopes of calling family members to let them know we were okay, but cell phones were useless. So, I and one of our visitors from our Virginia office went down into the lower level of our building to find a pay phone, and to catch a subway train uptown. I was amazed by how orderly people were at the phone bank in our lower lobby. I was able to get my younger sister on the phone, and let her know that I was alright and on my way home. Fortunately, we were able to get a train fairly easily, and I had no problems catching a Queens-bound train at Times Square, so I was well on my way home and out of the area when the Towers collapsed.

I was on the #7 Flushing-bound train near the Courthouse Square station when I learned that the first tower had collapsed. I didn't learn that the second tower had collapsed until after reaching the Woodside Station, when they discontinued all subway service in all directions. I somehow managed to get my local car service to come pick me up to take me the rest of the way home, and to get through to my mother on my cell phone. She wanted me to come to her house instead of going back to my apartment, and it was on the television in her livingroom where I first saw the news footage of the Towers collapsing. As I watched them collapsing, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.
Carol Martzinek | 39 | New York

#1567 | Monday, August 19th, 2002
I was grooming my miniature horses for the American Miniature Horse Registry 2001 National Show. I had just come in for some coffee when my neighbor called to turn on the TV. I saw the second plane hit.

Our horses were set to travel by trailer and we were going to fly from Arizona to Columbia MO. We drove as we did not trust the planes on September 12th. We made the 3 day trip in 2, partilly in shock and dis-belief.

The Liberty solute was heartbreaking. Not all the exhibiters came, several were directly touched by the event and there were tears in all eyes.

One exhibitor did a wonderful dual horse liberty solute and I purchased the video tape of them.

Now we are getting ready for the 2002 show starting September 12th.

I am ancious to go and do well, but the hurt will come again and I know it.

We live near the oldest rodeo in the USA. In the program was a wonderful article "United We Stand" . I have permission from the author to reprint it into a poster and to sell 8x11 reprints for the humane societies in Arizona that were hit by the fires.

I do not know what the costs will be at this time as I want to use the perfect paper and I have to find it.

I do know the breeders who have read it were in tears and I have requested special permission to use RED AND BLUE ribbons on my white horse when she does her liberty class.

Horse people are a tight group and we are united in any way this country needs us - how about you??
Claire Schapiro | 55 | Arizona

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