#2159 | Wednesday, September 11th, 2002
It's been quite a while since we've seen the anguish and pain that
was suffered on 9/11--the tragedy that was. Grief, loss, and sadness
may still be in our hearts, but we continue to be resilient and ever
hopeful that someday this world could live in peace.
As a 14-year-old Filipino whose life was changed by an enormous
catastrophe, I remembered where I was that fateful day. Studying for
an exam that night (time here in the country was +12 hours from East
Coast time), I was on my desk fiddling with my pen when my father
called me to watch TV, that something has happened. I then viewed the
screen with horror, as one of the two World Trade Center towers were
up in flames. I sat there aghast, not believing what I have just
seen. Minutes later, a plane swiftly crashed through the South Tower,
creating a massive hole. No, this can't be happening, I thought, as
tears stream down my eyes. Then a report came that the Pentagon was
hit by a hijacked passenger airline. Is this the end of the world? Is
this the start of the Third World War? Not to be consoled, the second
WTC tower collapsed like Lego blocks, forcing every piece down to the
ground. And one side of the Pentagon fell apart. And a hijacked
passenger airline rammed through a field in Pennsylvania. And lastly,
the incident that started it all, the North Tower of the WTC just
came crashing down in a pile of rubble and bodies. It was a terrorist
What was a bright Tuesday morning in America became the darkest day
the world has ever known at the start of a new century. The Manhattan
skyline was clouded with smoke, ash, and soot. The World Trade
Towers, once the symbol of strength and economic power, was now just
a clutter of debris. The structure which took years to be constructed
only took a few minutes to break down. Even the control center of
world's most powerful military was unimaginably attacked. The United
States was again vulnerable to such cataclysm. But the only thing
that kept rambling through my head was the innocent souls of every
race and creed that were taken inconsiderately by the vicious
terrorists. They woke up thinking it's another day of work, but they
didn't think this day was to be their last. The people in the
airplanes never reached their destination. A lot of them didn't have
the chance to say their final goodbyes. Lives were lost, and dreams
As days went by, I have heard a lot of stories from people who lost
loved ones in the attacks. I was ultimately moved by those victims in
the towers, making every effort to tell their relatives that they are
all right, saying how much they love them in the midst of panic and
danger. It was just too touching. Even if I didn't know these people,
I shared their loss. Their sacrifice and courage were truly
unforgettable. In an instant, these mere mortals became larger-than-
life heroes, whether they were government officials, firefighters,
policemen, or civilians. There was an overwhelming sense of unity
everywhere, as shown by the clips and scenes literally cascading from
the television. It made me think that even in the face of adversity,
there is this bond that consolidates people into one mutual
connection. That even in trying times there is always someone to lend
And after sorrow comes action. George W. Bush along with his war
cabinet took full responsibility of the case at hand, and made the
strategic decision to bomb Afghanistan, the haven of the terrorists.
In my opinion, it was a terrific job. It was success early on. Bush,
whom I never thought could be an effective president, took my
admiration on his handling of the crisis. But even after the Taliban
was driven away and UBL's lieutenants have been captured, there is no
certain time as to when this War On Terror will end. When I reached
my 14th birthday last year, I made a simple but hard wish: world
Before the start of my adolescence I was already interested in
current events, but after this occurrence, I realized just how much
of an advantage this particular passion was. Keeping close watch on
the latest-breaking news, I became the source of information to my
friends and family. 9/11 was the subject of my school theme papers,
which led me to discover my creativity with the written word. Now, I
am a Features Columnist of my school's official publication, and my
articles dealt with a lot of you-know-what.
Sometimes, it takes a big incident to bring forth the best quality in
a person, and in my case it was writing. I poured a lot of my
thoughts and opinion in my compositions. It became my soothing
ground. I never really pursued it when I was younger, but after
receiving encouragement and compliments from my colleagues, I'm
confident to say I'm good at it now. The thought of becoming a
journalist one day have crossed my mind several times already, but
there's still a long time to make my mind up about the future.
One year effected greater awareness in me. One year made me think
about living my life in a brighter perspective. I pray more often,
more than ever. I am still anxious up to this day, fearing the threat
of another dreadful strike. But I shouldn't let this fear reign in my
heart. We all shouldn't. We are brave enough to come past such an
atrocity, and we are standing guard. As nations and as peoples, we
have undoubtedly created a link so strong, so insurmountable that the
terrorists will not have the tenacity to break it.
I remember that in the weeks after the attacks there came an old
phrase, We shall overcome. It was the perfect adage to hold onto
those gloomy days. In the most depressing moments there is still a
glimmer of hope that tomorrow will be a better morning. No matter how
hard the difficulties were, we can always face the challenges--and as
always, we can be able to come off as more improved individuals.
While the impending danger on matters about Iraq still lingering, and
the continuing terror alerts looming along the way, we can only wish
that this 1st anniversary will be a safer one.
We are lovers of democracy. We are defenders of freedom.
And yes, we can overcome whatever it is that comes our way.
Herschel Tan | 14 | Philippines
#2160 | Wednesday, September 11th, 2002
the day started off very strangely. i live in staten island and take the ferry into the city everyday. when leaving the ferry at around 8am, i looked down at the grating and my husband and i both saw a dead pigeon, face down, wings spread, facing the city. a chill went up my neck but i walked on. you get used to seeing strange things in the city and thinking nothing of them.
i went to work as usual. i work at 38th st & 3rd ave, in manhattan, 5 miles north of wtc. we turned on the tv as usual. my co-worker said that a plane had struck one of the towers and i immediately thought of the story of a plane hitting the empire state building. i thought nothing of it other than it was an odd way to start the day. until my mother-in-law called about 5 minutes after the first plane struck to see if my husband and i were ok. then i knew it was real. i called all the family to let them know we were ok. and kept working.
i went downstairs to go to kinkos. in the elevator down, one of the building service men said the top of one tower was collapsing. by the time i was done with kinkos both towers were down. i could look down 3rd avenue and see the billowing black clouds. and see hordes of people making their way uptown, away from the smoke and chaos. i got back to the office to about 15 emails and 6 or 7 voicemails of people continuing to inquire as to our safety, as the news just kept getting worse and worse.
i left work as my office is in the middle of the triangle formed by the empire state building, the chrysler building, and the u.n., and if anything else was going to be hit it was going to be one of those three. i walked 20 blocks uptown to meet my husband who had walked 20 blocks downtown from the met, also a possible target. we walked over to st vincents to meet our housemates whose pre-mature baby was being released, born only 5 days earlier. it was tricky walking from 58th & madison to 14th & 8th without getting close to any major tourist sites and thus possible targets. after managing to avoid times square, grand central station and any other place we could think of, the walk past the post office at 34th was the longest.
we got to st vincents to see 8th ave blocked to everyone but emergency vehicles traveling up from wtc. we bought turkey sandwiches and water from a deli, found our housemates with sleeping infant in tow, and drove north towards the george washington bridge, the only open outlet from manhattan. we saw a huge line of people along the westside highway, ready to give blood and volunteer in any way. traffic was slow but moving. the cel phone stayed on as we continued to make contact with family members in texas to let them know we were safe, and tried to track down our own friends somewhere in the city.
we drove til our hunger pulled us over. cracker barrel, mt arlington, nj. this was the first time i'd had a chance to stop and see coverage of what had happened, and what we had left behind. we ate the most comforting food we could find, and a lot of it. with all the walking and stress i hadn't realized how hungry i was until the food came. we stayed at a nearby hotel that night, our young housemate's first night away from the hospital, because all bridges and tunnels back home were shut down. we finally got home late on wednesday to really get a sense of what had happened. and to be thankful that we weren't more directly affected.
amy | 26 | New York
#2161 | Wednesday, September 11th, 2002
I was in health class when attack happened. This kid in my class, Kevin, had just come from the nurse telling me that they had the radio on in there and it said that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon and ruined it, and planes crashed into the World Trade Center as well. I didn't believe him (because he's not the type of kid that tells the truth all the time), until my teacher Ms. Page came in to escort us back to homeroom, when she told our health teacher Ms. Zale that two planes hit each of the World Trade towers and the Pentagon. Then I thought that it was actually true and Kevin was telling the truth for once. Throughout the whole rest of the day we weren't allowed to talk about it, and I didn't like that because everyone was really curious and we had a right to know what happened. All afterschool activities were cancelled so I had to go strait home. My mom had been home sick all day, so she told me everything that happened and it was all over TV. I think it was very horrible for those people to do this, and it was very cowardly of them to do it. We will never forget!
Patricia | 14 | Massachusetts
#2162 | Wednesday, September 11th, 2002
I remember sitting on the couch flipping thru channels to find cartoons for my 5 year old daughter, when I saw the first tower on fire. I left it there, wondering what had happened. Then, with my daughter sitting next to me, I saw the second plane hit, and I was immediately sick.
I proceeded to spend the day crying for all those who were lost, and trying to explain to my children, what had happened, and how someone could have so little value for human life that he would plan such a tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who were lost.
May God Bless you, and MAY GOD BLESS THE USA
Jennifer | 34 | Connecticut
#2163 | Wednesday, September 11th, 2002
I was on my way to work worried about being late, pissed at the idiot going too slow, etc. I tuned into FM radio to hear the news of the attacks. Immediately thought it was a " war of the worlds' type and only truly believed it when I tuned into an AM station. I looked into the faces of other drivers on the way to work looking for acknowledgement of the change, I saw none. When I arrived at work, dispair and uncertainty was the prevailing mood. "The only I knew how to do was to kepp on keeping on". A women could not find some t-shirt with a pocket and some special collar( I work at a retail store.) she was saying how bad life was because of it. I simply told her that life could be alot worse with out reminding her of the tragedy that had occurred hours before. What ever obstacles are thrown in our paths there is always someone gliding over bigger and more treachorous ones.
John Kennedy | 40 | Florida
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