Everyone has their story of where they were when the Twin Towers were hit. Before I forget, I want to hear where you were on this day, 15 years ago. Did you actually see it on TV, or did you hear about it later?
I was 25, living in Central Ohio and I was scheduled to help my best friend move into an apartment with her long-term boyfriend, now husband. We had to get the keys from the apartment office first. As we walked in, we found 2 sales representatives, completely immersed in what was on their tv screen. Once they realized they weren’t the only ones in the room, one of the girls turned to us with a very shocked look on her face.
“One of the World Trade Center buildings has been hit,” is all she said and turned back around to watch.
We began to follow suit and stared at the television as well. My first thought was kamikaze. In fact, I blurted “Kamikaze” out immediately after she had said the tower had been hit. My 2001 brain only had kamikaze as the frame of reference. We didn’t (at least I didn’t) know there was a whole Islamic Terrorist group growing and thriving.
Then I second guessed myself and thought, ‘what if a plane just crashed on accident?’ This second theory was quickly dismissed after I watched a second plane fly into the next tower. I gasped in horror and sadly, it wasn’t even over yet. I freaked when I saw the buildings begin to crumble, knowing that in that short amount of time, everyone couldn’t have been evacuated. My heart broke.
For the coming days, I was glued to my television. I wanted to watch everything and anything about the World Trade Center. It was the same information it seemed like over and over again but regardless I needed it. I think everyone needed it. I think they reported on it nonstop for two weeks. One report especially broke my heart of how there were survivors in the debris who were using their cell phones to call for help. I cried because I knew they were buried alive and for the majority, there was nothing that could be done. 20, that’s it. After the towers fell, just 20 made it out alive.
I began looking up at every plane thinking, ‘Did this one have terrorist on it?’ There were a lot of unanswered questions; I just knew that 1 plane went down 3.5 hours away which taught us it can happen anywhere. To this day, I get a little anxiety when I see a plane that seems to be landing too fast and too close.
I Tried To Help
After coming out of a shock that I’m sure many of you experienced, I did what I always seem to do when a crisis hits: I go into “how can we help” mode. I had no idea what supplies they needed while they continued to search for bodies, I just wanted to help in someway. At the time, I was living in an apartment complex, so I created flyers on our computer asking for various donations like bottled water, first aid kits and dog food (for the search dogs) and hung a flier on every single door which was about 200. I had asked the apartment office if supplies could be dropped off at the clubhouse and they approved this request. After a few days went by I was pleased to find hundreds of donations had poured in. It was at that moment I realized I didn’t even know where to send the stuff. I decided to drop it all off at the Red Cross since they are professionals in handling emergencies. Who knows if it even made its way to New York City, again, I just wanted to do something.
The other thing I did which I must have been smoking crack at the time, was I saw a 1-800 number that you could call and volunteer to go to ground zero and help in the search. Again, I don’t know what I was thinking but I was 25 at the time, living with my now husband and was prepared to probably get fired from my job for leaving, oh and I forgot to tell my boyfriend/now husband about signing up to volunteer. Nothing came of the call anyway.
I have felt over the past decade 9/11 seems to become more and more like a Pearl Harbor. And I’m guilty of it myself, not really taking time to sit down and remember what this day did to humans, to America and to the world. I had no idea how it would shape the world as we know it today. While our country is in the midst of the most heated presidential campaign I’ve ever seen, the terrorists are still there, and our safety is still at stake.
I am reminded why everyone should never, ever, ever forget 9/11. And part of not forgetting is also teaching our children about 9/11 and not in a standard, classroom kind of way. That is way to sterile and will NEVER get the point across about how the planet was turned upside down. I have no problem showing my sons the picture of the man jumping to his death because inside the tower was a far worse fate; just so they understand the severity. A lot of times I don’t think they take me seriously and it’s frustrating because I want them to understand. I don’t know if it’s going to take a story or a another horrific image or what, but again, part of the remembering is teaching the people who didn’t have to go through it or were too young to remember. I feel like terrorists are counting on us forgetting, because the moment we forget is the moment it’s going to happen again.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?