I was in Economics class that fateful Tuesday morning, my senior year of high school. We were in a different classroom than usual, because half the school (my sister included) was taking ISTEPs (Indiana graduation exams). A teacher popped her head in and told us to turn on the TV. We were watching when the towers fell. We didn't have class that day. Only my math class actually tried to cover material. No official announcement at school was made until ISTEPs were over for the day- at lunchtime. They didn't want to upset the sophomores and other students trying to concentrate on the test they had to pass to graduate. The school was silent. The day didn't hit me hardest till 3 months later.
12/11/01 was the day I boarded a bus with a group of students and staff, headed for downtown New York City. We were on a dual mission- as ambassadors of our school to a 'sister school' that was located caddy-corner from the WTC complex, and as help for Student Venture, a Campus Crusade ministry that was trying to reach out to students affected by the tragedy in their backyard.
And then there was the night we went to Ground Zero. The dust was still in the air. I saw workers hosing off store awnings, trying to remove the layer of dust, trying to make things look 'normal'. The makeshift memorial we all saw on TV, on the chain link fence alongside Ground Zero, was not just on TV for me anymore, but right there in front of me. Workers went to and from the area of fenced-off debris. While we were there, they were working to take down the last, largest remaining piece of the buildings. Sparks flew. The most poignant moment, however, was when I stood next to a guy from the New York high school- a couple guys we had visited that day had come with us. It was their first time back to Ground Zero since 9/11. He pointed to a spot in the air: "We watched as the second plane hit, right there." (He pointed to a building still standing) "We thought the explosion hit that building too."
Later on, I was standing back from the Indiana group, taking everything in, as the group was up at a fence, down an alley, looking at the destruction. One of the NYC high schoolers was near me, the other was also away from the group, pacing the alley. I somewhat insensitively asked, "What's wrong with him? Is he OK?" His friend said, "His uncle died in those buildings." These were real people, really affected. Kids my age. I wonder where they are today, 5 years later.
I dug around for pictures from the trip. They aren't all mine:
NY Dec 2001
Dec 12, 2001 - 17 Photos