I was a senior in high school, sitting in AP calc when the first plane hit the World Trade Center towers. My classroom was connected to a computer lab, so a couple students immediately went in to see if they could find any information out. We turned on our TVs in the classroom. At the time, I remember all of us thinking it was an explosion of some sort. Then the second plane hit, and we all watched in horror as we realized what had happened. A plane….hit…..the WTC….The rest of the day was spent maybe doing a little work, talking a lot with each other and our teachers, and keeping those TVs on. Details of the events were revealed, each one more shocking, like water spilling over the edge of a tub already full. So wait, the first explosion was also a plane? And this was done on purpose!?
I didn’t know anyone directly affected by the 9/11 attacks. Being from the Boston area, you would hear that about people distant to you…maybe someone that your friend went to school with’s uncle was there but was ok. I think my mother’s second cousin lived in the area but was out of state that week.
As I think about my students today, they were babies when the 9/11 attacks happened! A few of my students have parents in the national guard/reserves that may have been deployed as a result of these attacks, but they really have no memory of the event. The events of that day had such an impact on all of us. It’s another JFK assassination moment, or the death of John Lennon. My mother and father both remember exactly where they were when those two events occurred. We are waiting for our interactive boards and new projectors to be put up, which is a bummer because I would love to show one of the many amazing documentaries about 9/11. There is much sadness surrounding that day, but when I think about that day now, I am moved by all the stories about the first responders and civilians that helped so many. If I could watch something today, it would be the documentary from ESPN on Welles Crowther. He was a BC graduate and lacrosse player who worked in the WTC as a trader. He saved a dozen people that we know of and was remembered by those he saved as having a red bandanna over his nose/mouth. That bandanna was given to him by his father when he was 6. He passed away when the tower collapsed but is remembered as a hero for what he did that day.
I hope that everyone has a few moments today to reflect, remind ourselves what kind of person we all want to be. Compassion for our fellow human beings doesn’t cost a thing, but is somehow worth more than anything you could buy.