Remembering 9/11

“I was in fifth grade Potomac at Centre Ridge Elementary in Fairfax County, Virginia right outside D.C. I was eleven. Everyone in our classroom was getting picked up one by one by their parents…they wouldn’t tell us what was going on. Because we were so close, they didn’t want to tell the kids because the kids could have potentially had parents that worked (in the Pentagon). My dad worked across the Potomac River. He had not heard the news of the Twin Towers yet when he heard a huge crash and saw out of his window the pentagon up in smoke. My dad eventually picked me up. My brother was there too. My dad was scared. I’ve never seen my dad scared before. He told us that terrorist flew planes into the pentagon and the (twin towers). He told us he came as fast as he could, because he was afraid they would target elementary schools next. We all got together that night and watched the news together…that’s when it became real to me.”

-Alvin Fernando, Senior, American Studies

“I was in high school. It was a week after my sophomore year started. I was taking a history exam at the time. I remember the principle coming on the P.A. System announcing to turn the (classroom) televisions on because there had been a terrible accident in New York City. I remember (the news caption on) the television read ‘Accidental Plane Crash in World Trade Center’, and then 15 minutes later they saw the second plane coming and the caption changed to ‘Terrorist Attack on America’… I watched the second plane hit live… I played high school football and I had aspirations of playing at Michigan State but after that day I decided to join the military… After 2977 innocent people were killed from 82 different countries on American soil, I quickly made up my mind that that was what I was going to do. I was going to be a patriot and go to war for my country… I went to the recruiter when I turned 17. Originally, it was the Marine core… I wanted to be in the medical field they said ‘we don’t have medics here’ so I went to the Army…. I was a medic for ten years, now I am becoming a P.A. I hope I can give back and go work for the V.A…” 

 -Specialist U.S. Army Joey Matheny, Interdisciplinary Studies, Junior

“I was nine years old and in fourth grade at Oak Vista Elementary School in Jesup, Georgia. We had just switched into second class of the day, for me that was social studies… We were in the middle of learning about state capitals when we heard a voice come over the intercom system alerting the teachers to turn on their televisions to the news. It was at that time that we had learned of the first plane crashing. Immediately, panic set into us. We were young and not able to comprehend the destruction that was taking place, but our teacher did. He must have understood the looks of dread and concern on our faces because he instructed us to do something that not many teachers would do. He told us to pray. Immediately our class stood still and silent. No sound was heard because no sound could justify the events taking place…I cannot describe the feeling of unity that came through during that time of prayer… About thirty minutes later, our classes switched and this is when we heard if the second tower collapsing…All I could so the rest of that day was to pray from my heart that God would strengthen those people, comfort the loved ones that were going to be confronted with tragic news, and that if by his grace he would stop the hands of those people from doing any more harm…”

– Ashley Ray Blue, Sophomore, American Studies

“I was sitting in class and over the intercom they told us to turn on the TV... You could see the building going up in smoke and then you could see people jumping- that was probably the worst. Watching them jump was really creepy feeling. I was in first or second grade. I was worried about my family too because a lot of them live up in New York so they were always there and we took family trips up there every year. My dad’s friend, Billy Burke, was a firefighter, he risked his life to save others and he passed away that day. On the show Friends, in later seasons, Joey is wearing a shirt that has his name on it. It says “Captain Billy Burke”.

 –Helene Denker, Sophomore, Nursing Major

“I was a graduate student at the University of Missouri. I was up late studying the night before (for my comprehensive exam), so I was really tired and my phone kept ringing. I remember getting really irritated (at first). It was my friend... she, of course, was upset. Her husband had been working in Washington D.C. and she was not able to reach him. The plane had not yet hit the pentagon at that point. I turned on the television while I was on the phone with her and I saw on live television the second plane hit.  I remember being disorientated and confused... turning on the TV to see all of this chaos. It was very clear that a second plane hitting was not an accident... there was a lot of confusion, pain; I was crying (and) sad. There were things on the television that they mercifully have not aired since...there were people jumping from the buildings and it was on live television. You could see bodies. That was horrifying. It was horrifying...I had to take my comprehensive exam, just a couple of days later (while) thinking, ‘This seems pointless with all of this going on. I can’t concentrate on this. Why should I be focused on this?’, but I did.”

 – Dr. Marci Culley, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Social Sciences

“I was recruiting (for the Navy) at the mall in Brunswick, someone came in and said ‘Turn on the news’. We saw it all unfolding...I felt insulted. Grievously injured. I was pissed off, and I felt great sorrow for the people in New York... that was a day that will live in infamy for me... it was probably one of the most pivotal days of my life. Our district headquarters called us at about two hours after the first plane hit and said, ‘Call it a day. Go home.’ They didn’t want us as targets out there in the mall. Recruitment (for the Navy) actually went up....the patriotism drove enlistments. One thing that astounded me was (the way) New Yorkers came together. But what aggravates me is it was such a big day in American history and it was so clear of why it happened and it’s lost already. I saw an interview just yesterday where they were interviewing college freshman and asked them what the reason was for 9/11 and nine out of ten of them had no idea. It’s something we promised never to forget and here we are, 14 years later, we’re forgetting it. The four year-olds during 9/11 are college freshman now and it’s important for us to remember why.”

 –Marty Thompson, Biology Education Major, Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer of Navy