Where were you on September 11th, 2001? A not so distant 11 years ago?
I had just entered 11th grade in south central PA, a mere 3.5 hours from NYC, 1.5 hours from DC, an even closer 30 minutes from TMI (Three Mile Island, a nuclear power plant). This will make more sense later.
It was to be a half day at school that day due to the fact that the Fair was in town. Each year the Fair comes to town and on Tuesday it’s student day. Probably the biggest event in my hometown and you either love it or hate it. I loved it…student day meant a half day at school! It meant more casual dress, leaving school with your friends and walking the 3 blocks to the fair to eat as much funnel cake and cotton candy as you could stand. We were all excited for that morning…I wore black pants, black platform flip flops (yikes) and a pink, black and white zebra type tank top (yikes) covered with a cardigan but only for school purposes. O yes, I was looking pretty amazing…
I was sitting in my English class taught by Mr. Cook.
After the first tower was struck, our principal came over the loud speaker to announce there has been a plane crash and to turn on the news. We watched and just thought…stupid pilot, this better not ruin our day.
We watch in shock and awe and disbelief and confusion as the second plane hits. “What is going on?” everyone is saying. The principal comes on again and tells us to remain calm, and will update us as soon as they know something…remain in your classrooms.
Third plane hits the Pentagon. Another announcement overhead. Panic kicks in.
Plane falls in PA field. We all question where that plane was to hit? TMI? Harley? You’re probably asking, Harley? Well at that time my hometown was also home to the largest Harley Davidson plant. With one switch those machines could go from making motorcycles to making tanks. Tanks are important in battle. Were we in a battle???
Tower one falls. My teacher drops to his knees. He looks up and says, “My brother works in that building, and I know in my heart he’s dead.” We later found out that was true.
The second tower falls. My cell phone FINALLY works. I am able to get in touch with my mother, but the school won’t release us.
Around noon, we are released. I head home by car, stopping to fill up on gas, and taking every dollar out of my bank account. Mom said we’d need both…just in case. We watched the news with intensity all night long. The house, streets, phones, etc were the quietest thing I’ve ever heard. We prayed…we prayed so hard. We cried. We mourned. We prayed again.
The metaphorical dust settled around town the next morning, but actual dust began to fill the air. The sky was dark the rest of the week, but then came the light as it always does. That day left a dark spot in all of our hearts forever.