We had been back in school for just about a Month. It was early in my Junior year, and it seemed like a pretty typical Tuesday. I don’t recall getting ready that day, but it is funny the things you do remember. In my case, I recall us on the bus discussing the upcoming episode of DragonBall Z. It’s funny, that’s what I would remember about the day before those events, but that’s how personal recollection of history is. By that time, over in New York, the planes were already in the air.
I would spend time with friends before class. I don’t at all remember what we were discussing that morning, probably music. Nothing too abnormal I’m sure. 1st period was also nothing odd. 7:15 – 8:05. My home city is an hour behind the time in New York, so that means we got out at 9:05 Eastern Time. By that time, the planes had hit the North and South Towers.
During the walk to 2nd period, I recall there was a slightly odd feeling in the air. Didn’t see the usual faculty out in the halls. Something was up, but none of us noticed it quite yet. I think I heard someone say something about New York, in passing, but I didn’t think anything of it. During this class, the Pentagon would be hit by flight 77.
Biology, my 2nd period class, went on without an issue until maybe halfway in, the teacher told us something about planes crashing in New York. I was surprised, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of what was happening.
During the tail end of this class, the South Tower collapsed, and during the walk to the next period, flight 93 would crash into Pennsylvania.I remember everyone was talking about what was going on, but none of us knew the details yet. We were all in for a shock in the upcoming hours…
9:15 Central Time. 10:15 Eastern, and the beginning of 3rd period. Very fittingly, this was my U.S. History period. The particular part of my high school that this class was in was being remodeled at that time, so the TV’s that were normally on the walls had been taken down. We propped one on a desk later in the period and turned it on, hoping to be able to somewhat tune into the news. By this time, the North Tower had collapsed.
The TV signal was poor, but we did tune in to CBS. All I could see was a cloudy mess with the caption “WORLD TRADE CENTER COLLAPSES” or something like that. I’m certain on Archive.org I could find the exact news broadcast at the exact time, but I’m writing this from memory. I couldn’t make out any details though, and my only thought was “Holy shit. New York is gone.”
I remember making comments that “this is it, we’re going to war with someone.” Some girls in my class, who, I’m just going to be honest, clearly were idiots, argued that “no we weren’t.” I quickly did the math in my head, saying that “there could be 10,000 people dead now! Whoever did this, we’re going to get them.” I’m not a pro-war person, but this is a situation that, even at 16, I knew such conflict was not only justified but necessary. I had already drawn the analogy to Pearl Harbor.
We stayed in class. While many other schools let out, for some reason, we stayed in. My next 2 hours included lunch, where we discussed what happened – many other students still didn’t know all the details – but was also my Electronics class. We spent the day down in the lab, as we often did. I hopped on the internet, this being the first class where I had a chance to do such, and I looked up on CNN’s website for information. That’s where I first saw the photos of the impacts. The collapse. The burning towers. The dust clouds.
I don’t recall much of the remainder of that day at school. Hell, I don’t even remember what my last period class was that year – probably English / Literature, logically. I don’t know. The ride home, instead of being more Dragonball Z discussion, was instead focused on the events of the day. We still didn’t know all the details, and we had yet to see video of everything.
I used VCR’s all the time to tape things. I had tape after tape ready for TV shows, interesting things.. whatever I wanted to record. I had a multi-VCR setup as well, so I could tape 2 things at once. I set one up to tape DBZ that afternoon, and another to tape CNN’s coverage of the events. I watched the CNN feed though, as I taped it, and there, that afternoon, around 2:45PM my time was when I saw video of what happened.
That afternoon, I watched as building 7 collapsed. I had it taped as well, but I saw it actually happen live, or at least I think I did. I wound up making several tapes of the news, and would continue over that week to focus heavily on updated information, and I would learn quite a bit about the darker nature of humanity, of religious fanaticism, and of true hatred.
I still have one of those tapes I made. I need to digitize it sometime, maybe.
An interesting note with me, and 9/11, is that the World Trade Center complex were my favorite buildings. Yes, the loss of human life was terrible, but on a subtle, personal note, it was horrible to see my favorite buildings destroyed.
The rest goes without saying. I experienced the next year much as everyone else did. Afghanistan, Iraq… I have personal stories too related to those events and their times, but those will have to remain what they are, personal histories.
Of a last note, one that would creep us out, the following day in 1st period Algebra, the answers to our sample problems for the new technique we were learning we 9, 11, 9, 11, 9. I, and anyone else in that class will attest to this strange coincidence.
Of another note, I own a piece of the Trade Center. Stone, removed in 1998, from Building 5, during a typical remodel job. It is, needless to say, a prized possession.