Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?

by Elizabeth on September 11, 2011 · 6 comments

in Adventures, life

One bright fall morning, three girls rode to school together in silence.  The ride started, as it usually did, with a fight between the two sisters in the front.  The fight always had something do with the music choice.  The oldest sister, the driver, liked to listen to an interesting selection of music, from Ani DiFranco to the Rent soundtrack.  She was a drama nerd and a bit of music snob.  Her younger sister wanted to fill the car with the sounds of a popular morning show.  The third girl in the car, the brunette neighbor, wanted to listen to anything but the two sisters bickering.  The fight ended with the driving angrily turning off the sound, leaving the three girls in silence.  Desperate to escape the sisterly troubles, the brunette leaped from the car the moment it entered the parking lot and headed down the hill to join her friends in their early morning ritual of hallway gossip.

When the first bell sounded the brunette picked up her stuff and walked with a friend to an out of the way classroom and first period tenth grade American History.  On the way they speculated if they would focus on history or the upcoming We The People competition.  As the two girls approached the door, two classmates are talking about a plane crash they heard about on the radio.  Apparently, a plane had flown into one of the sky scrappers in New York City.  As more people trickled in, more information was revealed: it was one of the Twin Towers, it was a really big plane, and that the news was showing it live.

As the bell rings to start class, the young, slightly idealistic teacher comes hurrying into the room, telling the students to get their stuff and head to the library.  The teacher had always encouraged her students to be interested and aware of current events and this was certainly a current event.  Another history teacher and her class meet the brunette’s class in the library.  By the time the librarians go the tv out and the news on, a second plane had flown into the second tower.  This was not accident.

The room is silent.  Everyone is staring at the tv.  Minutes go by and then reports begin rolling in.  Words like hijacked, terrorism, attack, Islam, Jihad and Osama bin Laden fill the brunette’s ears.  She is stunned, terrified, confused.  A few more minutes pass and the President appears on screen.  His gentle Texas twang is soothing, but his voice, his words say things no one should ever have to hear.

More time passes.  More reports come in.  The vice president has been secured.  The president is one his way back to DC.  Then there a third crash, this one on the side of the Pentagon.  The news people are suddenly overwhelmed, bouncing back and forth between New York and DC.

The bell rings.  The class is too stunned to move.  Were they supposed to get up and go to second period?  The day is going to continue?  The teachers seem just as confused, but gently send their students on their way.  The brunette moves through halls, bound for English class.  Everyone is talking about the attacks, that there are probably more attacks coming, that they are probably looking for big, imposing buildings to attack so our school must not be safe.  People that have families in New York and DC are crying, a girl whose mom was supposed to be leaving New York is weeping hysterically in the hall.

The day moves a snails pace.  During third period French the brunette watches first the South Tower and then the North Tower collapse on live television.  She heads to lunch, her only comfort her best friend.  Teachers force her to pay attention.  Choir, chemistry, dance team practice all require her participation.  After school rehearsals for the upcoming Pep Rally and football game.  And then finally, finally, she can come home to her parents, to her warm, safe house.

She sits, close to her mother on the couch and watches the constant news coverage.  Weeping with her whole family as estimates of the number of dead begin to emerge, as stories of heroism and bravery begin to spread, and members of Congress sing God Bless America.  She sobs again, later, alone in her room, as the radio plays patriotic music on repeat interspersed with sound bites from the day.

September 12 starts much the same as September 11 did.  It is cloudless, a perfect, almost fall-like day in the Deep South.  But there is no bickering on the way to school, only the sound of the news.  And the brunette stands with the 1500 other students in her school and says the Pledge of  Allegiance for the first time in almost two years.  And cries for her country and for a loss of innocence.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy September 11, 2011 at 8:49 am

I was in my 10th grade English class when someone came running down the hall yelling for everyone to turn on their tvs (there’s a TV in every classroom at that school). We did, and sat in utter disbelief as we saw the 1st tower engulfed in flames. About a minute into the coverage we were watching, the second plane flew into the second tower, right before our eyes.

My teacher ran out of the room because she had family that worked at the WTC.

Just moments before we had begun watching the news, a few friends and I were discussing how our field trip that day had been canceled. We were supposed to be going to a college only 5 miles from the PA crash site for a conference for ecology club. For some reason though, the college had called the night before to cancel our trip.

Lots of people went home early that day, others (like me) shuffled through the hallways in a trance. No one really believed this was as bad as it was – a few nay sayers even said it was an elaborate and cruel hoax.

I’ll never forget. Ever.


2 Susan September 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

I was at work when a patient came in and told us a plane at hit one of the Twin Towers. I turned on the TV and that was when the 2nd plane hit. My first thought was I’ve got to get to my child (you). Then rational thinking kicked in, knowing you were fine at school and I started praying with my coworkers. All day I felt as if I was wandering through at bad dream and wanting to wake up.
I pray we as a country never have to endure anything like that again. God Bless this great nation we are so blessed to live in.


3 amber September 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I was sitting in second period Geometry, when someone came into the room and told Coach Heathcock (our “teacher”) to turn on the news because a plane had flown into the Trade Center. As embarrassing as it is to tell (although, it is a testament to both my naivety and my small town raising), I was very confused as to how in the world an airplane could crash into the Trade School (i.e. the county technical school, a town over). I had no idea what the World Trade Center was, where it was, or the extent of the events that were transpiring before my eyes.


4 Megg September 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Well now I feel old.
It was the day after my 18th birthday, and I was less than a week into my first semester of college…6 hours from home. I found out when I left my first class (at 8:30 class) and because classes were canceled for the rest of the day I went home with my new friend/suitemate. I think I felt like I needed or wanted to be in a house. I took a nap, we watched TV, I have no idea what we ate for dinner, but I do remember going out for ice cream, because watching the TV was too depressing. At the time I almost laughed (not really) at what we were doing, and thought that I’d remember it for a long time.


5 Elizabeth September 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

Thanks for sharing your stories everyone!


6 Kelly September 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I was in history class too when it happened! All I could think about was that my cousin, who had just finished Marine bootcamp, was going to war as a result of the attacks!!


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