Friday Five: 5 Things I Remember About 9/11/01

Fourteen years has come and gone, but I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Up until that point, Kennedy’s assassination, Pearl Harbor, the tearing down of the Berlin wall were all moments I heard people talk about having strong memories of in their lives, but was something I couldn’t understand. “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” was a popular history project. How could people remember that? How could something like that have such an impact on someone that they would remember how old they were, where they were, what they were doing, maybe even what they were wearing? It wasn’t until a few years after September 11, 2001, that I understood what an impact an International event such as that could have on a person’s memory. I still feel sad and heartbroken when I think about it. Here are 5 things I remember from that day.

I found out something had happened in my first period chorus class
Everyone was buzzing about a plane hitting one of the towers, but most of it was rumors (like that it was just a small private plane). Not to sound old, but smart phones weren’t as prominent than and there was probably only a handful of students getting their news off of their phones. Our chorus teacher got us focused and we began class, but then an announcement was made of the PA system about what had happened.

It was picture day
I had school pictures this day. During my next class, we went down to the auditorium to have our pictures taken and then went back to English class where we sat and watched live news. We were watching when the second plane hit.

I saw a lot of emotion from my teachers
The my teachers were all kind-spirited, never showing much emotion other than a good sense of humor and passion for what they were teaching. This day was different. I remember one particular teacher who didn’t hide his looks of sorrow and worry as we sat in class and watched the news.

A lot of students got picked up early
Living in Northern Virginia, there were a lot of student’s whose parents worked at the Pentagon. With all of the confusion and telecommunication problems that day, a lot of students were picked up early. This made things really real to all of us that something big had happened.

We talked about it all during our lunch break
I think we were all in shock and didn’t know what to make of it. I don’t think any of us expected something like this would happen in our lifetime. We reflected on how lucky we were to have lived such sheltered lives up until that point. The world has changed so much since then and I can remember a clear before and after of the world from that day.

Prior to living in Virginia, my family lived in Northern NJ. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to to a lookout point where we could see the skyline, the towers included. The skyline has never looked the same to me. My father even has a picture of them that he took when they were being built. While I was lucky enough to not have known anyone that was lost or anyone that had lost someone that day, I think it was still an event that deeply impacted everyone.

2 thoughts on “Friday Five: 5 Things I Remember About 9/11/01

  1. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

    Great post! You always come up with the best “5 Things” ideas.

    Wow – I can’t believe that was your picture day! It must be so interesting for all of you to look back at those pictures. You lived a lot closer to the attack than I did (Iowa), so I imagine this must have been frightening for all of you on a very different level.

    I remember only very tiny fragments, little nothings, from that day. Alot of it is similar to your own memories – lunch time chatter, reactions from teachers, my first period class. I was a weird age – 14 – for something like that to happen. Old enough to understand what was happening and that it was really bad, but, still a child, so naive and sheltered. I really didn’t understand anything about the world as a sheltered little freshman in high school, so I remember feeling caught in this cross-current of knowing something terrible had happened but not knowing how I should feel about it. I still feel that way sometimes, looking back, wondering why I don’t remember more of that day and wondering why my 14-year-old self wasn’t overcome with grief as much as others were.


    1. I actually grew up in northern NJ and sometimes my family would go out to dinner and then (at my request) we would drive up to this outlook area to see the NYC skyline. I loved doing it, I loved how beautiful the skyline was with those towers. My parents are from NJ and my dad has a photo he took of the towers being built which is so crazy to think that he saw them rise and fall.

      I think I actually had my photo retaken later, but maybe that was sophomore year. Ha! I was just a little baby freshman too!

      I definitely think living closer to where things happen makes a difference. It’s hard for me to understand/comprehend Katrina because there is such a disconnect for me whereas I spent the day of the Virginia Tech shootings calling friends that went there to make sure they were ok. I’m sure if you had a more personal connection to the locations of the attacks it would’ve made it an even more different day for you.


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