Knowing my children will learn about what happened in the United States on September 11, 2001 makes me want to keep the memories sharp in my own mind since I will be able to tell them how it impacted my life. As many people say, they can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on that day.
One of my cousins saw the second plane hit one of the towers in his rear-view mirror as we was driving out of New York City on that tragic day. For me the visuals were of students on the University of Delaware campus learning of the news as it was happening. I was in an American Literature class held in Memorial Hall when someone came to tell our professor what was being reported.
Memorial Hall is located on central campus, when you walk out the front doors you are facing the open green area where all other buildings let out along the side. On that day every class was letting out early and standing on the Memorial Hall steps meant being able to see the out pour of students from the steps at the head of it all. Some were taking phone calls and immediately dropping to their knees crying.
I still didn’t know what was going on, our professor just told us class was cancelled and we were to go back to our dorms or go home. I commuted so I needed to get to the parking garage. I retrospect I surmise she didn’t tell us what was happening because in the wee hours of the morning no one really knew or understood, it was all happening so fast.
I continued watching and wondering as I walked to the Trabant Center which was attached to the parking garage. The cries, the sobs, the looks of horror were something I will never, ever forget. When I entered the Trabant Center, which is normally filled with chatter and people walking all over the place, the still quiet was surreal. People were huddling around the tvs and watching, listening to the news reports as they came in. The planes hitting the towers, the people on the streets screaming, the blood, the fear on peoples faces and the words scrolling across the bottom of the screen: America Under Attack. Throughout the remainder of the week of course those images didn’t change, it wasn’t a dream, the death toll continued to rise and more of the events were coming to light. I was 20 years old, terrorism was not something I ever worried about or thought about, and now it’s simply a fact.
For months, years after 9/11/20o1, we were knowledgeable of what color alert we were under as a country. A color coded system to let the public know if danger was probable. That is something I never would have imagined as a child and suddenly it was in the daily news.
I remember trying to call home on that morning and of course all the cell lines were not working; overload. But I knew Willard Hall, across from the parking a garage, had a pay phone. So I scrambled over and search my purse for change to call home. My Mom was relieved to hear from me, but it was loud, at this point alarms were going off around campus. I supposed public safety wanted to prevent chaos and get everyone to their dorms and off the street, because as I mentioned previously, we didn’t know what was really happening.
We spoke briefly through the sirens and she told me my cousin Bobby was working the Pentagon and a plane had hit there as well. It took days to hear from him since the area went under lock down, but he fortunately, had not been in the building when it was hit. Thank goodness.
Driving home I listened to the radio, every station, every announcer, their voice was dismayed, stunned and the news they conveyed was just soaked with disbelief. However, it didn’t take long before locally and nationwide the country showed a goosebump reveling strength that I also remember distinctly. No matter where in the country you lived, you were aware and praying and offering your hope and sympathy.
That night my Mom and I sat on my parents front stoop with white candles. We sat for hours and just burned the candles and talked. People driving by beeped their horns when they saw us. It was clear that this tragic event would bring our nation together in a way never seen before. We would stand up, as a united front, sturdy links across all States with the common thought that no one would ever break us.