I was in an American Lit. class in Memorial Hall on main campus at the University of Delaware when the planes hit on the morning of September 11, 2001. And as the events began to unfold I was caught in a slow motion film walking to my car from that class to the parking garage watching students drop to their knees with gut wrenching sobs escaping their lips as they received news on their cell phones.
Another professor came into our class and whispered to our teacher. We were told something happened in New York and to pack up our things and head home. I was a commuter, I didn’t live on campus and heading home to me most likely meant I’d have to go into work early…at least that is what I thought at the time.
When I left Memorial Hall I was on the steps facing the green because I needed to head to Main Street, towards the Trabant Center and the parking garage where my car was. That is when I realized this wasn’t just an incident in New York which impacted our professor. Sirens and alarms were sounding. People were pouring our of classrooms everywhere and as panicked as it was my memory is in slow motion.
As I began walking towards the Trabant I remember seeing a lot of people on cellphones and each person who actually connected a signal and got through on a call was crying. Several people fell to their knees almost instantly.
When I got to the Trabant Center people were swarming the television sets and I was one of them because I had no idea what was going on and I couldn’t reach my parents. My cell phone kept saying I didn’t have service.
As I watched the news unfold on TV about the planes hittings the twin towers and then pentagon in Washington, i couldn’t believe it. Seeing the visuals, seeing the faces of people, the stricken grief, the shear terror and disbelief those faces will never leave my brain, they are forever imprinted. And the people, the students and staff and faculty surrounding me who had loved ones in these areas and watched as this news was being aired live…their wails, their cries and their bodies just shuddering around me is something I can’t even begin to describe.
There are so many students and professors from all up and down the east coast who go to the University of Delaware. It was a terrible, tragic ordeal to be in New York that day but it was also terrible to be the people wataching and feeling helpless.
I finally found a pay phone and got in touch with my Mom before getting to my car. She told me my cousin was at the Pentagon that day. Contact with him hadn’t been made. We ended up not hearing from him for about 48 hours because they went into lockdown mode. It was nauseating. His wife was pregnant with their first son at the time. As it turned out he wasn’t in the building when it was hit and to this day I am sure he feels blessed to have been across the street when it happened.
That evening we lit candles and sat on our front step all night. We prayed, cried and hoped it would be the end.
Here we are 10 years later and it still isn’t over. Over 6,000 soldiers have died on tops of the men and women who died this day 10 years ago. Terror doesn’t have to come in planes hitting buildings or bombs on bridges. Terror comes from the realization that there are people out there who believe murder, mayhem and war can deliver peace.
Today I would like to say thank you to all of the men and women who continue to work towards bringing peace to our nation. My heart goes out to those who have lost their loved ones due to the war on terror. It is a travesty and I wish I had words to bring you comfort.
My hope is we are able to come together as a nation and make our country a peaceful place for our children so they can grow up strong, resilient, accepting of others, welcoming of change and willing to go out of their way to help others.
I would like to think my children will grow up to be compassionate and considerate men willing to open their minds and hearts to broader pictures for the good of human kind. After all the only thing which really separates us are miles, we all live under the same sky, in the same big world. We all share similar fears and anxieties and every single one of us has something we are internally battling.
You know the saying about walking a mile in his shoes or her shoes… not everyone is ever fortunate to have a pair of shoes. There is always someone out there who needs a helping hand. I want to be the type of person to lend that hand, so my children will grow up to be those type of people.
And at least in my household there will be more peace, less terror…more hope and less tragedy.