My story isn’t of any importance – I didn’t lose any family – I didn’t lose any friends – My life wasn’t directly affected at 8:46 a.m. I was in my fifth grade class when everything changed. Mrs. Tucker continued teaching although every five-minutes her phone would ring, she would talk quietly to the person on the other end, hang up and continue teaching. Every 10 minutes, a parent would knock on our classroom door and take their student away. Some of the parents would smile, hoping to convince us that nothing was wrong. Other parents would walk in crying. They wouldn’t answer any questions directed at them; “Mom, why are you here?” “Dad, what’s wrong?” — they just walked in & walked out.
I remember asking Mrs. Tucker –
“Why is everyone leaving?”
(I was jealous that I had to stay.)
“There are a lot of doctors appointments today.”
“Maybe my Mom forgot to call. Do I need one? I should probably get one.”
“No, Anna. You don’t need one.”
By noon, there were only four kids left in my class, including myself. Mrs. Tucker announced that we would be joining another class. She walked the four of us down the hall to another classroom – the teacher of that class came out with her bag on her shoulder, said “thank you” to Mrs. Tucker, and hurried down the hallway. “Where is Mrs. K going?” “She’s going to visit her son in the City. He works at the World Trade Center.” I thought it was strange that she would drive the hour to New York City in the middle of the school day, just to visit her son. But I thought it was nice of her anyway. He would probably like to see his Mom. I always like to see my Mom.
We all sat at our desks – Mrs. Tucker said she had nothing left to teach – the buses were outside in the pick up area and we would be going home early today. She said our homework was to ask our parents “what happened.” That was a little less detailed than I would have liked. Was I supposed to write a paper? When the bus driver came to my stop, he drove all the way up my long, wooded driveway – he had never done that before – and made sure my parents were home before I could get off the bus.
That evening, I was glued to the television. I watched the buildings collapse over-and-over-and-over. I thought about Mrs. K’s son. I wondered if she knew what happened. Mom called my neighbors, the Andersons, to see if Mr. Anderson had gotten home. He said he had walked home from his office in Queens. Even I knew that was over an hour drive.
The next week of school was chaos. Some students weren’t in school. Some teachers didn’t show up to teach. Every afternoon I would come home and watch the news – watch the towers collapse over-and-over-and-over again.
We didn’t visit the City until November. We walked around Ground Zero – which was still an enormous pile of metal and paper. The whole city smelt awful. Businessmen and women would walk around in their suits – holding a mask to their faces to keep from breathing the dust that remained in the air even a month and a half later.
I have a different story from my friends who grew up in Minnesota. For them, it happened at 7:46 – before they went to school. They didn’t know anyone in New York. They didn’t know what the World Trade Centers were. They had never stood below them and squinted up to see the very top floors. My heart goes out to all 3,000 victims of the September 11th attacks and their families who have spent the last 10 years without them.