Memories From 9/11
In 2001 I directed the MxCC Preschool, that used to be in Snow Hall. I remember students coming in and telling us what happened, and taking their children to be with them. I tried to get on the internet (not that it was quick in 2001) but couldn’t get any information. Not too long after the second tower was hit we received word to evacuate campus. I remember the frenzy as students tried to get home. Because not all my parents were on campus I was probably one of the last people to leave campus that day. It was quiet, surreal and unnerving.
20 years ago on 9/1, I was right here on campus. What I remember first of all about the day was how beautiful the weather was on that morning, but it all changed when someone said a plane hit one the world trade centers. I remember everyone packed the hallways, student lounge & Cafeteria in Founders Hall watching the televisions that we had. Then the 2nd Plane hit the other tower and we all knew America was under attack and then of course the Pentagon and flight 93. One year later myself and 2 other Maintenance Workers had the privilege to Plant the Mimosa Tree for the 1 year anniversary. Lastly, Americans should never forget the innocent lives that were taken that day. Thank You to all the Branches of the Military that have served to make this country safe for all of us. 9/11 SHOULD NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.
I was a freshman in high school the day the towers fell. I was in a technical high school and when the first tower was hit, we had tvs in the classrooms and the teachers kept trying to turn them off but we all had our universal remotes we made the day before. Eventually the teachers gave up the fight and we kept the tv on. We watched as the first tower fell and as second tower was hit. The silence was deafening. Tears. So many tears from everyone. Most had family in the towers. Parents, aunt’s, and uncles and more. The crying and sobbing was overwhelming.
Then, we were told about being in a “red alert”. This was due to the Navy base in Groton. We were expecting an attack here! School was dismissed but the busses couldn’t get us. We had to be picked up. My older brother came to get me but it took forever to get to the school due to traffic.
Kids running through the halls, pushing each other, crying hysterically just trying to get to their loved ones. It was all happening, yet the silence (other than crying) was still deafening.
People hugging each other crying that barely knew each other. The fear in our teachers and staffs eyes. Never in my life again do I hope to see what I saw that day.
We got home finally and the world was closed. There was no leaving the house. It was rushing to get home, everyone. Leaving their jobs, school, whatever it was they were doing to sit and watch as the horror unfolded, surrounded by your loved ones. Then, we were told about 2 more planes. The heros in Pennsylvania. How they made sure our president was safe. And the brave men and women that hit the Pentagon. Then the phone calls were released of them saying goodbye to their families. Overwhelming sadness. So overwhelming.
It was now time to check on your neighbors, extended family and friends. Everyone came together and was good to each other. Crying with each other, all they could discuss was what to do. What level of threat were we the next days. What were we doing in Afghanistan. What to do with the terrorists. Who were they? And for about a month, America was finally as close together as we had ever been.
I write in memory of Sandra Fajardo-Smith. She was a dear family friend, and a sister in spirit to my cousin. She worked on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center for Marsh and McLellen. On September 11th, 2001 she decided to go into work early to make coffee for her colleagues. Her decision made her one of the first victims of the 9/11 attacks at only 37 years old. Despite years of searching, none of her remains were ever found. She was a vibrant, positive, and energetic person. She loved her family and friends both here in the US and in Brazil, and she never missed an opportunity to do nice things for people. She is truly missed, but vividly remembered. My life changed forever that day. Many of my friends and family members lived and worked in NYC, including my cousin who just happened to be running late to work that day. He stood in awe of what had happened and watched the towers fall as he walked home to Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge. We can never forget what happened that day so we must do all we can to never let our nation feel that pain and terror again.
I was late to work that day. Traffic going into Hartford, where I worked at Capital Community College, was busier than normal. I traveled east in the morning, so the unusually bright sky slowed everyone down.
I was listening to the radio as I parked my car. An announcer said a plane just hit the World Trade Center. He speculated it was a small plane whose pilot made a terrible mistake.
I was lucky to work in Media Services, where we had a TV. My colleagues hadn’t heard the news, so I urged them to watch with me. This was no small plane. It was a jet airliner used in a terrorist attack. And then the second one hit.
We connected TVs in the cafeteria and elsewhere on campus. I don’t think anyone was in class. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the screens in horror. Some students were crying. They knew people in the city and couldn’t reach them by phone.
I went to a 9:30 meeting. The president’s assistant entered abruptly. She said a plane hit the Pentagon. Our meeting never began. We walked out stunned and silent.
I returned to my office. A number of people were crowded around the TV. I clearly remember thinking, “That’s going to be a real mess. They’ll have to tear down those buildings.”
And then the buildings fell.
The president closed the college. As I drove home, I noticed everyone was calmly going the speed limit. At 2:30, I went to pick up my then-5-year-old daughter. Her school was in lock down (though the kids didn’t know it). A teacher told me the school didn’t want panicked parents entering the building. The city assigned police officers to each school to maintain order.
The next few weeks were filled with overwhelming emotions.
An acquaintance lived in Brooklyn. It was profound to relive his experiences as a New Yorker through the lengthy essays he sent to friends and colleagues on his email list. I still have those.
I produced a video interview with Capital faculty member Judy Keane. She lost her husband Richard, who happened to have been in the WTC for a one-day meeting. Judy continues her husband’s legacy through the Keane Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of youth in Wethersfield.
Most of all, I remember a sense of unity, purpose, and community in -the days and weeks that followed 9/11. And extreme sadness.
I remember that I was in the basement of Chapman hall watching a film for Italian II and when at first the VCR messed up, the video got taken off, but under a first shot we thought it was a movie and when the video went in and didn’t work right it turned out to be a CNN special report and not just a movie. While I watched horrified, another hit at the Pentagon happened, in which my mother was supposed to be in that spot where the plane hit, and I remember going up and into Founder’s Hall to find a phone and while I was trying to get a hold of my mother to see if she’s ok, the phone lines were out or busy of what I got, it wasn’t until an hour later we found out she was fine and she ended up getting stuck in traffic on the highway. I still remember the campus shut down and everyone went home to their families. But what I also remember is the day after where everyone came together and was so much nicer and understanding and now it seems like people forgot that and it’s just getting to be a cruel world. We need to all stand together and have care and understanding with each other. Don’t ever forget this and this country did come together and wasn’t divided.
-Benjamin Belancik Jr.
I was on my way to work at Pace University, when we could see a plane run into one of the twin towers. This is in the area in front of City Hall by Chambers Street, located in downtown Manhattan.
I went to work and I informed my supervisor, who immediately turned on the office TV and we watched the second plane hit the second tower. There was a loud noise and our building shook as if there was earthquake. The tower had fallen. We were very frightened and after one hour we were told to evacuate the building. There were no trains running and all subways were blocked by New York City policemen.
I had to walk from downtown Manhattan in to Uptown NYC. As I walked, I stopped by a store to purchase a sandal as my toes started to pain me in my dress shoes. I made a call to my family to let them know I was on my way home. Shortly afterward the pay phones were no longer working. I had beeper at that time and my wife was beeping me, but I could not return any calls. My uncles were calling my wife from overseas; my in-law-family members were telling my wife to get out to look for me.
After I reached home my wife met me in tears. My clothes were all full of ashes. I kept them as souvenir of this experience; but my wife ended up to discard them as I am pack rat.
It was a sad day but, it was a day I saw unity. There was not class division. There was not cultural division. We came to realize that we are human beings after all.
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