- Posted September 10, 2011 by
Nesconset, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Share your 9/11 story
Where I Was on 9/11
As we remember the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, we think back not only to all our lives lost that day but how are lives have changed.
Just a month before the attacks, my family cruised around New York Harbor on the Circleline tour. We snapped this photo of us with the New York City skyline in the background: a photo that can never be taken again.
When I look at this photo I think, "We know nothing." It's uncomfortable to think about. What would have been our biggest concerns on this day, August 10, 2001? For me, I was savoring every remaining day of summer before starting 5th grade.
We were just days into the new school year on that beautiful September morning. The day started like any other. I got on the bus and sat down in Mr. Netter's classroom at Tackan Elementary School in Nesconset.
At some point that morning it started. I don't remember when except for that it never ended. The classroom phone rang once. Then twice. Then again. With each passing call, students were disappearing from the classroom; their parents here to pick them up. We didn't think anything of it at first but even as a ten-year-old you know something's up after awhile. After a few calls, I can remember my teacher picking up the phone and immediately asking, "Is my Mommy here too?" We had yet to be informed of the day's news.
DSL had just been installed in the classroom but the Internet was still very unreliable. My teacher eventually took to an AM radio to try and find out what was happening. The remaining students and myself sat at our desks; we had been practically assigned the entire Math textbook just to keep us busy while Mr. Netter stood with headphones listening to the day's events unfolding.
Eventually the school psychologist came into the classroom. Understanding we were old enough to notice something was wrong, the school had decided to have a talk with the 5th graders, she said. She informed us information was limited but there had been some kind of accident in New York. She said something about a construction site, explosion and fire. She made no mention of the World Trade Center. Whether she was sugar-coating the situation or frankly did not know I'm still not sure.
I rode the empty bus home that afternoon and was greeted by a crying neighbor at the bus stop. "What happened?" I asked. By now I was expecting significant news but what came out of her mouth sent me sprinting home. "The Twin Towers are gone," she managed to say.
I ran into the home and for the first time in my young life turned on the news. CNN was channel 8 at the time, a channel I distinctly used to skip over because it was simply too boring. I sat there watching the screen. So engulfed in the images on the screen, I don't even remember where my parents were. My father, at the time a Suffolk County police officer, was likely working.
We had numerous friends and family working in New York City, including the father of the children pictured alongside us in New York City. Without cell phones, it took hours before word came of their safety. However, one call would never came. A man who was best man at my parent's wedding and a man I had met just months earlier rushed into those towers on 9/11. FDNY Firefighter Thomas Butler, of Kings Park, would perish that day saving lives from the burning towers. His family dedicates a wall in his memory Sunday at The Bluff in Kings Park.
Day after day I'd come in and turn on the television to learn more. Ten years later, I haven't lost the habit.
I had had some interest in broadcasting before 9/11. I can remember always wanting to play with the family video camera. But something changed on that day. The news all of a sudden seemed relevant to me.
I suppose that was the day the news bug bit me. The world around me expanded well beyond what it should for a 10-year-old.
We sat the next day in school talking about the anniversary. It's the first time I can recall being told we were witnesses to history. My teacher, Ms. Ryan of Great Hollow Middle School, stood in the front of the room. She said we had lived through a day that someday we would be telling our grandchildren about.
Now I'm studying at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga, and the events of 9/11 sometimes feel like a world away for my fellow students. But every so often someone will say, "You were in New York on 9/11. What was it like?" And I tell them. The memories of that beautiful September morning that even now - ten years later - have not faded and hopefully never will.