Fifteen years have gone by, and for most people, the images are still etched into their brains. September 11, 2001 was a day that severely changed our country. A sense of trust was lost and measures were taken to prevent something like this from happening again.
One photo that has been shared throughout social media exposes the fact that the current high school freshmen class were not even born yet when 9/11 happened. They will be learning about it as a historical event rather than something they experienced.
On that day, I was three years old, so I did not have the mental capacity to comprehend what was going on and why my mother was glued to the television. I just barely remember that day because I was so young. In fact, all I clearly remember was the noise. I grew up in a neighborhood directly behind Joint Base Cape Cod. At the time, this was an active Air Force base, meaning that jets were taking off left and right to go help in New York City. I remember my house shaking because there were so many jets taking off, and they were louder than anything my little ears could handle. The noise did not end there. Those jets sparked the cries from my then 18-month-old baby brothers. That is all I remember from that day, and I have been trying to piece together small memories because I do not want to forget. I decided the best way to do this was to talk to my family. I figured I would get a better idea of how the events impacted my family by talking to three different generations: my sister, my mom and my grandmother.
My older sister was in fourth grade on 9/11 and remembers every move she made that day. She recalled the noise as well because the jets from the Cape were the first responders. She remembered how many of her peers were dismissed from school to be home with their parents, and she can even name each kid in her class who was dismissed. This was 15 years ago and these small details have yet to disappear.
The teachers did not disclose to the students what was transpiring, but it was clear to even the youngest children that something was wrong. Her teacher was a nun from New Jersey, and she was visibly upset. The students later found out that her Convent in New Jersey overlooked the New York City skyline.
My sister recalls walking home with three of her friends and hearing that the president was safe on a neighbor’s radio. At that moment she knew something was wrong. When she turned onto our road, my mother was out front with our neighbors, and my brothers were in the baby pen. Everyone was outside just talking about what had happened. That night my mother made my sister do her homework in the kitchen while she watched the news. The magnitude of this event still did not register with my sister until she got to school the next day. Her teacher gave the class a speech on love and kindness and ended up in tears. It was at that moment that the 10-year-old began to comprehend the catastrophe that had just struck our country.
The morning of September 11, my mother was home with me and my brothers. My twin brothers were 18 months old at the time, but they had been born three and a half months early, meaning they had an early intervention nurse who came to our house. They were proceeding with their appointment when the noise of the jets shook the house. My mother nor the nurse knew what was happening until my father called. He told them to put on the news right away, and that a plane had just hit one of the Twin Towers in New York. They were glued to the television for three consecutive hours and watched as the second tower was hit. The nurse's husband called her to tell her that he had been evacuated from the federal building in Boston. My mom recalls thinking that that moment was the start of World War three.
My grandparents were enjoying their morning coffee as they listened to the news on their radio. They lived in Plymouth at the time, and did not hear the same commotion my home did. They still heard jets, but not in the same magnitude that the Cape did. As they listened to the news they heard someone announce that the first tower had been hit. They immediately rushed to the television and turned it on just in time to see the second tower hit. This was an image that they would never get out of their minds.
Later that day they went down to the Plymouth waterfront to take a walk and get some air. This is an area that is generally populated with pedestrians and you can almost never find a parking space. At that moment, it was eerily quiet. They saw a large cruise ship loading passengers into smaller boats to bring them ashore because all ships were ordered to seek refuge in a safe harbor and all flights were redirected to the closest airports.
From talking to my family about this, I was able to piece together what happened that day and how it affected my family. I learned that you can ask anyone “where were you when the planes hit the Twin Towers?” and they will respond with more detail than you could ever imagine. They know everything from where they were when it happened to what they ate for breakfast that morning. It is a day that is etched into the mind of millions. Fifteen years later, each image is as clear as it was on that day in our nation’s history.