by Nancy McCarthy
It was the most beautiful day! The sky was as blue as ever and the clouds were like huge puffs in the sky! I got to school early hoping to make some copies. I went into the copy room and sat on a chair while the copies piled up. The sun shone through the window and warmed my face. I thought to myself, “what a perfect day.” Copies done, I headed back to my classroom. I awaited my students and I was eager to start my day.
As I stood at the door a student came into the classroom and said, “A plane hit the World Trade Center” and I responded by saying that it could have been some sort of accident, perhaps a helicopter or a small privately-owned plane. The student responded by saying, “I am not sure but the news made it sound like a big plane, like a commercial jet.” In my head, I was thinking, “Obviously, this girl is mistaken, after all, she is only in 8th grade.”
We got class started and in the middle of class, the phone rang. The worst news ever-a second plane had hit the Towers… then the Pentagon… and then word of a crash in Shanksville, Pa.
I tried to stay strong for my students, I knew some of their parents worked in those towers. I also had family, friends and co-workers who had loved ones who worked in the World Trade Center.
I tried to stay focused but my mind was all over the place. Our principal got on the intercom and announced the worst. The screaming from my class and from the hallway was deafening. I saw shadows running down the hallway. These shadows were teachers and staff! Students from other classes were ushered into my class. We made room for everyone and tried to keep our minds off the tragic events.
That day was a blur as students were picked up and faculty left the building. I was one of the last to leave, roughly 8 pm. We waited for parents to pick up kids, sadly some did not come. As a person never at a loss for words, I was silent the whole time. Relatives eventually got to the school to pick up students and, if not, the police came to assist. It was just so sad.
On my ride home, so many people walking, walking on the parkway, covered in soot. I stopped to pick up a few that were headed North and took them to where they needed to go. Got home and stood outside while the ashes from the devastation fell on my car and my jacket. Little piles of paper were forming all over on the sidewalk. Reminding me of a quiet snowfall, but without the peace. The peacefulness was broken with lights and sounds of helicopters overhead as well as large military ships in the Hudson. My usually serene Hudson view was broken up by the chaos.
My little narrow street felt like “Ground Zero.”
The days and weeks that followed were filled with funerals, memorials and just outright prolonged crying. Fundraisers were plentiful and helped to make everyone feel less hopeless and as if we were doing something to help. We all, the entire country, tried to deal with this horrific event, especially the small town from which I was from, Stony Point, NY. Located just about 45 minutes North of New York City, our small town could not have been more different than NYC but we were suffering too.
Years have passed and I no longer live in the small town of Stony Point however I remember the events of September 11, 2001, as if they were yesterday. I think about all of the people that were lost on that day. I remember my students and how they were forced to grow up on that day. I always listen to the roll call of the victims offered at the yearly remembrance ceremonies and think about the good times I experienced with some of the people whose names are called off.
Every time I visit my hometown, I visit the 911 Memorial located along the Hudson River. A monument with the names of the victims and think to myself, what life might have been for each of these innocent victims.
I WILL NEVER FORGET!