I dont recall much about the days and weeks leading up to 9/11. Im sure the memories are there, just hidden. Memories of what life used to be like. Back then terrorism on the scale of 9/11 was something that happened in that other country, you know the one, that one with all the sand.
Back then the internet was there, a teenager, waiting to grow up. Cell phones were still kind of a new thing. A cell phone with a camera meant you had your self some money. The iPod was still months away. The most advanced piece of handheld technology was something called a "BlackBerry" and a "PalmPilot". Michael Jordan was thinking about retiring....again.
9/11 began like every other school day for me, with dread. I was a sophomore in high school and hated going to school, still do. I was dropped off at my Moms apartment around 6am maybe a tad earlier. I took a nap like I always did to catch up on what sleep I missed. At about 7am I turned on the tv to watch GMA. The plan, was to leave about 730am to reach my school by about 8am. As always though, that plan usually fell apart.
Before we left i had an urge to pop a tape in the VCR and record the rest of GMA. I dont know why, as I look back at what they were going to show, there was nothing that should have sparked my attention.
We walked out of the apt. about 740-745am. Hopped in the car and were on our way. We decided not to listen to the radio (to many commercials), but instead listen to a CD. Santana I believe. Besides the usual traffic jams along the way the ride to school was normal. I walked in, late, got my things from my locker and headed to my first class. Things at this point were still like any other day. No sign that things were already set in motion in New York.
The time was approximately 805-810am. Unknown to me both towers of the World Trade Center had been struck by airplanes. About 30min later a place was flown into the Pentagon in Washington DC. Minutes later I would hear for the first time something was wrong.
My first class of the day was English. I was seated behind my friend Ryan. We chatted and cut up like always. About 840am the loud speaker in our room came to life. The voice on the other side was our school Priest, Father Ron ( I went to a Catholic school by the way). He said that two aircraft had hit both World Trade Center towers. He then said that the Pentagon was hit as well. We held a quick moment of silence, and that was all. Honestly I was in shock, how could two planes hit the WTC at the same time? Let alone the Pentagon. I knew it was a clear day from what I had seen on GMA earlier. I was trying, in my mind, to see how a plane could do this.
My thoughts raced. How could this happen. I remember thinking its remotely possible the New York incident was an accident. But the Pentagon! That was terrorism. I knew it. the lesson plan for the day had been essentially thrown out the window. A teacher from across the way came into our room to speak to our teacher. They discussed a few thing in the hallway. Our teacher came back in and turned on the tv in our room
The tv was very fuzzy. Lots of static. But I could make out that we were seeing the CBS coverage. They had a split screen. The left was New York. The right was the Pentagon. I could barley make out the smoke and flames from both locations. The bell rang, our first class was over.
As me and Ryan made our way out of the classroom we were stopped by a freshman. He asked with a big smile on his face "Fr. Ron was kidding right? Its a joke?". We both told him it was no joke, it was real. I remember telling him to head to his next class that they most likely had a tv on so he could see.
Me and Ryan decided not to take our math books to class since we would likely be watching the tv. I dont know why I thought that. Really the information I was going on really didnt give off signs of a national emergency. As we made our way to class we were intercepted by our math instructor pushing a tv cart. We asked him if this was for our class. He said yes and that class was basically cancelled. As we all made our way into the room our teacher plugged the tv in and left the room to get an antenna. We (my classmates), took it upon ourselves to get the tv on and make a makeshift antenna. A paperclip.
Im going to end part 1 here. Take a break, drink some water. Hopefully you are intrigued enough to read part 2.