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911 has left us with indelible images in our heads

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Xavier Gomez

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It’s a day that nobody will ever forget. On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four planes that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and tried to hit the White House, but failed. Nearly 2,996 died on September 11th and about 254 people were killed on the planes. Also, the Twin Towers (World Trade Center) were the tallest buildings in the world and the most famous buildings in New York City. When they were hit, most people were turning on their televisions and seeing the tragedy unfold. For those that lived through 9/11, their memories of that day will last forever. For some of the teachers and staff at Granite Park, their memories of the tragedy were very distinct.

Mr. Marston

He was dropping off his son and someone pulled him into their house and he watched the second plane hit the North Tower. He was a student at the University of Utah at the time and was late for class because he watched a lot of the news. He was also watching some people fall out of the towers. In his words, he said, “I was angry. I was sad and upset. I was like wow, our country is at war.”

Marston served two tours in the Army following the attacks. His first tour was in Iraq in 2004. His second tour was in Afghanistan from 2011-2012.

Mr. Lineback

When 9\11 occurred,  Mr. Lineback was teaching a class at the time. He turned on the TV and saw one plane hit the tower. Then someone came in from the school and said to turn off the TV, and he was very angry at the person. He told the guy that said to turn off the TV, “Why did you tell me to turn off the tv?” The man replied it was to inappropriate for the class. The was a college class and both the students and Mr. Lineback felt that they should be able to watch the tragedy as it occurred.

Mr. Lineback was very, “sad and angry,” because of the guy who said to turn off the tv and because of his memories of 9/11.    

Ms. Coviello

Editor’s note: Ms. Coviello, who was living in New York during the time of the attacks, wrote her own memories of the day.

On September 11, 2001, I was living in Hartsdale, N.Y. This is a small town about 25 miles north of New York City. (A little farther than from Salt Lake City to Lagoon). It was a Tuesday. I had just started a new nanny job in Katonah, NY the day before.

I was playing with the little girl I was babysitting in her room when her dad came into the room and told me that I should not take her to gymnastics today. I asked why and he told me that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center (WTC). I was a little confused, like most New Yorkers, not sure if it had been an accident or what.  About an hour later, he came in and told us that another plane hit the second tower and that it was most likely a terrorist attack.  I was pretty scared and kind of in shock.

We did end up going to gymnastics class. Many of the other mothers and babysitters were sitting in the lobby talking about what had happened and it occurred to me that the father of the family I used to to nanny for worked in the building across the street from the WTC. I immediately began trying to call that family using the pay phone in the lobby. (Cell phones were not yet a “common” thing like they are now, but some people had them. I did not.) I was so worried about him and phone lines were not working well so it was hard to reach anyone by phone.  I remember seeing a commuter train out the window of the gym heading north, away from the city.  It was packed full of people, more crowded than I had ever seen it before. The fact that it was around 11 a.m. made it even stranger. I continued trying to reach the family that I had worked for just a week earlier for the rest of gym class, but only got busy signals or, “Your call cannot go through,” messages.

I took Kate back to her house, fed her lunch and put her down for a nap. Finally, I turned on the TV. I had not seen any images of what was going on yet. I was horrified. I sat on the couch and watched as the buildings smoked and people ran from the area, terrified. People were jumping from the windows of the buildings, 50, 60, 70 stories up. After being hypnotized by the screen for about five minutes, I ran to the kitchen and threw up in the sink. My fear and sadness and confusion were making me physically ill. Janet, the mother of the family I worked for, got home, and told me to go home. I met my husband at home and we hugged and cried and were glued to the television.

At around 5 p.m. that evening, my friend Shawna, who lived about five blocks from the WTC, called me. It was the first time I had heard my phone ring all day. She told me that she had just walked, bussed, hitch-hiked out of the city and was in Yonkers, a city about five minutes away from me. She told me she needed a ride and some clothes. I packed three outfits in a bag, got in my car and went to pick her up. She was covered in ash. Her blonde hair was gray. Her nice work clothes were filthy. She looked exhausted and scared. She explained to me that all of downtown Manhattan was off limits. No one could get into their apartments for any reason. She had no idea when she would be able to go home. (It was about four months before she returned to her apartment.) I drove her to another friend’s house where she had arranged to stay. We noticed how  empty the usually busy streets were. Everyone was at home, scared, watching the horrific events of the day on tv.

When I got back, my husband and I continued watching the coverage. It was so hard to watch, but turning it off felt disrespectful.  This was not something that you could just pretend wasn’t happening. Thousands of people were dead. You can’t just look away from something like that. I remember crying a lot. Not just that night, but for a long time afterward.  I eventually got a hold of the father of the family I used to work for and found out that he had been out of town on that day. This was incredibly lucky because he definitely would have been there.

That day changed everything. It was a solid month before even TV returned to normal. It was nearly impossible to find something else to watch because every channel was covering this story. The images of the buildings falling, of people jumping, crowds running, firemen running in to save people, a city covered in ash, were replayed over and over and over. Everyone was unbearably sad and scared. Everyone was on high alert, waiting for and expecting another tragedy  at any time. I remember when David Letterman went back on the air and Saturday Night Live. They were the first shows to try to make people smile again. Also, baseball had been on hold. The NY Yankees  were a big part of bringing the city back to life again too. I remember crying when they lost the World Series that year. New York really needed that win, but it was good to seem them playing again. Eventually, things got back to a new sense of normal. A new normal where people paid attention to red, orange, yellow alerts on the news, where you had to be at the airport 2-3 hours before a flight and new and intense security screening, where people were told, “If you see something, say something” on a regular basis, and where all New Yorkers carried around the souls of the thousands of people who died that day.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

1 Comment

One Response to “911 has left us with indelible images in our heads”

  1. David, Philip Eakin on January 9th, 2018 12:04 pm

    This is really sad.


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911 has left us with indelible images in our heads