I remember that Tuesday probably like the rest of you. It started off like every other day. I had dropped my brothers off at school and I left to go to Dunkin Donuts before my first class. I remember I ordered a Dunkachino (my brother & I’s staple drink) on that beautiful crisp New England morning. As I made my way back to school I had the windows down blasting Five Iron Frenzy’s “Proof the Youth are Revolting.” It was a short drive back but I remember thinking about the start of my senior year of high school, the applications I had sent out to three different colleges and being frustrated one of them had lost the application already.
We had a special parking lot for the seniors to the side of the building and I sat there a little bit listening to music in my blue, 1995 Honda Accord. It was about 9 AM when I went up to the radio studio area of my school where the adjoining Baptist church broadcasted programs and music for the local area on the AM station. As I walked in a friend of mine looked up, sad & said: “did you hear about the World Trade Center?”
I am a military kid and so I’ve lived in bases all across the United States. The longest we had ever lived in an area was Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and at that point I had considered Hawaii home. As we sat in our broadcasting class we got news of the next plane hitting and the fateful words came across the airwaves: “America is under attack.” I remember instantly flashing back to Pearl Harbor. I remembered meeting people who had survived the attack. I remembered their stories. I remembered them describing how they would never forget the day that lived in infamy. I remembered them saying they will never forget where they were when the first heard. For the first time in my life I now shared in that experience with them. 9/11/01 became my 12/7/41.
Our school tried to act normally but that lasted for about a period and soon we were all huddled around radios listening to the news. We heard the Towers fall. We didn’t have any TV’s (a fact I still find peculiar) but we listened. All day.
A little after lunch our Principle came down and held an impromptu prayer service. He looked over at me and asked me to lead our school in a song. I started singing:
“I lift my eyes up
Unto the Mountains
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from you
Maker of heaven
Creator of the Earth
Oh how I need you Lord
You are my only hope
You are my only prayer.
So I will wait for you
To come and rescue me
Come and fill me up.”
After school I went home and saw the first images of 9/11 on the screen as my mom watched. You could tell she had been crying. I remember asking about my dad to make sure he was okay. He was in the VA hospital in Boston. I went to work and everyone was somber. There weren’t any bad customers. There were hardly any customers. We all just listened to the radio. Life had changed.
10 years later and all of those images are burned into my head. That song I led at school I can still hear myself singing it. Much has changed since that Tuesday. That brother I dropped off at school before going to Dunkin Donuts is now in Baghdad, Iraq because of that Tuesday. Many of you have similar stories. We all changed. Where were you on 9/11/01?