September 11th, a middle schooler's perspective

Elongated "crushed" copper penny from World Trade Towers

I was in middle school in Northern Virginia on September 11th. It is a day I still remember as one filled with fear and silence. The day started out like normal. I rode the bus to school, hung out with my friends, and went to my first class. It was shortly after that everything changed. I noticed teachers crying in small groups in the hallway.

In each class the teachers started off the class in almost the same way:

"Class there has been a change in plans. Today we will be doing a quiet activity". Classes were almost completely silent except for the students whispering trying to figure out what was going on. Some guessed a school shooting, some guessed monster attack, and others guessed something happened in D.C. The teachers only said they couldn't tell us what was happening.

Then came lunch when we knew something bad happened. All the kids in the seventh grade were given their lunches and told to eat in silence. If you finished your lunch you were to do your homework. Afternoon classes were canceled.

Slowly student after student was called saying that their parents were there to pick them up. I learned later that parents had feared another attack by the 4th plane so they were taking their kids out of school. At the time I sat there trying to do my homework but also worrying. Had something happened to my family? Why weren't they coming to get me? What was going on? Why wouldn't anyone tell us?

As the cafeteria emptied, the students from the other grades were brought in to join us. We were the ones no one came for. The bus ride home was solemn. I was thinking that we were the ones likely going home to the worst news.

When I came home from school I walked in to find my Dad baking bread. He usually works for the government but he was sent home early because of the terrorist attacks. He sat me down and showed me the pictures on tv. It was shocking. Even more shocking because the weekend before the attacks we went to New York City for vacation and were at the top of the towers. My eyes filled with tears at the sight I was seeing and knowing that we were all safe.

Later that night, I sat in my bed holding my crushed penny from the twin towers reviewing the day in my head. Three weeks prior our class studied moments that shape history and I had to interview my Grandmother about when John F Kennedy was assassinated. I knew this was an important day, but after the fears of the day I just felt lucky and relieved my whole family was home and safe.

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