The 21st anniversary of the September 11 attacks is a day away. This causes me to look back and reflect on the events that took place 21 years ago. The world will never forget that day, I will never forget that day. Today I will be sharing my story.
September 11, 2001 fell on a Tuesday. I had just started my first year of high school. My school was just three blocks away from where the World Trade Center Towers were. I am visually impaired so I rode on a school bus to school each day. This day started off like any other day. I got to school and went up to my first period class which was Spanish. The class started at about 8:40.
The building shook
A few minutes into the lesson someone pointed out that there were pieces of paper flying outside. Our classroom was on the 8th floor, the teacher said this only happened during a parade. A few minutes after that my teacher was notified that a plane had crashed into one of the towers and she passed the news to us. We continued with the lesson but not for long. A few minutes later we were jolted out of our seats as the entire building shook. We quickly packed up our things and went out of the classroom into the hallway away from any windows.
We waited in the hallway for several minutes but then we were told that we had to evacuate the building. We ended up leaving and walking to Battery Park. I did not know this area well and being visually impaired it makes it hard for me to see my surroundings clearly but I thank God for his protection. When we got to the entrance of Battery Park there was already a large crowd gathered there.
A large cloud of debris
While at the entrance to the park I suddenly heard a loud sound that sounded like steel twisting and cracking and then it seemed like time stood still and everyone was silent for a few seconds and then chaos broke out. One of the towers had collapsed and a large cloud of debris was headed our way. I saw God’s hand with me here once again. My Spanish teacher stood with me and we paired up with another student and our music teacher and the four of us began to run away from the cloud of debris that was catching up to us.
I remember having to duck at times and at one point we got into an abandoned car for some shelter. I began to cry in the middle of all the chaos.
My father’s story
My father’s job was and still is located a few blocks away from my school at the time so he had gone to pick me up at school but by the time he got there we had already evacuated to the park. He was also outdoors when one of the towers collapsed and. He was able to find shelter and stay safe.
My missing bookbag
The student and I and the two teachers continued to run away from the debri. At this point we were all covered in ash and dust, it was horrible. The student happened to live in Brooklyn so we walked to their home.
In the middle of the chaos I dropped my bookbag and did not realize it. A man ended up finding it and called my mother telling her he had found my backpack but I was not around. I did not have a cellphone at the time so I was not able to reach anyone until I reached the student’s home. Cell Phone service was down in the area so communication was hard.
Arriving to a safe place
The four of us eventually made it to the student’s home in Brooklyn. We got something to eat and got clean from the dust. I remember my face had a burning sensation from the dust. I was finally able to call my mother and she was able to reach my father. He came to pick me up and we walked from Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan to my mother’s job. I remember hearing fighter jets above us on our walk. I remember the store owners handing out free water.
We finally reached my mother’s job and then went uptown to pick up my sister and finally go home.
My high school was used as a morgue and due to all the damage around the area we had to relocate and share a space with another school for several months. There were many challenges but we made it through.
Some extra thoughts
I thank God for protecting me and many others on that day. I extend my condolences to everyone who lost a loved one on that day not just in the attacks on the towers but in every attack that occurred on that day. I want to thank all of the first responders for being so brave and running into the danger. May we never forget September 11, 2001.