I returned home I knew I was going to be late for school but since
school just opened for the year I didn�t want to leave a bad
impression so I decided to go against my parents wishes and, for
speeds-sake, take my bike back to school. So I rode to school,
directly going past 5 World Trade Center on my way. This is a shorter
building with only about seven stories. This, however was the
building I most often visited because Borders, a good bookshop, was
located inside. It too would later collapse.
I arrived back at my school it was � from what I know about the
official time of the attacks � 8:44."
I will describe the location of my school. It is only about 5 blocks
north of the Twin Towers on the other side of the West Side Highway.
From the WTC complex there is, in order from north to south, Vesey,
Park Row, Murray, Warren, then the street Stuyvesant High School is
located on: Chambers. You again will see it better on the map. I was
under the bridge that spans the West Side Highway. This bridge was
made so that the students of my school and those of the Elementary
school next to us can cross the highway safely. The West Side highway
is a very busy and very dangerous street for pedestrians."
the Bridge is a series of bike racks made for all of us to lock up our
bikes. It was as I was locking my bike to the pole that it happened."
this next paragraph all happened in just a few seconds mind you."
I had was perfect, perfect I say in the sense that I could see well,
not that it was something I wanted to see. I heard a loud whirring
noise like an extremely large truck go right over my head. Naturally,
as a New Yorker, very little catches my attention; but it was just so
loud. I turned to look at the street first, then I looked up. What I
saw was awful. A plane flew directly into the North Tower. I
remember hearing a lady screaming and thinking to myself in such a New
York way, �Come on lady no one screams in New York, nothing gets to
us,� even as I watched it hit. As I kept watching it exploded. The
tower exploded! Then it sank in. I stood mesmerized just watching this
huge fireball. Then as the fire cleared, I saw the hole in the
tower. It was shaped almost like an airplane. I saw it before smoke
started pouring from the hole, when you could actually see the
airplane. That hole was one of the most lasting images of the day. I
say �one of the most� because something later would top it."
all really came to me that a plane had hit the world trade center, it
hit me like a sack of bricks. I started cursing. That�s it. I
started spouting off �What the F***!�, �What kind of S*** is that!�,
and the one I repeated most through the day: �That doesn�t F***ing
happen, man, that�s movie S***!�, or other such profanities to the
same extent. A biker beside me seemed to share the same opinion.
Next I heard a lady screaming, �My cell don�t work, my cell don�t
work!�. Then after about 2 minutes of staring, cursing and staring
some more, I just turned around locked my bike up, (that was no easy
task though, with my hands shaking the way they were it took about a
minute and a half to lock the damn thing) climbed the stairs to my
school and went in. I was the only one who had arrived at that time
so after I was literally pulled into the building by the security
guard, I was the one who told all of the people hanging out around the
lobby, �Hey, the World Trade Center just got hit by a plane!� Everyone
needed a second to believe it - they all thought the sound was one of
the many sounds you just hear in NY, a car backfire or something."
went up to my classroom. I was convinced at the time that there had
been a malfunction in the cockpit, no doubt, and the poor pilots
couldn�t do anything. I entered the classroom and said again �Hey,
umm, a plane just hit the World Trade Center.� They just didn�t
believe me. The class is on the north side of the building so they
had heard nothing. After a few minutes of explaining, they still
didn�t believe me. Then over the loudspeaker the principal of the
school said: �this morning at 8:45 a plane hit the WTC� - that�s when
know they did not hear the first plane because I didn�t hear the
second. It wasn�t until another guy walked in and said, �I saw the
second plane hit.� Now, this, no one believed. Everyone, like myself,
believed that the controls on the first plane had gone crazy, so we
didn�t, couldn�t, believe that two planes had done the same thing.
After a little time we realized that it was intentional - an act of
terrorism or something."
principal would later in the period come on and tell everyone to
continue with the normal day and to go to the next class. So we did.
My next class however was anything but normal."
"We had no
lesson. We just turned on the television we had in the room and
watched the footage. We discussed how they would evacuate the people
in the WTC. We determined that a helicopter would have to airlift all
people above the crashes oblivious to the horrid idea that they would
actually collapse. We watched the footage of the second plane hit
over and over from every different angle. There was no footage from
the first, so I was the only one in that class to have seen it."
the period, I went to the bathroom to put on my jacket for the
pictures - my time was going to be during the next period so I might
as well get my jacket on now. When I came back from the bathroom, I
heard about the Pentagon. That really freaked me out, for two
reasons. One it meant that this was not just a New York thing, the
nation was under attack and anything could be next. The second was
that I thought that without the Pentagon, how would we stop these
people? The pentagon was our military, damn it, and now their all dead
(one of my many irrational thoughts of the day: the pentagon is far to
big to be destroyed by one plane, but forgive me, I was not really in
the best condition then). So, for another 20 minutes or so (I can�t
tell how long) we just sat and watched footage over and over on
again I go into a location description. From my classroom we were too
far east to see the actual towers, a building was in the way. Just
barely. One classroom to the west and the angle would have been
fine. All we could see was the street directly adjacent to towers.
Also we were on the eighth floor so we could see the street clearly.
This is important, since what I saw on the street was horrifying.
From the windows we could see the police cars, ambulances, fire-trucks
and rescue workers under the WTC."
the end of second period on the news a very calm newswoman was
describing the scene. The press is supposed to be calm, always.
Never are they fazed, never are they scared. This is how they seem
to us. So when the news lady went from almost casually describing the
scene to screaming at the top of her lungs, we freaked. She started
screaming �Oh, my God, IT�S FALLING!!!!!!!�
"We ran to
the window and what we saw was awful. Now we could see the
tower, or see parts of it anyway. We saw tons and tons of 2 World
Trade Center (no doubt with people in it) falling. Falling right
onto the street below. Onto the fire trucks. Onto the ambulances.
Onto the police cars. That wasn�t the worst part of what I saw. I
saw people: cops, firemen, good people there to help save others in
the street between the vehicles. I watched as the WTC fell on all of
those people. All of the cars and trucks; yes, that was an
awful sight too but they were at that distance: still cars. You had
to imagine people in the cars to realize it fully there. But there
were people in the street. I could see people on the street, people I
didn�t have to imagine to see, and then I couldn�t see them at all.
They were gone, crushed, and most likely dead beneath the south
that everyone went crazy. The TV had gone out in the school and so
had the lights, but only for a few seconds. But after the collapse
the girls (and some guys) started crying. I personally was in shock
and I just stood at the window screaming obscenities again. This
time, I wasn�t alone - believe me. A good portion of the class was
doing and saying the same thing. After it fell we were evacuated.
They said the dust cloud was coming towards us, so we had to go. On
the way down the stairs a few other guys and I had to carry a boy in a
wheelchair three flights because none of the elevators were working.
When we got down to the ground I met a few friends, and we all left
the building. The police men led us north on the now empty West Side
Highway. About two blocks into the walk a loud rumbling began and, as
I turned to look, I saw the TV needle atop the north tower collapsing
into the rest of the WTC and watched in horror as the rest of the
second tower went down too. We all saw, and were again all shocked.
But this time we were beyond cursing. I guess we had just reached a
point were we couldn�t curse or scream anymore. We just turned around
and started walking north again. The idea that there were no Twin
Towers started sinking in, oh, so slowly. Even after watching the
footage on TV in class and seeing the plane hit, it never occurred to
me that they would fall. I had kept thinking: �how the hell are they
going to fix those holes?��thinking, �God, there must be 500 people
dead�! When they fell, the number that popped in my head rose to
100,000. Irrational, yes but it�s what I thought."
friends and I went to the house of one friend who lived on 9th
street. On the way we stopped and looked down 6th avenue
at the �nothing� that used to be the World Trade Center. It was
of the day was spent watching the news and waiting for news of my
parents. I knew I would be waiting longer than most anyone as my
parents were in Brooklyn at the Airport. It did go through my mind at
one point that they might have been in one of the planes. There was
really only one plane I knew they could have been on: the one that
crashed in Pennsylvania the others were too early. Then I found out
that was a United airline and we always use American, which is of
course the company of two of the other three planes. (Later I found
out they were on Japanese airlines so my worrying was pointless).
But, I spent most of my time worrying about my sister, who has Down�s
syndrome. How she was, where she was, was she okay? Her school wasn�t
all that far from the WTC, and she was east of it, almost directly in
the path of the dust clouds that would envelop lower Manhattan. I
couldn�t contact her because the phones weren�t working."
not really much more to say, really. My parents eventually found me
after I wrote an e-mail from my friend�s computer. They arrived about
seven hours after the first plane hit. They had walked from Brooklyn
over the Manhattan Bridge. My sister had gone home and there met with
the superintendent of our building. He took her to his brother�s
house on 7th street - 2 1/2 blocks from where I was. We
then all walked back to Brooklyn over the Manhattan Bridge to a car
they had rented from the airport - and drove to the house we have in
upstate New York."
am still here in upstate New York writing this. In the days after the
tragedy I have received so much support. I am not traumatized. My
�New York-ness� keeps me hard. We�re hard to faze, so something like
this surprised, shocked and scared me, but didn�t traumatize me. What
I�ve seen in these past few days has filled me with mixed emotions. I
personally went to give blood about three hours after we were
evacuated. I couldn�t - the lines were too long. You may hear about
how we are sticking together through this. There is no way to
describe how true that is. In 4 hours from when the first plane hit
there were already posters everywhere - and I mean everywhere - asking
people to donate blood. There were makeshift stands everywhere with
people giving out water and cookies to the donators. This has filled
me with happiness. Well, after something like this, it is hard to be
happy but I have been touched. Conversely, some things I have seen on
TV have angered me. Obviously, towards whoever did this, but as well,
I also am disgusted by all of these things I see on the news. I keep
seeing all of these people from Michigan or Oregon crying as if they
were the ones who saw what I did. I know it is awful and they have
the utmost right to but it still for some reason pisses me off. The
news channels should show people from New York or Washington reacting
to this. We saw the people dying, not on TV but with our
own eyes. Whenever I go over the building falling on those people
in my mind I realize what I saw. I saw hundreds of people dying less
than one half kilometer from where I stood in less than one second
from each other. We should be the ones crying on TV Except those from
New York won�t cry as much as much as the others. We are a strong city
and have steeled ourselves after this attack. We cried, yes, but many
of us have stopped crying and started wanting to help others. When you
are helping others there is no crying. We must be strong, for if
those we help, and the rest of the nation sees us strong, then they
too can be strong."
ones who did this are cowards and I want them to know that those who
were there are not afraid of you. That there is not one person who
could have witnessed what we did and not felt the way I do. And the
way I feel? I f you were here right now in front of me I would not
cower in fear: rather, I would rip you apart."
"I am 17
years old and what I saw on September 11, 2001 I will never forget.
What I feel now is sorrow for those who died and anger at those who
did this. But President Bush could not have been more right when he
said that all this did was bring us closer together. I have no doubt
that together we will punish the heartless cowards that did this, but
with just actions � that will be our revenge."