Today marks the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11, a tragedy that didn’t tear America apart, but instead showed the world our solidarity and strength. As medical journalists, we’re constantly looking for health-related angles on trending topics and events, and we’re always searching for the latest medical or healthcare advancements. Our job is to display facts in the most unbiased way that we know. We could’ve written on the emotional, mental, and physical impact that Sept. 11 had on many people. However, like for many Americans, this day holds a significant place in our memories as well. Many of us, still in grade school, were unaware of the impact and pain that our country was about to face. Now, over a decade later, the moment when we first heard of this tragedy is still hard to forget.
Here are some of our stories:
Nsikan Akpan, Staff Writer
I was in 3rd period French class at Etowah High School in Georgia. Two people, who were working on an independent project in the library, returned to class and said a plane had flown into the WTC. One of the kids was a class clown, and I distinctly remember my teacher responding "that's not funny, Trey." She apologized later after we turned on the class TV. Even in GA, people were really hit hard by the news, and school closed early.
Sabrina Bachai, Staff Writer
I was in 10th grade math, Mr. Wynne’s class. All of a sudden my teacher gets a call from a co-worker telling him to turn on the television. The whole class was in shock and awe seeing the second plane crash into the twin towers; and worse—seeing those people so desperate to escape the fire that they jumped to their own deaths. We all thought it was a movie or a replay of the first plane crash The worst part, and the part that I’ll never forget is seeing the faces of local New York journalist in tears as they reported in the dust and smoke during the attack.
Lizette Borreli, Staff Writer
I was in my 6th grade computer class and in the middle of the lesson my computer teacher with watery eyes said there was an accident in the WTC. A plane crashed. At the moment no one knew whether it was a terror attack. At age 11, I didn't understand what was going on exactly. I was sent to my homeroom and I could see from the windows the army of parents panicked wanting to get their kids out of school and rush them to safety. My mom came to get me and I feared for my dad who worked in the City. Shortly after, my mom confirmed that the second tower collapsed. My mom's cousin was a chef in the tower. My mom's uncle also worked in the second tower. He overslept and was late to work only to find piles of bodies on each other but he went towards the towers to help anyone he could find. 9-11 affected my family and left wounds that remain unhealed. 9-11 changed my life as an American and as a New Yorker. I could also see and smell the smoke from Williamsburg, Brooklyn which stayed in the neighborhood for months while the rescue effort to find missing bodies continued.
Nadia Harris, J.D., Staff Writer
I was in my 10th grade English class when my school’s security rushed around and closed all the classroom doors. Our teacher allowed us to listen to the news via radio because we didn’t have a TV in the room. As my classmates heard the news of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, they frantically pulled out their cell phones to call their parents/friends/relatives to see if they were okay.
Mina Kang, Copy Editor
On 9/11, I was a 5th grader and at school, when my teacher suddenly brought a TV into the classroom. She turned it on nervously, and all I remember seeing is a tall building with fire and smoke. She turned it off soon after, and then went into the hallway to discuss with the other teachers. And then she came back in and told us all that something serious had happened (she kept it at that, and didn’t give us any more details) and that we were being sent home. I went home alone that day because my parents couldn’t pick me up, and then thankfully my big brother came home.
Nalin Kaul, Social Marketing Manager
I was at a financial internship in Buffalo during college when it happened. We watched it go down at the office and my boss had friends in the building. We were sent home and I just watched news coverage all day at my apartment with friends.
Matthew Mientka, Staff Writer
On a beautifully sunny day, I skipped a meeting at the Pentagon to visit the National Press Club. As I strolled past the White House in downtown Washington, D.C., I noticed fire trucks along Pennsylvania Avenue, everyone watching the sky. Later, I walked two miles home and hit a corner bodega, stockpiling items I thought I'd need for a few days of chaos: a six-pack of Dos Equis, two giant bottles of Merlot, a gallon of water, and a can of tuna fish. We drank on the roof deck that night and listened to the fighter jets overhead. Everyone called.
Elijah Wolfson, Editor-In-Chief
After living my entire life in the New York metropolitan area, at the age of 15 I moved to California with my mother and brother in the fall of 2011. On September 11, I was in my second week at my new high school. The TV was already on when I woke up – I assume my mother must have gotten a phone call or message of some kind – and the media was reporting that the towers had been “hit,” although the details weren’t really clear. I don’t really remember if we had much discussion about it, but I went off to school anyway. When I got to my first period classroom, my physics teacher had the news on the TV, where they were now reporting that the WTC (as well as the Pentagon) had been hit by rogue airplanes and that the south tower had collapsed. As a class, we watched the north tower collapse on TV. Soon after, the school principle knocked on the door of the classroom and asked to speak with me. Outside the classroom, he told me that he had heard from my family, and that everyone (including my dad, who still lived in New York) was fine. I don’t remember what happened after that. I may have gone home or I may have stayed at school. I do feeling angry at the California kids for expressing sadness – they didn’t understand; it wasn’t their right to be sad – and even more displaced than I had felt by moving out of NY in the first place. After all, for all the atrocity, from a distance it felt like I was watching all of NY come together, and that’s where I should have been, too.