Recollections of September 11, 2001

My memories of the day of the World Trade Center attacks 20 years later. I have been holding on to these photos here for 20 years and now I can share them with you.

I will never forget September 11, 2001. As the 20th anniversary approaches, it brings up a flood of memories that I would like to share with you.

In June of 2000, we moved from our home in Louisville, Kentucky to Jersey City. Acclimating to life in the big city was relatively smooth, with three young children in tow. The summer break had just ended, and my two older children were enrolled in kindergarten and third grade, at an elementary school a few blocks from our apartment. I was just getting used to my daily routine with the two year old, loading up the stroller every morning and walking the two older children to school.

September 11, 2001 felt like just another routine morning with a bright clear sky. My husband Andre left early that morning for a meeting in Manhattan, which fortunately prevented him from taking his regular train that morning, which would have coincided with the time of the attack. Morgan and I walked Wynton and Kennedy to school and had made it back to the apartment to fix breakfast. Morgan was watching Teletubbies, when my cell phone rang. My husband's friend Dewey was calling from Louisville. “Step out on your balcony. What do you see?” I was in disbelief. Smoke was rising out of one of the World Trade Center buildings, clearly visible all the way from our Jersey City apartment. I stood there in shock as I saw the second plane hit the other tower. My thoughts were “Oh my God! Are we under attack?” 

I grabbed the stroller and Morgan and I rushed to the school to get her siblings. The streets were filled with people gazing across the water. Just as I was making my way there, I received a call from a parent from my son's class. She was a paramedic and was at the school to get her son Brandon, who was in Wynton’s class. She had also grabbed my two as well. As Morgan and I turned around to go back home, I saw that the towers began to collapse completely. Everyone on the street gasped. As my cell phone reception went dead, I rushed home to meet the children. I ended up taking Brandon for the day as his mother was needed as an emergency responder working with a triage unit at Liberty State Park. Despite all of the chaos I kept the kids occupied with videos, movies, and games while also trying to keep up with what was going on at the World Trade Center. I still had yet heard anything from my husband or from any other family members.

My nephew Jefferey who lived in Columbus, Ohio was the first person to contact me through email. I informed him that we were safe and to let my in-laws know that Andre should be safe as well.

For me, it seemed like an eternity had passed when my husband returned home later that evening along with a few of his co-workers. They ended up catching the ferry out of Manhattan and walking from neighboring Weehawken to our Jersey City apartment.

During this time I watched people band together to assist one another. People passed out water on the streets and generally showed love to others passing by on the street. The kids ended up staying home from school for three days because their school was used as a triage and shelter for children evacuated from the disaster area. These children were separated from their parents and families during this tragic time. I was so blessed to have mine right by my side.

As I sit still and relive these memories with a lump in my throat, one thing that stands out was the love shown by strangers to one another in a time of need. It was beautiful to see that level of comradery. We are all Americans and we were under attack. That week there was no sense of division.

Do you remember that day 20 years ago? What was your experience? Please share your comments and memories with me in the comment section.