What were your surroundings when you first heard about the destruction of the twin towers?
“I was teaching at my former school, and we started teaching really early in the morning, so as we pulled up for school one of my colleagues had listened to the radio and asked if I had heard the news. A plane flew into the World Trade Center. So, we went into my first hour class and during that class the issue kinda emerged. Everybody was trying to get online to check everything and the servers crashed. So, I had an old TV in a closet, and I rigged an antenna to the girders in the ceiling and we were able to get regular TV in the classroom. We just kinda shut everything down and watched the proceedings. Then, we had a big school-wide assembly to [explain] what’s happening and what we know and address that there were a lot of different rumors going around.”
What was your reaction?
“It’s selfish, but it’s profoundly personal to me for two reasons. One, it’s my birthday and so it was like the innocence of that day that was yours was taken, which is totally lame because 3,000 people died. So, in the scheme of things for 28 years it was a great birthday, but ever since [9/11] every birthday I just get to watch buildings crash down and think about all the suffering. It feels so selfish to celebrate [my birthday] but it also feels important to celebrate so things aren’t changed permanently. The other thing that’s personal for me is that my brother worked three blocks from the Trade Center. So for some time we didn’t know if he had made it or not. It was just a loss of innocence for this country, for my birthday, and everybody.”
How did the nation react?
“It was very interesting being an educator during this time watching students try to process it while I’m trying to process it as an adult. Everybody has those national news moments in their lives that you’ll remember forever.”