What were your surroundings when you first heard about the destruction of the twin towers?
“I was student teaching over at Oak Park High School over in Kansas City, Missouri. So, we had televisions in all of our classrooms and as soon as teachers got word of what had happened teachers just turned on televisions, and everything stopped, and that’s all we did. We actually watched the buildings fall live via CNN at the time.”
What was your reaction?
“It was just quiet. I didn’t really know why that had happened at the time. If you think about it in the moment, you don’t have all the information that we have now about what was going on. So, when the second building was hit it was clear that it was intentional. Initially I remember thinking ‘How did someone fly a plane into a building? What a terrible mistake that was.’ And then just thinking it might’ve been an accident, but by the time the second building was hit, you knew that it was intentional. Then it was just this overwhelming feeling of empathy for all those people who were in those buildings. I’ve never been in a building that large in my life, I can’t even imagine it. Knowing that those people couldn’t get out. It was just a terrible, gut-wrenching [experience]. You wanted to vomit or throw something or scream, but more than anything else we were just silent.”
How did the nation react?
“I think that the nation went through the standard grieving process. Disbelief, you kinda got this whole denial thing where you just can’t believe it’s actually happening. I think a lot of people went through anger. Then eventually we got to some sort of healing point once we were able to sort of understand the whole thing. I’d say we went through (as a nation) the same thing that anybody goes through when a loved one passes away.”