My Experiences During 9/11

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do about Hearthstone or gaming. More personal stuff, if you are interested.

Thought I am writing this post from Baltimore, I spent most of my life in the New York Tri-State area, having grown up in Jersey City, NJ for my pre-college life. I was actually born in New York City, and spent a considerable number of Saturdays in New York, to go to Chinese School and learn Mandarin, as my family’s native language is Cantonese.

September 11, 2001 was a beautiful day, one of those days that capped out in high 70s to low 80s, with very few clouds and abundant sunshine. I remember it specifically as the second day of 7th grade, a Tuesday. Given that it was the second day of the school year, it was the first “normal” day, after the re-familiarizing the day before.

The first signs of things being unusual occurred in our math class, the second class of the day. The windows were typically open in class (given no AC), and I just heard sirens everywhere. Police sirens and ambulance sirens were just persistent. I had no idea if the teachers and staff were cognizant of what was going on across the Hudson River. Then I heard intercom announcements about calling kids who have family who worked in the World Trade Center. This happened at least twice.

I don’t ever recall hearing the World Trade Center go down, but by lunchtime, the class clown of our class, was telling us rumors of the World Trade Center being hit by planes. Being aware of the concept of terrorism was completely foreign at this time, I must have thought it was a pilot error. We didn’t get to go outside for recess. Something was up.

Shortly after lunch, school was over. Everyone was dismissed. Parents had been picking up students in our class through the day. I was one of the stragglers dismissed at the end. I remember going outside at the beautiful day to go home (2 blocks away), and just seeing smoke in the sky, and confusion amongst everyone.

When I got home a few minutes later, I realized the TV was frozen. There was an infamous image of the plane hitting the Twin Towers being frozen on the WB channel. Anyways, I remember the TV being spotty, and my learning of the destruction of the World Trade Center. I don’t think my mom worked that day, and my dad took one of the last trains out of New York City. Besides visiting the World Trade Center as a child, I remember just passing it by every Saturday for Chinese school. I took the PATH train from Journal Square to the World Trade Center stop every Saturday. My fondest memories just involve staring into the sky at any point, whether crossing the street, or whatever, and seeing the Twin Towers. Just staring into the sky and seeing a giant behemoth of architecture. I had to come to grips that it was no more.

I returned to New York City when they reopened the Holland Tunnel. I had to go to New York for Chinese School and also some other school to prepare me for the PSAT. It was about 2 weeks after 9/11. I remember just walking the streets in Lower Manhattan, and there was just dust on the ground, like a small snow accumulation. Clumps of dust blowing around like tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds of ash, concrete, asbestos, and possibly human remains. This dust was just around for weeks, and so was the resulting smoke from the smoldering remains at Ground Zero.

I also experienced the “patriotism period” in New York and New Jersey. There were just American flags everywhere, especially paper flags taped to the windows of cars. We had a few assemblies at school that commemorated the event. We saluted the flag a good deal. I had a 9/11 pin on my bookbag for the whole year.

Flash forward to today, and the World Trade Center is once again a behemoth in the sky, and all is seemingly normal again. I was around for a considerable time during the rebuilding, but it was just a slow, progressive rebuilding process. I’m not a nationalistic or patriotic person by any means, but 9/11 meant a big deal to me! Though I didn’t personally know any victims from the attacks, it had a big impact on life! My sister’s friends dad was a hero window washer in the World Trade Center who saved lives that day. I just can’t believe that happened 15 years ago. It is probably the biggest event I will ever experience, and it happened. I remember it like it was yesterday.

 

 

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