In a matter of two and a half hours America changed, and we changed with her. I was young and naive and believed that the world was mostly good with some evil thrown in. I was seventeen years old and a Freshman in College. I was in Bloomfield, NJ, five minutes outside of Newark, NJ and twenty minutes from NYC. It was a typical morning, and by typical I mean this: I woke up at 7am, did my morning routine and went off to my work-study. I was in my office working on the First Year Experience Newsletter when the janitor came in and said, “Maria do you have the radio or TV on? They said something about The World Trade Center was hit by a low flying plane.” I remember saying, Oh my God! No! My boss, Mrs. Dyer immediately turned on the television and there it was WTC One was smoking, people were screaming, the news reporters were shaken up. She told me to go back to my dorm and try to get a hold of my mom.
That’s exactly what I did! The phone lines were so overloaded it took me three hours to finally get through to her and my dad. Newark was cut off from all incoming and outgoing traffic or so we were told. My mom wanted me to stay in Bloomfield where it was safe instead of going back to Jersey City, but I was of the mindset that: If we were going to die, I wanted to die with my family. I know many others that were thinking the same thing. Finally around 4pm the highways became available again. My dad came to get me, and I was home with my family.
That entire day my eyes and those of my friends were glued to the television. We saw the buildings that were fixtures of our skyline, the skyline that we could see from any window in any apartment, in any house, at any time of day, change right before our eyes. I remember those of us that gathered together in the dorm, we were all trying to get a hold of people, friends and family that were working in those buildings. I remember the faces of the kids whose parents never made it to work that morning, that look of relief. I remember my friend’s faces when they couldn’t get a hold of their families. It was a hysterical chaos, it really was. I remember the following days how the streets and air smelled of burnt bodies, and God know what else.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much it angers me when I hear some people say, “Oh come on, we just need to get over it.” What do you mean get over it?! This event happened in my backyard. For months we were expecting another attack. The subway I was so used to taking became scary. Familiar places became unknown. Get over it?! How?! How do you get over something that changed the lives of so many? How do you get over something that changed MY view of the world? I was Seventeen for crying out loud!
Out of all this bad, though I saw people come together, I saw politicians uniting for the good of the Nation. I saw Muslims join hands with Christians and praying for peace. I saw a Nation United by tragedy. I wasn’t sure if it was good or bad, but I felt reassured that we would get through this, not over this. And we did get through it. As a Nation Under God! Me, personally WILL NEVER FORGET and neither should you!