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Looking Back On The 9/11 Attacks At 24-Years-Old, But Living Through It As A 3rd Grader

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I don’t think I’ve ever wrote about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and if you know me, emotional writing topics are not my specialty. Even though I was only just starting the 3rd grade at Brookside Elementary School as an 8-year-old, September 11th, 2001 is one of those times that’s forever ingrained on my mind and I’ll never forget about where I was when I found out the United States was under attack, though I couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of the situation I knew something was gravely wrong by other people’s reactions. Two hi-jacked planes struck each of the World Trade Center towers, causing them both to collapse to dust, piercing the heart of New York City.

Just two days prior I can recall attending the Jets home opener against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in coach Herm Edwards debut that didn’t go as planned. The Jets were thrashed 45-24 as Edgerrin James ran wild and I left the Meadowlands with an oh so familiar sad feeling. Tuesday, September 11th seemed like your normal morning as I began my second week of 3rd grade in Ms. Coletta’s class, who I asked to call me “Moss” as a nickname in honor of the Jets 1st round pick, Santana Moss. It’s safe to say this name didn’t last too long or end up sticking. Chalk it up as one of my early L’s.

Around 10 A.M. I recall Principal Levy coming into every class saying something along the lines of, “If any of you have parents that work in the city they will probably be home late tonight.” Looking back on it, that seems like a very odd strategy to inform the students. There had to be a better way. For me I didn’t pay it much mind because neither of my parents worked in the city at the time so I figured nothing was up. Shortly there after the loudspeaker P.A. system buzzed into our classroom and asked (Insert name here) to report to the main office for early dismissal. Before you knew it most of the class was gone within a couple hours and I was jealous a bunch of my friends got to leave school early.


Around lunch time my name finally got called and my mom picked me up and informed me there was a terrorist attack in the city that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. I vaguely remember flipping through the news channels and seeing the video of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, which was tough to process. I didn’t have any relatives that were impacted by the terrorist acts, so I felt distanced from the incident for a while though I knew it was major as the MLB stopped play for 10 days until the Mets came home 10 days later as Piazza hit a game winning home run that Friday night and the Jets rescheduled their week two game in Oakland.

My father is a Yonkers Fireman who was called to Ground Zero in the days after the devastation to search for people and clean up what was left behind. When we recently talked about the experience he couldn’t believe what the city had turned into, as some worked for multiple days straight digging up bodies and people’s belongings amongst the rubble of debris and twisted steel within the dust-filled area.

Firefighters Todd Heaney and Frankie DiLeo, of Engine 209, c

There’s something to be said about the first responders running into a chaotic situation knowing they may not make it out alive, as pedestrians sprint in the opposite direction. Order was soon restored with some form of normalcy for most in the months after, though for some their lives would never be the same. For me, it didn’t all connect until I visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum at the Freedom Towers in the city just two years ago with my family in the summer of 2015. The first hand testimonies from first responders, survivors and those that lost their loved ones was powerful. I highly suggest everyone make their way down to take it all in at some point.

The resiliency of Americans is unmatched, as we’ve seen it in effect once again with the recent hurricanes destroying parts of Houston and Florida. 9/11 is an event that will be talked about long beyond anyone that is living in America right now. Let’s do right by the near 3,000 Americans that lost their lives that day and continue to pass along the heroic stories in honor of those that can’t.

Never Forget. 

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