By Mike Nguyen
BRISTOL, Connecticut — (September 11, 2001) Well, as if my day could get any longer or eventful, this happens. But what did happen?
The worst place to hear about a terrorist strike and New York City in shambles is the rumor mill at your local high school. But actually, we actually got it right instead of “UFO’s abducted New York!!”
“Hey! Did you hear? The World Trade Center got bombed and now they’re attacking the Pentagon!”
“What’s the World Trade Center?” someone asked.
“Duh! The Twin Towers!”
“Cool” and “That’s awesome” answer the guys, as we all imagine pictures from movies. I was thinking Independence Day, of the Empire State Building collapsing in heaps of flames.
Oh wait, but this is reality. And that means people died.
What happened again? The split-second of coolness disappears and we’re left to wonder and worry. Uh, oh. How many are dead? Are my parents okay? Of course they would be, they’re working in downtown Bristol, not downtown Manhattan. But still.
“Wait, tell me what happened again?”
“Well, I was in study hall watching TV. Some people hijacked planes and flew two of them into the Twin Towers. Then, car bombs or something blew up one of the twin towers and then another bomb blew up the other.”
“Oh my god…”
“Now they’re bombing the Pentagon.”
Bombing? Can you “bomb” the Pentagon. Doesn’t the Pentagon have the ability to sink underground from nuclear attacks or something?
“Actually,” a girl added, “another plane flew into part of the Pentagon. I don’t know what happened to the fourth plane though.”
“They shot it down in Pennsylvania. It was going to bomb Philly, I heard,” another student chimed in.
Four planes? Wow. Talk about kamakazi.
“What kind of planes were they?” a worried student asked.
“Commercial planes. A United Airlines and another one.”
“Is everyone dead?”
Everyone dead? Please, we aren’t. But I know what he meant.
“This is like Pearl Harbor.”
If you gave me a penny for every time I heard this for the rest of the day, my parents wouldn’t even need to waste a buck or two to instantly win millions in Powerball.
Granted, I don’t know or ever will know what Pearl Harbor was like, I guess I might as well remember where I am, sitting with Mozzarella Sticks at First Lunch (at a grotesquely early time of 10:20, might I add) in school.
Who in the world would do this? Well, that’s kind of a stupid question too considering what we do to so many other countries. Apparently, many countries were actually celebrating that thousands of U.S. citizens were killed. That’s kind of freaky to know that hatred exists, but I’m not surprised.
So, lunch breaks up and we’re still wondering what the heck is going on.
I have yet to see an image, and have yet to put any names on anyone, but like everyone, I’m thinking Iraq.
Of course, those questions would still never be answered for a while, at least probably not today.
My first real image was in Mrs. Carter’s study hall. Apparently, the students used paper clips to make a makeshift antenna and got a scratchy reception of the World Trade Center.
While waiting for my English teacher to get to class and open the door, we were invited into the study hall room to see a few seconds of the TV. All I got to see was billowing smoke, as if Mt. St. Helens erupted in the middle of New York City.
Well, that was it for the next three hours.
Seeing that the TVs in the classroom didn’t work unless a teacher brought their own cable to school, there was nothing do for a while except learning poetry and chemistry.
Finally, I got back home from the hubbub of controversy and rumors.
The rest of the time has just been filled with TV noise and horrific images of the collapsing towers, burning Pentagon, and a jetliner crashing into Tower 2.
You wonder if this is a life or society changing event, the start of World War III, and whatever.
I guess I’ll just take it day by day and worry about my Chemistry homework.
This piece from Youth Journalism International’s archives was originally published on Sept. 11, 2001.