Photo credit: Reuters
Ten years ago, I sat in an art room at Frederick High School. I was proudly a teacher’s aid, there to help kids who struggled with art projects and be a resource to my mentor. It was just another day at school, a Tuesday.
During the middle of the class, around 9am, I stepped out to go to the bathroom. I ran into one of my friends in the hall. “Did you hear?” she asked anxiously.
“No,” I responded. “What happened?”
“A plane hit one of the buildings in the World Trade Center. We’re all watching it on TV in English.”
“Was it one of those little planes?”
I came back and told my teacher. We put on the TV in the storage room. A few minutes later, a second plane hit the South Tower. This wasn’t an accident anymore. All I felt was shock, concern, worry.
A few hours later, both towers fell, another plane had hit the Pentagon. There was another plane in the sky that hadn’t been accounted for. There was speculation on TV that it had been hijacked, too. The ticker on the bottom said that it could be heading towards targets like the White House, the Capitol Building, or Ft. Detrick across the street, an Army base where my dad worked. I sat there scared out of my mind, trying to be strong, and help keep the other kids optimistic.
In the end, that United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, after heroes on that flight charged the cockpit. Two towers fell, the Pentagon burned. Nearly 3,000 people died. Over 6,000 people were injured. Horrific.
Alan Linton, a Frederick High graduate and one of my best friend’s brothers, died when the Towers collapsed. My uncle Johnny, who worked in catering at Dulles Airport, lost several of his best friends and co-workers in American Airlines Flight 77, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Head coach Bruce Boudreau lost two friends, Kings’ scouts Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis, on United Flight 175, a flight he was originally supposed to be on.
Earlier in the week, I watched SportsCenter and saw a touching tribute to Welles Crowther, a former Boston College lacrosse player and captain of the Nyack High School hockey team. The story brought back that day for me. It made me cry. Crowther, an equity trader who worked on the 104th floor of the South Tower, used the last-hour of his life to help others get to safety. He tragically died when the tower collapsed.
Today, is a day of remembrance. It’s a day to honor those who were lost and the heroes like Welles, an ordinary person who had extraordinary courage. Like many others who lost much more than me — close friends, husbands, co-workers — I will never forget that Tuesday.