I was a very clingy kid, and the second day of kindergarten was no exception to this rule. In fact, it took my mother 45 minutes to pry my arms away from her so she could go to work. After that, Peter (my kindergarten teacher) gathered my class together on the rug to read us a story. As he was reading to us, for some reason (and to this day I have no idea why) I looked out the classroom window and saw black smoke coming from behind a building. There wasn't much, but soon the smoke began to build and swell, creating a black mark on what was a gorgeous September day.
It was my second day of kindergarten, I was five years old, and four blocks away from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
As I continued to gaze out my classroom window unaware where the smoke was coming from (a building blocked our classroom view of the Twin Towers), a staff member from P.S. 150 (my school) came on the loud speaker. "Teachers please bring your classes downstairs immediately." Then the fire alarm went off.
While Peter was walking my class down one of the building's stairwells, I spotted my principal who was yelling, "Don't worry kids, this is just like a fire drill. This is just like a fire drill." Once we were brought to the main lobby of the building, we were then rushed outside to the street and started walking north, away from the towers.
It would be months before I could enter that building again.
I was holding Peter's right hand, a girl from my class was holding his left, and we kept walking. Dozens of people were jumping out of their cars and leaving them behind, many of which still had keys in the ignition. Taxi drivers were leaving their meters still ticking away as they dashed away. Then, without warning, everything froze.
Every single person on the street looked immobilized, as if they were in a trance, when they turned to face the direction we were running from. Even Peter turned and stared up at the sky. Then finally, I looked up at the sky and saw a plane. It went right past the first tower and headed directly towards the second.
And then it hit.
We all ran. Me, my teacher, and my whole school, we ran. Then, all of a sudden, the girl holding Peter's hand on the opposite side froze in place and started to cry; she wouldn't move. Peter grabbed her, carrying her in his arms. But when I reached up for that hand again, it wasn't there.
My eyes began to swell. In those few split seconds I felt alone, like I had been abandoned and deserted by the ones I loved and trusted. Tears ran down my cheeks and I was petrified. I did not have my mother, father, brother, or even my new teacher on the second day of kindergarten.
I was alone.
Then out of nowhere, a teacher who I did not know grabbed my hand and pulled me along with her. We ran until we made it to P.S. 3 in the West Village. Our school was herded into their huge gym like sheep. The young kids like me were given crayons and paper to try to calm us down as we waited for our parents.
As time went on, parents, babysitters, and about every kind of relative you could imagine started to trickle into the gym, none of them my parents. More and more people began to enter the gym and pick up different kids; the girl who was immobile on the street was picked up. Pretty soon, I was one of the last kids left.
With every passing minute I became more and more anxious. I wanted to see my mom and dad. I needed to see my mom and dad. Then finally, after all the waiting, after all the fear and terror, I saw them walk through the doors.
I ran to them.
I embraced them, hugged them, kissed them, and cried like I hadn't seen them in years. But this time I wasn't crying out of fear or terror, I was crying out of happiness, out of knowing that everything was going to be okay; that I was no longer alone.
I was home.
This is my story. And now we look back 10 years later on that tragic day. We remember all who were lost, all who were saved, and all who were brave. We remember our own stories, as well as the many others, that will always be ingrained into our very souls.
So please, do not stay silent, speak up and tell your story. Be brave like those who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001. Tell your story so that the nearly 3,000 that died will never be forgotten.
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