Thursday, September 11, 2014


In the aftermath on September 11th, my English teacher had all of us write a letter to ourselves to remind us of where we were and how we felt on that fateful day.

I've never opened the letter.  I stored it away, along with the newspapers from the following week in a box that I still haven't opened.

However, I haven't forgotten a single detail of that day.


It was Tuesday morning.  School started around 7:30 am, but I left my house around 6:40 am.  It was my first year that I didn't join the swim team and I still was in the routine of getting to school early.  I was planning on eating my breakfast and finishing some school work in my 1st period classroom.  I was blaring my DMX cd and 'rapping' like no white girl from Wyoming ever should.

When I was walking into the school I passed the food truck delivering lunch.  Their radio was on and I heard "A plane has hit the World Trade Center!".  I thought it was a book on tape - something by Tom Clancy or someone similar.  The halls were quiet as I passed by empty classrooms on my way to the second floor for American Government.  I had just set my book bag down on my desk and thought about turning the TV onto the news.  Our class watched the news every morning until the Homeroom Bell would ring.  Then my teacher came rushing in and went straight to the TV.  Both she and I stood in shock as we watched a plane hit the second building.  Smoke was billowing out of both towers and I could feel the blood run from my face.  For the next half hour, she and I stood next to each other and stared at the TV.  Other students came in, laughing and jovial from the hallways, only to fall silent at the terror from the TV screen.

At 7:30 the bell rang to start the day and our classroom was entirely quiet.  I could hear noise down the hallway - the news hadn't spread to all of the classrooms yet.  Then our TBTV (Thunderbird Television, a school production) kicked on and jolted all of us out of our stupor.

The school news wasn't delivered in same way that day.  The reporters solemnly reported that the World Trade Center had been hit.  My teacher reached up and turned the TV off.  When she turned around her face was as white as a ghost and she said, "Today will live in infamy.  This is your Pearl Harbor."  Just then the principal came over the loud speaker and said that our day would progress as normal.  We would attend our classes and continue on until we were told otherwise.  Our TV was turned back on and we watched the news for the next hour of class.  As the student body moved from 1st period classrooms to 2nd period, students were quiet and lost in their own thoughts.

Our day didn't continue as normal.  Cheyenne, WY is a military town.  Soldiers at our base are responsible for missile silos all over the Rocky Mountain Range.  Cheyenne was being shut down with the fear that it could be the target of a terrorist attack.  During second period, as our English class was discussing the events we had just witnessed, the loud speaker squawked to life again.  Our principal announced all students who live on base were to head to the cafeteria.  Then he would start announcing an order for the rest of the student body to head home for the day.

When I was able to get to my car and head home, the tears finally began to fall.  Police and military vehicles were at every exit of the school and every main intersection on the way home.  The fear was palatable in the air.  It was Tuesday, the day my dad would fly home from work in California.  Planes were hijacked on the east coast, was the west coast next?  At home my mom sent my brother and I to gas up our vehicles.  The gas stations were backed up and you could feel the tension in the air.

Cheyenne was dark and quiet that night.  The news was never turned off, our living room full of the blue light of the TV screen.  My dad was fine, but had no idea when he would make it home.  Sleep didn't come easily that night and the rest of the week was a blur.

Teachers were easy on us that week.  That Wednesday, half of our student body was at school.  My world view changed that day.  I was 16 years old and suddenly aware that the world didn't care about me.  I wasn't nearly as important as my teenage self thought.

I prayed.  Quietly, fervently, daily.  I started to pay attention and I never lost hope or faith in the United States of America.

Forever we Stand United.

God Bless the USA.
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