9/11 Stories


My name is Julie, and I live in NYC. I am an elementary public school teacher, my school and my apartment are on the Lower East Side. On September 11th I was alone in my classroom, listening to the radio, WNYC, as usual, to NPR news. I was getting ready for my first class of third and fourth graders to come at 9 a.m. Suddenly, NPR was interrupted for an announcement…“there has been an explosion at the World Trade Center…“and then the radio became static. “Hmmm…” I thought. “That’s weird.” A parent came into the room then and we began chatting and I turned off the “annoying” static. The class came into my room at 9 and sat down. I began talking to them about what we would do this day, and I heard a noise come in through the open windows… it didn’t sound “right.” I found out later that what I had heard was the second plane smashing into the WTC. I asked the kids, “Did you hear that?” They didn’t respond, I don’t think they had heard it. Then I said, “You know, I just heard on the radio there was an explosion at the World Trade Center, so when you go home today make sure you check out the news or talk to your parents… this could be history in the making…” Little did I know.

As news of what happened filtered into the school, I went to the windows to look out at the WTC. We could actually see the flames from where we were. I left the window to attend to my school duties. A bit later one of the other teachers said she hadn’t had the courage to look out the window yet. I said, “C’mon… I’ll go with you.” We went to the stairwell and as we stood looking I said to her, “Oh, you can only see one tower because of the smoke… it’s so thick you can’t see the other tower.” “No,” said another onlooker who had been standing there for some time, “...it’s gone. It fell down.” I went alone to my room and turned the radio back on. I don’t know what station I listened to, but I began to sob, on my knees, my hands covering my mouth in disbelief.

I felt guilty that the night before this happened I was crying because my sink was full of dirty dishes. I felt guilty that, before this happened, every time I heard the fire truck sirens wailing out from their fire house a half block away I felt annoyed because the sound drowned out the sound on the television. I felt guilty, when I took candles to that fire house, and looked at the pictures of the fire fighters that had been killed, that for seven years I was their “neighbor,” and I never got to know them. For days after the 11th, every time I heard an ambulance rushing across Houston Street, I prayed it was the miracle, a survivor that had been rescued. I would rush to the television, hoping to confirm my prayers, but it never happened.

I feel hurt, and damaged… but I don’t quite know why. I am whole. I had lost no dear friends, relatives, or even acquaintances. I understand many of the aspects of this event, and have learned much since this event happened. Each day brings an unanticipated reaction, for example, today during my son’s soccer game, when an airliner past overhead, (low, but I’m sure it wasn’t lower than it was suppose to be), I had the desire to burst into tears.

My yoga practice has been my spiritual guide for a long time, and it is really helping me get through this event. I know it will take time for us to cope with what has happened. We must be patient and loving to each other. I have decided to turn away from our country’s response to cause more pain and suffering through declaring war. I will speak for peace. This personal experience so close to such massive violence, has actually made me feel like non-violence will be our only hope and our only solution.