I know that technically it is no longer September 11th, and that many, many people across the web have posted their thoughts about that fateful day 11 years ago, but I’m going to go ahead and add my own voice to the discussion. 11 years ago I was in 4th grade (hard to believe) in Mrs. Craig’s classroom. I was living about an hour outside of NYC in suburban Connecticut, and it was extremely common for parents to commute into the city on the train. Most of 4th grade is a big blur of events and people, but there is no way that the clarity of this day will ever fade in my memory.
At around 9:30, teachers started coming into the room and all the adults were very concerned and kind of forgot about the students. All normal school activities came to a grinding halt and we sat in our classroom the entire morning, completely oblivious to the horror unfolding just an hour away. The administration scrambled to organize an early release, although many kid’s parents could not get out of the city because of the confusion – I know at least one kid in the school whose mom or dad never came home at all. Greenwich is right on the water, on Long Island Sound to be exact, and on clear days the New York City skyline is clearly visible. On this day, the smoke filled the whole skyline…it lingered for many days.
As a 10-year-old, it was difficult (to say the least) to really grasp the implications of what had happened. But I knew that all of a sudden everything had changed and that my innocent worldview had crumbled. Within weeks there were locks on the school doors and you needed to identify yourself to be let in. We started doing lockdown drills where we had to sit completely silent in darkened classrooms while someone shook the doorknob to make sure it was locked. Being a photographer, when I think about that day now I inevitably turn to photographs from that day, because it reminds me how powerful a photograph can be. These are images that remain seared in our memories, and often I find it impossible to believe it really looked like this. But it did, which is why these images are so important. Some believe it is disgraceful to look at such photographs or to share them, but I believe it is critical to retain these documents and so I have included a few that resonate the most with me.
My deepest sympathies to all those who were affected by this horrible tragedy all those years ago.
This site is an amazing collection of stories from that day.