Never Forgotten and Never Alone

What began as a normal Tuesday marked future calendars as a day of tragedy, grief and remembrance: September 11th, 2001. That day, America lost the Twin Towers, as well as thousands of lives and a sense of security. Despite the eighteen years that have passed and families who were halfway across the country at the time of the attack, time or distance doesn’t change the impact of this life-long tragedy. As we reflect on 9/11 this year, we asked K-State students to anonymously share their connections to the terrorist attacks that took place in 2001.


Here are their responses:


“I feel a connection to 9/11, because my dad has always told me about when he saw it, sitting in the living room with one year old me. He told me, as a soldier, that he knew that day he would have to go back to war. The events of 9/11 and the wars that followed took my dad away for years at a time, and changed my family forever. It’s a day that makes me think a lot about what all of us lost, directly or indirectly because of 9/11.”


“I distinctly remember the anniversary of 9/11 as a kid. I did not really understand what happened as my mom told me it was the anniversary of a very sad day for our country. We didn’t leave the house because there was panic all over that a repeat attack would happen, and I was so confused that an event like that could even happen in the first place because I was so naïve about the world.”


Photo by Isabella Nelson

“I turned five years old less than a week before the attack. My mom dropped me off at pre-k that morning like she did every morning. I didn’t start noticing anything was different until parents started showing up to pick up their kids early. After about the third child, I heard one of my teachers ask the next mom who showed up ‘What has happened?’ They noticed I was listening in right away and told me to go play. My mom came to pick me up at the normal time, and I knew something was happening. I just wasn’t sure if I should ask. We went home and that whole afternoon and evening she had moved our TV into the kitchen so she could watch the news while she was cleaning. The super weird thing was that she wouldn’t let any of her kids come in the kitchen, which never ever happened. We were never not allowed to be with her. Of course, she told me when I was older that there were live images of people jumping out of windows to fall to their deaths in order to escape the fire, which she didn’t want me to see. I finally worked up the courage to ask her what was going on before bed that night, and she explained gently that some really bad guys had knocked down a couple of buildings in New York and a lot of people got hurt. Every year after that as I’ve gotten older the gravity of that sentence just gets deeper and deeper. You can’t comprehend at 5 years old the amount of horror that the country witnessed that day, and every year I see more and more images, hear more and more stories, and it shocks me all over again in different ways. My grandparents talked about Pearl Harbor. My parents remember Vietnam. When I’m older, everyone will want to know ‘Where were you during 9/11?’ and that’s a story I hope they never forget.”


“My mom was a flight attendant for United (the airline attacked) at the time, and she worked consistently with all of the crew that were killed. It was just luck that she wasn’t working any of the flights that went down that day. She even ended up quitting because her nerves were too bad to keep flying. It’s something that still affects her to this day. It’s always hard when September 11th rolls around, but it’s so important to reflect on what happened and keep the memory of those we lost alive.”


“My dad was there for work in the towers three days before the attack happened, and his entire floor of New York coworkers didn’t make it.”


“I was born and raised in New York City. My dad was working as a market researcher in a building one block east of the north tower. Fortunately, he was sent to a meeting in Jersey that day, but unfortunately, a close co-worker of his died in the south tower that same day. My mom was taking care of me that day in our small Brooklyn apartment. She recalls seeing smoke all across the skyline, which was from the debris, which is crazy because Brooklyn is miles from the towers. My grandma, who lived in the city, died of stage four lung cancer years later even though she had never smoked in her life. The cancer was caused from the ash she had inhaled that remained for months. Those who we have lost will never be forgotten.”


“My friend’s parents lived in New York at the time of the attack and they were very close to the towers when they came down.”


“I was a little over three and a half when 9/11 happened but I remember it vividly. I was living in North New Jersey at the time, close to the New York/New Jersey border. I remember being at home with my mom and not understanding why she changed the TV from Blues Clues to the news. I was especially mad when she wasn’t even watching but was on the phone in the other room. My dad at the time worked for AT&T in a mid-level job, but that night joined dozens of other workers as they worked 12 hour shifts calling the AT&T connected phones in an attempt to locate bodies in the rubble. My older sister was in fifth grade at the time and walked herself back home from school. When she got back, she took me across the street with her to a house with a white picket fence on a hill. When we got to the top, she picked me up by the armpits. I remember it hurting. She told me to look between two big trees. From there, I could see the spot of dark grey smoke that I didn’t quite realize at the time was the aftermath of the towers falling. We had a neighbor that died in the towers. It’s always been weird to me that this was my earliest memory. For years my family told me there was no way I remembered with such accuracy or even seeing the smoke. It wasn’t until I was in middle school and we were back in New Jersey on vacation when we drove past our old homes, and low and behold, we spotted the gap between two trees across from the house on the hill.”  


From Manhappenin’ Magazine, we would like to thank everyone who was vulnerable enough to share these emotional and personal stories. To the lives lost, you are not forgotten. To the lives impacted, you are not alone.


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