I had honestly almost forgot. That’s the thing about time. Especially when you don’t have the strongest connection to an event. Over the years though, I’ve come to realize the importance of noting historical moments in life. The 2000 election, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, 2016. We become living history books, able to tell a human story.
Seventeen years ago, one of those moments of notes happened.
I was just about to turn seven. I was in second grade and the school day was just beginning. I was excited because that weekend we were going to be staying at the Marriott next to the World Trade Center to celebrate my birthday early. The school day started around 8am.
I attended school in Hartford, Connecticut. The elementary school and my house were 20 miles from the airport and just over two hours from New York City.
I remember the day starting normal. We were writing observations in our science journals about our butterflies that we would be releasing soon. The normalcy of that Tuesday would quickly change. It seemed like every few minutes after 9:30am a student would be called for early dismissal to the office. I remember thinking it was weird that so many of my classmates had doctor appointments this early in the day.
Eventually I was called and headed to the main office with a trickle of other students. Something was off. In the main office waiting area was a small crowd of anxious looking parents who quickly hugged their children upon seeing them. Again, this came off as strange even in an elementary school. My mom was no different but she looked like she had been crying.
She quickly signed me out and we went to pick my brother up at his preschool. It seemed like what was happening at my elementary school was happening at the preschool as well since there was a dwindling number of children around. I remember my mom talking quickly with one of the teachers before collecting my brother and bringing us home.
And then the TV turned on.
Over and over again it seemed like that we’re playing the clip of the planes hitting the World Trade Center. This is one of those moments that almost feels dream like now. Not in a good way but like time just stopped for a while. Everything was hyper focused yet, being a child, I couldn’t understand what was happening.
I remember my mom sitting us down when my dad eventually came home and they tried to explain what had happened as best they could to a six and three year old. I can still remember the TV on for the next few days just covering what had happened.
What stands out more is the silence. Being so close to two airports, we were used to hearing planes fly over fairly frequently. My memory might be a little wrong but I remember not hearing a single plane for what seemed like weeks. Not a single one. Even if it was only a few days, it was a sound that stuck with me. That silence was just so strange.
In the years that followed, this day has always kept that strange feel to it. Even when nothing happens, it seems like everyone is on edge. Waiting. Holding their breath.
Today is a day to remember and reflect.