Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Night Before

The small memorial at Orange County Choppers
I have little recollection regarding the night before 9/11/01. I remember that the semester was just getting started and that I had class early the next morning. I know that I was preparing for a trip into the city for the ASVAB and that I was working on scheduling a meeting with the President of the college to discuss starting an ROTC partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (a partnership was later formed with MIT). I can also faintly recall hearing the sounds of the Giants’ Monday Night Football game coming from a dorm room a few feet away but there is little else that my memory possesses.

Overall, it was just another cool New England night with the biggest concern of those around me was starting off the year right and making sure that they got to class on time the following morning. When I woke up on Tuesday morning I didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary and I went about the early morning preparing for class and taking a slow walk to the Academic Building. It really was a beautiful beginning to the day with only a few thin clouds in the sky, a light breeze coming off of the bay, and the temperature remaining crisp and comfortable.

When I walked through the doors and glanced up at the television perched in the corner I could see that something was going on but didn’t really take the time to watch and process what was transpiring. I was running a little behind getting to class but managed to get there by 8:50am, there was little else on everyone’s mind and the conversation quickly lead to an early dismissal about 5 minutes later. As I retraced my steps back through the building, I once again looked up at that same television just as the second plane struck the South Tower.

This is when we all knew that this wasn’t simply an accident and as the news and speculation streamed across the screen I quickly pulled out my cell phone and called my dad to make sure that his meeting at the World Trade Center the day before didn’t carry over into the morning. Thankfully, it seems as though I was one of the last to place a successful call as cell phone service was nearly nonexistent by the time I got back to my dorm room and turned on the news. As Peter Jennings shuffled through the information we all turned up the volume of our televisions and walked outside to try and catch our breath. And as the fighter jets screamed above our heads low enough to read the warnings on the underbelly of the planes, we could hear the reports come in that the first tower had collapsed.

The rest of the week remains absent from memory as days seemingly condensed into seconds while minutes felt like weeks. Fifteen years later and I still have those memories etched in my mind. And I am sure that fifteen years from now they will remain as vivid as they are today.