It was an odd day.
Union Elementary first grader Jeff Back didn’t understand why recess was being held inside on such a beautiful day or why so many of his classmates were being picked up from school by their parents.Meanwhile, at Liberty Elementary, Anna Starr was starting to get jealous.
Why wasn’t her mom picking her up?
What was so special about today?
It was Sept. 11, 2001.
It was a day not easily forgotten by Hannah Lee.
Lee remembers briefly watching the news coverage in her first grade classroom.
“The World Trade Center! I was just there,” said Lee, who went on a trip to visit relatives in New York City three weeks prior to the attacks.
Her teacher looked at her. The television was quickly turned off.
While she was only in first grade, Lee knew something terrible had just happened. She knew her uncle worked at the World Trade Center. She knew that her other uncle was a New York City fire fighter.
A lot of her family lives there.
She wondered: Are they ok?
Fellow first graders Keith Brady and Jake Chestnut remember their teachers whispering in the hallway.
Why were their teachers crying?
Brady, who just moved with his family to Ohio from California on Sept. 10, knew this couldn’t be how schools operated in Ohio. Even he knew something was off.
Jake also knew something was wrong when he saw his mom crying while waiting for him to get off the school bus.
They hugged. Soon, Jake was going to have to be explained not only about what happened that day, but why his dad, a member of the Air Force, was going to have to be sent overseas.
Memories of 9/11, just 11 years later, are still very strong in America.
Those memories are exceptionally strong in this country’s high school seniors, who were just entering the first grade when two planes flew into the World Trade Center buildings in New York.
“It kind of instilled some fear in me because I saw these people weren’t afraid to harm someone in our country,” Lakota East senior Jake Chestnut said. “It just made fearful, especially with my dad being in the military that something bad could possibly happen to him.”
That fear is something each high school senior has never been able to completely ignore.
“I always feel like nothing is going to happen to me or in my area, but I have to realize that could happen – like at the Rave (movie theater in West Chester) like it did in Colorado,” Lakota East senior Keith Brady said. “I have to come to reality, that it could happen to me any day at any time.”
But all of the seniors agree that 9/11 affected their parents more.
“My parents are overprotective to begin with and I know it is because they love me,” said Lakota East senior Anna Starr. “But I graduated, just yesterday, from having to text my mom when I get to school.”
While the fear will always be there for many families, Lakota East senior Hannah Lee, who found out later that no one in her family was harmed on Sept. 11, also thought that it brought this country closer together.
“It was definitely an eye opener,” Lee said. “We are not invincible. We would like to think that we not susceptible to that kind of harm.
“I definitely thought it brought the country closer together. Everybody kind of realized that we all have to come together. There are people out there that can always harm you. You have to be aware of that, but that is not something that you have to live in fear of all the time. Even though it will always be in the back of our minds.”
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