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My 9/11 Story

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

This is a heavy one, no doubt, but I wanted to record it somewhere for posterity.

I wrote this in my journal as a freshman at Lafayette College two days after the most tragic day of my life (at the time...many more happened in the future).

This young girl had NO idea how bad things would get in U.S. politics.

My senior yearbook photo and my first day of college, August 2001

Anyway, here is that diary entry [Ilan Peleg and Elizabeth McMahon were my professors, and Melissa "Elissa" Molloy was my roommate.

Elissa and me

"AG" stands for Audiogalaxy, a music-sharing website where I was the mod of a 3 Doors Down fan group]:


It's been 2 days now. I'm sorry that I didn't write on the day it happened, but I guess I couldn't bring myself to admitting it really happened. I am now not in denial. I have accepted what has happened and will now record to the best of my ability what happened to me on 9/11/01, the most tragic day of my life.

On the eleventh, I woke up at 8:30, got dressed, etc. I was worried I'd be late for my FYS course (amazingly enough International Conflict and Cooperation) as we were meeting in the library. When I arrived to the classroom, I set my messenger bag down, took out my folder and notebook and got ready for class. As I got prepared, I noticed some chaos occurring around me. The librarian, Therese, who was going to teach us about Web resources, was frantically searching for a news source online. CNN, MSNBC, anything. Peleg was behind her, saying the sites are jammed from too many people trying to get on. All of this was happening at 9:30 AM. Peleg mentioned the Twin Towers and I thought almost immediately, "Oh. It must have been another bomb. That's not that important." After searching, Therese went on about Web resources and then we searched for an article on our topic (mine is India-Pakistan conflict).

Afterwards, I left the library, still COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS, and headed to my next class, Patterns and Order. So, the whole class came in, a few at a time, until the room was filled except for the prof, McMahon. When she came in, she looked horrified. She tried to speak and hold back her tears as she whispered, "I can't do this. Everyone go home." At first, I thought she was joking and smiled knowingly. But, all of a sudden, everyone got up and left. The Prof then said, "And if anyone doesn't know what I'm talking about, stay and I'll tell you." So my friend Alexis and I stayed and I finally got the terrible news: Both World Trade Centers have completely collapsed, Washington has been hit by another plane, and 2 planes are still missing. I still had no idea what this all meant, but I knew today would be like no other day.

So at about 11:15 I reached my dorm, after walking quickly back from class w/hysterical people. Someone said that they are watching the news in the Lounge, so I ran to the lounge. I didn't even put down my books or bookbag in my room, even though it's next door. So I slipped through the door and sat down on one of the couches. This was about 11:20 AM. This is the exact time I saw what havoc had been wrought. Watching the towers I knew so well, I've been up both, and seeing all that was left of them, a burning pile of debris and rubble, horrified me. The image I saw on that TV had me so frightened I can't even explain. But the view that brought me to tears was the NY Skyline. Seeing that beloved city w/smoke pouring into the sky, with half of its picturesque beauty gone, was the most upsetting thing to me. It looked like a scene from a new movie, but it was REAL. The whole day had a surreal quality and I was disturbed by the images of people covered in inches of ash from the explosion, as if a volcano had erupted.

The scariest part of the entire day was the proximity of the cities attacked. One could reach either in less than 2 hours.

After I had had enough of watching the TV w/my face covered in tears, I went back to my room. At seeing Elissa crying hysterically, I began bawling too. Once I found my tissues, I wiped off my tear-stained face and immediately went online to find somebody, anybody, that I could talk to. As I've become somewhat upset at this point to say the least, it was difficult to type coherently. Also, when I walked into the room, Elissa shrieked something about Philadelphia, and I gasped, "Oh no! Not Philly!" It felt like whoever had done this was trying to hit me from every side. First NY, then Washington, now Philly? I was in a state of panic and disarray and couldn't take in all of this tragedy at the same time.

While I searched for someone to talk to, I heard Elissa calling everyone she knew on her cell phone, crying all the while.

I talked to a Mexican guy online and he said that it was on all the TVs there too.

I didn't eat lunch that day. I stayed online, trying to get on CNN or some other news source. At a little before one, I emailed a librarian and said I can't come in for work today. As my job was from 1–3, I decided I wasn't going to go until I heard from my family. Mom called at about 1:45 and we discussed the events and things. She said her first thought was that Clinton wasn't able to control this conflict, so now this happened. That's Mom logic for you.

So I talked to Mom and she said everything was fine. And everyone was fine. Her suspicion was it had to do with Osama Bin Laden.

By the way, when I was talking to the Mexican guy, he told me he saw Palestinian kids celebrating our grave misfortune. That was deeply disturbing, but I guess it was a type of victory against the "Great Satan." So, after talking to Mom, I mainly kept to myself, either watching the news, trying to take in and analyze every piece of information I could or being disgusted by it all and going online to check up on my AG buddies. As my profile says I am from PA, and a plane crashed outside of Pittsburgh, all these people kept asking me if I was OK.

At five thirty, I went down to dinner and ate by myself. The atmosphere in the cafeteria was surreal as well. Instead of playing the oldies station, the radio was news updates on the Attacks on America. I had a slice of pizza and salad, my only meal of the day, and ate in complete silence like many others.

After dinner, I left for my Psychology Lab. As I had a lab due that day, I was typing it up while I was online. I finished just before I went to dinner. When I got to lab, I found out class was pretty much cancelled due to the tragedy.

We went around the classroom and said what we felt like. I said I'm not as much in denial as I was before but it's still bizarre and surreal to me. After we finished that, everyone handed in their labs and left.

Later that night, there was a candlelight vigil. As I was only wearing my tan linen skirt, purple tank top and denim shirt, I was pretty cold as the night progressed. Many leaders of the school got up and spoke about the tremendous loss everyone has felt today. Then, we lit candles, sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and left.

The mood of the day was sobering. Very somber and quiet. When the news was on during dinner, I felt like the world had regressed back to the 1940s.

Like Pearl Harbor. As I walked back from the vigil w/Briana, I sang Let There Be Peace on Earth to myself, all of the parts as the version sung before editted [sic] out any religious sections.

So, I softly sang, while holding my candle as it slowly burned out,

Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father, brother's [sic] all are we.
Let me walk with my brother,
in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me,
let this be the moment now.
With every step I take,
let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment, and live
each moment, in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
and let it begin with me.

September 11, 2001. A day that will live in infamy.

A photo I had taken of the memorial messages in 2002 when we'd visited the site in NYC

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