Throwback Thursday #8 – My 9/11 Story, or The First Time I Was Published

I felt a strange mix of interest and humility when I realized that September 11th falls on a Thursday this year. Because it sets up today’s entry perfectly, but I feel strange to have positive emotions about 9/11.

I suppose that’s how I felt at age 10, the first and only time I was published in the newspaper, from a submission of my 9/11 story.

On September 11, 2001, I was 9 years old. That probably makes some of you feel ancient, but I know a lot of friends and fellow bloggers were also children on that day. You should probably know from all my Throwback Thursdays that I was an avid writer, even back then. In a couple years, I would also grow to be an avid journal-er. I liked writing down important events of my life as a method of record-keeping. Obviously, we never forgot 9/11, but perhaps I didn’t realize that at the time.

Rather than recounting my “where was I story” from my 22-year-old voice, I’ll let my 9-year-old self tell it instead. It is a little raw, and perhaps a little triggery, because 9-year-olds don’t filter much or have a full scope of understanding. They’re unreliable narrators. But I feel like its worth posting as-is because….well. It’s true.

Mrs. Bryan closed the book. The class groaned loudly, including me. I’m Michelle Iannantuono. I’m in Mrs. Bryan’s 4th grade class. Mrs. Bryan had just finished the second chapter in a story called “Tales of the 4th Grade Nothing.”

“Okay,” she said, “now let’s watch the video that Mrs. Forbes put in.” (Mrs. Forbes is another teacher.) She turned out all the lights and turned on the television. “Okay, here is a video that talks about weather,” said Mrs. Bryan. A few minutes later, Mrs.Bryan flipped some channels on the TV. I saw a flash of George Bush talking.

Mrs. Bryan sadly turned to us. “I’ve only heard a little about this,” she said. We all leaned forward. “I got this from Mrs. Eva (the secretary) this morning. A terrorist destroyed the World Trade Center.”

I gasped. “How?” Drew asked. “Two planes crashed into it,” Mrs. Bryan said. “One in each,” she added. “Also, a plane crashed into the Pentagon.”

I covered my mouth. Next she called on me. “Will they come here?” I asked her.

“Nah,” she replied, “they’d stick to really important buildings and places. Luckily, Charleston is not popular.” I sighed with relief, but I still felt scared. The terrorist could come here just to kill people. Like my teacher said, Charleston, South Carolina isn’t popular and nobody would ever suspect someone to come.

I walked out the door to find my Grandma sitting on a bench. We got in her car and drove to her house talking about the destruction, saying things like “I can’t believe it.” When we got there the power was off. I groaned. I forgot to mention it was a cloudy, rainy day. Mom picked me up about 30 minutes later. When we got home, luckily we had power. Mom flicked to a channel talking about the plane crashes. She swapped to another and another until she found one she liked.

You should have seen that thing come down. I almost felt like crying. I could be killed going out to get the mail. “Look Michelle,” Mom said. I looked at the TV. I saw a plane go right through the World Trade Center. One side of it exploded in a huge fireball. My jaw dropped. “That’s how it was destroyed?” I asked.

I got out my journal and began to write. “Something scary happened today. The Word Trade Center was destroyed. Two regular passenger planes crashed into each tower. The Pentagon had one plane crash into it. Luckily, it was not destroyed. Four jets were destroyed. Over 10,000 people were killed. Who is the enemy? Iran? Iraq? Bin Laden? It may be someone nobody expects.”

3 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday #8 – My 9/11 Story, or The First Time I Was Published

  1. I wish I’d been a writer or had a journal or anything on that day. But I don’t. And just remember where I was and other people and watching the news. But I’m unable to really know my thoughts as everything was unfolding.

    • Yeah, I remember that day in great detail – even the mundane things – but it’s hard to recall my exact state of mind. I can remember WHAT happened but not how I processed it. At 9, I’d never even heard of the World Trade Center. I only knew of the Pentagon. And that’s was the first day I ever heard Bin Laden’s name. I’m glad to have my old journal, but it probably just scratches the surface. I think that day influenced me a LOT growing up.

  2. Wow, powerful stuff, Michelle. It’s really good of you to write down your thoughts on such a moment.
    I probably would have done it if I hadn’t been running around campus at the time, in a shocked doze, rushing to get back to my dorm to watch it. I remember it clearly though, the feelings and the emotions as well as the imagery. Wow,what a day.

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