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Students recall fear, confusion of Sept. 11

Mel Flanagan | Monday, September 12, 2011

By MELISSA FLANAGAN

News Writer

Junior Luke Henegan used to be able to see the World Trade Center across the water from his house in Point Lookout, N.Y.

On Sept. 11, 2001, all he saw was smoke.

Although he was only 10 years old at the time, Henegan said he still remembers that day as if it were yesterday.

“We were in school, and it was right on the water, and the teachers didn’t tell anyone what happened but you could tell something was wrong,” Henegan said. “They closed all the blinds because apparently there was an aircraft carrier going by.”

Although he did not fully understand the significance of what happened at the time, Henegan said he came to realize it soon enough.

“I think it was when [the tragedy] didn’t go away,” he said. “The months just went by so fast, and it just never went away and you realized, ‘Wow, this is pretty serious.'”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, junior Tessa Demmerle’s biggest concern was a class picture day at her school in Greenwich, Conn.

“In the middle of taking our class picture, the photographer took a call on his cell phone, and I remember hearing him say ‘Is everyone okay?'” Demmerle said. “And then we just stopped taking pictures and were brought back to my classroom.”

Although school officials told her and the rest of her middle school about the attacks, Demmerle said she also did not comprehend the magnitude of the day at first.

“I didn’t understand or really know about terrorism or what could result from it,” she said. “It just shocked me that some group of people could destroy the lives of so many people in my town and take away someone’s dad or mom.”

Ten years later, the events of Sept. 11 are still a painful but important memory.  

“You just think more about the world now, and how we’re a huge part of it, especially living in New York,” Henegan said. “You realize how big of a deal the United States is and how important we are globally. You didn’t realize that before.”

For Demmerle, the effect was more personal. She said she still fears flying as a result of that day.

“The summer after Sept. 11 we flew to Italy, and there was a man who had a weird-looking backpack on,” she said. “I started hysterically crying because I thought he was a terrorist and had a bomb in his backpack.”

Sophomore Meaghan Ayers said she felt the continuing effects of Sept. 11 during her college search two years ago.

“When I was looking at schools, one of my choices was Georgetown,” Ayers said. “And my dad said, ‘Yeah, Georgetown would be an awesome school, but it would make me very nervous that you’d be so close to what would be a huge [terrorist] target area.'”

On Sept. 11, 2001, Ayers said her teachers gathered her entire elementary school into their gymnasium in Glen Rock, N.J. The students remained there for the rest of the day, and Ayers said she knew something was wrong but was not sure what.

Ayers’ father worked in a building across the street from the Twin Towers, she said, but he luckily was in a meeting in a different part of the city that day.

“My mom called my dad’s office just to make sure he was okay and started talking to a secretary,” Ayers said. “She could hear the devastation going on in the background.”

Ayers said the Sept. 11 attacks made people her age more cynical and wary than older generations.

“Everyone’s a lot more pessimistic about people in general,” she said. “We’re just less willing to trust people.”

Before the attacks, Demmerle said she and many other Americans did not pay as much attention to current events or world politics.

Now, national and international news demand attention, she said.

“We’re very interested in what’s going on in the world,” she said. “Everyone is very [invested] in knowing about the atrocities that happen in other places, since we realized it can happen here as well.”

As he reflected on the view of smoke clouding the sky above New York City ten years ago, Henegan said Sept. 11 woke young people to the way international tragedy could strike the United States.  

“It was just such a global incident, it was all over the news and you just think, ‘Wow, this is our home’,” he said. “You just didn’t think stuff like that on the news could happen so close to home.”

Contact Melissa Flanagan at

mflanag3@nd.edu

Junior Luke Henegan used to be able to see the World Trade Center across the water from his house in Point Lookout, N.Y.

On Sept. 11, 2001, all he saw was smoke.

Although he was only 10 years old at the time, Henegan said he still remembers that day as if it were yesterday.

“We were in school, and it was right on the water, and the teachers didn’t tell anyone what happened but you could tell something was wrong,” Henegan said. “They closed all the blinds because apparently there was an aircraft carrier going by.”

Although he did not fully understand the significance of what happened at the time, Henegan said he came to realize it soon enough.

“I think it was when [the tragedy] didn’t go away,” he said. “The months just went by so fast, and it just never went away and you realized, ‘Wow, this is pretty serious.'”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, junior Tessa Demmerle’s biggest concern was a class picture day at her school in Greenwich, Conn.

“In the middle of taking our class picture, the photographer took a call on his cell phone, and I remember hearing him say ‘Is everyone okay?'” Demmerle said. “And then we just stopped taking pictures and were brought back to my classroom.”

Although school officials told her and the rest of her middle school about the attacks, Demmerle said she also did not comprehend the magnitude of the day at first.

“I didn’t understand or really know about terrorism or what could result from it,” she said. “It just shocked me that some group of people could destroy the lives of so many people in my town and take away someone’s dad or mom.”

Ten years later, the events of Sept. 11 are still a painful but important memory.

“You just think more about the world now, and how we’re a huge part of it, especially living in New York,” Henegan said. “You realize how big of a deal the United States is and how important we are globally. You didn’t realize that before.”

For Demmerle, the effect was more personal. She said she still fears flying as a result of that day.

“The summer after Sept. 11 we flew to Italy, and there was a man who had a weird-looking backpack on,” she said. “I started hysterically crying because I thought he was a terrorist and had a bomb in his backpack.”

Sophomore Meaghan Ayers said she felt the continuing effects of Sept. 11 during her college search two years ago.

“When I was looking at schools, one of my choices was Georgetown,” Ayers said. “And my dad said, ‘Yeah, Georgetown would be an awesome school, but it would make me very nervous that you’d be so close to what would be a huge [terrorist] target area.'”

On Sept. 11, 2001, Ayers said her teachers gathered her entire elementary school into their gymnasium in Glen Rock, N.J. The students remained there for the rest of the day, and Ayers said she knew something was wrong but was not sure what.

Ayers’ father worked in a building across the street from the Twin Towers, she said, but he luckily was in a meeting in a different part of the city that day.

“My mom called my dad’s office just to make sure he was okay and started talking to a secretary,” Ayers said. “She could hear the devastation going on in the background.”

Ayers said the Sept. 11 attacks made people her age more cynical and wary than older generations.

“Everyone’s a lot more pessimistic about people in general,” she said. “We’re just less willing to trust people.”

Before the attacks, Demmerle said she and many other Americans did not pay as much attention to current events or world politics.

Now, national and international news demand attention, she said.

“We’re very interested in what’s going on in the world,” she said. “Everyone is very [invested] in knowing about the atrocities that happen in other places, since we realized it can happen here as well.”

As he reflected on the view of smoke clouding the sky above New York City ten years ago, Henegan said Sept. 11 woke young people to the way international tragedy could strike the United States.

“It was just such a global incident, it was all over the news and you just think, ‘Wow, this is our home’,” he said. “You just didn’t think stuff like that on the news could happen so close to home.”