Tuesday – September 11, 2001
7:50 a.m. – My freshmen year Cousin Kyle was my roommate. We led very different collegiate lives during our first semester. I was completely engaged in NSU life, and Kyle hated being there. I wanted to hang out with other people and see what the campus had to offer. Kyle wanted to go back home and see his girlfriend (he ended up marrying her…it worked out). On this day we had a ton in common.
We were both asleep when our dorm room phone started to ring (for you young ones reading this, no one had cell phone service in Tahlequah, OK and all of us had an actual telephone in our room with an extension). Our phone was ringing very loudly until Kyle answered it. It was Slade Cochrane, which if you knew Slade, it really strange for him to be calling us this early.
Slade was telling Kyle to turn on the TV as I yelled at Kyle to hang up the phone. Kyle hung up the phone and rolled back over. Almost immediately afterward, our phone started to ring again. This time I answered, and Fenska was on the line, frantically telling us to turn on the TV.
8 a.m. – I flipped on the TV, and asked Fenska what station I needed to turn the TV to, and he said, “It doesn’t matter, it is the same thing on every station.” I dropped my jaw as I saw the video replays of a plane flying into the World Trade Center.
Kyle rolled over and asked, “What is going on?”
Fenska answered his question as if Kyle had asked him, “It’s a terrorist attack. That is what all the news stations are saying, but everyone is really confused. They are trying to evacuate the other building right now, but so many people work and visit there. This is crazy man.”
In almost the exact moment that Fenska was talking about the second tower, Kyle yelled for me to look at the second plane coming into the screen.
“It’s going straight for that other building. Look at it!”
I will never forget the feeling I had when that second plane flew into the World Trade Center. I knew that life as we knew it was about to change, but I had no idea how. Kyle and I set around for a little while and discussed the events as they happened live on our television. We were glued to the coverage, much like the rest of America, and I didn’t know how we would face the day. I called every person I loved and told them how much they meant to me.
9:30 a.m. – Believe it or not, when I was a freshman, I went to every single class. Sept. 11, 2001 was no exception. I had a PLC political science class with Dr. Sharp in Seminary Hall, and I genuinely wanted to go to class and digest the events of the day with my classmates and professor. We set around for over an hour and tried to explain the injustices of the world, and why that bad things happened to innocent people.
I am not quite sure that I’ve ever found a good answer to that question, and I don’t know if I ever will. On that day, I sat dumbfounded with a group of other freshmen who thought about more than surface issues and everyday life. As the reports came in we heard about hundreds of people who had died unjustly in these inhumane terrorist attacks.
11:05 a.m. – Our group walked out of class a little late that day, and as we were walking down the steps of Seminary Hall towards the cafe, we all heard screaming coming from behind us. A girl was running and screaming at the top of her lungs, almost in hysteria.
“My mom worked in that tower!” she screamed as she flew by us on the steps. She literally stopped right in the middle of the sidewalk and collapsed on the ground under the weight of this tragic news. Kristen Schell and a few other girls ran to her and immediately started praying and trying to console her. Her screams will forever haunt me, as we never found out if her mom made it out alive.
3:30 p.m. – I actually went to all of my classes that day, even a stinking Zoology lab class that had us catching butterflies in a field near campus. As I was leaving the field with no butterflies (I wasn’t good at catching butterflies…or good at Zoology for that matter), Cousin Kyle told me that the radio stations were all predicting a shortage of gasoline in the US. He informed me that I should take my truck immediately to the gas station and fill up or I was going to be walking before too long.
I turned the truck around and headed to the closest gas station to fill her up, and saw the line for the gas station before I found the gas station. It was a 3/4 of a mile line of cars waiting on pumps to open up. As I got a little closer I saw the price of gasoline had skyrocketed that afternoon. Gas was almost $3.50 a gallon. I was absolutely shocked.
I grabbed my phone, called Kyle, and informed him that I would walk from here to China and back before I would ever put gas that expensive in my truck. I never thought I would see the day that gas would be above $2 a gallon, much less over $3 a gallon. Little did I know that it wouldn’t be long before I would pay over $4 for gas an entire summer a few years later.
I will never forget the events that unfolded that morning. The uncertainty that hung over all of our thoughts and the pain in everyone’s hearts was almost too much to bear. I later learned of the monumental loss the US sustained on 9/11, and the repercussions of the terrorist attacks. I saw first hand the resiliency of our country and the fine citizens who banded together to rebuild. On that day, however, I was lost and sad and angry.
I encourage you to recap your day in the best way you can. Talk about it with your friends and family. Share it with whoever is willing to listen. If you are not old enough to remember, watch the live coverage from that day. I would love to hear your experiences from 9/11, please share them below.