9-11 Reflections – Profile: Pamela English

Submitted by Web Communications on September 13, 2011

 

I, along with many of my classmates, had parents who worked in the city and/or were expecting a parent to be in one of the towers at that moment. … The math worksheets that we had been working on…were now a distant memory. Many students congregated, in tears of worry and shock, in front of the TV in the library until the school closed for the day at 11:00 that morning.

Pamela English ’11

Hometown: Stamford, CT

I remember I was in 7th grade at a school in Rye, NY. Around 9:20 that morning, a teacher stopped by my math class and said that there was an all-school assembly. Once in the gym, the principle told us that two airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center towers; she did not have any further information about the damage done. We went back to class, cleared our desks and sat, anxiously waiting to hear more.

I, along with many of my classmates, had parents who worked in the city and/or were expecting a parent to be in one of the towers at that moment. The father of one of my classmates was on a plane that morning that was bound for California. And these were just the students in my math class. Many of the students in the school were very worried. The math worksheets that we had been working on before we were interrupted were now a distant memory. Many students congregated, in tears of worry and shock, in front of the TV in the library until the school was closed for the day at 11:00 that morning.

We pulled together in a effort to understand what had happened. Many, many masses, memorial services, and vigils of prayer and reflection would follow in the days and months ahead.

I was fortunate not to lose a loved one, but some of my classmates were not so fortunate.  Immediately following that day, some of the students and faculty members covered a large bulletin board with black paper and painted in white the names of those affiliated with the school who were missing.

Eventually someone wrote a prayer on the board for those who were dead.  As time passed by, I started to understand how 9-11 affected me on a deeper level…

September 11, 2001 had unusual significance for me: exactly one month prior, on August 11th, a few members of my family and a few friends decided to go to NYC see the twin towers.  We had moved to southern Connecticut in 2000 and were just becoming acquainted with the area.  We chose August 11, 2001 to visit because it was a weekend day; we thought nothing of it.  Our goal was to go to the observation deck at the top of the south tower.  I remember taking pictures of the lobby as we walked into that building; I was so in awe of its size.

Although it was wonderful to see the towers up close and personal, we will joke, to this day, about how the experience did not quite go as planned.  The observation deck was closed that day for whatever reason so we had to look out the windows on the floor below.  It was also quite cloudy that day meaning that we could only see about fifty yards in front of us before our view was obscured. We got a lot out of the experience, including many pictures at the top of the World Trade Center, but we hoped to come back at a later date, when the sky was clearer.

As it turned out, there would be no return visit.  On the morning of September 11th, as I watched replays of United Airlines flight 175 crashing into the south tower, as I watched the towers become consumed with smoke, it dawned on me how close we had come to death.  We could have easily scheduled a visit to the twin towers for that day; it would have an ideal day for it: the sky was absolutely cloudless…

“Well,” my mother commented a few days after the towers were destroyed, “at least we got to visit them once.”  This comment was often followed by: “Well, I guess we never did get to go to the observation deck.”

When we visited the towers, we never suspected that they would only be standing for one more month.  It was totally surreal.  After September 11th, our pictures from that visit to the World Trade Center were thrown in the trash.  It was one way of coping with the disaster and our bizarre near-miss story.  When I look back on that day, I think about all of the people who walked into that building in the morning who could not fathom the notion that they would never walk out of it again.

I remember that life can be gone in an instant.

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