9/11, A World Forever Changed

Sep 10 2021
By Lauren R. Mosko

Story telling keeps memories alive. Twenty years ago Americans watched in shock and horror as the world was forever changed. Here are some of those stories...

“I remember that day so vividly. I was working downtown in Chelsea and would often walk the 20 blocks to my office from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It was a beautiful day, I specifically remember remarking what a lovely day it was, not a cloud in the sky. After stopping at Whole Foods for my breakfast I was on my way to the office when I noticed that people were stopped in their tracks and staring up to the sky. I thought nothing of it at first, this is New York City! Then I stopped and looked up and saw the smoke. I assumed it was a fire of some sort when I heard people say it was the Trade Center. I got into my building and called my mother who was also working in the city at the time. At this point I had seen the news and knew a plane had hit the first tower. I told my mom that we needed to leave work and go home. While I was waiting for her, I also found out that my husband had at the last minute decided to not go to a meeting at a building across from WTC and was so grateful. I finally met my mom at her building and we were able to go uptown to the GWB bus terminal. I remember seeing police with artillery guarding the entrance to the terminal. There was a long line of people waiting to board buses that would take them to Ft. Lee, NJ. I lived in North Jersey then. Fortunately, my brother was able to meet us and drive us home. Seeing people on the streets and in the subway covered in ash and soot who had fled the trade center or were near it after the planes hit was surreal. For a long time I couldn’t watch any footage of the towers burning on that day. I will never forget what it was like to watch this tragedy unfold.” ~ Julia Cheung

"I remember sitting in my 11th grade Creative Writing class the morning of September 11th. Creative Writing was my favorite class in high school because my teacher would always play the coolest jazz music while we worked at our desks. Upon walking into the classroom, you could feel the trumpet, saxophone, and bass inviting your creativity. But on September 11th, 2001, the classroom was quiet. Eerily quiet. My teacher had a solemn look on his face while a television played in the background. Although there was no volume, we saw the footage of the second airplane crashing into the Twin Towers. My teacher tried explaining what was happening, but his words rang hollow. Then silence. No one said anything that class. Or the next. The usually boisterous hallways were quiet. There was this sense of impending doom throughout the school. Even though we didn’t understand the magnitude of what was happening, it was the first time we felt a collective vulnerability as Americans. During that time, I was president of my school’s Bible Club. Not having the power to do much else, I organized an impromptu prayer circle after school, at the flagpole right in front of the main entrance. I remember when we started the prayer, there were 6 of us. We prayed for the country, those in New York, those in Pennsylvania, those in Washington, D.C., and those whose lives were going to change forever as a result of the attacks. As we prayed, we began hearing the prayers of others joining ours. It felt like we were praying for hours. When we finally said our “amens” and opened our eyes, there were about 60 people praying with us. For most, it was their first and last time joining our circle. But I think for each of us there, that sense of faith and community were exactly what we needed to believe we would be okay."  ~ Ariel Matos

“I vividly remember us all watching the news at our desks (in Robertson Hall), wondering what was exactly happening and then what to do. We just stared at each other because we all were mummified and in disbelief, especially after the second tower was hit. I was on the phone with my husband who was directed to go home. He was working in PA at the time and there were speculations that they would close NY and PA bridges. Once the cell phone services were completely down, I believe most of us decided to go home and be with family in case there would be additional attacks and the last thing we could do was work anyway.” ~ Linda Taylor

“I was in my high school locker room when one of the planes crashed nearby — in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It didn’t hit me until much later how close it really was to Johnstown, where I grew up. With a delay, an odd turn, a struggle, it could’ve crashed down on our town, instead of an empty field. We were all dismissed from school early, and I watched the unending news coverage on our old TV in the living room. I was old enough to understand the devastation, but not mature enough to really understand the severity. Twenty years later, I work at a school focused on policy with experts who’ve now long-studied the global implications of 9/11. Even though it’s been two decades, it, once again, feels close to home.” ~ B. Rose Huber

Faculty and experts have joined together for two 9/11 panel discussions. Below is a link to watch the recording of our first panel and a link to register for the upcoming panel.

9/11, 20 Years Later: A World Forever Changed

Ripples from 9/11: 20 years Later This event is open to SPIA students, faculty and staff. Registration is required.


Kim Lane Scheppele recently joined our podcast EndNotes to discuss 9/11 and the Rise of Global Anti-Terrorism Law