Remembering 9/11: 20 Years Later

Stories from staff members on 9/11


Abby Moutardier, Editor-in-Chief

20 years ago, the world was forever changed when the al-Qaeda terrorist group attacked the US on her soil four times.  Nearly 3,000 lives were lost, and over 6,000 were injured. 

At 8:45 a.m. the first plane hit the North World Trade Center tower in New York City. 

At 9:03 a.m. the second plane hit the remaining World Trade Center tower in New York City. 

At 9:45 a.m. the third plane hit the west side of the Pentagon in Washington D.C.. 

At 10:10 a.m. the fourth plane crashed onto a rural field in Pennsylvania, though it was thought to be headed for the White House. 

20 years ago, the country was forever changed from attacks spanning a course of less than 90 minutes.  

“I seem to remember the intensity of the moment,” social studies teacher Dustin Goodlet said. “It was evident that everyone knew something wasn’t right even before it was known what was going on. Also, the craving America had to get back to normal was interesting to watch. How soon do we play baseball games in New York? Is it safe to fly on a plane?” 

The 9/11 attacks result from Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda attacking symbols of US power to weaken the country’s world standing and give more power to their political and Religious Goals in the middle east and Muslim world, according to 9/11 Memorial. 

Following 9/11, the economy was hit hard, with airlines and insurance being hit the hardest. The Dow Jones fell 684 points, a 7.1% decline. This was the biggest single day loss in the exchange’s history. 

I watched my parents begin to worry more about money issues. Before 9/11, America was booming. After the event, the economy was hit hard,“English teacher Tabitha Vincent said. 


Though in the scheme of our country’s history, 9/11 was recent, those who were babies when we were attacked are the age equivalent to juniors in college. English teacher Nathan McGarvey was a college student in 2001. 

    I was on my way to class at IUS when reports starting coming in on the radio about a Trade Tower being hit,” McGarvey said. “Everyone thought it was an accident. So I went into class, and when I came out the world was different.”

    The average child starts to remember instances through adulthood is age seven, according to the National Library of Medicine. Vincent was in first grade for the attack, putting her at about this age. 

I remember another teacher pulling my teacher into the hall to let her know,” VIncent said. “She came back in crying. She told us to color and do some independent work while she sat at her desk and watched the live news footage. The TV was on a cart at the time. She pulled it to her desk and we were not allowed to look at it. We were scared seeing her upset. I found out what happened when I left school. My mom picked me up and told me that something bad happened that day. I was a little scared but I was so little that I didn’t understand what truly happened.”

 While no current high school students were born yet for 9/11, now basketball coach and gym teacher Jim Shannon was teaching U.S. History at NAHS and remembers finding out as a teacher.

“I remember when it first happened, I couldn’t believe it,” Shannon said. “I brought it up on the television screen and just couldn’t believe the images. Of course, we became totally fixated on it the rest of the day. I’m not sure anything else went on during the day in kids classrooms other than dealing with that tragedy. I remember that vividly. I remember exactly where I was.”

On the other hand, Tim Ferree was also teaching and says he went the entire day not knowing what had happened. 

“I taught all day and at the end of the school day, the principal got on and said ‘as you leave today, you’re going to hear some horrible atrocities that have been committed against our nation.’,” Ferree said. “‘Everything at the school is canceled, everyone go home, be with your family.’ It had gone on all day, I did not know. There were a lot of people in the building who knew from TV and whatnot, but they didn’t let it get out to the students because there wasn’t anything you could do.” 

Depending on where one was in their life, the amount of time that has seemed to pass varies, for those who were adults, the event feels much more recent. 

For those of us who remember that day vividly, it certainly does not seem like it was that long ago,” Shannon said. “It remains pretty vivid in your mind for quite some time. I cannot believe 20 years have passed. It seems like it was just a few years ago in terms of the impact it had on all of us who were old enough to witness it and see it and say ‘oh my gosh it was really bad’.”

“It feels like 20 years ago,” Vincent said. “I have grown so much since it happened, it is not hard for me to believe that it has been that long.”

In 2001, the country was very different from today.  In 2000, only 28.3 people had a cell phone; in 2002 that rose to over half of the population, according to The American Association for Public Opinion research. Those cellphones were very limited compared to today, and if 9/11 happened today, it would not take long for everyone to know the full story from their handheld device. 

This was before social media and good cell phones,” McGarvey said. “I came out into the lobby and just stood dumbfounded looking at the television sets with a couple hundred other people. We were just silent and looking for anyone we knew.”

The Aftermath

After 9/11, many aspects of the country changed, largely in regards to security. TSA (Transportation Security Administration) was created just a few short months later. 

“People were having to wait in lines, but we all across the board talked about it,” Shannon said. “To ensure we are going to be safer, it’s okay that we’re going to be put out a bit. It’s okay that we’re going to have to be patient. It’s okay that we’re going to have to wait in lines. They’re just trying to make sure one of these crazy terrorist events never happens again.”

The attack also increased patriotism around the country. On 9/11, Walmart sold 116,000 American flags, and 250,000 more the next day. Companies that previously made nautical flags and golf course pennants switched their business model to making tiny United States flags, according to the New York Times. Music began to reflect a skew of opinions on the matter- from anger to sadness to partiatism including “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” by Toby Keith, Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and “I Was Here,” by Beyonce. 

“What I saw immediately after that which has carried on perhaps even to an extreme is the sense of nationalism,” Ferree said. “I think it was good back then. You saw a lot more flags that sort of thing. But now, with all the strides we have in our country, we can’t seem to get along well and with social media pushing people one way or another if someone is too strong for America, they’re looked down upon almost.”

9/11 in Schools

Though a large portion of the population remembers 9/11, it is history. Of the 50 States and the District of Columbia, 26 have 9/11 in their curriculum and nine have terrorism or the War on Terror in their academic standards. In New York students observe an annual moment of silence, according to Time.  

“[I have learned about 9/11] pretty much every year I’ve been in school,” sophomore LT  Garmon said. “My most recent memory was in the 7th grade. We watched a ton of videos, mainly in our social studies class.” 

For those who were alive and remember the event, teaching about it is very different than most historic events. 

“I remember when I was in high school and I had a history teacher who would be talking about history,” Ferree said. “Finally towards the end of the year you’d be getting into the 1900’s, and it’s like ‘he was alive then’ and that’s kind of weird because I wasn’t alive then. It’s kind of the same thing. Like wow, you know you’re old when you remember history, when you were alive, when the history happened that people are studying.  

Because students are taught about 9/11 by people who lived through it, the lessons are often more emotional than topics such as the War of 1812. 

“I remember I thought it was really scary [the first time I learned about 9/11] because it sounded like something that would’ve happened a long time ago,” freshman Alexia Moderau said. “Some of my teachers and parents have told stories which is crazy because it shows how recent it was.”

McGarvey says he believes days such as 9/11 should not just be remembered on 9/11. 

I don’t think the 20 year mark should be special for this,” McGarvey said. “The state of the world should be a constant in our minds, not just something we remember a few days at certain times. We have lost loved ones, and had our lives changed forever. But people forget things so quickly.”