CG Teachers Remember Sept. 11


Blue tiles representing the clear blue skies on Sept. 11 line the entrance wall to New York City’s 9/11 Memorial Museum

It was just another Tuesday morning in New York City. It was a cloudless sky in the eastern United States, and flights departed seamlessly as they usually did every other morning. 

At 8:14 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 took off from Boston, headed for Los Angeles. Aboard were 9 crew members, 56 passengers, and — unknown at the time — 5 hijackers. 

Simultaneously, American Airlines Flight 11 had its final communication with air traffic controllers, with instructions to increase the plane’s altitude, and at that time, the messages went unanswered. At 8:19 a.m., a flight attendant on Flight 11 reported that the cockpit wasnot answering, the plane had been hijacked, and two others reported that a passenger had been stabbed. At 8:21 a.m., the transponder on Flight 11 was turned off, depleting air traffic controllers’ ability to monitor its course. 

At 8:42 a.m., Flight 175 made its last communications with air traffic controllers, reporting that the plane had been hijacked.  Five minutes later, the transponder code was changed. 

At 8:46 a.m., Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Just 17 minutes later, at 9:03 a.m., Flight 175 appeared in the sky and turned sharply into the south tower of the World Trade Center. 

 It was at this time that America knew it was under attack. 

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 will forever live in infamy with all Americans, whether they lived through it themselves or learned about it through various videos and lessons in school. Today, younger generations are able to learn about the events that took place; however, they can only truly understand the emotions that day brought, and that are carried around each year as the day approaches, by talking to those who lived through it. 

Each American old enough to remember what happened that day does- each having their own individual experience. All remember where they were, what they were doing and their immediate reactions that followed after hearing the news. Even though each American’s experience differs, America stands in solidarity with the emotions that day created… including surrealness, shock, and anger. 

Center Grove High School has its very own 9/11 stories that intertwine with one another. 

Science teacher Greg Jansen was a freshman in Ryan Spoonmore’s history class. Home with an illness on that day, Jansen remembers going downstairs to see his mom glued to the TV, which he found odd since his mom wasn’t a TV person. Jansen sat and ate as he saw one of the towers in the background of the newscast collapse. 

“That’s kind of what I remember specifically, that moment of almost paralyzing fear- that a whole building is about to fall down,” Jansen said. 

The following day Jansen’s family donated blood and whatever else they could to help the survivors of the attacks.

“There was an increased sense of community that something terrible had happened,” Jansen said. “Even though it was terrible, it was a unifying force and everybody was a little bit kinder to each other.” 

For Jansen, the feelings of that day are still clear.

“Shock. Something hadn’t happened on American soil like that from an outside source for a long time,” he said. “Another would be vulnerable- I think for the first time we realized that all the wars and things I had heard about had been on foreign soil, and for something to happen in this really big situation made me feel like ‘we can be hit here.’” 

Math teacher Troy Dice was a senior in college at Purdue University when the attacks occured. Dice, not having classes that morning, woke up to his buddy turning the TV on in his room. He remembers, within minutes, watching Flight 175 crash into the second tower. Dice remembers attempting to help one of the members in his fraternity that was in the ROTC program calm down. 

Dice remembers feeling “confused. Maybe another one would be another shock.” 

Dice noted that Purdue has one of the largest international student populations in the United States. In his math and science classes, he did have many classmates from the Middle East, and there was a large Islamic center on campus that Purdue put security around just to ensure its safety since emotions were so high that day. The next day, various religious leaders spoke out about the attacks at a ceremony Purdue held for the student body. 

 “[It was] a unique combination of faces,” Dice said. “It put a perspective out that there are people viewing this from different perspectives.” 

Longtime English teacher David Lawson was in the exact classroom he teaches in today on 9/11. Lawson was with his homeroom group of seniors when he received an email from his wife saying that he needed to turn on the television if at all possible, and at the time, he had no idea what she was talking about. 

“I don’t think any one of us was going to expect to watch planes fly into the tower, but the news was rolling when it happened,” Lawson said. 

Lawson explained that having a screen on at that time wasn’t very common in school, so when he did turn it on, he caught his students’ attention.

 “Not a lot of students knew what the twin towers were,” Lawson said. “I don’t think a lot of them realized it was on American soil, and many believed it was footage from another country. It was so surreal; it has kind of a movie-esque quality to it. We literally watched a plane crash into a building.” 

According to Lawson, CG at the time didn’t really have a plan, and the school went into lockdown, with the administration doing the best they could under the set of circumstances. 

“I think we froze for a while until everyone could get their heads wrapped around what had just happened, and we stayed in school with the justification that if there is danger, the best place to be is here.”

Being able to hear the stories of those who lived through 9/11 is an opportunity to not only understand the emotions produced that day, but to also be grateful for the lives that Americans get to experience. As the day takes its toll as it does every year, there is a sense of privilege that comes with it. Privilege to be an American, and privilege to celebrate those whose bravery and courage will forever be remembered. 

Your September 11 Story

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