September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Story:That morning my boyfriend, a NYPD officer, dropped me off at work at P.S.11, where I was an asst. teacher. Shortly after my students got to their classroom, while I left to retrieve something from another floor, another staff member told me a plane crashed. On my way up, someone said "you need to see turn on the T.V."I heard someone else say "the WTC is gone." I went upstairs and shared the news with the other teachers in my room. I left the room again to call my boyfriend since no one's cell phones were working. He was awaiting my call desperately, he was being called in to duty. He told me we were in a state of emergency, and that I should try to make it to my mother's place in Spanish Harlem and not come home. He promised to call me. I told him I was to remain at school till all the parents came and that my kids were still unware of the news. Parents began streaming in, tears falling from their eyes as the tightly hugged their small children and took them home. The children in my special education class, sensed our anxiety and sadness and began to ply us with questions. What was happening? Why were the parents coming so early? Was it a half-day? I simply said the train was out of service, which was true because I didn't want to frighten the kids. We took small lunch breaks and as I and another female co-worker walked through the streets we were overwhelmed by the eerie sight of no cars, not a single one on the street, people running, the radios blarring very war-like minute by minute news. "A plane hit the Pentagon." "The Pentagon has been struck." Acrid smoke and dust filled the air. It was terrifying, someone had attacked us.
After work, when all the children had been picked up. My co-workers and I departed, trying to figure out the best route to our homes when the trains and the buses weren't running. On a Manhattan street not one car, nevertheless a taxi was too be found. Sirens filled the air. Signs posted everywhere begged us to come donate blood. I walked down 23rd Street, heading East. All the pedestrians at the corner of the Flatiron building stood gawking South, one said "That's where the WTC USED to be." I felt a raw gush of emotion. A couple of blocks down, soldiers wearing camouflage stood in the middle of the strees holding the biggest guns I have ever seen in my life. What were they missile launchers? They had legs, these guns like a tripod for a camera. I stood transfixed our worlds had been turned upside down. My pager went off, my sister was calling me. I stood on line to use the nearest phone. Strangers were hugging each other, others were taking pictures of the armed soldiers. I finally caught a bus going uptown. The ride from 23rd St. to 122nd St. took over three hours. A lady on the bus told me I had beautiful eyelashes, were they real? I thought it such an odd comment/compliment but weirdly it made me feel good, as if everything was normal. At mother's place I began to worry. I had not heard from my boyfriend for a couple of hours. I was already on the phone to the Red Cross when he called on the other line, he was at Ground Zero. He was running when the last building fell. He was okay. He would call me back. At two a.m. he was relieved of duty, He came to my mother's home to get me. We drove down deserted streets, we were allowed to leave the borough when he flashed his badge. At home, our machine was filled with messages, from family members, ex-girlfriends, concerned friends.
The next day school was closed. I was glued to the T.V., I watched news all day long. It was a day I will never forget, ever. The memories are as singed into my head as the remnants of what used to be a symbol of the grandeur of NY are now.


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