September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Story:As a tenth grader, I was taking the state-mandated, standardized test (ISTEP), along with my fellow sophomores. Being that the tests began at 8:00 a.m. in Indiana (9:00 a.m. in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania), as the news was breaking throughout the world, the gymnasium, in which the tests were administered, knew nothing about it. As we finished our last test at approximately 11:00 (noon in the east), our Counselor of Attendence, James Wagner, got on the microphone, dismissing us, and ending with one line: "Today is a day that will change your life forever."
For myself, along with much of my class, we saw that statement as an end to our ISTEP testing, and another milestone towards graduation (State laws requires that tenth pass the test, a Graduation Qualifying Exam, in order to graduate). But as most of us soon found out, the statement had another meaning.
I proceeded on to lunch, sitting with some of cross country teammates. Two of my teammates--Ross Green and Nicholas Dailey--were talking about planes hitting the World Trade Centers, buildings collapsing, and other chaotic things. My first impression and question was, "What book are you guys reading?" When I asked them, I found out that it was no fictional story, or made-for-TV movie; rather, I was learning about the worst terrorist attack in American history.
As time progressed, and more people had learned of the attacks, an eerie silence blanket R. Nelson Snider High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana--a silence not prone to a public school of 2,100 kids.
At approximately noon, Indiana time (1 p.m. in the east), Dr. Thomas Fowler-Finn, then-Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, came over the district's email system, saying that no class in FWCS is to watch coverage of the attacks, with the exception of Social Studies and Government classes. I, unfortunately, was not able to watch the coverage--coverage I had yet to see.
As the day continued, anxiety within me grew, as I waited, wanting to go home to be with my family, and see, first hand, on television, what had happened. Finally, after 2 90-minute classes, and a 2-hour cross country practice, I finally got home, to see the events of the day.
I remember the first thing I saw were the collapses of both Towers and people running through the streets. Then I saw the tape of White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, telling President Bush about the second plane hitting the second Tower, while the President visited a Florida elementary school. The expression on President Bush's face, following his hearing of the news, will be etched in my memory forever. That single moment, at the time, the United States of America knew so little, but we knew that with a face like that on our leader, something was terribly, terribly wrong.
I'll never forget 9/11, nor where I was. As September 11th's will continue to come and go, the day 9/11 will be known as a single day in our nation's history that we hope to never see again, while at the same we hope that we never forget.
May God Bless America.
Eric Kenneth Dutkiewicz
Fort Wayne, Indiana