The Day That Shook America

Updated: Sep 11, 2021

Teachers share their experiences with the events of 9/11

Annika Kintzel

Staff Writer

September 10, 2021

September 11, 2001, was one of the most impactful days in United States history. On that day, terrorists from the extremist organization al-Qaeda crashed several planes into the World Trade Center, causing severe damage to the structure of both towers. Thousands of people were killed or injured in the event. Word of the events spread quickly, and children and adults all across the country united—true to the name—to mourn the losses of the day. The event itself would go on to start the War on Terror, as well as the subsidiary hunt for al-Qaeda. The day itself is the primary thing that sticks in the memory of those who were alive to witness it.

The staff at the high school have varying experiences with this day, with some being children and some being adults at the time, they carry perspectives and memories that paint a picture of the full shock that followed the destruction of the World Trade Center.

“I was in a passing period between 2nd and 3rd period when the stories started spreading through the halls of my high school. I lived on Long Island, New York at the time which is only 45 minutes from New York City,” Chloe Sweetser, a biology teacher who was 17 at the time, said. “There was no social media back then so parents started calling their children to tell them what happened and lots of friends had family members who were FDNY or NYPD and knew their parents, aunts, uncles, etc. were heading towards the towers to help. My mom called me to tell me my dad was in the city, and she had not heard from him yet. We found out much later that he saw the plane hit the tower, but immediately headed out of the city and made it home.”

The pain and shock were not restricted to only those in New York at the time.

“I was a freshman at Ball State,” entrepreneurship teacher John Moore said. “I went to my first class at 8:00 a.m. and knew nothing about what happened until I got to my next class at 9:30. It was a huge lecture hall, typically with over 100 students. There were only 4 in class. I figured it was canceled. As I was leaving, the professor walked in. He started each class with a music video. The one he played was "Peaceful World" by John Mellencamp and India Arie (still one of my favorite songs, and gives me chills every time I hear it). He turned on the news. The five of us watched it in the lecture hall for the next hour and talked about what was going on. After that, I went back to my dorm room, called my parents, and spent most of the day in front of the TV with others in my residence hall.”

“I was teaching at Zionsville High School at the time,” math teacher Andrew Schaaf said. “During the passing period between 1st and 2nd period, a student came in (I can still see her but can't remember her name) to my room and claimed a plane hit a building in New York. I told her that, although uncommon, this has happened before (twice to the Empire State Building I believe). She insisted that this was different, and so I told her I'd turn on the TV (a tube TV, by the way). Once I saw the picture of the North tower, I knew something terrible had happened. She and I stood there watching the