13 years ago, I was 7 years old. I was young, I was a kid. On a particular Tuesday in September, I happened to witness history. That morning, my parents, sister, grandmother, aunt, and I got on the 6:13 commuter train out of Stratford Connecticut and traveled to New York City. We were in Connecticut originally for a wedding and a reunion. I am originally from Florida. We decided that Tuesday was a good day to go down to the city to see the Statue of Liberty and ride the subway so that my sister and I could write about our experiences for school. If we left later, we would have probably been right at the World Trade Center at the time of the attack. As we got to New York, we took the subway to the Bowling Green station in downtown. As we walked through the park I remembered the tall buildings amazed me. We decided to go to the Statue of Liberty. We were in the front of the line for tickets when we heard what sounded like a transformer or a generator popping. We didn’t know this was a plane that hit the building until later that morning. As we got onto the top level of the ferry we saw the first tower on fire. As time went by, we heard another plane. I thought it came from Newark airport until it came towards us fast and low. The plane hit the other tower and by then we knew we had to get out of Manhattan. We headed over to the Staten Island ferry and found out that it would take a while to get on. While we were waiting, the room began to shake and people started to move forward. We got on the Staten Island ferry and outside the windows was hell on earth. Outside the ferry was air full of smoke and dust. We didn’t know the first tower came down. I remember my mother started passing out life jackets and other people followed. I remember my dad saying “swim to Governors Island if the boat goes down.” At this point in the morning, I hadn’t said a word.
We arrived on Staten Island and I looked back and saw the skyline of Manhattan with nothing but smoke. Eventually, after driving around in a cab we arrived at the Staten Island Hotel. I remember that I wanted to be in television news at that time in my life and I watched the news a lot. That day I couldn’t. I watched Bugs Bunny on the Cartoon Network while in the hotel room. I remember seeing a fire station across the street from the hotel. I said that “I felt safe because of the fire station across the street.” Hours later, we found out that we could go to Newark in New Jersey. We found out that the only way to get into New Jersey was to walk across the Bayonne Bridge. We did. Apparently there was a gasoline truck on fire on the bridge. While we were waiting for the bridge to clear my grandmother talked to me a bit. She remembers me telling her to “tell President Bush when you get back to work the next day to stop the violence. Stop violence on TV for children to see and take care of the terrorism.” She responded “I would.” At the time, she worked for the Department of Justice at the US Attorney’s office in New Haven.
As we were walking across the Bayonne Bridge I vividly remember the US Navy ships in the New York harbor. I also remember the skyline of New York as well. I thought I was in a war zone. We got into New Jersey and we got on a bus to Newark. We found out that to get on a train back to Connecticut, we needed to go through New York City. Because of the events of the day, all transit was shut down. We tried to get a hotel in Newark, but we were not able to get one. Then my aunt decided to call her friend from college who lived in Madison New Jersey. We were lucky enough to get a taxi there. I personally tried to calm down. I couldn’t. I remember hugging onto their golden retriever for comfort. My grandfather picked us up from New Jersey and brought us back to Connecticut. My parents, my sister, and other siblings who stayed in Connecticut, and I drove back to Florida later in the week.
Witnessing firsthand the events of Tuesday September 11th, woke me up to the current events of the world. Even though I was 7, I have always been interested in politics, current events, and geopolitical events since then. One thing I learned, that the innocents of living in an America that seemed to be safe from threats and a world full of terror was no more. Also, I learned that our world was not as big as previously thought. The world is getting smaller and September 11th put that concept into acceleration. I woke up to the people in this world and that all are not evil, but the fringe people are. In the years after, I watched a video of the Star Spangled Banner being played at Buckingham Palace on that September day. Seeing that made me realize the importance of the American-British relationship. Among other things, I hope, along with many others, the fringe people belonging to these stateless organizations who perpetrate these evil act will subside. May we never forget the events of Tuesday September 11th 2001! A date that we should never forget.
Staz Guntek II