Thirteen years later, students reflect on 9/11

By on September 17, 2014

Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the nation bonds together to remember the brave and the fallen.

The Student Veteran Organization held a flag-lowering ceremony and a moment of silence on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 8:46 a.m.–marking the time when the first plane flew into the North Tower.

Most Quinnipiac students were extremely young at the time; seniors were only in third grade while freshmen were in Kindergarten. Even though the meaning of the day was foggy for some, the magnitude of the events was not lost on these young children.

For junior Katelyn Lee, 9/11 hit her particularly hard. She lost her uncle when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

“My aunt’s brother was in the towers,” Lee said. “The second tower fell and my mom started crying, so my brother and I started crying.”

She later learned that her uncle, who had survived the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, had called her aunt and said, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it out this time,” according to Lee.

“I was so young when it happened [but] it gave me awareness of everything around me,” Lee said. “You don’t realize how lucky you are and the last time you’re going to see someone. I’m much more sensitive to things like that.”

Junior Adrianna Farina was young, but she still has a strong image of the day the towers fell.

“I was in second grade and I actually remember that day like it was yesterday,” Farina said. “I got picked up from school by my mom and I remember going home and she turned on the TV, and I remember the towers falling down.”

Although she was young, she admitted to being scared, and that fear has stayed with her.

“It’s still scary to me today knowing that could happen anytime, any place, anywhere,” Farina said.

For some students, 9/11 marks the anniversary of almost losing a parent.

Larissa Mastroddi is a junior from Staten Island, NY. She described the difficulty she went through living in one of the boroughs and having a father who was a first responder.

“He heard what was going on over his police radio and literally ran to the World Trade Center,” Mastroddi said. “It was definitely the worst day of my childhood because I realized I might never see my dad again. I’m so thankful to still have him by my side 13 years later.”

Police officers and their families weren’t the only ones affected by the 9/11 attacks. Some students say they had family members working directly in the city, close to the towers.

Junior Jessica Hernandez from Queens, NY, was confused once she heard the news on her way to lunch, as a young second-grader.

“It was odd to me; I was so lost,” said Hernandez. “My mom works in the city and she was a couple of blocks away. She told me she went outside and there was smoke and everything. I thank God none of my family was hurt.”

Freshman Ryan Casey’s father and uncle worked in the city on Sept. 11, 2001.

“[There was] a lot of panic,” Casey said. “[My father and uncle] both happened to be far enough away. They managed to avoid it, but hearing about people who weren’t so lucky…you [could] grasp the sense that it was really scary.”

For one student, Sept. 11 is her dad’s birthday, but now it is more than that. Marissa Faretta, a junior from South Salem, NY, says her and her family find it difficult to properly celebrate on that day because there is so much sadness linked to it.

“9/11 is always a weird day for me because it’s my dad’s birthday,” Faretta said. “It’s so hard to be happy because how can you possibly be happy when you know what the day really is all about now? Sometimes I feel like it’s disrespectful to be happy and celebrate my dad’s birthday when I know so many others are still suffering from such a great loss.”

The catastrophe of 9/11 didn’t just affect Americans; internationally; news of the attacks spread quickly.

Alice Petsiava, a junior international student from Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, remembers what it was like that day in her country.

“I think I was in second grade [and] I remember my teacher telling us in class,” Petsiava said. “I really didn’t know what happened, but I remember how shocked she was. It was definitely on TV. When it happened, it was on all the news channels and all the news reports.”

Today, Petsiava and others still try to remember and reflect. She said news channels in Greece broadcast memorial services and tributes on the anniversary. Now that she is older, Petsiava realizes the scope of the event.

“It’s even more tragic, and I even hear stories from people who actually worked there and it was crazy to hear about,” Petsiava said.

“It’s weird–every time on a clock when I see 9:11, I think about it,” junior Peter Annunziata said.

Even though Lee lost someone close to her, she said she is adamant about making sure younger generations are educated on what happened that day and to keep the conversation going.

“I don’t like to not talk about it,” Lee said. “People don’t want to bring it up and don’t want to talk about it but it was such an attack. So many people lost their lives that day. So many people risked their lives for it. They did so many courageous things and it shouldn’t be forgotten.”

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