There and now: The stories of 9/11



A couple stands before the National September 11 Memorial, marking the site of the south tower at the World Trade Center in New York, on September 8, 2021. – The remains of two more victims of 9/11 have been identified, thanks to advanced DNA technology, New York officials announced on September 7, 2021, just days before the 20th anniversary of the attacks. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

September 11, 2001, is a day that will live in the darkest pages of American history.

On that day, 2,977 innocent Americans lost their lives and more than 25,000 people were injured in a coordinated suicide attack by al-Qaeda. At 8:46 a.m., a hijacked plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, 17 harrowing minutes later at 9:03 a.m another plane hit the south tower. Within 1 hour and 42 minutes, both had collapsed. A third plane was also hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania that was flying in the direction of the Capitol. 

Eureka High School students were born after 9/11. So how do we learn about the attacks? We spoke to teachers recounting their perspectives of the day.

Mandy Kotraba, science, was working at a lab when the attacks happened. 

“Someone came in and said turn on the TV,” Kotraba said. “At first, we thought it was an accident but after the second plane hit we were shocked, and we knew it wasn’t an accident.”

 Kotraba also described having nightmares about a plane hitting a tower after watching the attacks. 

“I remember waking up and looking in the sky for planes because we never knew if it could happen again,” Kotraba said.

 John Deavers, social studies, was in his second class of the day for law school when the first plane hit.

“I went to my second class when I first heard about the attack, later that hour, the administrators canceled classes for the rest of the day,” Deavers said. “I don’t think we realized how bad it was until later.” 

Deavers also compared the attacks to Pearl Harbor because they were an attack on US soil. 

Kim Eastlund, social studies, was in her kitchen listening to the radio when she first heard of the attacks.

“When I heard of the attacks I felt immediate sadness; I was shocked,” Eastlund said.

She also noted that there was a great sense of unity felt afterward.

“At first we all united together in sadness, everyone on my street put out their American flags in their yard as a symbol,: Eastlund said.

But there was also division on how to respond to the attacks.

“Not everyone agreed on how to react and that caused division,” Eastlund said.

Kara Mueller, language arts, was teaching her class when she found out there was an attack.

“At first I didn’t think anything of it, I thought it was like a small plane like a Cessna,” Mueller said.

 As more and more students came into her classroom talking about it, she turned on the TV, and they saw the second plane hit. 

“When we saw the second plane hit we were shocked that this had happened,” Mueller said. “I think we all shared a common sense of shock, and we felt united by that shock.” 

Jennifer Strauser, associate principal, was driving to Washington High School when she heard on the radio that there was an attack.

“My initial thought was disbelief, this shouldn’t have happened to America,” Strauser said. “We thought that we were invincible, but we were shown that we were not.” 

Strauser said there was division after more and more details came out.

“I saw people being marginalized by their race and religion,” Strauser said. “Sadly I don’t think we will ever be that united again unless there is another attack.”

There have been a lot of changes in the 20 years since 9/11 but one thing is for sure: those who were alive for the attacks will never forget where they were when it happened and we as a nation will never forget the lives of those who we lost.