Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

People old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, clearly often have strong memories of where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news.

Students who are seniors in high school this year were kindergartners on Sept. 11, 2001. Many were 5 or 6 years old.

They've lived much of their lives with the United States at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, with tight security at airports and with the idea that citizens give up some of their privacy in order to be safer.

Local students have varying memories of the actual day, from knowing something was wrong by how adults were acting to actually reading about it in newspapers.

Priya Jain, a senior at Central High School, remembers seeing her teacher step into the hall after pausing from the book she was reading aloud at University Primary School. There had been a commotion outside their classroom.

She wasn't supposed to be watching, but Jain saw her teacher crying.

At home, Jain saw newspaper clippings her dad had kept about the events and remembers that she could read, and actually read some of them.

"I saw a picture of a girl holding a picture of her mom," Jain said. "That just really freaked me out." Her dad told her more about the events, even though he didn't tell her 3-year-old sister.

Central seniors Namrata Mandhan and Evan Miller were both kindergartners at Barkstall Elementary at the time.

Mandhan remembers an announcement being made at school and her kindergarten class being taken into the library to watch news on TV that day. She remembers seeing teachers hugging and looking concerned. When she got home, her mom was watching TV.

"I just remember everyone being really upset," she said.

Miller said he has no recollection of hearing about it at school, just walking into his parents' bedroom late that evening and seeing the twin towers and thinking that the plumes of smoke looked "really black." Miller also remembers his mom hugging him a lot.

Alexander Blodgett remembers all parents picking up their children early from Westview Elementary, and then watching coverage on a TV in his basement. He remembers the screen crawling large numbers and words like "killed" and "terrorists."

"I didn't really understand, at the time," he said.

Centennial senior Austin Saathoff remembers his mom came to pick him up early that day at St. John Lutheran School and telling him a little about it.

"I just remember getting a little scared because she was nervous and hurried," Saathoff said.

Centennial senior Aaron Quinn lived in California at the time and remembers hearing about it on the radio in the early morning, on the way to school.

"I was so little that I didn't really know how to take it in," he said.

Central senior Jain she thinks her life is different than it would have been had she grown up in the early 1990s.

"I don't remember not being at war, and that's because of 9/11," she said.

Because she was a child when it happened, she doesn't remember the sense of unity that many felt in the wake of the attacks.

However, she remembers seeing the divisiveness left in their wake: prejudice against those of the Muslim faith and the wars themselves.

Things like airport security and giving up privacy for safety is "the status quo for us," she said.

"It's not as shocking (to us) as it might be to others," she said.

Blodgett said he remembers being older and hearing about violence and prejudice against certain races and cultures as a result of Sept. 11.

"It was really shocking because we were so young we don't get caught up in the rhetoric and we don't hate people," he said.

Miller said his family visited the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York last year. He's the oldest of four siblings and believes he felt a stronger connection than his siblings to the memorial because he does have some memory of the day.

He said he hopes as the years pass, citizens continue to remember the tragedy. He said he sometimes thinks about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and how, to him, it's a part of factual history, rather than a personal experience.

"I think it's weird to think of 9/11 coming to that when it affected so many of us," he said.

Saathoff said even though the attacks happened "almost our whole life" ago, he likes that the United States still remembers the attacks.

"It seems closer for some reason, because we (haven't) let it be forgotten," he said.

Sept. 11 ceremonies 

— 7:46 a.m., Smith Recital Hall, 805 S. Mathews Ave., U. The University of Illinois School of Music's annual concert in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks. 7:46 a.m. is the time the first airliner hit the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.

— 9 a.m., northeast corner of West Side Park in Champaign. Local first responders will be participating with reflections offered by Champaign Fire Department Chaplain David Ashby and Champaign Fire Chief Douglas Forsman.

— 11 a.m., Urbana Country Club. The Champaign Firefighters Local 1260 ceremony, including color guard and bagpipers, to be held before the Champaign County Association of Realtors charity golf outing.

— 5:30 p.m., the Wesley Foundation, 1203 W. Green St., U. A coalition of groups is holding an interfaith dialogue and meal-packaging service.

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):People

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