The reality of the attacks: Being in D.C. on 9-11

Two years later: Students share their perspective and reaction to Sept. 11, 2001

Starting this semester, I found it hard to believe that this was the beginning of the end. Senior year. Where did all the time go? I reflected on the events that have shaped my experience here at AU - the insanity of the 2000 presidential election, the anxiety and fear caused by the mysterious sniper attacks of last fall, and above all else, the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Granted, the event affected the whole country, the whole world even. But as I reflect on that morning, the only feeling I can remember is incredible confusion. It felt like a dream. The third floor of South Anderson Hall, everyone was glued to the television and CNN echoed through the halls. People huddled together in the lounge attempting to make some sense of what exactly had happened. No one really spoke, fearful of missing a detail that would explain the chaos. And then, a plane hit the Pentagon. You could see the smoke from the top of the parking garage.

Here we were, less than seven miles from the actual smoldering building, and no one could communicate with their parents or their friends from home. The comfort that we all reach for instinctively was out of our grasp. So we began to lean on each other, to help each other through the confusion and the stress, the sadness and the anxiety. Who knew what was real anymore? Was there a car bomb outside the State Department? Another plane headed toward the Capitol building? Was the National Mall really on fire? Why are they evacuating Mary Graydon Center?

Being at AU for the 9-11 attacks made me realize how the campus could pull together and support each other through the scariest times. It pushed us all to be stronger people and to face something that we never could have anticipated. Being here, in the nation's capital, amplified the experience. The intensity and reality of the situation forced us to rely on each other and made us all stronger. That is one of my most vivid memories of Sept. 11, 2001 - the support the campus community provided for each other.

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