I was 10 years old at Thatcher Elementary School that terrible day in 2001. Ms. Allred’s class. Lived in Daley Estates on Fairway Avenue. The night before, dad had made me watch Larry King Live on CNN. When I woke up and turned on the TV the next morning to watch some cartoon or an X-Files rerun while getting ready, I quite literally woke up to it. Ran to get mom to watch, and that’s when the second plane hit the South Tower while watching the TV in the living room.
Shock, fear, uncertainty and surreal is what I felt. I remember the bus stop and ride to school being unusually quiet. Being surrounded by other kids when getting to school asking if I knew or heard anything. Getting in class just in time to see the South Tower collapse. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA” over the intercom instead of the usual pledge of allegiance. Sitting in class, watching as the North Tower burned and then collapsed, people falling out, the Pentagon being hit, another plane crashing in Pennsylvania and all air travel being stopped. It was crystal clear, and hot that day, not a cloud in the sky.
To me, as an adult, that day signaled the end of childhood. It also ended America’s Y2K-era of optimism, the day the 1990s truly ended socially and culturally and the 2000s symbolically began. To watch thousands of people die on live TV. It created an atmosphere of anxiety, a cloud that we still haven’t got out from under yet.
Paul Harvey, the vaunted AM radio personality who aired all over the United States, including KATO here in the Gila Valley that day. Correctly predicted it was Osama Bin Laden during his noon broadcast hours later, citing his threats that stretched back to 1998, and that we were in an undeclared war with an enemy who was already dead. And that America’s invincibility and safe haven for the world would not be that anymore.