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Shannon Koehle: My 9-11 Experience

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September 11, 2001 was one of the most tragic days in American history. A day when time seemed to stand still, in a moment so surreal, on a day when hundreds of Americans lost there lives.

Everyone has a 9/11 story and this is mine.

Just 15 years old and a sophomore at Long Beach High school I awoke at a time that seemed too early for the day to begin. What I thought would remain just another mundane school day, would soon turn into a true life nightmare.

The sky so blue and the sun sitting low on the horizon, I took the bus to school and the day began.

Once able to see the World Trade Center buildings across the bay into the city, I took the distanced skyline for granted, included September 11, when a classmate told me to look toward the window where smoke was billowing from the first building struck.

In a rush to my next class I responded, “Oh, it’s probably nothing.”

As the hours wore on students suspected something was wrong, but the administration withheld information about the goings on in the city.

Despite our lack of information, rumors began pouring through the halls; too many students were picked up by their parents in the middle of the day and all after-school activities were canceled. Everyone was concerned.

Finally able to leave school, with a somewhat early dismissal, I took the bus home, turned on the news and was slammed with men, women, and children running for their lives away from the burning building of the World Trade Center as the NYPD and FDNY continued to risk their lives and ran in.

My concern was for my mother who worked as a teacher in Corona Queens. However, I would later learn, when listening to phone messages, my father was in Manhattan this particular day for a meeting.

Late that night when my mother and father arrived home to find Chris, my brother, and I glued to the television set, I would learn about my dad’s stroke of luck.

What I had not known was my dad had a scheduled appointment at a World Trade Center building on one of the top floors.

This is his story:

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.