It wasn't until I headed back towards the dorm and starting walking down my hall that I could hear loud voices, crying, and several loud gasps. One of my dorm mates came out into the hall and told me I should turn on my television. I turned it on, fiddled with the tin-foil topped antennae, and finally was able to pick up a signal of a local channel.
There is was, staring at me in its smoky defiance - the first trade tower had been hit. At that point, it was still assumed an accident, though the devastation was no less worse. My dorm mate and I stared in shocked silence for several moments, and then I threw down my backpack and grabbed my cellphone. I called my mom, a teacher at a small private school, to make sure she turned it on in her class. She was already watching with the other staff and the students and parents who had already arrived.
We ended the call, and just as I was putting down the phone, I saw the second plane hit. It reminded me of watching a high-budget action movie - except the people here weren't actors and stuntpeople, but everyday people like you and me just making their living. The blood wasn't ketchup; the smoke didn't come from a machine. The leading men and ladies weren't famous - they were real life heroes, from all walks of life, risking their lives to save countless others.
My cellphone rang, and my mother told me that my Aunt had been driving away when the first plane hit, but she was ok. My cousin was at the Pentagon, but he was ok too. I felt so blessed, but at the same time felt so horrible for all the families who weren't getting calls of safety, who had loved ones missing and who might have to spend hours before knowing if their loved one was alive or dead.
I didn't bother with any more classes that day, although I doubt they were held. We all just watched as our lives changed and terrorism became more than something in another country.
At the same time, many many miles away, the man who would later become my husband was just finishing up basic training in the Army - and he knew this was the moment when serving his country would involve more than he first imagined.
It's been ten years, but the memory of this tragic event will stay in the memory of all of us who witnessed it. I know I will never forget, and will always be grateful for everyday heroes.