I was asleep. I didn't have any classes in the morning, so my alarm hadn't gone off yet. My roommate, had the TV on, and I rolled over to see he was sitting raptly in front of the small TV we had placed between our beds. I didn't say anything, just wanting to sleep, and somewhat annoyed that he had the TV on when I was sleeping. It was my freshman year in college at the University of Tampa, and I was still sleeping a lot when I could.
Then my phone rang. I groaned, rolled over, answered it and croaked, "Hello?"
It was my girlfriend at the time, now wife, Elizabeth, "Kevin do you have the TV on?"
"Yeah, it's on. What's going on?"
"A plane has hit the World Trade Center."
I glanced at the TV, and my roommate looked at me with semi-scared look. He was from New York. The TV showed smoke billowing out of the first tower that was struck. I remember thinking, "Oh, God."
I was up, threw some clothes on, and trotted the short distance between McKay hall, a sad one-story brick dorm, to the Boathouse, which was a very odd, small dorm, that had the long crew boats stored underneath it.
It was a gorgeous day, I remember. Already warm, even though it was only 9:30 or so, in the morning. I continued up the stairs to the deck of the dorm room that faced the Hillsborough river. The river sparkled so brightly, I had to shade my groggy eyes.
I entered the common room where a large TV was with couches and chairs situated around it. The majority of my girlfriend's roommates were present, except those that were already in class. Everyone's face was drawn, and dark. The time passed painfully, as we listened to the newscasters report what was going on. Some people left the room, needing to call home. Other people filled into the common room, coming from class, wondering why everyone was gathered. We'd fill-in the newcomers, with the somber news in hushed tones.
The second plane hit.
Gasps, audible grunts, and a few outcries came from all of us watching.
Some more people tried to call home using their cell phones. The lines were all giving busy signals. Whoa, 'this is serious', I remember thinking. A lot of the students at UT were from the north, a lot specifically from New York and New Jersey. From what I learned later, there were even some students who lost a parent in the attack.
The first tower started to fall, and I remember someone saying, because I couldn't rip my eyes from the TV, I couldn't tell you who it was, just kept saying, "Oh my God, Oh my God!", over and over again, in a rising crescendo until the tower fell to the ground, in a enormous cloud of dust, and debris. Some people in the room were now crying.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. No one could.
Before we could recover, incredibly now, the second tower began its collapse. The room vibrated with the shock, the sobs, the utter unbelievability of the situation.
I will never forget where I was on 9/11/2001. A few days later sitting in a World and Government Affairs class, a few jets flew low overhead, and I remember everyone gripping their desks, and looking around very nervously. Even Dr. Kerstein stopped lecturing and half-jokingly said something about the jets, once they had flew past. We were very close to MacDill Air Force base, which was a major deployment point for troops to the Middle East. There was a disturbing amount of military aircraft in the air around Tampa during the immediate days after the event.
Shock, disbelief, and the utterance of the phrase "Post 9-11" filled my memory of the days, months, and semesters afterwards. I remember the hope of finding more survivors faded, several days after the event. I remember the fear, the anger, the suspension of daily life for a time.
I remember. Let's all remember.