September 11, 2001

by Ruben Juarez

As usual, I was working in the factory on that date. I was listening to a morning talk show on my Walkman. Then someone made a phone call to the radio station and told them that something had happened around the Twin Towers.

He said, ”A plane crashed around the World Trade Center.” He didnot know exactly where; he just saw black smoke in the sky.

A few minutes later, the news started coming in. It was confusing, but after about five minutes they confirmed that a terrible tragedy had happened. I thought that it might be a joke because the hosts of that show are always malting all kinds of jokes.

Then I went to the back of the factory, where we could see the Twin Towers clearly from the windows. Some co-workers followed me and we saw the first tower engulfed in flames and a crowd of black smoke coming out from the tower.

Everybody was in shock. It was hard to believe. I don’t remember the exact time, but after about 10 minutes the radio stations confirmed the bad news. Most of the reporters on the radio expressed their thoughts about a possible terrorist attack
Then a second plane crashed into the other tower. In my workplace everybody was silent. We just looked at each other without saying a word. The news did not stop. We then heard that a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon. The reporters were not sure about how many planes were hijacked, but they said, ”Another plane just crashed in Pennsylvania.”
We could not work anymore because everybody was paying attention to the news. And besides, we were scared. We were sent home at noon. On the street, people were astonished and scared; some were running, others were crying. Stores were closing their doors.
When I traveled on the subway, it was the same situation-everybody was silent or weeping. As we were crossing the Manhattan Bridge, people turned their heads, looking for the Twin Towers, but there was only an empry space with clouds of black smoke rising to the sky.

Since that day, I think that people who live in New York Ciry have been affected in many different ways. At that time, I was attending ESOL classes in Chinatown. My teacher lost a son who worked in that area. She did not show up for about a month. I heard that her son was only missing and that she hoped they would find him in a hospital somewhere. She waited for almost a month, and then she gave up hope. She faced
the truth that her son had died.
I don’t remember how much time passed, but my classmates attended a church service in honor of my teacher’s son. When she returned to the school, nobody asked anything about the tragedy because we didn’t want to see her in pain or crying. She acted strangely, and everyone could feel her pain. After a couple of months she started to talk about her son, about what a responsible, kind person he was. Before 9/11, he suggested to her, “You should ask for your retirement, and I will help you to pay your bills in order that you can stop working.”

I haven’t seen her since 2003, and I don’t know anything about her now.
Some time later, I learned that the principal person responsible for that attack had been killed by the United States Seals. I think that my teacher, if she is alive, will have some relief for her pain. Killing Osama bin Laden won’t bring back those people who died that day, but in some way, justice was done.

To those who lost their loved ones on 9/11, I wish peace and a long life.
Ruben Juarez emigrated from Mexico over 24 years ago.
He has studied English at New York City adult education
programs and is currently studying at the Comortium for
Worker Education. He expresses gratitude to all of his
teachers, especially Jackie Bain and Chuck Lee. He also
thanks Sherry Kane, current program director, and Nancy
Lorence, the previous director, who for many years gave him
the encouragement to improve his life.

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