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NYC Brandeisians’ words on 9/11, five years later

By John Krisch

Section: News

September 8, 2006

Seth Werfel – Class of '10

That day: I was in school when the teacher announced that terrorists attacked the Twin Towers. We were all sent home immediately. On the drive home, we could see the smoke lifting from the downtown area. My family and I stayed glued to the TV the entire day. Fortunately, nobody we knew or loved perished in the tragedy.

Are we safer?: I feel slightly safer only because security has been heightened [since the attack]. However, it is difficult dealing with the omnipresent threat of another attack. The mind has an incredible way of adapting, so New Yorkers are dealing with it better than expected and are continuing to live their daily lives unaffected.

Memorials and Movies: I did not like the fact that a motion picture was made in honor of the event. I think it is too soon to come out with such a picture, and the families who were affected might find it insensitive. Hollywood can't come close to the real thing.

Stella Liberman – Class of '09

That day: It was my third day as a High School Freshman in Brooklyn. I was in my first period class when we were all called back to the chapel and told [about the planes]. [My family] and I live in downtown Manhattan;

meanwhile, in Greenwich Village (20 blocks or so away), I was under quarantine and couldn't get back home until Wednesday the 12th, so I was stuck in Brooklyn while my family was in Manhattan. Several of my friends had family members lost. My school lost a lot of alumni and a large percentage of the student body lost family (mostly firefighters). I try hard not to think about it that much because it reminds me of the fear I had that day… of notknowing. I remember getting back to Manhattan a day later and seeing no one around, my neighborhood was silent and all you could see was the black smoke rising up into the sky.

Are we safer?: I have always felt safe in New York;

however, I feel that, as a country, we are less safe five years later. I am disgusted by the continuing use of 9/11 as a reason for the government to do whatever they want.

Memorials and Movies: The fighting over a memorial is ridiculous. I passed by Ground Zero everyday going to high school, and to have nothing there still is an abomination. Americans need a place to go and see something in memory of those who were there and those who survived. I truly detest movies or tv shows that portray that day. Mine and millions of other New Yorkers' wounds are still raw, and while I understand the need to discuss the events it pains me to see that only five years later, Hollywood is trying to make money off [people's] pain.

Jonah Rogoff – Class of '08

That day: I saw the world trade center fall from my high school in downtown Brooklyn.

Are we safer?: [September 11th showed that] the focus of maintaining security should rest [with] local policemen, residents, and workers instead of massive international strategies.

Memorials and Movies: I don't feel that the local residents nor the
myriad health workers at local hospitals received enough respect for their admirable selflessness, which often went underrepresented.

Liz Sanders – Class of '07

That day: I remember it perfectly. I was at Stuyvesant High School on Chambers Street. My younger sister was especially affected. I still feel surreal about the whole experience, which I think was typical of my peers… kind of disconnected from the event, and perhaps still repressing it.

Kira Glassman – Class of '08

That day: I live a few blocks from what used to be the World Trade Center, so 9/11 had a pretty big impact on me. For weeks after the attack, we had to walk around the neighborhood wearing gas masks because the smell was so horrible. Then, they started dumping pieces of the WTC into barges on the Hudson River and the clanging was so loud that the windows of our apartment on the 37th floor shook. That lasted for months. So, I definitely remember the event well, because it was more like a whole traumatizing year than just one day.

Are we safer?: I don't feel safer now, because if something like that happened once, I know it could happen again. But I don't really think about it. People in other parts of the world are being attacked on a daily basis – we're lucky.

Memorials and Movies: I think the 9/11 movies are coming out way too soon, but even if they waited another 50 years, I wouldn't see any of them.

Rebecca Chaikin – Class of '07

That day: I remember the whole day perfectly. I was in 3rd period Spanish and someone who had arrived at school late had heard the first reports on the news. Our teacher hadn't shown up yet, so we turned on the radio out of curiosity. Most classrooms at Bronx Science don't have TVs so we could only listen as frantic reporters conveyed every rumor and every detail of the destruction–it was like listening to Orson Wells broadcasting “War of the Worlds” except it was real. Not being able to actually see what was happening was possibly the scariest part, there was no way to grasp that the buildings didn't actually exist any more. My imagination kept getting carried away thinking about what was happening to all of my friends who went to school right there. When the subways were finally running again and I made it home, watching the footage of the buildings collapsing over and over I still couldn't absorb what had happened. Instead it was the black clouds of ash that went through the sky overhead that made everything real.

Are we safer?: I live right between the United Nations and the Citicorp building which are both big targets;

logic and probability suggest that something will happen again, and likely in my neighborhood. Despite this, I don't walk around in constant fear. It's a new part of how New Yorkers function;

we're a little more alert subconsciously, a little more dubious of stray packages, but life goes on. It's vaguely reminiscent of Israel in that we accept the new reality, the new (though remarkably few) safety measures and move on with life as usual.

Memorials and Movies: The memorial and rebuilding is just a mess, with every politician hoping for some of the issue's gold to rub off on him in time for elections. For me, the memorial I attended at my local fire house was where I was able to grieve, cope and even gain some tenuous closure. I found that the small, though beautiful memorial they erected for the eight men from the firehouse who died was so cathartic for me. Every fire house in New York has a memorial like that and I think in the end they will prove to be more important to the city's collective rememberance than anything else we can come up with. Declaring 9/11 a national holiday will likely cheapen it over the years as we have a tendency to have BBQs on days that once represented great loss and valor.

Michelle Hamburgh – Class of '07

That day: When the planes struck, I was in Spanish class at my high school on the Upper West Side. We were all forced to remain inside the building until our parents could be reached to give us permission otherwise. Unfortunately, all the phone lines were tied up and none of us could reach our parents. The hardest part of the whole experience was comforting my school mates who had parents who worked in the buildings. They could not reach them and had no idea if they were okay. From the windows of the school, we could see people [walking] home from their jobs. The subways and bridges were closed. It looked like a mass exodus as thousands of people walked miles to get home.

Are we safer?: I do feel safer. Security all over Manhattan has significantly increased. Soldiers patrol Penn Station and the subway system has become a lot more wary of suspicious packages. The city's overall sense of awareness has been heightened since the attacks.

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