By JESSICA LOPEZ, MATTHEW KRISTOFFERSEN, and VICTORIA CHUNG
Citrus Valley and Redlands East Valley High School staff agreed to share their experiences on this tragic day in order to pay respect to those whose lives were forever changed due to these acts of terror.
Nora Garcia, teacher, CV: I was a sophomore in high school. When I woke up, my dad told me and my brothers that we were still going to school even after what just happened. I got to school and it was the weirdest thing, we learned nothing that day. Every single teacher had the TV on. My AP teacher, Ms. Andrews, had a twin sister that worked in New York and lived in New Jersey. She was on the phone with her sister telling her to get to New Jersey even if she has to walk her butt [there]. The bell rang and we looked at her. She told us the work is on the board and to just let her watch the news. I went home, and for four days, I just watched the news and watched the towers crumble.
Nathan Goodland, teacher, CV: I was 18 years old. I had just graduated high school that June. I was working for a real estate company. My job was a carrier for the company; I would deliver documents all over Southern California. The towers hit that morning and my dad woke me up. He told me to go watch the TV when the first plane hit and it wasn’t long until the other plane hit. I still had to go to work and it was weird because the freeways were empty, there was no one out driving that day. It was the best day at work–I was zipping through the freeways but it was weird because everything just stood still. I was listening to a lot of news around the radio and I remember hearing that Southern California might be hit near Los Angeles and that’s where I worked. I didn’t know what would happen–luckily nothing. That’s what I was doing on 9/11.
Paul Beaumont, teacher, CV: The day before, I was eating lunch and getting ready for my flight. I had the hotel room booked, I had the substitute ready. Then, I got a phone call: “This is CTA,” the other end of the line said, “We don’t need you to interview anymore.” I was mad. I had spent $228 on my ticket. I had no idea what to do. I called the airline and I had six months to use the ticket for no extra charge. No one knew what was going to happen that day. If I would have gone, I would have gone to the airport early and they would have closed the airports. Thank God I didn’t go–I was thinking I would have been driving on my way to the airport and my wife would have panicked. The day of, I had cancelled everything. I was getting ready to go to school and I saw a plane crash into the tower but I thought it was just a small plane so I didn’t think much of it. I turned up the volume on the TV and I heard it was a big plane. I kept getting ready. I heard the announcer announce that, “Another plane just hit the tower.” I opened the bathroom door and told my wife to get up and turn on the TV, because something was happening in New York. I got breakfast and then I started driving down Greenspot Avenue and I heard the announcer on the radio say, “The tower is coming down.” I got to school and I turned on the projector and we watched the news the whole day in all my classes. I remember telling my first period class, “Someone is going to pay for this.”
Bryan Holcombe, teacher, REV: I was in Mr. Land’s physical education class in sixth grade at Moore Middle School. On my way to school, the first plane hit. We went to school. We watched it on the news all day. Everyone was kind of shocked. It was an accident, they thought. When the second one hit, we knew it wasn’t an accident. The president did a pretty good job of separating Islam from the crazy people. People were mad that he finished the children’s book after hearing about the attacks, but people like to blame people for problems whether they deserved it or not. People just wanted someone to blame.
Sam Patalano, teacher, REV: Today is my granddaughter’s birthday. I had gotten up and came out into my living room. The TV was on and I actually saw the plane going into the towers in real time. It was crazy. It was surreal–was this really happening? Was it an Orwellian thing like War of the Worlds? It was impossible to believe at that time. It came out of nowhere. We didn’t feel threatened before that time. We never really thought about terrorists. The world feels less safe now, the world has connected through the internet and everything is microseconds away from knowing what’s going on. In the ‘50s, they had three stations–you didn’t know what was going on. Now, we know everything bad that’s going on. The level of information in the world has made the world a scarier place. You just didn’t know as a kid. You didn’t know someone’s head was being chopped off half of a world away, and it’s up to the individual to find a way to moderate it. I had a picture of my granddaughter 10 minutes after she was born. 20 years ago, I had to wait three days for a picture to come in the mail.
Jennifer Murillo, principal, REV: On September 11th, I was teaching at Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino. It was the second day that the school opened. It was a new school, the second day of the first school year. I woke up that morning and I was running late for work, so I didn’t turn the news on, which was weird–I listened to the news every single morning when I’m getting ready. I walked into Kinkos because I had to get a poster made for some reason and they had the news on. I’m rushing in and out getting my stuff done and as I was waiting for the guy to finish my poster I happened to glance up. I thought, “What the heck is this?” I thought it was a trailer for a movie. It took a few seconds for it to connect in my head. When I finally realized what was happening, I just stood there and grabbed my stuff. When I got to work, since it was a brand new school, our televisions weren’t hooked up and neither were our computers I remember teachers and office staff and kids were running from class to class to bring us cables and set the televisions up. We sat that whole day watching the news. I have an aunt that used to work in New York City in one of the Twin Towers and thank God she was on vacation. She wasn’t even in the country. We did have staff members who had people that were on some of the planes and people who knew people who worked in that building. It had quite an impact on that campus and on that community for a long time to come. It was a somber way to open a school year and open a brand new school.
J.J. Martinez, assistant principal, REV: I was a student [at REV] when it happened. We woke up and I was getting ready for school and I could remember the phone ringing and ringing. No one ever called us in the morning. It was 6:45, so we still came to school. At 15, I don’t think I understood the magnitude of what was going on. We sat there and I remember we watched the news in every class that day. That’s all we did. At school, it felt like only half of all students were here. A lot of kids stayed home out of fear.
Laraissa Gill, assistant principal, REV: I was 7½ months pregnant. I had woken up that morning and I happened to be teaching in another district, Fontana Unified, and I was [on maternity leave]. I was home and pregnant. I had slept in, and I woke up to my phone ringing and ringing. It was my family–my brothers, my sisters, and my mom, calling to make sure that I was okay. They were worried a big event like that could put me into labor. I eventually had family come over to make sure I was okay. I remember feeling very scared and worried about my baby’s future. I thought, “Were there going to be more of these attacks? What would the future look like?” As a new mom, I was really worried to see what it would be like for my child. Very scary.
Catherine Obregon, assistant principal, REV: I was a teacher [at REV], an English teacher. I lived far away, so I was able to listen to the news all the way here. I was already pretty well-informed when I got [to REV]. I remember watching the news all day and students not understanding the political background and backstory as to why people would be against us. A lot of people didn’t even know about the Twin Towers, didn’t know anything about NYC. Answering those questions, I was thankful I was prepared. We didn’t have the internet available to us at the time. I was happy I knew enough to share with the students and answer their questions. Many here were very confused as to why this happened. Some students had been misinformed that this was initially an accident, and we had to explain to them that this was intentional, and why, and why so many people were in one building, and why the buildings were so tall. We had to answer a lot of questions.
Editor’s note: Ethic News extends its gratitude and condolences to not only those who shared their stories but also to those who were personally affected by the attacks 16 years ago. Ethic encourages readers to share their own experiences of 9/11 to help preserve this incident in the hearts of all.