9/11 Memorial

The National Sept. 11 Memorial in New York.

“Mr. Bodenner, could you send Tyren Rushing to the office with his things? His mother is coming to pick him up.”

When I heard my name over the intercom, I was terrified.

I was barely a month into my freshman year of high school and I wasn’t a kid who got in trouble, so getting called to the office was one of the worst things that could happen from my point of view.

The fact that my mom was also somehow involved intensified my nerves. When I got to the office, the school secretary Mrs. Jet told me that some crazy stuff was happening and that a plane had landed on the roof of the Pentagon or something.

After my mom arrived, she tried to explain the situation to me on the short drive back to our house, but nothing she said made sense. Airplane flying into buildings? Nothing about that sounded real at the time.

I also was kind of annoyed because she had pulled me out of English class — considering my current vocation, you’d be correct in assuming I really enjoyed that course — and Mr. Bodenner was one of my most charismatic teachers.

He was a Vietnam veteran, originally from Wisconsin, who told us colorful tales of his history in the service and combating winter in the Badger State. Bodenner also is the teacher that taught me the five-paragraph method of writing essays that became invaluable to me in high school and college.

When we got home, I went to my room and started watching the news. Every channel showed a smoking tower in New York, one that I recognized from countless pop culture references and for its on and off against statues as one of the country’s tallest structures.

Seeing that on TV let me know my mom wasn’t crazy and I was watching live when a second airplane crashed into the adjacent tower. Anchors were are at a loss for words and it was scary because it seemed like none of us knew what exactly was happening.

I’m sure by now you’ve guessed that it was Sept. 11, 2001. I’ll always remember exactly where I was on 9/11. That day changed just about everything in our country and it gave other generations their own “Day of Infamy.”

I was 14 when 9/11 happened and it still seems like yesterday despite all the changes in the world and my life since.

Another surreal moment for me happened on Sept. 11, 2013, when I still worked in Newton. I did a story on students learning about 9/11 from their history books — all of the kids I interviewed were born after 2002 — it seemed unreal to me something I lived through was now study material.

A few months after that story, I went to visit my younger sister when she was living in New York. While there, I visited the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, which is where the story art for this Take 5 comes from.

Standing in a place I saw decimated on TV from my bedroom in Kansas and where thousands of people died a little more than a decade before felt like an out-of-body experience, but it was also somehow tranquil.

It also reminded me of something one of the kids I talked to in Newton said when I asked her what she learned about 9/11 and how American has changed since.

“It tells about our country, that we are strong and can fight back,” she said.