September 11, 2001 was a day that never had a chance to begin normally for Whittier students at the time. Early in the morning, as people awoke for classes, phones started ringing. Televisions were turned on as the news quickly spread. Calls were made between dorm rooms using the landline extension each room had. People came out of their rooms hours before classes would begin, all with the same questions on their mind “Why did this happen? And is this real?”
“I was a sophomore living at home,” Romero said. “I had a morning class so as I walked out to the front room of my parents’ house I looked at my mom standing next to the T.V. and then I saw Tower One...then moments later I saw the plane go into Tower Two. My jaw dropped…I asked my mom what happened and she was speechless. We both sat down on the couch and watched the T.V. in silence. All I could think was that it happened so far away and I couldn’t do anything to help. I didn’t understand why this was happening and what kind of evil person would do this.” As a commuter, Romero was separate from her fellow Poets on that morning. However, they were soon on her mind as she began thinking about her friends, especially those she knew had family in New York. That was when her emotions started to grow. “My strongest emotions from that time was a mix of anger, helplessness and fear,” Romero said. “All I could do the rest of the day was think about other places where these people might crash planes into. I told my brothers to stay at home, I called my dad and asked him to go home from work and I told my grandma not to go outside. I was scared that they would be hurt and in a moment I too could lose my entire family. I also felt guilty because my family was unharmed while many of my friends from Whittier were unsure of the safety of their friends and family...and more importantly they had to deal with this with no family around them.”
“On 9/11, I was a junior, living and working in Turner as an RA,” Sevcikova said. “My fellow RA called me up that Tuesday morning to tell me what had happened and the two of us watched the second tower fall on a small TV in his dorm room.” Being the News Editor for the Quaker Campus had a definite impact on how Sevcikova viewed the events of that morning. “Emotions were the prevailing filter of the first few days after the tragedy first shock and pain, then anger and sadness,” Sevcikova said. “I was trying to cope with my own feelings about this disaster while at the same time trying to do my work as a News Editor. As a writer tasked with writing in the voice of the campus community, the struggle was to find the stories and language (however inadequate) to express the inexpressible, the vast grief that struck all of us that day. All of us at the QC were working overtime those days (this story broke one day before the printing deadline), so I had to focus my energies on getting through the day and doing my job falling apart as a private citizen simply had to happen later.”
“My sister called my cell phone and told me to turn on the T.V. and that I won’t believe what is happening at 6 a.m.,” McLeod said. “My roommate and I sat and watched for a few hours and it was so surreal. No one knew what it was at first, [they] didn’t think it was a terrorist attack.” McLeod would later get a call after her 9 a.m. class that would change everything. Having recently enlisted in the army and returned from basic training on Aug. 31, McLeod was in the middle of a country’s transition from peacetime to wartime. She was one of very few students on campus who attended Whittier using the Montgomery G.I. Bill.
“I got a call that my unit had been activated, which meant to me this had to be more than what I thought,” McLeod said. “Activated means that we are on call to be deployed if needed, so I have to answer all phone calls and can’t leave town at all. The images you see don’t serve justice to the emotions of everyone on campus. It was like life stopped for a bit…At first it was just such disbelief.”
“I was in sixth grade at the time,” Aisner said. “I remember walking by a row of classrooms with the doors open and seeing the T.V.s on. Nobody really got it, we didn’t know what the Twin Towers were.” Those who were young at the time of the event had a very different experience than perhaps those in college or above. Although they comprehended that there was an extreme significance to the terrorist attack, the distance for Aisner living in Paso Robles, Calif. meant that the significance was not as high. For the educators at his school though, the impact was felt greatly and was displayed throughout the school day. “The teachers were all just shocked,” Aisner said. “We watched the news all class time. My Spanish teacher at the time even cried.”