Looking Back: Where Were You on 9/11? Ten years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists jolted the United States into a new era of fear when they flew commercial airplanes into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. In a matter of minutes, thousands of lives were lost and countless others were altered. The new reality became ... Features
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Features  |   August 01, 2011
Looking Back: Where Were You on 9/11?
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School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Features
Features   |   August 01, 2011
Looking Back: Where Were You on 9/11?
The ASHA Leader, August 2011, Vol. 16, 27. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR4.16102011.27
The ASHA Leader, August 2011, Vol. 16, 27. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR4.16102011.27
Ten years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists jolted the United States into a new era of fear when they flew commercial airplanes into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. In a matter of minutes, thousands of lives were lost and countless others were altered. The new reality became terrorism alerts and airport security—and the sense that nothing would ever be the same. Like so many Americans, communication sciences and disorders professionals often remember Sept. 11 as if it were yesterday and consider it life-changing. These professionals recall where they were when the attacks hit.
Linda Mitchell, MS, CF
I was a career employee with the U.S. Postal Service, employed at the Church Street Station on the perimeter of the World Trade Center. I was changing for work at 8:45 a.m. on the fifth floor when the whole world seemed to shake. I opened the window and saw flames and debris hurtling toward us, and we all ran out of the building. Once in the street I saw what appeared to be the remnants of a bomb. As I was there for the earlier World Trade Center bombing in 1993, I knew to expect police, fire, and other emergency personnel. What I did not expect was to watch in horror as people fell from the sky.
It was so emotionally debilitating. I was lost in hysterics when suddenly another large explosion occurred. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of us ran for our lives. I ran to a building alcove on the next street and huddled with strangers as if they were my loved ones.
Finally, I joined the crowds who just ran as far away as they could. I remember the street was littered with cellphones, pocketbooks, and other valuables; nobody cared. However, what I remember most is the one pervasive thought in my head: I can’t die yet. I haven’t done what I wanted to do with my life. The feeling was so compelling, I began college the very next semester. I earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech-language pathology. I graduated in February of this year and am doing my clinical fellowship at a wonderful school in Staten Island. I am one of many people whose life direction changed forever that day—to be more useful and valuable. I am here specifically due to Sept. 11, 2001.
Linda Mitchell, MS, CF, works with children with autism spectrum disorders at Eden II in Staten Island, N.Y. Contact her at lmitchell@eden2.org.
Anthony D. Koutsoftas, PhD, CCC-SLP
I had just graduated from my master’s program at Columbia University and was excited for my first job as a speech-language pathologist in an elementary school in Manhattan. I was one week into my position at P.S. 63 when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred. I heard a loud noise; at the time I attributed it to street noise. I realized later it was the planes crashing into the towers. Shortly after the planes crashed, we got word of what was happening. I walked out to the corner and could see the towers, both on fire.
Within 30 minutes the school was flooded with parents. The school was quite diverse and included students of many ethnic and religious backgrounds. Every parent who came to pick up a child, whether black, Latino, white, or Muslim, was scared. There was fear in everyone’s eyes and heart that day. The school was empty by noon.
I was commuting from the suburbs and had no way of getting home. I thankfully had a good friend nearby; I waited on her stoop until she got home. We saw each other and hugged. It was nice to be with a friend on such a hard day. We grabbed a coffee at a local café. There were people everywhere. An ambulance drove up and down Avenue A calling out over the loudspeaker for blood donation. It was like a war zone.
Anthony D. Koutsoftas, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor at Seton Hall University. He is a member of Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues. Contact him at anthony.koutsoftas@shu.edu.
Jonelle Shipley, MS, CCC-SLP
Three weeks before Sept. 11, I had moved from Pittsburgh to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I had just finished graduate school and was ready to start my career as a school-based speech-language pathologist at Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, Va. That morning I walked into my principal’s office and found her staring at the television. Seconds before I walked in, the second tower had been hit. I sat with her and watched the events unfold. About a half-hour later, word came that the Pentagon had been hit and parents began frantically pouring into the school and taking their children home. Later that afternoon the staff was sent home, too.
Normally on the way home I would see and hear airplanes taking off and landing constantly from Dulles Airport, just a few miles away from my home. The eerie silence of the airport that day was haunting. I still live in the D.C. area with my husband and two little girls. To this day, every time I drive past the Pentagon and see the varied colors of the facade from where the plane hit, I vividly remember the events of that day.
Jonelle Shipley, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist at Oakton Elementary School in Oakton, Va. Contact her at jonelle.shipley@fcps.edu.
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August 2011
Volume 16, Issue 10