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Raised in a scary world

Current high-schoolers say they were too young to fully understand 9/11 then, but they could absorb the fear of the time. They still worry about attacks, but they’ve also learned about the Middle East and not to take their country for granted.

September 8, 2011
By NATHAN BROWN - Staff Writer (nbrown@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

On Sept. 11, 2001, Lucy Mitchell was 6 years old. She and her mother were in Lake Placid, but her father was in New York City. He worked there as a stock investment analyzer, in one of the buildings next to the Twin Towers.

"Because the phone lines were down, my mother couldn't get a hold of him at all," Mitchell said.

Until her mother came to pick her up from school early, Mitchell didn't know what was happening.

Article Photos

From left, Lake Placid high-schoolers Lorissa Martin, Maggie Rose-McCandlish and Daryl Brier discuss their perspectives on the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Sept. 1 at the Blue Moon Cafe in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

"A neighbor had to come pick me up," Mitchell said. "My mom was shaking so bad, she couldn't drive."

They were finally able to get a hold of her father that night. He had stayed home from work at his apartment that morning, doing transcendental meditation.

One of Lorissa Martin's relatives through marriage was a rescue worker in Manhattan that day, and he was never found. She said she remembers when her aunt called her mother that night.

Fact Box

WE REMEMBER 9/11, A DECADE LATER

A FOUR-DAY SERIES:

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WEDNESDAY: A decade ago, a panel of teens shared some profound thoughts about how 9/11 changed their world. We tracked some of them down to see what they think about it now.

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FRIDAY: Sept. 11, 2001, was the third day of Chris Knight's journalism career. He writes about being on the air of local radio station WNBZ amid chaos, trying to figure out what to do as he took listeners' calls.

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SATURDAY: ADE readers tell their stories about where they were and how the attacks affected them.

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INSIDE EACH DAY: Stories from around the nation and world

"I remember just crying," said Martin, who lives in Lake Placid.

Daryl Brier, now of Saranac Lake, went through that day in second grade without anyone telling him anything about what was going on, although one of his teachers did get a call and came back in a weird mood. When he got home, his parents were visibly upset and told him what had happened. They had been at a doctor's appointment and had watched the attacks on television there.

Then-first-grader Maggie Rose-McCandlish, of Wilmington, didn't hear about it in school, either. She remembers leaving school happy, expecting to get on the bus and go home, and "my mom was running toward me, just crying."

They went to a friend of her mother's house, and her mother told her a lot of people had died. Rose-McCandlish didn't see the footage immediately, but "I felt this was the start of something horrible, and it's not going to end."

All four were students at Lake Placid Elementary School at the time, and are now in Lake Placid High School. The Enterprise recently interviewed them about their memories of that day, their experiences since and their perspectives on what happened.

They all remember feelings of confusion and fear at that time.

"I was very afraid," Mitchell said. "I didn't really understand what was going on."

Brier said he was more frightened the night after the attacks.

"I thought that somehow a war was going to start in our country ... and my dad or someone in our family would have to help," he said.

They remember bomb drills in school afterward.

"They would come on the intercom and they would say, 'Duck,'" Martin said.

Rose-McCandlish said she realized, even at that age, that hiding in a doorway or under a desk wouldn't help much if the school were bombed. She also remembers fearing an attack.

"We didn't understand the statistics or probability" that someone probably wouldn't bomb a small town like Lake Placid, Rose-McCandlish said. She said she would plan for scenarios, thinking, "If someone drops a bomb by the door, what do I do? How do I get my baby sister out?"

They all said the attacks made them feel more patriotic. Brier said that, if there were a draft, he would be willing to go to war. He said he always says the Pledge of Allegience proudly now, and gets irritated by his fellow students who don't.

"It's kind of like saying you're against our country," he said.

"I was so young, I don't remember what I thought of America before," Rose-McCandlish said. "My entire view of America was shaped by this."

Rose-McCandlish said she doesn't think she understood, before, that "to be American means other people want to hurt us," and "to defend, that other people don't have what we have."

"I think we would only be more controlled and consumed with technology if it (9/11) didn't happen," Mitchell said. "We would be more (focused on) the Internet world than America."

Mitchell said she thinks a terrorist attack was inevitable.

"I think we would've been attacked at some later date if 9/11 hadn't happened on 9/11," she said.

Martin said she pays more attention to world news and events now, because of the attacks. She also said she remembers being afraid of Middle Easterners when she was younger, but all of them said they have learned much over the past decade to get beyond racial profiling.

"Now we are definitely afraid of the Middle East ... (but) not every one is bad," Martin said.

"Pretty much all of them aren't (bad)," Rose-McCandlish said. "There's what, 19 people who hijacked the planes?"

Rose-McCandlish said she was disturbed by the racism toward Middle Eastern people she saw after the attacks, although she said it has subsided greatly in the 10 years since.

"After I've studied history ... it almost reminds me of McCarthyism," she said.

She said she would support the construction of a mosque near the site of the towers, a controversial topic last year.

"You can't blame an entire religion on one horrible incident," she said. "(A mosque would) make the country look like it's forgotten and healed."

Mitchell said the attacks showed Americans, especially her generation, that their country can be attacked and that they need to fight back.

"We thought we were invincible, we're the best country in the world," Mitchell said. "I think 9/11 really opened our eyes to we are not invincible."

Martin said she still has fears of going into cities, or on airplanes, stemming from the attacks. Rose-McCandlish said she still thinks about the safest exit whenever she's on a subway, and Brier said he frequently thinks, in various places, about how he could help others if a bomb were to go off. He said it influenced his desire to become a firefighter.

"This happened when we were 6 or 7," Rose-McCandlish said. "It's so ingrained in our personalities."

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Contact Nathan Brown at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or nbrown@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.

 
 
 

 

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