9/11: Moments After the Fall

Where were EHS teachers during the 9/11 attacks?

Most people who were alive during the 9/11 attacks have very vivid memories of that moment in their lives. Eaglecrest teachers were all over the country and in different stages of their lives when it happened. No matter their situation, 9/11 was a day that is impossible to forget, especially on its anniversary. Today, we honor the victims of the attacks and the bravery of the first responders in New York City. Here are the unique stories of three EHS teachers on the morning of September 11th, 2001. 

A commemorative pin, reading “In remembrance: September 11, 2001” adorns a red Eaglecrest lanyard. (Photo: Trisha Balani)


When the towers fell, Ms. Fisher, an English teacher, was in Texas.

“I was teaching in South Texas, and my husband was a Border Patrol agent. He trained canines for the Border Patrol. At the time, he was in El Paso, Texas, which is a nine-hour drive from where we lived. When 9/11 happened, he was in the middle of training new canine handlers on an Air Force base. They shut down base, and he was allowed a two-minute phone call to tell me that he was okay. He’s on base. I’m at home with my kids by myself—I had no family,” she said.

“I cried. To this day, we have a folder full of newspaper articles and magazines [from 9/11]. I refuse to open it because it hurts. I remember sitting there watching the towers, watching people choose how to die; I remember seeing the dust in the pictures and shutting off the TV because I didn’t want my kids to see that. I had this moment of wondering ‘What’s gonna happen next?’ My biggest fear was, ‘Where is this going to push my family?’ Ironically, my husband became an Air Marshal right afterward. September 11 occurred, then he left on October 31 for training for the Air Marshal program. It impacted my family and the entire trajectory of our lives.”



Meanwhile, teacher-librarian Ms. Hawkins was a college student in Georgia. 

“[That day], I had an 8:00 a.m. class. I went to school in Georgia, so I was on East Coast time. My roommate and I always had The Today Show on in the morning when we were getting ready, just like watching the news and whatever else was on. We were both in the room when the TV was on. We were, you know, doing our makeup and doing our hair. And then they cut to the scene of the first tower on fire. At that point, nobody knew what had happened. And as they’re showing the first tower, the second plane flew into the tower. So I watched it live—I watched it happen. That was just mind-blowing. Like, it was almost unbelievable,” Ms. Hawkins recounted. “From that point on, the day was just intense and stressful. I remember that night, everybody rushed to the gas stations to get gas. And everybody went to the grocery store to get food and supplies because we had no idea what was going on. It just felt very insecure and unsafe.”


New York

While being anywhere in the United States during the attacks was terrifying, media teacher Mr. Gabrielli was only twenty miles away from the World Trade Center on 9/11.

“The whole morning was really, really weird. I got up and I was getting ready to go to class—I was in college at a commuter school on Long Island. Campus was eerily silent. I went into class and only three of us were there. I heard the towers had been hit. I didn’t know much, and a fellow student started telling me more. Then I found out that both towers were hit. Originally, I thought it was an accident. As soon as they saw the second plane, they realized this was more than a random accident. School got canceled and what I remember pretty distinctly was trying to call my brother and not being able to get a hold of him; the phone systems had completely died. Eventually, I caught up with him and ended up getting home around 11:00 that morning. I turned on the TV, and that’s when I saw that the towers had actually fallen. It was scary because being on Long Island, you have to take a bridge or ferry to get to the mainland. We did not know if it meant there would be an attack on the greater New York area or if the bridges would get attacked and we would get stuck, so there was a lot of fear. We were also worried about my dad, who worked in New York City. He did not work near the towers, but we weren’t sure if he got out okay because a lot of people got stuck in the city and the trains were down,” he said. 

“Prevailing thoughts seemed to be: What’s next? 

As the day went on, smoke just kept moving towards us from the wreckage. We were about 20 miles away and we did not expect to be seeing smoke, so that really was a really terrible feeling. 

We lived within walking distance of a major hospital. They immediately started saying that people should be donating blood and doing whatever they could to help, so my brother and I went there, but the hospital turned everyone away—they just weren’t ready for the influx of people. Later that day, I found out a family friend of ours was missing, and it turned out he had died. A friend’s brother was a firefighter who also died in the attacks. That day was just really, really crazy and very sad.” 

On Friday, Eaglecrest teachers and staff wore a t-shirt with the American flag in honor of the anniversary of 9/11. (Photo: Trisha Balani)

9/11 was a day of immense loss and fear, and it has forever changed the fabric of our country. Though we may not be in school to hold a moment of silence, take some time today to honor the fallen and express gratitude for loved ones, because their safety is never guaranteed.