By Danielle Strejc
11 years ago today, our country was left devastated by the largest terrorist attack in American History as two planes, flown by members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, flew into the World Trade Centers in New York City, and Kristine Clark, graduate of UCF and employee of the University of Tampa bookstore, recalls the event that left her and fellow classmates in panic.
“Everything went silent that day,” she says, “It was a very eerie feeling, and none of us knew what was going on.”
With all the confusion that morning, Clark admits she even feared for her life.
“I thought that someone was going to walk into my school and start shooting up the place,” she explains, “We had no answers as to what was happening in the outside world.”
Clark also remembers wanting to leave the her high school, Oviedo, because of the close proximity to what she felt was a “terrorist area of interest.”
“My school was just 30 minutes from Disney World and all of the amusement parks and I started to think that the terrorists were going to attack here, too,” she says, “Even though it was happening in New York, I still thought it was a country-wide thing.”
As 14 year-old Clark sat with fear in her classroom, she claims her teachers added to the tension as well.
“We saw the look on our teachers faces, and we knew something wasn’t right,” she discusses, “They weren’t telling us stuff, and looking back, I don’t know if it was because they didn’t know how to approach the situation or because they were in shock themselves.”
The teachers, the only source of information outside of the school, left a permanent imprint of the 9/11 attacks in Clark’s mind.
“Every time something new happened, like the plane that crashed into the second World Trade Center or the plane that hit the Pentagon, the teachers freaked out and it was hard for us to stay calm,” she remembers, “Me and my classmates were like, ‘Oh my God, they’re coming for us!’”
Throughout the the destruction and devastation of our country, Clark felt it was only appropriate to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, spending time at Ground Zero during her most recent trip to New York City two years ago
“I visited the memorial, and I just stood there, scared and thinking,” she recalls, “It was hard to imagine being one of the victims standing there in that building that morning.”
Clark, now 25 years old, feels that people have lost their sense of patriotism since the attacks.
“I feel bad saying this, but I feel when the attacks happened, and even the first anniversary, everyone was hyped up and patriotic,” she explains, “It’s important we all remember what happened, and educate those who are maybe even too young to remember.”