By: Paola Crespo
Heather Costa, former student at the University of Tampa, has the events of Sept. 11, 2001 forever imprinted in her mind. That fateful day, Costa was in her fourth grade class at Greibling Elementary in Freehold, New Jersey.
She said that the day seemed normal until she arrived at school. Her class was rushed into their classroom and made to sit under their desks in the dark for what felt to her like hours.
“I had no idea what was going on, no one in my class did,” she said.
The only light available in the room was the TV turned to the news to update the teachers. After a few hours everyone in the school was moved to the gym to crowd around and watch the news.
“For the longest time I kept hearing ‘the world trade centers!’ I had no idea what that was. Then my teacher told us about the twin towers that got hit and told us how severe it was. After learning that, I was hysterical.”
Costa and her family had gone to visit New York City that previous weekend and she had seen the twin towers. After being explained the events that were unfolding, Costa came to a terrifying realization, “It struck me that my older brother’s college was very close to the towers.”
The rest of the day the entire school remained packed in the gym until parents came to pick them up, since the buses were shut down. “I remember getting into the car and my mom was hysterical because she couldn’t get in contact with my brother Jason,” Costa recalled.
She said it was just one of the longest, saddest days of her life. “Everyone we knew was trying to get in contact with family,” she said. “Not everyone had a cell phone so it was really hard.”
Eventually, Costa’s brother called to let his family know that he was all right. Though, their relief was still haunted by what had happened.
“If you drove close to the city, even from New Jersey, you could see that the whole sky was dark,” Costa explained. “Even as a kid you could just tell it wasn’t normal darkness. It was scary and made me feel intense emotions.”
Costa says that she will always clearly remember that day and how she was so affected by the tragic events of 9/11. Something like this is not easily forgotten.