Leah Wilkinson still remembers the day her life changed forever. While sitting in her 5th grade class in upstate New York on September 11th, 2001 she can still recall the nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. People were too quiet. No one was allowed to leave. “Even though you were younger, you just knew something was off.” It wasn’t until she returned home that day that she heard the devastating news.
“I remember going home after my school and my mom being like, ‘Leah did you hear about anything happening in school today?’ and I said no. Then she turned on the news and it was just…. On replay. On t.v. all the time.” Thankfully Leah didn’t have any family members in the towers on the day they fell, but she did have an uncle in the city at the time. “My uncle, my dad’s younger brother, worked in the city and he was a couple of blocks away from the towers. I just remember him telling us that he had to run from it. He had to stand on the bridge to get away from it all.”
After that day, though, her life seemed to return to normal. “We were so far from it that it didn’t really affect us. [But] I know people now who had school cancelled because the smoke was so bad in the sky. Everything was fine with us at school though. They carried it on.”
When asked how she feels about the attack 11 years later, she’s affected now even more. “It’s just a sad day. It led to so many other things that happened in the world. And for the past 11 years there have been people in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for our country. One of my really good friends just got deployed to Afghanistan.
It’s just weird that even after all this time, we still have to have so many precautions. Like we have to take our shoes off at the airport. No other country does that. I went to Israel and they are really tight on security and I didn’t have to take my shoes off. All because one guy tried to hide a bomb in his shoe….That’s the world we live in.”