By Dr. Lois Rubin
On September 11, 2001, I was at Fayette Campus, observing a colleague, Gib Prettyman, teach a creative writing class. I was totally absorbed in the class, in the brainstorming exercises the students were creating and reading aloud. I remember, as the class ended, asking Gib to make copies of the exercises for me. In fact, that’s what he immediately set about doing as the class ended around 10 a.m. As we left his classroom, we saw students hovering around TV screens in the lobby, with anxious looks on their faces. And that’s how we found out what had happened – and that it had happened nearby. Shanksville isn’t far from the Fayette Campus.
I hurried home as soon as I could, anxious to hear about the well-being of my children, one who lived in New Jersey, not far from New York City and the other who lived and worked in Washington DC. My husband reported that my daughter (from NJ) had called and told him that she was fine. My son had been at a meeting in a hotel near the Pentagon, had heard the plane overhead and the crash that followed, and rushed down a staircase to evacuate the building. My children were also concerned about me, having heard from my husband that I was in rural Pennsylvania that day.
I remember when I got home lying down on the sofa in my living room, hearing the roaring engines of jets overhead (patrolling the skies), which only added to my anxiety. I felt overwhelmed by having been so close to the scene of the tragedy and the disaster itself as the details started filtering in.