Remembering 9/11: the 20th anniversary of the tragedy


Courtesy of WKTV

In honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and those we lost in this tragedy.

     With the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, Highlands High School History Teacher Kym Grillot reminisced on her memories of what happened.

     At the time, Grillot was teaching at Bellevue High School. It was during the first period, as she was teaching a freshman class of World Civilization when a co-worker knocked on her door.

     Grillot remembered him saying, ‘they tried to blow up the World Trade Center again.’ In 1994, a bomb had been planted in the parking garage of the World Trade Center. Sadly, a few people’s lives were lost but the building received minimal damage and hadn’t collapsed. 

     When Grillot turned on the TV in her classroom, it was after the first plane hit but before the second. Looking at the first tower and the explosion, Grillot remembers that the scene before her had looked similar to something a bomb would produce.

     At that moment, it hadn’t occurred to her that instead of an explosion, what caused the destruction was a plane. It wasn’t until she heard the news talking about someone who, “saw a plane fly into the building” that she began to vaguely understand the situation. About ten minutes after, the sight that Grillot and her freshman class witnessed was the second plane hitting the other tower.

     Grillot commented on how her class reacted to the sight of this tragedy. 

     “The kids were really upset and obviously we couldn’t and weren’t going to continue on with our lesson. So, I just said ‘look we don’t know what’s going on so we’re going to have to try really hard to listen to what the television is saying.’” 

     One of Grillot’s students happened to be a boy scout, and he asked if the class could go lower the flag outside to half-mast, wanting to honor the people who had died.

     She discussed what her students wanted to do in honor of this tragedy.

     “The kids wanted to do something, they wanted to channel their fear into action. They wanted to do something to help.”

     As a teacher, Grillot felt it was important for her students to feel like they could help. So, she took her class down to the principal’s office, announcing what they were doing, and went outside to have a few moments of silence. As Grillot took her class back up to the room, more information about what was happening came through, and so the class stood strong united as one.

     Reporters came to the school to do a small news story on the school’s renovations and soon found out about the attack when Grillot’s class did. So they soon shifted the focus of the story, changing it to 9/11, and pulled Grillot out of her classroom to interview her.

     Grillot expressed her feelings over this surprise interview. 

     “I didn’t have any time to think about what my answers to the questions should be. And it’s hard to be the grown-up in the room and hold it together when you’re just dying inside. It was really rough because as teachers t ‘you have to be the strong one for the students, you’re the adult in the room and the kids are the children and you have to understand.’ I feel like I did I really good job controlling my emotions in from of the kids but when I got home, I just broke down in tears.”

     The outcome of what happened twenty years ago today was a horrible event that continues to be a part of our American history. For our current generation, it can be difficult to understand what happened during 9/11 and how people felt during that time. Even so, it made America stand strong and together as one united force. Today we honor those who lost their lives in this tragedy.