I was a kid back then. Just started 8th grade. Dad was stationed at Fort Huachuca at the time and we lived on post. I woke up and heard that a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center at or around 0700 hours Arizona time. I thought that was a real tragic freak accident but gave it no second thought. I got ready for school and walked as I usually did.

By the time I got to school and arrived at my first class, I learned a second plane had hit the other WTC tower. That was around the time when I started to realize something was off, but it didn’t really register. We got called into an assembly in the cafeteria and our principal, a former Navy aviator, informed us that school would be canceled for the day. I don’t think most of the kids were tracking the news, so the cafeteria erupted into cheers because who doesn’t like a day off from school, right?

“Hey! This isn’t funny!” he shouted. The cafeteria quieted down. He began to give us the ass-chewing we deserved and finally began to address the point that we, as middle-schoolers, had not yet grasped: we were under attack. We were told to wait outside for busses or for our parents to pick us up. I remember more than a few girls crying and wondering if we would be attacked next.

I wasn’t the normal 8th grader. Now that I knew that it was a deliberate attack, I mulled over some possibilities. Yeah, Huachuca had some strategic importance as a military school, but there were much larger targets to be attacked, so I figured we would be fairly safe. A Reader’s Digest article I had read two or three years earlier came to mind, talking about a guy, I think his name was bin Laden. A guy that blew up an embassy or two and declared war on the West. Maybe he was behind it?