Lehigh Students Reflect on September 11 Anniversary

University replays CNN coverage of terrorist attacks, as part of its remembrance.

The image on the television screen was one that no one believed they would ever see.

The World Trade Center towers were on fire.

Lehigh University freshman Jordan Smith, 18, from Nazareth, was watching.

"It's so surreal to watch everything happen," Smith said. "You know it is and what is going to happen but they (news reporters) don't."

As part of the events commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, Lehigh University was airing CNN's coverage that morning of the terrorist attacks as they took place.

The university had planned a day's worth of 9/11 anniversary events at Lamberton Hall, including an “eyewitness account of the Pentagon tragedy," presented by former Lehigh employee .

At 9:28 a.m., CNN was showing the Twin Towers on fire and that word was coming shortly from President George Bush.

A minute later, CNN reported that the FBI was investigating a report of a plane hijacking and that all trading on the New York Stock Exchange had been suspended indefinitely.

Then the president spoke, confirming the terrorism attacks.

"Today we have a national tragedy," Bush said. "Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack. We will have a full-scale investigation. Terrorism against our nation will not stand."

While some students watched the CNN coverage, others signed posters on where they were on that fateful day.

"I was in school in Mexico City," said senior Sofia Covarrubias, 22, who was involved in planning the university's 9/11 events. "Our teacher told us that planes hit the World Trade Center. We have a building called that in Mexico City, but then she clarified that it was in New York City."

She then went home and watched television for the rest of the day. "I got goosebumps," she said. "My eyes started tearing."

Smith said he was in second grade when the attacks took place. "I remember being in class and everything stopped," he said. "Most of the school was dismissed for the day. There was a lot of confusion."

At 9:44 a.m., CNN reported that there was a fire at the Pentagon with "enormous smoke billowing into the sky."

At 9:52 a.m., CNN stated that air traffic across the country was shut down.

At 10:02 a.m., CNN reported that the south tower had collapsed. The network then aired footage of the tower falling four minutes later.

At Lamberton Hall, a few more students took seats to watch the coverage before heading off to their next class.

"It's just hard to wrap your head around it," said freshman Erika Betterman, 17, of Bethlehem. "Seeing this coverage, I don't know how to explain it. It's just so sad."

Lene Samuelsen, 18, of Greenwich, Conn., was in third grade when the attacks took place. she said her parents made her watch the news because of how important it was.

"I was so young so it didn't register," she said. Samuelsen said she came to the hall to see CNN's morning coverage for the first time.

"It's just mind-blowing," she said, "especially with the clip of the plane flying into the second tower. But this is really important for us to understand. It's the most significant event in American history in our lifetime."


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