Sept. 11, 2001: Five Years LaterRemembering Sept. 11, 2001

On Sept. 11, 2001, the world stood still as word of hijacked planes striking the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington, D.C., spread like wild fire around the world.

At GCC, the fall semester was just getting started. The crisp Tuesday morning air hinted the start of fall. Students went about their routines of going to class or finishing last minute homework assignments.

But on this particular morning, there was an unusual silence on campus. People didn’t say it outright, but they knew something was wrong — terribly wrong. Those who had heard about the attacks on their way to school could only wonder what was happening. At school, away from any form of communication such as a radio or television, students could only guess and tell others off hand what they had seen or heard.

It wasn’t until later that the employees of the IT department on campus brought out an old television and set it up in front of its offices. As I remember it, about 100 students gathered in front of that television in bewilderment at the events unfolding before them.


I, too, was going about my routine. I had an interview that day with a mathematics professor for a story I was working on. Of all the interviews I’ve ever done for El Vaquero — as a matter of fact, I don’t even remember what story it was for — this one stands out in my mind the most — not so much for the story I was working on, but because my interview subject and I, all throughout the interview, knew that something horrific was going on, we just didn’t say it.

At one point in my interview, we heard the siren of a police car or ambulance heading south on Glendale Avenue.

“Now what?” asked my subject.

I finished my interview and headed to my psychology class.

In class, nothing was mentioned of the events. I never knew the reason why nothing was mentioned, and looking back I wish something was said. It was just too hard concentrate on the day’s class work knowing what was going on.

I guess no one on that day could go on with their routine knowing what was going on.

El Vaquero published a special issue that week on the attacks. On the main page of this Web site is a collection of the stories that ran in that issue and stories about the attacks that ran in subsequent issues of El Vaquero. Also, we are running a collection of stories and images from the years following Sept. 11, 2001. The images mainly center around commemorative ceremonies held at GCC in 2002 — the first anniversary of the attacks — and 2003.