(BALTIMORE) – “Chaos, that’s all I can remember,” said Jada Vanderpool, a senior at Morgan State University. Vanderpool was in her fourth grade class in Brooklyn, N.Y. “It was the fourth period just before lunch…the classroom had a big window looking at downtown. The teacher was looking out the window. She kept repeating, “The plane hit the building.”
For the Brooklyn native, Sept. 11, 2001 will remain etched in her mind forever. Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day in New York City, just outside Washington and in Shanksville, Pa. in a coordinated attack staged by al Qaeda, an Islamic extremist group.
She was hazy about the details at the time. All that was clear was that the World Trade Center’s twin towers were reduced to rubble after two hijacked Boeing 767 jetliners were slammed into the 110- story New York City skyline icon. Minutes after the twin towers were set ablaze, a Boeing 757 rammed into the Pentagon, collapsing one side of the nerve center of the nation’s defense establishment.
Social media sites were in their infancy but rumors began to fly over cellphones, she said.
“Are they coming back?” was one question that circulated persistently. Another rumor put President Bush at the center of the terrorist plot. One wild story suggested the plot could have been foreseen by folding a $1 bill in a certain way. Rumors ran rampant among her classmates, and there was no way to sort truth from rumor.
What remains most vivid are the images: Her mother showing up at home from her job in Manhattan covered with debris, makeshift memorials popping up throughout the city and the rage and grief about friends and neighbors who died that day.
Everyone of a certain age remembers where they were that Tuesday morning. Thirteen years after the event that reshaped the U.S. there is a special memorial in Baltimore - a steel girder at Baltimore’s World Trade Center at the Inner Harbor.
This Thurs., Sept. 11, just after 8:30 a.m., an eerie hush settled on the normally busy area. Some took pictures, others just stared at the exhibit in silence. The steel sits along a promenade where several tall ships were assembled to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the bombardment at Fort McHenry, until 13 years ago, the most memorable attack on U.S. soil by a foreign power.