Recorded in History

17-year-old student journals chronicle 9/11
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
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(Editor’s Note: When America was attacked by terrorists the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, seniors in an English IV class at Iota High School were instructed to chronicle the tragedy in their classroom journals. The following includes excerpts from the journals of two of those former students, Michael Scanlan, Jr., assistant professor of physics at Northwestern State, and Jennings Daily News Managing Editor Sheila Smith. The events were recorded as they were reported on live television. However, because of the chaos of that day, some initial reports were later proven inaccurate or false.)

Scanlan’s account

“I’m at Iota High right now in English IV at 9:05 a.m. In New York, one plane crashed into the World Trade Center…One part of the center has collapsed into the streets of New York…chaos is everywhere around the center…No one knows what happened to the Pentagon but there are injuries and there is a fire. No one knows who or why or how it happened. The pictures I see are horrific. My first thoughts upon seeing this are one of two things: one, terrorists, or two, the apocalypse…

President is convinced bin Ladin is behind this. FBI has set up an emergency command post in the center of their building…

People are trapped inside these buildings, dying. The planes were probably hijacked… Top of one of the buildings has fallen off… Tower has collapsed…Second World Trade Center tower is about to collapse. It’s collapsed totally. Thousands may already be dead.

Dan Rather says rumors are spreading ‘faster than mildew in a basement.’

Plane crashes are reported in western Pennsylvania, Somerset County.

Vice president and security advisor are in charge of the White House. The only people visible are the snipers at the White House. It is still unknown who did this.

Bush vows to punish terrorists. I wouldn’t want to be him about now.

Combat planes are being flown over New York to prevent unauthorized aircraft from doing anymore damage.

I just saw a person fall to his death. He or she either jumped or was thrown out by force. They replayed the tape and it was zoomed in on the explosion.

Many cops and firefighters are dead.”

Smith’s account

“What’s happening? What’s going on?… God, this is so confusing and scary…The attacks keep coming.

The second tower is now on the verge of collapse…It’s collapsed. We just watched it fall. It fell in on itself.

‘There are no words that can describe,’ Dan Rather has just said.

The Statue of Liberty is in sight. It’s odd to see that symbol of American life in the midst of smoke and flames.

American Airlines has had a plane crash at Camp David. Supposedly — presumably — that is the last of the stray planes. But what do we know?

The FBI says four planes were hijacked before they made their targets. Osama bin Laden is ‘almost certain’ to be involved with the attacks, CBS News reports.

Lafayette Regional is shut down. Phone lines and cells are busy/locked down.

In 1993, bin Laden and his people had stated that the World Trade Center would be one of their primary targets if they would attack America.

Blood donations are needed due to the attacks.

This is the first attack in U.S. history on the Pentagon.

Yassir Arafat has condemned the acts of terrorism; however, when some of his troops received word of the attacks, they shot their guns in joy.

Oil companies are on alert.

Ronald Douget, our principal, has announced the crisis over the PA system. We’ve had a moment of silence. The school is locked down and we are not allowed to leave classrooms.

All major cities in the United States, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, have been put on alert.

Access to the state capital has been shut down.

Ft. Polk is limited to key personnel.

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001, 8:57 a.m.

Reports say people are using cell phones to call for help while trapped beneath the rubble. “Day of Infamy” and “Attack on America” headline all papers.