May the Lord bless all the souls lost on August 8th 1998, 9/11, Kikambala, Westgate, Mpeketoni, Garissa and in all other attacks that I didn't mention.
I still get goose bumps whenever I recall the events of that horrible morning- it was surreal. It was a very beautiful day, very good weather in Montgomery County, Maryland (DC suburbs). It was the first few weeks of the Fall semester, therefore I didn't have much going on. On my way to my 9 o'clock class I decided to stop by the students' center for a cup of coffee. As soon as I stepped inside the cafeteria, I realized that something bad was going on- there were several tv screens across the dining hall tuned to different stations, and each one of them had some "breaking news" of some kind of accident in NY. There were quite some confusion because no one could really tell exactly what was going on, though it was clear that there was a huge fire (or explosion) in one of the World Trade Center towers. It was bad, really bad. I had been to NY before and I couldn't imagine the chaos on the streets. All the stations were showing live news and we were all curious to at least know what was going one because some stations were reporting of a possible plane crash. But how could that happen? The weather on the East Coast was all clear.
Several minutes (at least 20) had gone by at this point. I had actually forgotten about my class. One of the CNN cameras was pointed up above the towers, then all of a sudden a huge jet appeared from the side of the screen. There was a helicopter or two flying around, but this was a HUGE plane, and it was flying really fast towards the towers. Sh*t!!! The plane "disappeared" into the other tower! At this point time stopped!! Everyone was just screaming and cussing! I was like, this is really f'ed up! No one could believe what they had just seen. My stomach was just turning, and it felt like a bad dream. Within few minutes there was chaos around campus and people were running around in circles.
Before all this could sink in, people started talking of another crash in DC (many student had family members/parents working in DC). Just before 10 a.m., all media outlets reported the Pentagon attack! Everyone just kept quiet!! It was now apparent that some serious attacks were going on. There was eerie silence. More rumors started about other attacks in DC (which later turned out to be false alarms). There was a feeling of helplessness. One of the most secure buildings in the world had been hit. It was just a really bad feeling. As if that was not bad enough, it was being reported that "several" planes had been hijacked and could not been accounted for. Everyone was just looking up in the skies. Everything was possible at that point, and being close to DC we felt extremely vulnerable. At that point I had enough and I just went home (I had made contact with my family and I knew everyone was ok). I was very lucky because, as soon as I left school, there was minor security lapse at the campus and the whole place was on total lockdown for several hours!
Then one of the towers collapsed! What else could go wrong??? It was incredibly crazy. Then the North Tower collapsed! Unbelievable. At this point we were huddled around the family room, just waiting for the house to blow up (that's how it felt!). Then another plane crash was reported in Pennsylvania. The rest of the day was spent indoors, in sorrow.