3:04 PM / Tuesday January 28, 2020

8 Sep 2011

Philadelphia reflections of 9/11

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September 8, 2011 Category: Diaspora Posted by:

By Renneth Grey


ABOVE PHOTO: Ife Williams places what she remembers on a wall in an exhibit Excavating Ground Zero: Fragments from 9/11, at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, during a media preview Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Philadelphia. The exhibit runs August 20 through November 6, 2011.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)



No one can forget the day when America was frozen in place watching the Twin Towers collapse and the Pentagon explode. Still haunting Americans today are the memories of September 11th, 2001. The attacks of that day in history aroused many feelings of fear, sorrow, and hope as the nation watched 2,726 people die minutes after the trade center collapsed. About 8 percent (234) of the people that died in the bombings of the World Trade Center were African Americans (CDC World Trade Center statistics, 2011).


Many people in Philadelphia will join the nation in reflecting on the significance of that day in American history. “I was in George Washington Carver High School for Engineering and Science. I went into the principal’s office and she had a TV in it. I watched the planes fly into the buildings. It was a very scary feeling,” mentions therapist Vincent Calloway.


Despite the fact that thousands died on September 11th, some Philadelphia residents had stories of survival and relief when learning that their relatives were able to escape the attacks. Former New York City resident and school psychologist Regina Meacham has family that lived/worked near the Sept. 11 attacks.


“I was a school psychologist”, she said. “I was talking to a parent at Emlen Elementary School. Someone said turn on the T.V. and as I was talking I looked at the T.V. and all I can say was ‘Oh my God. I couldn’t believe my eyes. As I watched the second plane go into the building the School District of Philadelphia went into immediate lockdown and later dismissed early. After I left school, my thoughts turned to the safety of my family.


I thought about my father, a lawyer who was supposed to be in court downtown that day.’ I also though about my godson who worked right next to the Towers. Both were unreachable. Then when I heard about the destruction of the Pentagon, I tried to contact my first cousin who worked for the U.S. Mint, but I couldn’t reach him either. I was calling New York because my mother and sister lived in Queens and I couldn’t even reach them. I was very distressed and anxious,” Meacham said. Fortunately, Meacham was able to regain contact with all her family members and no one was hurt.


Philadelphia Department of Health worker Lynne Anderson expressed similar feelings when watching the Twin Towers collapse. Two of Anderson’s cousins were working in the Trade Center around that time. “I had two cousins working on the 27th floor of one of the towers. Both of them worked for the same company. One was a supervisor and the other was a clerk. They felt the building shake because the file cabinet doors just flew open.


The other cousin that was a clerk was on the phone with her sister. Her sister told her over the phone that she was watching the twin towers on fire from her home in New Jersey. She was hysterical. My cousin (the supervisor) went to get the clerk and together they walked down 27 flights to the plaza and there was broken glass in the stairwell and debris. My cousin’s boss who was with them had to pull out glass from her bare feet while walking towards the bottom of the stairs. My family was happy that they got out alive that day. My cousin who was the clerk, vowed never to work in a building over three stories.”


When processing all the events that happened in that day many found comfort in knowing that their families and spirituality. “I was glad to see that my family was safe. I used the attacks as a teachable moment for my family and we discuss how much we take so much for granted. So, that day was definitely a wake up call,” says Calloway.

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