SAN DIEGO, CA, UNITED STATES
SAN DIEGO - “I was sitting in math class. We were about to switch to our next period when we heard it. The sound of the engine was so loud it made the windows rattle, not more than a few seconds later I heard a huge explosion. I knew right away we were under attack.”
Sgt. Angel A. Santos, a drill instructor with Special Training Company, Support Battalion, reminisced on the tragedy that took place a decade ago. Sept. 11 changed the U.S. forever, it changed him forever.
“I was only 18 years old, it was just another regular day for me,” said Santos. “My school was only about half a mile away from the Twin Towers, you could see them when you looked out the window.”
Shortly after the first plane hit, the students of Chelsea Vocational High School watched the second plane collide into the remaining tower.
“You could see the fear on our faces, my jaw just dropped. People in school were crying and panicked. The teacher told us to turn around because he didn’t want us to see the tower collapse to the ground, but we couldn’t help but to watch anyway,” said Santos.
What happened on U.S. soil was bigger than any natural catastrophe he had ever seen. Santos explained that the sky rained ashes, paper and even people. The flame from the fire was so bright it almost hurt to look at. The ground shook like an earthquake as every floor pummeled to the ground. New York citizens from all ages sprinted down the street to escape the massive cloud of smoke that it created as concrete and sheet metal fell from above. Some of them were bloody and covered in residue, he explained.
“I watched two people hold each other’s hand, they looked at one another and just jumped. I think they knew they weren’t going to make it,” said Santos. “It was surreal. Like a bad dream.”
The nightmare was so close to him, he said students were jumping out of the windows in the auditorium and the staff had a hard time restoring order. Every police officer and firefighter rushed to the scene at what is now known as Ground Zero.
“The day seemed extremely long,” said Santos. “Many people knew workers in the towers, the day was so intense.”
Even though the day was over, the damage was far from done. The city was wounded emotionally.
“After a few days, people started going back to work and school,” said Santos. “I recall a lot of my peers not showing up for much longer than that though.”
Santos explained one of the busiest cities in the U.S. turned into a ghost town.
“The train into the city was nearly empty and the streets were more quite than usual,” said Santos. “Things were just never the same.”
Ten years later, Santos still questions the historical day.
“I was so angry; I just wanted to know why this was happening,” said Santos. “We were all wondering what was going to happen next.”
For Santos, what was next was what any infuriated-patriotic man would do.
“It’s one of the main reasons I joined the Marine Corps,” said Santos. “While in boot camp, my drill instructors inspired me.”
Now that Santos has a few years and a lot of experience under his belt, everyday he puts on his campaign cover for a cause.
“It’s important for us to remember that day,” said Santos. “I remind my recruits all the time to never forget what happened.”
Some of the damage still cuts deep for Santos, but he explained the city is stronger than ever. It really brought the society together in the end. Just another battle lost for the terrorist.
“People want to change the way we live, but they can’t,” said Santos. “They will never take away our rights and freedoms. We are always ready at the drop of a dime and we are prepared whatever comes next.”
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This work, DI recounts Sept. 11 attacks, by Sgt Whitney N. Frasier, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.