Local kids express feelings about terrorist attacks

By Julie Fann
star staff

Adults often assume children aren't paying attention when tragedy hits, especially if they aren't directly affected by it. However, local kids were greatly impacted by the events of Sept. 11, and they had no difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings.
   "I was just in horror. I didn't know what to say. Then when the Pentagon got hit, I really got scared because I didn't know what was going to happen next," said Colin Blowers, 12, who was a student at East Side Elementary School when the terrorist attacks occurred.
   Clutching his hands together tightly while he talked, Colin said he and other classmates were doing a reading assignment when their teacher left the room to speak with another school official.
   "She came back in, and she had a really bad look on her face like she had seen a ghost, and she turned on the TV, and there it was before us," Colin said.
   Colin described in detail his reaction to the attacks, his feelings altering as he watched the events transpire in a live broadcast. His sentiments ranged from horror, to shock and confusion.
   "It was odd because we had no clue what was happening, and we just wanted to be with our parents. When you're 11 years old and you're in class and your mom and dad are at work, usually you want to be with them at a time like that," he said.
   At first Colin didn't realize the collapsing buildings were the World Trade Center towers, he said, "because of the angle view of the camera" as it filmed the attacks. At lunch time, Colin was able to go home.
   "I had an orthodontist appointment and got red, white and blue bands on my braces. Then I went home and sat on the floor for two hours just watching TV. Information just kept coming in," he said.
   Musing about Osama bin Laden, Colin believes he may possibly be dead or that he will soon be captured by Americans. He said President Bush is handling the situation well, and his fears have dissipated.
   "Because they haven't attacked in a year, I've gotten less and less scared and gone on. I still know that we could be attacked, but the only thing I can do is pray to God," he said.
   Johanna Coetzee, 11, said two girls, Taylor and Madison, who were standing in the hallway at her school, told her that the twin towers went down. She walked home with one of her brother's friends and they talked about what happened.
   "It made me appreciate that I'm alive and that I have a family, and I felt sorry for all those people," she said. "It made me mad when some people faked that their family members died so that they could get money."
   Johanna said the events made her think differently about life but that, nevertheless, she believes no one can take freedom away from Americans.
   Jake Vines, a seventh grader at T.A. Dugger, was living in Jasper, Ga., when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. Since then, he is sometimes troubled by nightmares.
   "I have a dream that three or four planes are flying over and dropping all these bombs. It's pretty devastating when I think about it," he said.
   Jake said his friends were running through the halls at school saying they were going to be (hit) next, and he could tell that his teachers were crying. The overall event, however, was mysterious to him.
   "To tell you the truth, I had never heard of the World Trade Center; I didn't know what it was until 9-11. I knew what a terrorist was, but I never even thought it would happen to us. I knew it happened in other countries, but not to us," he said.
   Vines believes the solution to terrorism is war. "I think we really should go to war and get this over with," he said.
   Elle Smith, also a seventh grader at T.A. Dugger, said Richard Culver came over the intercom and told teachers to turn on the television. She remembers watching live as the second plane hit the World Trade Center's south tower.
   "After school, my mom and I went to our church, First United Methodist, and prayed. I was really scared because I didn't know what was going to happen. I figured that it wouldn't stop there. I think that we're safe now," she said.