Albany High School students, from left, Kadarius Moore, Kia Taylor, Akera Watson, Sterling Hunter and Cickeria Stamper said they first realized the enormity of the 9-11 attacks when they were in middle school.
ALBANY — They were six or seven years old on Sept. 11, 2001, when the twin towers crumbled in a cloud of dust and debris.
Ten years later, many of today’s high school juniors and seniors say the impact of one of the most horrendous events in American history did not begin to dawn on them until middle school.
The Herald spoke with nine high school students, now 16 and 17, and asked them when they first became aware of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Monnekiya Davis, 16, Junior, Monroe High School
“We were informed about what had happened by our teachers at Robert Cross when our teachers asked us to stand up for a moment of silence for the victims,” Davis said. “At six or seven, I found out I didn’t understand how the world worked.”
Kavasae Trappier, 17, Senior, Monroe High School
“I first became really aware of when we were asked to write a paper on how 9/11 had affected the United States,” Trappier said. “I learned about the planes, the terrorists, the twin towers and the Pentagon. I still didn’t understand how or why it happened ... and I still don’t fully understand other than the fact we were attacked by invaders from another country.”
And what lessons has the country learned from the event?
“I think what we learned is a yes and no answer,” Trappier said. “’Yes’ because we learned we needed to beef up our security. ‘No’ because we learned we needed to better control who comes into the country, and we’re not doing it.”
William Ashley, 16, Junior, Deerfield School
“I was at the lower campus when all the teachers brought us into a classroom and told us something horrible had happened,” Ashley said. “Years later, and even now, I’m still realizing how big of an event it was. It has made me more cautious on how I view other cultures and that I have a great deal of sympathy for the people and their family members who went through it.”
Mackenzie Hudson, 16, Junior, Deerfield School
“When it happened, my parents talked about it, but it wasn’t until the third or fourth grade in school at Camp Pendleton that I began to have a better understanding,” Hudson said. “Being a base school 9/11 had a huge impact on everybody around me. Everyone at school and on the base knew someone involved.
“The whole thing saddens me and motivates me to work harder to prevent something like that from happening again. We need to be aware of the threats.”
Kadarius Moore, 17, Senior, Albany High
“The first time I became of 9/11 I was in the fifth grade, but I didn’t really begin to realize the impact until the seventh or eighth grade,” Moore said. “That’s when it hit me that people actually died. It hurt me and could have been me. I feel blessed not to have been inside the twin towers.
“It resulted in us sending troops into a war without purpose. Our troops are fighting someone else’s war. I don’t understand the killing. We need to stop this war and the negativism that is eating up the world.”
Akera Watson, 17, Senior, Albany High
“I was probably around eight and don’t remember it happening at the time,” Watson said. “It was in middle school when we started watching the documentaries that I realized it was big. It made me grateful for the troops we send back and forth to make sure the homeland is protected.”
Kia Taylor, 16, Junior, Albany High
When I got home from school that day my mother was scared because she had a friend in New York,” Taylor said. “I first became really aware of it in middle school. I felt sadness and shock because I always thought we were safer that we really were.
I think we’ve made many great strides to overcome 9/11. But we must remain vigilant to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Sterling Hunter, 17, Senior, Albany High
I was in the first grade at Byne and everybody was talking about it at school. In the fifth grade I began to notice all of the Red Cross commercials,” Hunter said. “It wasn’t until I got into high school that I began to get the big picture, that what I never thought could happen to us actually did.
“I think (President) Obama has done some great things in the war on terror. He got Bin Laden and that might slow them down some.”
Cickeria Stamper, 16, Junior, Albany High
“I was seven at the time and then it was pretty much irrelevant to my life,” Stamper said. “Sometimes I pause to think that what they (the terrorists) did to us was wrong and that it might happen again.
“I wanted to get back at them; invade them. That was an act of war.”