A tall, slender man stops in the middle of his tracks due to a crowd of people blocking the middle of 14th street. He looks around to see what all the commotion is about, wondering why he can’t make it to the corner of 6th avenue. Suddenly, a unison group of voices begin to belt notes that although are gentle, could be heard from the end of 7th avenue, possibly further. Then, he remembers.
It’s a gloomy afternoon in Greenwich Village as today marks the 10-year anniversary when tragedy unexpectedly hit the city. To commemorate all of the lives that were lost, The Salvation Army New York Staff Band, perform outside of the Centennial Memorial Temple, which unconsciously causes one to look up at the top of the building, just like the Twin Towers once did. But in 2001, the former tallest buildings of the world, a part of the World Trade Center, were struck by planes.
"I was sitting in my U.S. history class talking to my friend sitting next to me when my teacher suddenly tells us to stop working," Alex Johnson, 27, said. He continues, "It took her a few seconds before she could tell us that she just received an e-mail from our principal, but wouldn't tell us what it was about, just that an announcement will be made in a few minutes."
At the time, Johnson was a third year student at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts when American history was changed. He and his classmates started talking amongst each other wondering what the announcement may be. The school year had just begun, so the only things the juniors were able to assume what the announcement may be about concerned with either football or the school dance. Finally, the PA system is turned on, and the school's principal began to speak.
"I remember the words that echoed throughout the school, 'Today, at approximately 9 in the morning, the Twin Towers were unexpectedly struck by planes,' and the whole class fell silent," Johnson adds, "But I kept asking myself why did this happen?"
Since the announcement did not go into any details, the class began speculating why the buildings may have gotten struck. "Some were saying that maybe the plane ran out of gas and was descending so fast that it didn't have time to move and avoid the towers," Johnson laughs.
It was not until Johnson was picked up by his mother at noon that he found out the real reason. "My mom embraced me really hard and asked me if I was okay, but I didn't answer her and just asked what happen," Johnson adds, "Her voice was kind of shaking when she said it was a terrorist attack."
Johnson and his mother arrived at their Queens apartment an hour later, and the first thing he did was turn on his television and put it on CNN. "I was sitting on my couched glued to the TV for hours, with my dad later joining when he got home from work," Johnson said. Although it was a tragic moment, for the first time in years, the event allowed his family to come together.
After 15 minutes, Johnson slightly bows his head towards the staff band, and finally makes his way through 14th street to reach 6th Avenue as he hums the hymn. He crosses the street, as the voices start to fade the farther he walks. But Johnson, will continue to have the hymn stuck in his head probably for another few minutes or hours, maybe even days or for the rest of his life.