Social studies teacher recalls memories of 9/11

Mr. O’Hara was a senior on the day of the terrorist attacks


Beverly & Pack / Creative Commons / Public domain

Firefighters at the World Trade Center after both towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ashlynn Bakemeyer, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Twenty years ago, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on Sept. 11 after hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

For psychology teacher Mr. John O’Hara ‘02, that day remains a vivid memory when he found out about the attacks while in class on the Hill.

O’Hara was a senior when the 9/11 attacks took place. “I was in my photography class. We were working on a project and listening to the radio. I remember them saying something about an explosion in New York City, but didn’t think much of it. Once I got to my next class the teacher had the TV on and we saw both buildings in flames.”

There were numerous accounts of misinformation as the media were trying to rapidly let the public know what was happening. O’Hara said there was confusion and concern circulating throughout the school. O’Hara said, “As the day moved on and the other planes crashed in D.C. and Pennsylvania, I remember a lot of students being scared because their parents were traveling for work. We had a prayer service to end the day, and from that point on the world had changed.”

Eventually as the time went on, O’Hara said, “It took months to really fully grasp what happened and how the world changed forever.” And while he has no personal connections with anyone involved in the attacks, O’Hara said that the school atmosphere in the following days and weeks was “very solemn and sad.”

While none of the current students on the Hill were alive to experience the 9/11 tragedy firsthand, O’Hara said everyone can understand that it ”truly makes you appreciate all you have, especially the concept of living each day to its fullest.”