I'm sure a number of people are writing posts like this today, but I wanted to add what I saw and experienced 7 years ago today, too add my own memory to the collective.
7 years ago today I was finishing up my last semester of undergraduate. In undergraduate I was an art education major and this last semester was spent doing my student teaching. I remember another teacher coming into the room and telling us to turn on the TV something had happened. Students were filing in and out of classes at the time and had no idea what had happened...ours didn't until they set foot into the classroom. And we watched in shock and horror as events unfolded.
An e-mail was sent to teachers/faculty not to tell students anything that was going on. They didn't want them to panic and worry. My school wasn't the only one that did this, many adopted that policy to varying degrees of success as parents pulled their children from school. I guess we were too afraid to turn off the TV, fear over what would happen next. The "mentor" teacher I was working with didn't want the students to do nothing in the classroom, so we left the TV on, volume turned low, and asked the students to keep working. Why we thought we could have a normal class after just the first plane flying into the tower I'll never know, but it didn't last long. I had to reassure students that Rock Hill, SC wasn't going to be attacked by terrorists, that they'd likely hit somewhere else first (yes, I did tell them that they'd go somewhere else first as a way to comfort them, strangely it worked for most). I remember calling friends to make sure they had the news on and that they were okay. I remember going back to campus and most of the campus felt almost unnaturally quiet. Friends gathered and prayed and hoped that all the people we knew were safe. Some of us had just been in NYC in the spring and couldn't imagine how it would be different.
I wish I could say that I had some life changing moment, like Colleen, but I can make no such claim. I did start thinking about things differently and viewing life and friends in a different way and eventually got into the librarian world. I've tried not to take my friends, virtual or real life, for granted (I'm sure I have and if I do just smack me all right?) and that's probably the greatest change that I've had in my way of thinking. (I've always been a liberal, thought deeper thoughts than most kids my age, and been different that everyone else--till I got into librarianship that is). This seems like a good stopping point for now.