Student recalls 9/11, Pentagon attack


Ten years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Mandy Vincent still remembers where she was when she first heard the news.

“It didn’t feel like what was happening was real. It felt like it was far away,” Vincent, a sophomore writing major from Woodbridge, Virginia, said.

Woodbridge is a city within Prince William County,located approximately 21 miles from the Pentagon.

Vincent said she remembered being in her fourth grade classroom when her teacher told her the news. She said the attacks were especially hard on teachers and parents because they knew people who worked at the Pentagon.

“It was their [teachers’] country that was being attacked, too. They had to comprehend it themselves and figure out a way to put [what had happened] into words that children in a fourth grade class could understand,” Vincent said.

Her teacher drew the event on the whiteboard so the young students would have a better understanding of what was happening, Vincent said.

Vincent said children had a difficult time understanding the seriousness of the events

“For the kids, I don’t think we really got it for awhile,” Vincent said. “I don’t think it really sunk in for a lot of us because it was unheard of.”

She said she did not remember feeling anything right away and could not grip what was happening to the country at that moment.

“I didn’t know how to react,” Vincent said. “I know a lot of people were worried and were getting upset and anxious, so I knew that I should feel that way.”

She said she thought it was scary when she came to the realization of what did happen.

Although Vincent’s family did not lose anyone close to it in the Pentagon attack, she said her dad knew people who worked in the building.

Vincent said the most immediate effect on her family was her dad’s job in airport security.      

“It didn’t affect us anymore than the rest of the country. It just happened closer to us,” Vincent said.

All 58 passengers, four flight attendants and two pilots aboard the plane that hit the Pentagon died in the attack.

According to a Washington Post article there were approximately 100 Pentagon occupants killed in the crash.

Vincent said her family often showed relatives and guests the Pentagon and where the attack happened.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the section of the Pentagon that was hit during the attack has undergone construction and has been remodeled. In 2002, a chapel in honor of those killed in the attack was built at the site where American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.

Vincent said she had never been to the chapel, but she passes by the Pentagon all the time when she is home in Virginia.

“It’s always really strange to look at because it’s a fully functioning building now,” she said. “It doesn’t look like anything’s happened.”