“Will you please report to the main office?”
Those staticky words, preceded by the names of my classmates, echoed over and over again from old junior high school loudspeakers 20 years ago this Saturday. They still echo in my mind today.
The drumbeat of student dismissals banged on for what seemed like an eternity. Growing up a short 40-minute drive from lower Manhattan in a New Jersey suburb of city commuters, each call hinted at the worst of possible fates for my classmates.
One of them would never see his father again. Others would return home to hugs and kisses from parents vowing never again to speak of what they had seen.
“A small plane hit the World Trade Center,” someone had reported early that morning in the lunchroom before classes commenced. We thought it about as credible as any other middle school rumor — we shrugged it off.
Yet the ashen faces of teachers, and the non-classes that droned on, agonizingly