We were younger when the worst terrorist attacks on American soil took place on September 11, 2001 – many of the students too young to remember much, but for the faculty it is still vivid.
Over the course of the day today, we collected some faculty and staff reflections of their stories.
Mrs. Harriet Lappas
“I thought [my husband] was on the plane,” said Mrs. Lappas.
He did not answer any of her phone calls, and she had no way to get ahold of him. She went about the entire day, picking her girls up at school, and watching the TV screen with the horror that her husband was in the plane.
Mrs. Lappas had recently moved to Massachusetts when her husband (ex Villanova Basketball Coach) got a new job at UMass. Their house was still being built, so they were living out of a hotel. She dropped her girls off at school, and her husband was flying down to Houston to recruit that day. She got a call from her sister saying that a plane crashed into one of the towers. Her brother-in-law worked in one of the tower. Mr. Lappas’ flight was to leave Boston’s airport at the same time as the plane that hit the twin towers.
Fortunately, Mr. Lappas’ flight was not the flight that hit the first tower at 8:45 A.M. His flight was diverted to Birmingham Alabama, and he exited safe and sound.
Mr. Richard Roper
“It was either 10:35 or 10:22. Whenever the 2nd tower went down. Before, it was obviously stupefied disbelief. Jaw dropping disbelief, but I was alone in room 204 and the TV was on.
And I was taking a moment in between doing things. I don’t remember what those things were.
I was taking a moment to see how things were progressing. That is when the second tower went down. That’s when I was glued to the power being sent loose.”
Mr. Pat Williams
“I was a sophomore or a junior [at Malvern] on 9/11, and at that time most of us didn’t have cell phones. We weren’t getting alerts on our phones and social media was not like what it was today.
I remember being in homeroom and Mr. Legner made an announcement that a small plane had crashed into one of the twin Towers. To be quite honest, I did not know what the Twin Towers were or why it was necessarily relevant to announce it to the whole school.
So I was in a math class and we had all the old box TVs in the corner. Most teachers at the time had the TVs on to the news to CNN. And it was pretty crazy cause you were seeing all the smoke and stuff.
The second plane hit the tower. Initially we thought it was an accident, like a replay of the first incident…. Once, we realized it wasn’t and we were seeing a second plane hit, everyone panicked a little bit. One plane is an accident but a second plane its a little too coincidental. It was a really somber time on campus.”
“I went from a junior at Malvern not knowing what terrorism was in 2001, to fast forwarding to 2006 working as an Arabic Linguist in a purely anti-terrorism facet of the military.”
Mrs. Kit McGettigan
“I was sitting in my office. Mr. Legner came in and said, A plane hit the World Trade Center’ and I said, ‘Oh my gosh.’ A few minutes later, my son who worked in the second tallest tower in Center City called and left a voicemail and said, ‘They hit the World Trade Center. We are going to leave our office.’
He was on a high floor, but even though he was in Philly they decided to evacuate. Afterwards, I tried to call him and he didn’t answer. After about ten times I started to worry, because it came out a few minutes later that it was a terrorist attack.
My thought was that they would hit Philadelphia because of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. So I was anxious and concerned. Eventually he called me back and said there was a great debate whether to evacuate, and they finally decided to do so.
I did say to Mr. Legner, who was my boss at the time, ‘If they need me I am going to go and work in New York City as a nurse.’ I called an agency the next day, but as it turned out they didn’t need me because of all the deaths. Nobody needed health care.”
Mr. Rob Muntz
“I was here at Malvern Prep. I was probably here my second or third year teaching. I was 28. I still had a lot of friends that were still working in or around New York City. I was in the top floor of Tolentine teaching middle school general art to the seventh grade.
Everyone had the big box TVs in the top corner of the rooms, and all of the sudden out of nowhere something comes up on the screen. And I remember just sitting there freezing, with a bunch of seventh graders….We are just looking up at the screen and not really understanding what was going on, but they put the news up on all the TVs to keep people informed.
There was an attack happening, and I just remember Ms. White coming in to the room, and we just sat there all just looking at the TVs and just thinking ‘oh my gosh, this is really happening.’ We both started to cry a little bit. It was a very fearful situation and we immediately thought like what are all these kids thinking here. Malvern is not too far separated from New York City. Uncles, parents and all that stuff, so immediately we were thinking that.
But honestly it was mostly just the major surprise for me personally followed by thoughts of ‘oh my gosh like heads will roll, and I want our President to go get them, you know.’ It was a pretty heavy situation.”
Mr. John Bohannon
“Right after it happened I had to call my daughter Moira because she lived a block away from the Pentagon. She was crying hysterically. Photographers were using her balcony for days because it overlooked the Pentagon.”
Mr. Chris DeVido
“I was like 12 miles away in math as a freshman in high school.
We could see the towers from the class. The alarms were going off all throughout the school at that point. My dad was the school counselor, and a lot of kids had parents working in the towers. They were all panicked, trying to get ahold of parents and figure out what was going on. It was an absolutely insane day.”
Fr. Thom Meehan
“I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina at the time. I had just left the house to celebrate the 9:15 parish mass. After mass was over another friar came to tell us.
There was deep silence.
Everything on TV was about 9/11. I remember every Church in Charlotte had an evening service and it was packed. A huge big service that night was packed with people crying and in disbelief of trying to find a relative. They all turned to their parishes.”
The Blackfriar Chronicle & Friar’s Lantern staff thanks Malvern’s faculty and staff for sharing these stories.