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BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | Sophia Gasparro was in preschool when the planes hit the Twin Towers 13 years ago.
“I think it is a really interesting thing to grow up in the aftermath,” said Gasparro, now a 16-year-old senior at Millennium High School. “I feel it is a real thing around all the time.”
Gasparro lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, but wanted to go to high school in the Financial District. Millennium High School was founded in 2002 after 9/11 to bring youth back into the neighborhood, she said in a phone interview, and the school’s mascot is a Phoenix, the mythical creature that rises from the ashes.
Her family spends Sept. 11th with her mother’s good friend, who lost her firefighter husband that day. Gasparro says that even when she goes to college next fall, she will make sure to call her mom’s friend.
She and three of her friends at Millennium spoke to Downtown Express about their views on 9/11 — all said they had vague memories of it in separate phone interviews, even though they were only 3 or 4 at the time.
Gasparro is interested in studying international relations and said that the events of 9/11 are present when they talk about the U.S. Patriot Act or the Iraq war in her history and government classes.
Deena Finegold, 17 and a senior, was also at preschool on 9/11. Her father had dropped her off at school and was going to drive her mother to work in the Financial District — her office building was right across from the Twin Towers. While on the West Side Highway, her parents saw the first tower fall and turned right back. She remembers watching the news on T.V. at home, although it is hard for her to know where her parents’ memories begin and hers end.
“I see it as a very big turning point in our society,” said Finegold, who lives on the Upper West Side.
The events of that day changed security here and throughout the world, she said.
Afterwards, a family member grappled with a fear of planes and Finegold’s family did not get on an aircraft for seven years.
Finegold, who is considering studying either public relations or pre-med in college, is not afraid of planes. “I was too young to comprehend what happened to its full complexity that it has now,” she said.
“What I remember is very vague,” said Summer Wrobel, 17 and a senior at Millennium. Wroebel, who might double major in anthropology and economics, said her mom told her she was at a preschool day camp when it happened.
Wrobel lived in the Financial District at one point and now lives in Chelsea. But on 9/11, her grandparents lived in the Financial District and she remembers confusion and chaos.
“I feel like it’s such a defining moment for our country,” she said. “We kind of made it part of our identity to get rid of terrorists.”
This in turn, gives us a different interest and investment in international events that happen today, she says, such as ISIS in Iraq and the Russia-Ukraine issue.
Anna London remembers that she and her neighbors “watched the buildings go down from our roofs and the fire escapes.”
The 17-year-old senior, who may major in journalism or psychology, was at a pre-K program a block away from where she grew up in the East Village and went home when the attack began. For her, it felt as if the city grew quiet in the days and weeks after 9/11.
“It’s horrible,” said London. “I can still see it – the impact it left here.”
For London and her generation, every school year has included a moment of silence on 9/11.