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Bethann Kramer

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of "that day." 9/11 forever changed my life.

The morning was so beautiful, a crisp September morning with a sky as blue as a photo backdrop. I arrived in my school building, Murry Bergtraum High School around 7:45 a.m. It was just another school day with its usual programming concerns and questions. I found myself in the stairwell, between the 4th and 5th floors. I felt a rumbling in the stairwell and I lost my footing and was knocked forward.

As I exited the stairwell onto the 5th floor, I looked out of the window and saw one of the World Trade Center towers on fire, burning. I called the principal from the nearest office and asked her what was going on. She said, "Bethann, the entire first floor and my office is swarming with a police presence from One Police Plaza." The next thing I knew, the fire alarms sounded and I knew we had to get 35 physically challenged students out of the building safely.

As we exited the building, all of the children were around us and we saw both towers burning. We knew we had to move the children to safety, away from the building. The heat from the fire was so intense, we felt it from where we were. We were told that many of the school buses would not be able to make it to the school to pick up the children.

I tried to make it to my car with three students, hoping to drive them across the bridge, to the Brooklyn side and a police officer stopped me and told me that all the bridges had been closed. I asked the officer since the children were from Brooklyn, could he possibly radio the precinct on the Brooklyn side and have squad cars prepared to pick up the children and take them home. I felt so helpless... then started walking... walking... walking across the Manhattan bridge.

My thanks to all the kind people who assisted us along the way with the children. Many of the children had motorized wheelchairs that lost power but, thanks to courageous New Yorkers, we received so much assistance.

So many people were so very selfless and helpful and the children and I will be forever grateful to them.