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Frank Lombardo

I was the UFT rep at JHS 185Q when I was summoned to the principal's office and informed that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I thought at first that it was a small, private plane when the principal explained that it was a commercial airliner. She thought it would be a good idea, being the union rep, if I went to all of the teachers' rooms and discreetly inform them of what was taking place. We knew we had children who had parents in these buildings, and we didn't want to cause a panic or hysteria. I went about informing as many teachers as possible and then headed to the faculty room where we had a television. Some of my colleagues were watching the terrible news when I got there. Then, quite eerily, a waft of dark sooty smoke appeared in the distant sky. We were all stunned. At the end of the school day we brought all of the children to our cafeteria and only dismissed the kids who could be picked up by parents or guardians. By this time we knew we were under attack. But it was the drive home that impressed me the most. Heading east, my carpool partner and I moved along at our usual pace. But traffic heading toward the city was at a virtual stand-still for miles. The city was shut down and no one could get in. People were standing outside their vehicles along the Cross Island Parkway and the LIE. It was surreal.