I never would have guessed that 18 years later, I’d remember pink fleece pajamas and frizzy hair as much as I do today.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I woke up to the smell of coffee and my right ear throbbing because of an infection. I was 4 years old.

My mom and dad let me stay home that day. We sat in the living room, all on one couch.

We were watching the news, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. Both of my parents were avid news consumers, especially because at this point, we had only been in the U.S. for about a year. They wanted to know everything about the new place we now called home: Fort Worth, to be exact.

Then, the first plane hit. 

My mom started crying, and for the first time in my entire four years on this Earth, my dad was left speechless. Both rare things to see.

Pérez, Narda.jpg

Pérez is a UTA alumna and former Shorthorn editor in chief.

I didn’t understand what was happening but knew it was serious.

Sept. 11, 2001, was the day that the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda coordinated attacks on the U.S. The group hijacked four planes for suicide attacks. Two planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone aboard. Another plane hit the Pentagon, and the fourth one landed in a field in Pennsylvania.

The thing I remember the most about that day (besides my pink fleece pajamas) are the astonished faces of all the TV news reporters and anchors I saw.

Switching back and forth through at least three different channels, we saw the same thing: a tower up in flames and smoke, and reporters left flustered.

After that day of horror, my dad came home with multiple newspapers every day. It’s the first memory I have of seeing a newspaper, reading a newspaper.

It was evident that my parents were invested in wanting to know more — not just about the attacks but about the victims and how to help. 

Shortly after, my mom started working at a Hispanic newspaper in Dallas. Journalism only became more prominent in our household.

Through the years, I developed a fascination with the events that unfolded that day, simply because I wanted to know why bad things happen to good people.

I always wanted to know “why.”

About a decade later, I was in high school getting my first taste of what it was like working on a newspaper staff.

Then I went on to college and worked at The Shorthorn, where I eventually became editor-in-chief. Now, I’m at an extended internship with The Dallas Morning News.

While I can’t say for sure that what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, is what led me to journalism, I can say that it was my first real encounter with it. 

And it was big enough that I remember it clearly even 18 years later.



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