It was like any other day. Joey DeRoche was a 10-year-old 5th grade student preparing for the day. Sitting on his grandma’s couch eating cereal, the news had appeared on the TV in front of him. He sat still, trying to put together the pieces.
“I was really confused because I didn’t really understand and the news didn’t either,” DeRoche said. “How were they that stupid that they hit a building? I just didn’t understand.”
The events of Sept. 11, 2001 to those who are in college now cannot be attributed as living a memory. It was a shocking tragedy that at the time the young struggled to grasp. For those at UW-Milwaukee, the anniversary of the attacks on our country means something different now than the day it happened.
Inside elementary school, there was also confusion.
“It was all anyone was talking about,” DeRoche said, a senior architecture student at UWM.
It was the responsibility of the teachers at Green Bay East elementary to explain to their students what this was and what it meant in the best way they could if at all.
“The teacher was talking about the possibilities,” said DeRoche. “Teachers didn’t really talk a whole lot about it and what might have happened. They did their best to explain it but I was in 5th grade. We didn’t’ have TVs in school so we didn’t get to watch it. Teachers were sensitive especially if they knew someone in the towers.”
Dan LeTendere, alumni of UWM, was in high school at Greenfield during the time of the attack.
“I was actually walking through the halls when I heard about the first tower,” said LeTendere. “Then in gym class they put it on the TV.”
Both DeRoche and LeTendere were questioning what had just happened.
“It was shocking,” said LeTendere. “Everyone was confused. We had no idea what was going on.”
Despite the commotion of the September 11th attack, Joey DeRoche said the students and teachers carried on as normal and were updated throughout the day.
In the confusion of the day’s events, he strolled home after school and turned on the news immediately. The news was speculating about who was responsible for the attack, but he doesn’t remember all the specifics.
“I do remember I was scared once I understood it was an attack on our country” DeRoche said. “I remember thinking what if they attacked Green Bay.”
He slept in his mom’s bed that night.
LeTendere didn’t really understand the attack either.
“It took me a while to realize it was an attack,” said LeTendere. “At first I thought it was an accident.”
Shortly following the end of school, he went to a friend Marco’s house to hang out. He and his friend were talking about it. Marco had mentioned that there hadn’t been any school shootings lately.
“We were just talking about huge disasters and that subject came up,” said LeTendere.
LeTendere says today’s world is different because of Sept. 11th.
“I think it changed a lot of things, some for the better,” said LeTendere. “Security is better in our country but we are sacrificing some of our freedoms. Privacy is becoming extinct.”
DeRoche says it has impacted how he looks at current events nationally and internationally.
“Now I have a more global perspective,” he said. “I’m quick to pay attention to what’s going on especially with international news.”