The Day the World Stood Still
By Johnny Chiusolo
I whispered to my mom, “Mommy, I hope you get the bad guys and don’t get hurt.” She thought nothing of it because I always said that. September 11, 2001 started off as a normal day in my house. My mom was getting me dressed in my blue Polo shirt and jeans, while she put on her police uniform. She was a Jersey City Police Officer in the North district. She always cooked me eggs and a piece of white toast with butter dripping off the sides. We ate our usual breakfast together and watched the news as we did every morning. On the way to school, the day started to feel sadder in a three year old’s eyes. We were listening to our favorite radio station while singing together in the car.
At 7:35 am, my mom dropped me off to my teacher and I kissed my mom good-bye for the last time before our lives changed forever. I ran to see my friends and played with them next to the television. As my friends and I played with our toys, we were also glancing at the TV. At 9:00 am the TV stopped with a ‘Breaking News’ and a loud sound. I looked at the TV, watching as the destruction of a building fell in a place called New York City. I saw New York Police, and Jersey City Police on TV. I thought to myself, Mommy is going to get hurt. What else is a three-year-old going to think if he sees the place his mom works at on TV with smoke and fire destroying everything?
As I stared at the TV wondering if I would ever see my mom again, I dropped to my little three-year-old knees, crying. The teachers were also crying because of this tragedy, but they tried to comfort us. I did not want to talk to anyone, or see anyone. Laying on the floor with my head on the floor, sobbing and screaming, I heard a voice say, “Johnny.” It was my mom. I jumped up and ran full speed toward her, jumping into her arms. I said, “Mommy, why are you here?” She came to pick me up and take me to my grandma’s house because she was afraid something would happen to me while she was at work. As we went to her car, I noticed she didn’t have her regular car, she had a police car. I thought to myself, This is the best day ever. We could smell and taste the smoke all the way from New York City, a scent I will never forget. I hopped in the front seat, and said, “Mommy, can I turn on the lights and sirens?” As a loud “Boom” echoed the whole car as we sped down the street, looking over the bridge to see the second tower get hit. I turned to mom with fear in my eyes to notice she was crying. Tears dropping to her uniform, with sorrow and horror. I said to her “Mommy, it’s okay, you’re going to get tears on your shirt and bad guys love tears so you can’t show them you’re scared.” As we were zooming past cars, we could feel the rumble throughout our bodies. We saw the fear on every single face.
We arrived at my grandma’s house and she was the happiest person alive when she saw us. I could smell the home cooked meal she made for me. We all watched the news as my mom’s radio was going off. Dispatchers were screaming through the radio, telling her to get back to work. Soon, she grabbed her gear, and gave us
both a kiss good-bye as she went to go save people and block traffic. As she walked out the door, I saw my best friend leave me to go save others and protect the city we held dearest to our hearts, a job that police officers are faced with in times of terror. My mom worked nonstop for days on end. We didn’t see her, or talk to her.
I know now that my mom was a hero that day. She ran into the face of danger to save people. Since that day my mom and I share the same emotions on the 11th of September. We might have never seen each other again. Instead, we have formed a bond like no other. My mom is a hero to many people, but especially to me. “Bravery is not the absence of fear, but action in the face of fear.”
Johnny O. Velazquez-Chiusolo graduated Donovan Catholic HS. He’s 18 years old and a Sophomore at Georgian Court University, Majoring in Criminal Justice, Eagle Scout, Volunteer Firefighter at Pleasant Plains FD. Toms River, NJ. An Intern at Ocean County Prosecutors Officer, Major Crimes Dept. A graduate of the NJ State Police Trooper Youth Week. He’s also an employee at Ryans Deli, Seaside Heights.