Updated 09/07/2011 02:55 PM
Fort Drum Remembers 9/11: How 9/11 changed one girl's life
September 11th changed many lives in many ways, but for a 10-year-old looking out her window that morning, it changed her whole life. In part two of his weeklong series on 9/11 and Fort Drum, our Brian Dwyer introduces us to a now grown woman and tells us how her experience partly led her to signing up to fight a battle she knew could be as dangerous as anything she'd ever do.
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "I was in St. Mary's Catholic School, in the sixth grade, maybe nine or 10," Private First Class Ayesha Pitts remembered about her day on September 11th. "We were learning religion that day at that particular class. I went to the back to sharpen my pencil and I was looking out the window. I saw the plane hit the building. I forgot what I said, but everybody turned around. People started getting up out of their seats to see the plane. They teachers noticed as well, so they came and closed the curtains. About 10 to 15 minutes after that, we wind up going to another classroom that was right beside ours and they pulled out the TV's. We watched the rest of it from the TV screen."
St. Mary's in Jersey City, New Jersey is just across the river from the towers. But in the sixth grade, Ayesha Pitts had no idea the true horror of what she had just seen out that window.
"At first no, I didn't understand," She said. "I saw it hit, but I was just like, 'Okay, I don't know what's going to happen next. At that age, you don't know really what to think until later on. Over the years, you start to think about it more and you realize how much more important it is and how many people's lives were taken."
A realization coupled with memories that in part, helped shape her life. Signing up for the military.
"When I think about it yes, it's been lodged in the back of my head for a while," she said of how 9/11 influenced her decision to join the Army.
Now in her 20s, Pitts works in the offices of the 1st Brigade's Headquarters. But when she signed up, she knew she could be called at anytime, to do anything.
"I already knew that once I joined the military that there were going to be other things than just working in an office. I knew that I had to go overseas and I knew I was probably, if it was given to me, I probably would have to go out there and do Combat Arms."
Something she thought she was certain do to earlier this year, the night President Obama made the historic announcement about the man behind the attacks.
"Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and Children."
"The first thing that crossed my mind was what is going to be the reaction after words?" Pitts remembered of her reaction to the announcement. "How can we stop it before it happens? That's what I told my husband when we watched it on the news. Hopefully nothing happens, but if it does, we know where we stand. We're both going."
Pitts says she's hopeful she'll never have to enter a battle over bin Laden being killed, but she's still ready just in case.
And while lives changed forever that day, so has the way Fort Drum gets its soldiers ready to head overseas and continue the fight. Thursday, Brian will take a look at the way Drum has had to adapt to the new terrain and new culture of Iraq and Afghanistan and how training was also forever changed.