I walked into my math class at 9:50 after having talked to my mom on the phone about sending me a new pair of shoes, because the soles were flapping on my old pair. There was a little bit of energy in the air, an unusual current for my midmorning math class. The news traveled from the far corner to where I was seated by the door: A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The picture that formed in my head was a Cessna with a “student pilot” sign on the back of the plane, some untrained pilot who lost control.
This plebe was in a math class; another was in line at the barber shop; another on watch in Bancroft. The plebes in my English class were scattered all over the Yard when they heard the news on 11 September 2001. They quickly learned that a student pilot had not, in fact, crashed into the Twin Towers.
Before that September morning, the Naval Academy Class of 2005 was like most plebe classes. Plebe summer acne had faded; their shorn locks were growing back. They were no longer sweating in their whites. The semester had been underway for almost a month, so they were oriented to the academic year.