My short bio: My name is Lazaro Dubrocq, I am one of the students that was in the classroom with George Bush on 9/11. The AMA request seemed pretty popular so I decided to fulfill the request. ask away
My Proof: my facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laz.dubrocq me shaking Bush’s hand: http://abcnews.go.com/US/September_11/photos/moment-bush-learned-911-terror-attacks-14476011/image-14476119
picture of me from TIME: http://i.imgur.com/CUZh80t.jpg
licenses and IDs: http://i.imgur.com/pldz3bT.jpg
The current me (+hair): http://i.imgur.com/yg3PhGM.jpg
What was the security like? Did you get searched?
Very tight. Parking lot was packed with cops and Secret Service. Every student was searched before allowed entry. I remember that I wasn’t because my backpack was a plastic seethrough so the inspector laughed it off and allowed me in. One of my classmates wasn’t allowed in because he showed up 10 minutes late to class.
What did your teacher tell you when he had to leave?
our teacher Mrs. Daniels was very brusque and upfront about it. The first thing I recall her saying was that America was being attacked and that people were dying. She had a way with words
Assuming your teachers had a better understanding of the magnitude of the events, what was their reaction like and what was the rest of that day like after the President left?
They were quiet, my teacher Mrs. Daniels was speaking with some other teachers. We were pretty confused until we were shown on TV a live broadcast. The rest of the day was weird, I remember being slightly paranoid that the school was going to be targeted once I better grasped the situation. What better place to attack than a school with the President in it?
The first image we saw was one of the towers consumed in fire and smoke. No matter how old I get, that shit sticks with you for life
You guys didn’t see the second get hit live, did you?
I can’t recall which one it was. But we saw live footage of a tower collapsing
How many friend requests have you gotten after doing this IAmA?
yeah didn’t think that one through before posting my Facebook link
Was President Bush a good storyteller?
Nothing phenomenal but I suppose it’s easy to talk to 7 year olds. I liked his story about his dogs though
Any chance you could repeat it here?
from what I remember it was just a casual conversation about his poodles I think? All I can remember was that he had a black dog and a white dog
During the time he was there, did you have the sense that something was wrong? How serious did you think it was?
I think we all had some intuition but it varied. I think at one point I thought he just had to urgently use the bathroom, maybe one of his aids farted next to him? That was my mindset for a second or two until I noticed his expression was a little too grave for that
How come your class was chosen to have him read to you? Were you learning about presidents? Was he scheduled for other rooms after? And was there any talk of your school under threat as the prez was there??
From what I recall he was actually supposed to visit multiple classes, as it turned out he could only visit one, ours. Due to obvious reason
What did he talk about?
Basic things, he spoke about his daughters, his two (three?) dogs. He had a pretty lengthy conversation with one of my classmates about her favorite dogs too, it was Natalie from what I remember? We spoke about the story we were going to read to him
Did his face change after the news? Did he try not to reveal to the kids something bad was happening?
breifly, he looked slightly distressed. Honestly I got to give him credit for having that tenacity and sangfroid. But there was a break in his expression, it was pretty clear to us
How long did it take for you to realized you had a front seat to history? Did the criticism Bush received for sitting there till the end of the story bother you?
I’d say roughly a year later when my whole class was getting interviewed by multiple news stations
How many stations?
A few at first. During the 10th anniversary I was interviewed by pretty much all major news stations as well as some foreign ones. I got one from Australia, Brazil, Japan I think? and probably the Netherlands
What was the energy like before and after he was told? Is this something you remember or is it something you recall after seeing it broadcasted so many times? Have you seen the President since?
we were kids at the time the energy was very carefree for a while. But there was a little tension, especially when we were completely surrounded by lights, cameras, cops, and secret service.
I remember after he was told that everything just seemed more.. quiet. It was almost harrowing at one point since a lot of us could tell he was uncomfortable about something.
My memory is a mix of both. there are definitely images and sights that I absolutely remember but there are also some details that were brought back due to the numerous broadcasts
What sticks out most in your memory from that day?
Walking into the classroom looking to my left and seeing a huge assortment of equipment and lights. And seeing my teacher Mrs. Daniels upfront speaking to the President (although I didn’t immediately realize it). This was also after my backpack was almost probed by Secret Service at the entrance. or when our teacher brought out a TV and showed us a live broadcast of the attack. Those two events are by far the most vivid
How do you feel when 9/11 comes around each year?
Im reminded every single anniversary of that day. It’s a strange feeling and Im actually at a bit of a loss of words to really describe it.
Do you and your classmates ever get together on the anniversary?
I haven’t recently unfortunately. I’m far away attending school in New York by the time the anniversary arrives. The last time we got together was during the 10th anniversary
Could your young mind grasp that the President was reading to you? or was it not that big of a deal to the 7 year old you?
We were more impressed with all the cameras, lights, and cops parked outside our class. I actually don’t even think I recognized the President immediately, he just seemed like some eldery man in a suit to me.
How was that day for your class after the prez left?
Parents picked me up soon after we all conglomerated to the cafeteria to hear the President addressing the nation. People were starting to fear that the President would be personally targeted.. at our school.
How old were you when you became fully aware of what you had been a part of?
hmm, I was fully aware of it by next year. We were interviewed exactly one year after the attack and that day was a very renowned day at our school especially in the days afterward
How long was the President there before he was told? Did he seem to be enjoying his time with the kids?
We were nearing the end of our story so not for maybe a few minutes? I thought he was, he shook each of our hands before leaving and imparted a box of Presidential signed M&M’s to each of us sometime during our time with him
Did you or your classmates know anyone who lost a loved one that day?
We did not, many of us were actually a little detached from the situation which is a dark thing to say. Many of us thought it was actually an action movie or something, some of us thought of it as something happening “far away”. But we started realizing the gravity of the situation pretty soon
I noticed you’re at Columbia University. Damn good school, congrats. Did you write a killer application essay based on your experience on 9/11? Also, what did you do with your signed box of M&M’s?
I did actually, nice deducation. I kept it (the M&M bag), or rather my parents took it and didn’t allow me to eat it. We still have it wrapped up in a ziplock in my fridge back home
As a non American I’m not exactly sure how events folded out, did he explain the facts to you guys after the story or did he leave immediately? if the latter, how/when did you find out?
He didn’t explain to us. Our teacher Mrs. Daniels led us to the adjacent room, sat us down, and turned on a TV showing us a broadcast of the attack
As a 2nd grader, how did you feel when you heard the news about the 9/11 attack?
I can’t really describe my exact emotions at the time. I first heard about it almost immediately when we were shown a live broadcast of the towers falling. I actually thought for a moment it was a movie or something, it was too surreal. I do remember that there was some paranoia about an attack on our school with the President here and all
How much time in advance did you know the President was going to be there?
I honestly don’t remember. Weeks prior maybe? I know that what prompted it was that our literacy “grade” as a school had jumped dramatically. Soon afterwards we were told the President would come to visit us
Have you ever met any survivors from the attacks?
I have not actually, would be interesting
What do you do for a living?
I’m a student at Columbia University. That’s pretty much it
Do you ever get confronted by truthers and if so how do you react?
Nope. but I guess the discretion’s gone now with this AMA
Do you stay in contact with any of the other students, or the teacher? Has the media tried to get you all together?
Unfortunately no, we’ve all drifted apart. Though every now and then I reestablish contact with my teacher especially around the anniversary. The last time we were together was during the 10th anniversary
How do you feel now about the entire situation and the class that you were in that day ( now that you understand more about what was going on)?
It’s interesting. Obviously I feel horrible for what happened but I can’t but feel some semblance of pride for being in a class with the President. But like I’ve said I’m really only famous as a result of a horrible event so it’s tough to put words to it
What preparations did you/your classmates/school make for the President’s visit? Was everyone nervous?
I think it was emphasized to the students that it would just be another regular day but to be on your best behavior else no recess for a week (that straightened the hell out of us). Arriving to school though, was different. Cops and secret service littering the entire school.
I just found a BBC news report from 2011 with your interview. Do you still get any requests from media outlets for comments and interviews?
Every now and then yeah. I was told that I would be contacted for the 20th anniversary by multiple outlets. Keep your eyes open
Did the way he responded alter your perception of him? And in hindsight has your opinion changes?
I really didn’t have any perception of him during the time. I was 7 years old and here was a man sitting in front of me who was apparently important but that wasn’t really enough to garner an opinion from me. In hindsight I do have to commend him on his sangfroid during the whole situation
What would you say to Bush if you ever had the chance to meet him again?
Good question and I actually have no idea. I could go down the formal route or I could try being funny? “wattup Bush, its been a while”
How did the secret service agents react to the news, compared to the minutes before?
That wasn’t really something I paid too much attention too, they all seemed to dissapear soon afterwards but I can’t help you too much on that sorry.
What were the other kids reactions in the classroom after the news had been told?
Some of us thought we were watching a movie, others were quiet. I think one of us asked what a terrorist was and our teacher Mrs. Daniels explaining it to us
How much money have you made from this?
maybe 50$, I’ve never requested money for interviews and I don’t even think I legally could have at my age. Being a broke college student though I sure wish I did
Do you think that fear can control people?
well it is a powerful emotion. Maybe not absolute control since fear is unpredictable bt yeah