By Amy Kraft
It was the second day of kindergarten for Brook Peters when two planes flew into the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan. He was too young to understand what was going on that day, but it made a profound impact on his life. Three years ago he decided to make a movie about his experience.
“The Second Day,” is a 38-minute documentary that captures the experience of students and educators about that day. Peters, now 14, conceived, shot and edited the film while balancing a busy school schedule, extracurricular activities including guitar and soccer practice, and a normal pre-teen social life.
Although Brook was only five years old on Sept. 11, the memories from that day are especially vivid and painful. His mother, actress Michelle Peters, has been a dedicated volunteer at several fire companies throughout Manhattan since 1997. And she would often bring her son to the firehouses. Brook developed a close personal relationship with many of the firefighters – including several who died that day.
“They were our family,” he said.
Michelle dropped her son off at school that day and was walking back towards the financial district when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. She remained in the area trying to understand what was happening. Then she thought about the fire companies that were going to be called in first. As the rigs pulled up to the area, they asked Michelle to help. The walkie-talkies were not working so well, so Michelle was running around relaying messages among the fire companies.
“After the second tower was hit, I knew they were going to evacuate the school, but I didn’t know where they were going to take him,” Michelle said. She went to Brook’s school, which was four blocks from the World Trade Center and brought him to one of the fire trucks on Warren and Greenwich Sts. Then she continued to help the firefighters.
“I saw flames and smoke and everyone running,” Brook said. He watched as his brave friends marched into the towers to save lives.
“I was in the rig and they were telling me messages to tell to their wives and to their children, and I was having a lot of grief because I couldn’t remember what message to tell to who.” Brook said.
Then the unthinkable happened. With a rumble like thunder, and in a cloud of smoke the South Tower crumbled to the ground.
Michelle said she pulled Brook out of the rig and began running north on Greenwich Street. She brought her son to a firehouse in SoHo and kept him there while she helped off duty firemen coming in.
The months following Sept. 11, Brook tried to piece together what had happened while mourning the loss of so many of his friends.
Today, Brook is enrolled in a highly academic school in Manhattan. He is enjoying the success of his film, which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. He hopes to enter the film in other festivals and also wants to get it in the education system so kids can learn about 9/11 and terrorism. Brook said that making the film helped him understand he was never alone.
“No matter what obstacle you are put in you can believe in yourself and get through it with flying colors,” Brook said.