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9.11.01 - Where Were You?

This post is to honor those that were lost, those that saved the people in danger of being lost, and those that united this country in a time of panic and fear.

I salute you.

To my American readers, where were you when you found out about the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon as well as the crash of Flight 93? 

If you're not from the US, when did you hear about it? What was your response?

I was in 9th grade, and I was sitting in Study Hall when my Math teacher from 8th grade came in, her face grave, and turned on the overhead tv, explaining that the Two Towers in New York City had just been hit by two planes in attack against The United States. The country was in a state of panic and crisis, and I was, I admit this shamefacedly, calm. I wasn't in New York. I wasn't in Washington, DC. This didn't affect me.

It wasn't until, in front of our very eyes, the south tower collapsed. The reporter that had been talking in the background of the program cried out as the building crumbled, killing the people inside as well as those out in the underlying street.

But the point of this post is not to dwell on the past. Yes, it happened and was horrible, but focusing on what happened doesn't help anything. It's how you move forward, how you respond and grow.

Americans across the country banded together, joining to create a united front.

Together we stand.

Once again, I salute those affected, the souls that were lost, and those who went to the site to help. You're all amazing people, and our country wouldn't be the same without you.

Never forget.


P.S. To see today's writing exercise, go to the previous post, "Sprinkle in ze French!"


Laura Camp said…
I was also in 9th grade. It was the day after my birthday, and I had come down with some kind of stomach bug-- I had been sick twice during the night, and came in late to school. I managed to catch the end of the first biology lab of the year, when I vomited again and was sent to the nurse. While I was there waiting for my mom to pick me up, teachers kept coming and going looking worried, but no one seemed to know what was going on. It wasn't until I got home and settled in front of the TV that I got the whole story. As this was in central NJ, I had classmates and teachers who had family working in NYC. It was a very scary time.

I support remembering and honoring the victims and the heroes of that day. I do NOT support governments or other organizations using the tragedy as propaganda towards their own political ends.
I woke up early to go buy a VCR and rent Mel Gibson' Hamlet so I could watch it for a Shakespeare class I was taking. I normally wouldn't have been up that early. I also normally wouldn't have turned on the TV. For some reason I turned it on just before the first tower was hit. I thought I was watching an action/disaster movie. It was really surreal to come to the realization as I was waking up and putting things together that what I was watching was real. I called my mom and my sister I think. I spent the rest of the day riding on city buses as the details unfolded throughout the day. It was really interesting to hear people's interpretations of the news and also their usually flawed recollections of what they had just seen on the news.
Chloe said…
I live in the UK. I was on holiday/vacation in a caravan with a tiny TV. BBC cancelled their normal programs to bring coverage of the event for about 5-6 hours. Me, my mum and gran spent the whole day watching the news and shaking our heads every time a new death count was announced or another devastated family member "couldn't believe how anyone could do that".

From a British perspective, you heard about it everywhere you went for weeks. The atmosphere completely changed and news crews found person after person who had family in New York that had been killed in the attack. There's been a documentary on the anniversary every year and most people participate in the moment of silence.

It was a tragedy and it shook the entire world.
Unknown said…
I had just started my first year of college, I was walking through the parking lot on my way to an English class. As I was walking, I noticed bands of people stopped in the parking lot standing outside their cars, they were stone faces, some were crying. I heard reports of what was going on before I saw it. I rushed through the parking lot and headed into the library to watch the news. It was surreal and terrifying watching the plane crash into the second tower. Everyone in there was watching in silence, with horror on their faces. I sat there with them for hours, watching the coverage, not believing what I was seeing.

I know it certainly must not get any easier as the years pass for the families involved, including of course the families of the firefighters and policemen who were lost because every year the tragedy is publicized, and every year they have to be reminded via other outlets other than their loved one just not being there.

Of course I feel we as a country should remember, and it should be a day to remember those souls and their families. I just think it's a shame that politicians and extremist groups are using the day for their own personal propaganda.

Bless those lost nine years ago, may they find peace, and bless those left behind to deal with this tragedy for the rest of their lives.
newjudi said…
My 9/11 is posted at the link below
Joe Pereira said…
I was at work in London, glued to the telly with colleagues. One proclaimed the event as the "news of the century".Probably was. I felt anger and despair at the evil men do.It's hard to believe the heinous act was carried out in the name of God. It was also the day my idea of religion being a force for good, collapsed with the twin towers.
bookworm said…
I was at work in upstate NY. About 9:15 or so a terrible rumor started to circulate in my department-that a private plane had hit the World Trade Center, that one of the towers had been ripped in half. I called my husband, who was home from work...this news junkie, for some reason, didn't have CNN on. I asked him to turn it on and call me back. He called me back a few minutes later and the reality was so much worse than the rumor.

I grew up in NYC, worked one summer near the World Trade Center and still had family there. I knew at least two people who worked in the vicinity.

By then my job had set up TV's (where they came from I don't know) in our cafeteria and we gathered to watch. I joined live coverage in progress about 10 minutes before the second tower fell.

When it fell the only thing I could think of was "how many people I know did I just watch die?"

At lunch I went outside. The downtown of my small city was swarming with police-I guess they were there to protect the county and state courthouses. The sky was so blue.

When I got home I found that my husband had started to call my friends and family, trying to find out if they were OK.

One of the two friends, it turns out, had been on vacation and was stranded when the planes were grounded. The other friend had been evacuated, and watched the North Tower fall from the Manhattan Bridge. He walked home with a co-worker, which took about 4 hours. When he arrived home, haggard, still covered in dust, his wife (another good friend) cried. But his day wasn't over yet; he drove the co-worker home. He told me the highways were deserted.

13 alumni from my high school died that day.

I had nightmares for months. But I am the lucky one. I was not there.

Ramblin with AM
Driving home to DC after a night with my husband in Annapolis. The typically 45m drive was an hour and a half nightmare of emergency vehicles, tanks, and car to car traffic, with scary local news mixed with rumors and facts.

I'll never forget driving past the smoking Pentagon. It was like driving into Armegeddon.
Cinderita said…
I was just waking up for alarm had gone off and the radio announcer sounded much too serene to be the regular guy I usually woke up to. And lay there for awhile thinking about why he might sound that way, and figured it was just early and that was why. It wasn't until he said the next thing which was something about a plane and a tower in NYC that I woke up with a start. I sat up in bed and listened as much as I could and tried to piece it all together. It wasn't until I got to work that I really got to see what happened. We did a lot of work with bankers in the 1st Tower so we lost a lot of those people that day. What a terrifying day and the weeks to come...I will never forget how moved i was by the courage of the people of nYC and just the sheer coming together of all communities. Firefighters, police officers and the like. To this day will never forget what they did. Thank you.
Desi said…
4th period Chemistry in 11th grade. There were no TVs or radio's. We kept just hearing rumors around school all day until I finally got home and found my grandmother in front of the television. I sat down at her feet to watch the news, over and over. It was surreal.
CarrieMarie said…
I was working in an office by myself, listening to a Disney soundtrack, singing along to songs from Mary Poppins. Suddenly, one of the ladies from downstairs came up & asked if I'd been listening to the news. "What news?" "A plane crashed into the WTC." At first, I thought it was a 2-seater, and had crashed into an antenae. I said a little prayer for those 2 ppl & their families. A little while later, the same lady came upstairs & said they had a TV set up downstairs if I wanted to watch.

I had visited NYC soon after the WTC bombing, and had seen the reconstruction going on at that time. During that same trip, we visited DC.

Seeing what had really happened, hearing that it wasn't just there but at the Pentagon & then learning there was a third hijacked plane, I couldn't even fathom the scope. I wondered if we would go on lock down - I was working near a military Arsenal.

Scary scary day. Scary 9 years since, with the wars that we're still fighting, still sacrificing our ppl in. :( The families affected then & now continue to be in my prayers.
Alessandra said…
I had just gotten out of the shower when the first tower was hit. My husband thought it was a serious accident, and we were trying to understand what was happening because even the tv people had no clue. Before the tower fell, they kept saying it was pilot error.
I remember seeing the second plane hit the second tower, and we knew this was no accident.

I had class that morning, so I went to school. When I got there, every single tv was on, professors and staff were going around not sure of what to do. They closed campus at noon (California time), and we went home, still in shock and not sure totally at what was going on.

I watched CNN at home the whole day, and my sister called from Italy to know what was going on. I remember the anger in my voice, as I told her what I knew. I had lived in NYC for a year, before moving to CA, that day my heart bled as if I was still there.

We will never forget, because we CAN'T forget,or we would render meaningless the sacrifice of many.
Yvonne said…
I was driving to work, listening to the radio, when one of the on air personalities said that something had just come through the AP wire about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. It was such an incredulous notion that even the radio person asked aloud, "Is this a joke?" Moments later, her voice noticeably shaken, she confirmed the news was indeed real and not a joke. I sped to the office, ran inside and found most of my coworkers in the conferernce room, glued to the tv mounted on the wall. Watching it was surreal. I got there in time to watch the first tower fall. I remember, a few of my coworkers started crying. Our boss told us we could go home. Some did. I stayed. I remember that I was to afraid to go anywhere. I felt helpless and so angry. I mean, this was the United States! No one could mess with us! And yet, that day, all sense of security, and safety, vanished. The rest of the day was a daze. Driving home that afternoon, it was so eerily quiet outside. No airplanes overhead, hardly any traffic, not even birds were chirping. We were in mourning.
I'm from Peru and was 15 years old at the time. I was sitting in Math class when a teacher came in with a strange look on her face. She told us there had been a terrorist attack in NYC. I know what it feels like to witness and survive a terrorist attack, my country dealt with terrorism for twenty years. So I knew how afraid and shocked people in NY would be.
We all went to the cafeteria to watch the news. We saw live how the second plane crashed. It was so surreal. Even as far away as we were from that place, we were absolutely shaken. I don't think anyone, no matter where they were, will ever forget about that day.
I salute to all those brave people who help save lifes that day. They are real heroes.
J.Day said…
I was in a biology lab the entire morning. Not a soul in class knew a thing. When I got my 11am class, people were suddenly buzzing about a bomb threat at the twin towers. Our instructor came into class in tears, explained what happened and he sent us home. Told us to call our families. I don't know a soul in New York, but I cried all day. I still cry in regards to anything about 9/11. I just couldn't believe someone thought they'd get 40 virgins in the afterlife for doing something so horrific.
Becky said…
I live in Israel. I was pottering around in my kitchen when I heard a few ambulances, sirens blaring, drive by. We'd had a spate of suicide bombings so I automatically switched on the radio even though I knew there was no way they would know anything about those particular ambulances yet. I heard the first tower had been hit by a plane. They were reporting as if it had been an accident but then while I was listening they said the second plane had hit. Because it was in Hebrew and I wasn't sure I'd understood it I switched to the BBC world service where reporters were unbelievably using the words 'alleged terrorist attack'. It was obviously a terrorist attack. From the minute the second plane hit it was obvious. I remember how much that reporter infuriated me.
Anyway I was expecting my twins at the time and maybe because of the pregnancy was extra emotional but it took me a long time to stop waking up at night in horror at the sound of an overhead plane.
The world changed that day.
Mamabear said…
I was living in New York City at the time. My mother , who lives in Connecticut but worked in the city, was at a conference in midtown, although her office is down near the towers. She called and woke me up to tell me that a plane had hit one of the towers. I turned on the news just as the other plane hit. My mother drove uptown to get me and drive us out of the city. At the time everyone in New York thought that there may have been some sort of airborn poison or disease released. Almost all the bridges getting out of the city were closed so we had to drive the length of the island and exit through the bronx with about a million other cars. People kept trying to call us on our cell phones to check if we were OK but the lines were so busy it would take a few tries to get a call out. We finally made it to Connecticut and watched the news all day. I remember seeing footage of a muslim woman trilling and smiling in celebration. It was a terrible day.
Jennifer RP said…
I was in downtown D.C. at a job interview. Well, supposedly, the interview was canceled.

People who weren't there don't grasp, I don't think, the level of sheer chaos and fear...most of it coming from the complete lack of communication.

(Yes, I am one of the people who thought for a while that a plane had also crashed into Camp David, but I didn't hear the 'explosions' that shook the Capitol...which I'm pretty sure were sonic booms and if I HAD heard them, I could be sure. I've heard both a sonic boom and a bomb and I understand how most people can't tell the difference...but if you've heard both, believe me, they're not the same).
I was in 7th grade and had no grasp of it. We weren't told until parents started frantically picking their children up from school. I think, since I live in NOVA, families just wanted to be together.

My mom was in panic mode as at the time she worked for the military's insurance company. She was on the phone with a man who was on site. He literally told her "I think that plane is flying in the wrong direction..." 5 minutes later he called again and all she could hear was screaming.

For me, teachers were running around in terror, neighbors were begging me to take them home because my father was here and listed on their emergency card. Their parents worked in D.C. It was the most confusing time of my life. I was twelve, I understood death, but death on such a scale seemed impossible and it didn't sink in for years.

I went to NY to see ground zero when I was 13 and I could not connect the total chaos, death and destruction with the gaping hole and rubble. I have a picture and all I feel, to this day, when I look at it is numbness. I don't think I ever had a reaction. I think I was too young and now that I am of an age to really mull it over and comb out how I feel, it seems like I missed my chance. My window for fear, outrage, emotion in general has passed and I am left in a state of numbness.

I spent this year's September 11 with my significant other and his friend--a new father. We spent the day discussing life and newborns and it was the first September 11 I felt something. It was nice.
Robert Tutton said…
I was in 11th grade, in Queens. I heard some whispers going around about a plane hitting the towers. My first thought was: "What, they didn't see them there?" figured it was some small private aircraft accident. In art class, a few periods later, kids were getting worried about it. The teacher kept saying the towers were fine, that they were made to withstand a hit from a plane. "My sister works in the Trade Center," he said to calm us. Then another teacher came in and whispered to him that the towers went down. "No, they're gone. collapsed," she confirmed for him. His face fell lifeless with dread and fear and who knows what else. That's when i grasped the severity of the situation. I left school early and as i walked home, i could see the tall plumes of smoke rising ominously from lower Manhattan.

side note to the talking heads and politicians out there: We should be remembering those lost and celebrating their heroism, not fighting and using their sacrifice as some political talking point. Don't cheapen it.
ib said…
I was on my way to work, totally oblivious to what was happening. As I arrived at work, all of my co-workers were huddled around a 13" black and white zenith, watching as the news kept replaying the planes colliding with those towers. By this time, both aircraft had hit. We were told to turn off the TV and get to work but as we were dispersing, the first tower began to collapse and my heart plummeted. Then came the second. I can still remember the numbness I felt as I watched those giants fall. I will never forget.
In Sydney, it happened while we were sleeping. But for some reason, my now husband and I woke at the same time - for the first time ever. I flicked the radio on, must have been about 2am, and the DJ was crying. He was saying he just couldn't believe what was going on. So we got up and turned on the TV, and I'll never forget my husband turning to me and saying, "This isn't a movie, this is really happening." Just sickening.

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