Share Where You Were on 9/11?

[Hi guys. I’m going to leave up this post from yesterday until tomorrow morning, because how lame would it be to bump it on a Sunday? If you haven’t yet, please do share with us your recollection of 9/11. I’m probably going to create a separate page of these stories here on my (soon to be radically improved) blog, as a means of permanently offering them to anyone who at any time might care to add to or reflect upon them. Thank you for your stories, and touching responses to them.]

This sort of grief is still hard, yes? So I thought maybe we could share a little of where we were, and what we were doing, when we first became aware of the nightmare of 9/11.

I woke up that morning and, like every morning, fired up my computer. The first thing I saw, on the Yahoo home page, were fresh images of the just-hit towers, the billowing gray smoke enveloping their tops.

My brain couldn’t quite register what my eyes were telling it.

I instantly craved more information. The Internet seemed to be choking around any of the typical sites you’d go to for that kind of news. So I dug a little deeper, and ended up on some sort of live message board where people inside the towers at that time were frantically posting all kinds of messages from their cell phones. It was horrifying reading. It made me physically ill. I’ve begun crying just now remembering it.

When were you first aware of what happened on 9/11? Where were you? What was your experience with it?

Bless you all. Bless us all.

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  • Jeannie

    I was getting ready for work and heard my husband swearing in the other room. I came out to see what was going on just in time to watch the second plane hit the second tower. I remember the sadness and fear and shock. I was pregnant and looked down at my growing belly and wondered what kind of a world that baby was going to be born into.

  • Jennie

    A close friend, who, is now in heaven, called us early that morning and told us to turn on our televisions, then hung up. My husband, Bob, and I were still sleepy; he had literally walked in the door a few hours before, returning from a trip to Israel. My sister, visiting from Hawaii and due to leave that day, ran down from the upstairs bedroom. Her husband had just called her. He had already seen the news and knew she wasn't getting home that day. Like the rest of America, we sat riveted to the television, taking and making calls, praying, crying, trying to comprehend what was happening. Radical Islam was still a relatively unknown commodity then. After all, when we grew up, Communism was the boogey-man. Islam was still the mysterious Mideast with tales of Sinbad and Aladdin — the other religion besides Judaism in that region of the world. (Sorry, I was ignorant.)

    Bob's flight from Israel had one stopover, in Newark. He realized he literally made one of the last flights out of there– especially from the mideast — before everything was shut down.

    It took a few years, I think, for the reality of what happened to become real, for us to to realize what was really going on. A conflict that literally began thousands of years ago with Isaac and Ishmael — brothers vying for father Abraham's love (book of Genesis).

    Thanks for helping us think about it, John. Not sure I would've wanted such a close experience as you had. That does bring tears, thinking about it.

  • I woke up and stumbled into my parent's living room. I turned on the TV to find reports of the first tower hit. I remember standing there slack-jawed as the second was hit. My hands and feet grew quite cold. My chest felt cinched. I slowly lowerd myself to the floor and cried.

    I remember marveling at our frailty. I remember feeling very small.

    I was going to school, dating the boy of my dreams (now husband), dreaming of all that was to come for me and suddenly understood that the world is much bigger than I had previously considered it. I was suddenly aware of the gifts we had/have been given and losses we experienced, not as individuals, not only as a nation, but as humans. I think I grew up a lot that day.

  • Amelia

    For me it was very surreal. We had moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland the year before.

    I had just come back from the supermarket when I noticed a message on my answering machine. It was a local friend breaking the news that something terrible had happened in NYC. I Turned on BBC 24 news channel and watched it all day long. My husband came home early from his volunteer work at a local charity shop and we watched together.

    It was so strange to be so far away, in another time zone, having had a lot of my day already pass by with no idea what had happened on my home turf (I grew up on Long Island).

    Being in the UK I had the benefit, during the next few days, to see many Muslims go on air condemning the atrocity.

  • DR

    I was working. In a meeting when I saw group of people gathered around the computer screen. They were consultants from New York, most of them having either a friend or a family member in one of the Towers working. When the towers collapsed, there was a collective horrifying gasp as we all sat with a group of people who just watched their loved ones die.

    We went back into a meeting and I remember being so shocked that we all just didn't go home right after that and stay there, that our stupid work meant absolutely nothing.

    I went to Ground Zero three weeks after the attack to support the city with shopping, helping, whatever we could do. We'd all lose it at particular times – for Kim, my best friend, it was seeing all of the missing person flyers posted just everywhere. As the subway neared, we smelled the burning. There were no fences around the site at that point. It was horrific. A woman there saw me and her face lit up – she ran to me, got a bit closer, then crumbled. She thought I was her niece who they'd still not found. I just hugged her as she sobbed, numb. It still makes me cry.

  • A'isha

    I had just woken up and was changing my twin babies' diapers when my cousin called to tell me a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I immediately turned on the tv and was watching as the second plane hit. Having lived in NY for many years, I immediately started thinking of all my friends there. I spent the day glued to the tv and talking on the phone when I could. So many thoughts and memories flooded my head that day. I remembered taking a friend to the observation deck of the WTC many years before when she visited me in NY. Mostly, I remember an overwhelming sadness. I feel that again today.

  • My husband was the guest lecturer on a Smithsonian U.S. history tour. We'd been in DC until the day before and the morning of the 11th were on a tour bus heading to Colonial Williamsburg when the driver's wife called to say a small plane had hit one of the towers. The driver pulled to the side of the road and turned on the radio. We listened in horror as the news continued to unfold — that it was a passenger jet not a private plane–and then of course, minutes listened "live" as the second tower was hit.

    The Smithsonian tour leader didn't seem to know what to do with the group, and tried to keep the tour going. The bus again headed to Williamsburg, but by the time we got there is was a ghost town.

    I'll never forget my brave husband lecturing about our nation's history, tears in his eyes, as he talked about our freedoms and those who fought for it. The Smithsonian leader with us had been in touch with the DC office and knew about the Pentagon. Tom had been told early on, but none of the rest of us knew. Not sure why, but I think they were still trying to figure out what to do with the tour group, thinking Washington was under siege. They didn't want people to panic.

    I found out that the Pentagon had been attacked when I checked messages at home and heard a sobbing and frantic msg from my daughter in CA . She thought we were still in DC and wanted to know if we were okay. The tour group spent that night in Williamsburg, all of us glued to the TV. We returned our hotel in DC the following day.

    I remember passing the Pentagon, which was still burning. Washington was an armed camp, helicopters and fighter jets circling, armed guards on every corner. I wept when I saw it — and I'd thought I had no more tears to cry.

    Everyone was in a hurry to get out of there and head for home (the people on the tour were from all over the country) — but airports were closed and planes still grounded. We'd arranged ahead of time for a rental car so we could drive to Tom's sister's in Ohio after our tour. We were lucky the car was still available. Most people couldn't get transportation anywhere out of D.C. Strangers arranged rides with other strangers all over the city. It was amazing. We made it across the country to our home to CA in four days. The highways were mostly empty, and those drivers we did see were extremely courteous. I remember the stunned and tearful faces from Williamsburg to Washington, and at our gas and restaurant stops across the country. Little American flag were on nearly every car we saw. And there was a closeness among strangers that I'd never seen before — or since. It was as if we truly were one.

    You said it right, John. God bless our country. God bless us all.

  • Christie

    I woke up to the news that the first plane had hit on my radio alarm clock. It was just after 6am, Pacific time. I remember the confusion.. was it an accident? How big was the plane? A general feeling of what on earth is going on? There was sadness at that point, too… but having turned on the news (CNN or some other big network news channel) I watched as the second plane hit the second tower. It was horrific. The newscasters were in shock, disbelief. It was almost too much to take in, but slowly the realization hit that these crashes were no accident. I was trying to get ready for class. The TV woke my roommate and we kept each other informed as we took turns going to our rooms to get ready. Not that there was much to go on. I think I was in my car on the way to school when I heard on the radio that the first tower was collapsing. More disbelief and shock… When I got to the parking lot I didn't want to leave my car. I wanted to listen to what was happening. My obligation to attend class won and I remember thinking "What (more) will happen while I'm 'gone' at class?" Halfway through class a school administrator appeared in the doorway announcing the campus was closing and to leave immediately. I was definitely scared. We didn't know anything more at that point (why close on the west coast? was there an immediate threat here?) and I felt it was odd that my professor had attempted to carry on a normal class despite what was going on.

    I left campus, but had to go to work. I don't remember much else of the day after that. I didn't want to go to work though, I wanted to be informed and kept "in the loop" as much as anyone could that day.

    The things that have stuck with me from that day are a few..

    1. The live TV broadcast of the second plane hitting.

    2. The live images of people on the upper floors jumping…

    3. The immense sadness, fear, and shock.

    To this day whenever I hear a plane overhead I look to see if it's too low for comfort. I get a little bit of anxiety.

    Every time.

  • Karen

    I had just got to work early to help an educator set up his classroom. It was unusual for him to stumble in late, but there he was, 10 minutes late, with a look on his face that I can't put into words. He said, :Do we have a TV that can get outside signal? One of the World Trade Center Towers in New York City was hit." My initial thought… well, I didn't have an initial thought other than stunned disbelief. We found a TV that was able to give us a fuzzy image just as the 2nd plane hit. As others from the office started pouring in, we watch the towers fall. That is when it hit. That is when I realized that this was major. That is when I realized that my parents were supposed to be flying home that day from either New York or Pennsylvania to California. That is when I freaked. It wasn't until noon California time that I actually heard their voices and learned that they were not on one of those planes that were used as an instrument of terror. For whatever reason, they were delayed and scheduled for a later flight. The rest of the afternoon, my coworkers and I got very little done other than attending a prayer vigil at the chapel (I worked for a hospital system) and crying and talking about what had just happened.

  • On Facebook, John asked, "What else can we do but share our stories of the nightmare?"

    We can remember 9/11 as a criminal act by a small fringe group (who have yet to face full criminal justice), pay respects to the dead & their loved ones (by bringing the criminals to justice & stopping the impossible, fruitless, endless and counter-productive "war on terror"), then get on with our lives, to prove (to ourselves and the world, through demonstration of our indomitable spirit) that the terrorists have not won.

  • Robert Meek

    I weary of this redux. It's been how many years now? Granted, like the Holocaust, we shouldn't forget, but must we repeatedly obsess about it, mentally, and emotionally, and relive it over and over?

    Sure I know where I was, I was here, in my house, but not in front of the computer. I was watching TV. What, I don't know. I do know that all of the sudden everything was interrupted in a way that made my breath stop, fear set in, and I thought "Is it real? Is it nuclear war?" before they said why everything went to emergency channel broadcast.

    When they said what it was about, I was beyond stunned, beyond shocked, beyond appalled. I had no words.

    I still don't.

    I was so devastated that I phoned someone who left me after 15 years, on the day of our 15-th anniversary, for someone else he'd been having an affair with, behind my back, for 10 months, after several years of betrayal, lying and deception.

    I was so upset, I couldn't think whom else to turn to, even. I must credit him, that was one of his shining moments when he stopped acting selfish, and talked me through the worst of the pain.

    I the only thing that I can recall saying is "I feel like as if the world is ending," and I did, too, at that moment.

    There, I was in front of my TV, in my living room, then on my phone, to someone who had recently left me.

    I don't meant to be callous, but are we done with this now? Do we have to do this every remaining year of my life? And I don't mean specifically John. I mean our society.

    The first year afterwards, it would have been an emotionally heinous crime if we hadn't, and I was glad we did. A friend and I were at a new homeopathic medicine display at a civic center, and we'd both forgotten it was 9/11 the next year. Suddenly, everything stopped. All the music, everything, and up on center stage, they reverently gave a moment of silence for all of those who had died that day.

    I remember, my friend and I saying that we'd actually forgotten, when we'd gotten up that day, and we were shocked at ourselves.

    I'm not advocating forgetting, but I think we dwell far too much on it, and linger on it in a way that promotes this new hatred of Muslims in our society.

    And no, for the record, I'm not Muslim, although many will probably think I'm telling a lie about that, but that's your choice if you want to believe so.

  • When the first tower was hit I was getting ready for work and my husband hollered the news upstairs to me. We were shaken. Then, and I will never forget this, I was on my way a few minutes later to a dentist appointment and at a stoplight I looked over and a man in a big F250 truck was sobbing with his head on the wheel. I just knew something else had happened and I turned on my radio to the announcer screaming "Oh my GOD!" and crying as well. The second tower had been hit and the collective consciousness of America realized what that meant – and was afraid. I went to my appointment, where the dentist sedated me as usual and as I drifted in and out of consciousness I heard the staff huddled around their TV trying to understand. After my appointment, which was downtown Mpls, I walked the last few blocks to work, in the tower next to the IDS tower. Only a handful of people had come in, and some had already left. Within an hour we were told to go home as the other planes had fallen and it was unclear how many attacks would happen and where. Suddenly even here in the Midwest we felt vulnerable in our 50 story building. We carpooled out of downtown and several of us gathered at a coworkers house to watch the news. My husband and one year old son were at the neighbors. We didn't have television and on that day we very much wanted to see what was going on.

    I'm not one for hallowed ground or physical memorials, but the memory of that day I do want to keep.

  • Elizabeth

    I hadn’t been working. I was up early writing, for the first time in a long time. It felt good. I finished my section and went back to bed. My last thought was how exceptionally beautiful that blue sky just after dawn was, the stillness and clarity that the hijackers would soon use so efficiently for their purposes.

    By the time I woke up again, it was all over. The towers had already collapsed. A blessing for me to be sure, to have missed it, with my soft heart. I hit redial for an hour until I reached my mom. I’d been on assignment at the World Trade Center the previous week. I knew she had to be beside herself. When I finally got through, she gasped at the sound of my voice, wordless shock and horror and relief. When at last she could speak, in what I will always remember as proof of her strength, she said, “Thank God. I love you. I want to grieve with you, hold you tight with my voice. But we need to free up the phone line now. There are other mothers trying to reach their lost children.”

    I stumbled into some clothes and down to Reif’s, across the street. It dates from the twenties as a speakeasy. A real neighborhood landmark. Being from out-of-town and unemployed, I thought I’d be the only one not with their family, but the place was mobbed. My favorite bartender, a charismatic Puerto Rican tough guy, crouched weeping just outside the front door. Everyone was self-medicating with abandon, except for me. I remember staring at my Converse sneakers and thinking plainly, I have to be able to fight, or run. When it comes to that.

    The neighborhood I lived in then, Yorkville on the Upper East Side, is a mainstay for cops and firefighters and iron workers. I didn’t realize it then, but that’s what we were waiting for: the first-responders to get home. Oh Christ, when they did, that day and the next and for months to come. The unseeing eyes. The deafened ears. The awful stench and filth, though they always tried to clean themselves up first. We gathered around them in tender knots and passed the stories down from one person to the next, down the bar and out the door. Our own water bucket relay to stop the burning inside them, except it was the fire itself we were trying to carry away. It was like a frontier. News travelled through individuals who stopped here and there. No one trusted the media or the spokemen, only these iron-willed but ruined sooth-sayers, our own heralds from the gates of Hell.

    I lived at the corner of Second Avenue, a one-way artery downtown. City traffic was on lock-down but the avenue was not still. First the ambulances came, fleets racing down to tend to the non-existent survivors. Within twelve hours the earth-movers and cranes and heavy machinery replaced them, endless single-file strings of glinting steel. People stood on each others shoulders and waved signs of support. I didn’t. For three days I was so numb I could remember neither to buy food for the cat nor a plunger for the plugged toilet. I simply pulled the door closed and shared chicken from the same plate as the cat. I used the toilet at the bar.

    After a week, when all hope of finding survivors was gone, I turned to an acquaintance and said, “If they had found one person. Only one. It would be bearable then.” He looked at me and said, “I always knew that about you. The hoping and praying. That even one would make a difference to you.” I still don’t know what that means. Several months later, nearing Christmas, one of my closest friends from back home gushed to me, “Don’t you wish they would just stop harping on it already?” I wanted to scream, but I didn’t. They hadn’t even put out the underground fires yet. That’s when I stopped talking about September 11.

  • N&J

    I was living in Pentagon City, a few blocks from the Pentagon. Slept in, had hoped the night before that class would be canceled. Oh how I regretted that later. The crash actually woke me up, but I didn't know what was happening, and went back to sleep. When I woke up later, turned on Comedy Central – possibly the only channel on the air not showing coverage at that point. Got online, whereupon everybody I knew barraged me with "are you okay"s – they'd been trying to call, but couldn't get through as the lines were jammed. I was alone in the house; my roommates were gone for the day before it happened, and couldn't get back until late, or some the next day. Slowly the house filled with the haze of smoke and the smell of burning jet fuel. The metro wasn't going anywhere north, I didn't know anybody or anywhere to go the few stops south it went. Friends tried to come get me so I didn't have to be alone, but the streets were all blocked off, and they couldn't. I did finally get in touch with my dad and step-mom and found out that my dad wasn't in the WTC when it happened (though he likely would've been okay anyway, as he was commuting and would've been on the PATH, from where they got everybody out) as he was running late.

    That was my 9/11/01

    (Two weeks to the day later, a tornado hit and caused massive damage to our neighborhood, knocking out power for 4 days. My very Catholic neighbor walked around in a quasi-meditative state saying, "SOMEBODY in this neighborhood did SOMETHING to piss God off.")

  • Shannon

    Where were you on September 11?

    I was driving to work on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, The newscaster on the radio said that a small plane had crashed into the WTC. He seemed very calm and matter of fact like it was just another day in NYC. As I exited on an elevated exit ramp, I stole a glance over to my left to look at New York City, as I was driving only about 3 or 4 miles west of Manhattan. I could see smoke pouring out of the South Tower, I remember thinking, "This is not good!" 10 minutes later as I walked into my building, I knew CNN would be on in the lobby. I looked at the TV just as the second plane ripped into the north tower, just 5 miles from where I stood. I said out loud to no one in particular "terrorists".

    My office was on a major highway leading into NYC. The state Police closed and shut it down from end to end. Thousands of ambulances and fire trucks and heavy equipment with police escorts screamed past all day long… on their way to rescue the non-existent survivors.

    As I drove home that night, numb, I drove past my children's school. I could see the lights still in the classrooms and I could see children through the windows, still playing, still waiting. Children who parents had not come home to pick them up that September afternoon, children whose parents worked in the WTC, children whose moms and dads would never come home to pick them up from school again. All I wanted to do was get home and hug my kids.

    I'll always remember being on that exit ramp looking out the window of my car at 60 mph and seeing the South Tower burning and America forever changed.


  • I was driving homewards (it was about 3 pm in South Africa) when a congregation member texted me with the news of the first tower. I thought, "what idiot prank is this?" When I got home I though I'd turn on the television just to see if there was some truth in her text, only to see live, via CNN, how the second tower was hit. I sat in front of the TV watching the rest of the drama unfolds, dumb with shock and disbelief.

    That images and the emotions are ingrained in my memory, even though I'm not American.

  • I apologize for my typo's.

  • Whoa. I don't know if anyone out there is reading all of these, but what a powerful experience.

  • Scott Spencer-Wolff

    Very well put….

  • Tracy Irwin

    Driving to work listening to radio. It took the second plane for it to register with everyone that this was not an accident. Life changed a lot that day.

  • Christie

    I am.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    It really, really is.

  • Denise

    Where was I? Asleep. Had spent the night before with a bad case of insomnia. My treat? I decided to turn off the phones in my house and sleep as long as I could in the morning. I woke up at 12:30, San Diego time, to both my cell phone and home phone showing multiple messages. I sat down, turned on the television, picked up the phone and as I listened to the multiple messages from my mom, watched the replay of the towers being hit on the tv. My aunt was a flight attendant for American at the time and no one could get a hold of her. That was her route. I, on the other hand, only four years prior, had worked on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center for a company that lost 700 employees. I was glued to the news for the next several months. Checked websites for the missing for people's names I might recognize after so many years. Visited the Cantor Fitzgerald memorial site and read and reread the messages people posted. I emailed, several times, Bill O'Reilly, who slighted the president of Cantor, who lost his brother and several best friends along with 700 employees, for not stepping up and responding fast enough. It took me a long time to get over this, because I pictured, daily, the layout of the floor, the narrowness of the stairwell, the view from the 105th floor, the office of the vice-president who was killed, and the plane with its nose of flame and smoke burrowed in the desks and offices. People asked me if I would have been there if I was still working at the company. The answer is most likely yes. The only people who survived were those sick or late, and I was never sick or late for that job. Additionally, I had just left New York City only one week before 9/11. I was visiting and expected to stay another week, but was suffering from Pneumonia. I rescheduled a flight and caught a bus to take me to Newark. In my feverish haze, I leaned my head against the cool window of the bus and looked at the skyline of New York City, the two towers looming overhead. I thought to myself "Damn. I didn't get a chance to visit the Cantor and go to the Windows on the World restaurant." Two things I had planned to do that trip. "Oh. It will always be there. I can go back another time."

  • Mindy

    I was standing at the end of the block in my Midwestern brownstone neighborhood, having just put my first grader on the bus. She was still nervous about riding it that first year, so the hugs and hand squeezes before she climbed up those tall steps were fervent and lingering every morning, as if we might never see each other again.

    The sky blazed that intense autumn blue we all remember – odd that the entire country seems to have been clear that day. The sun was warm through the crisp air, and I remember thinking this kind of day was exactly why fall was my favorite season. My toddler was still asleep in her crib, and my husband was on the air, a radio broadcaster usually making his audience laugh.

    I slowed down to chat with the neighbor whose son had joined my daughter on the bus as I headed home to my little one, and another neighbor, on her way to work, slowed her car and rolled down her passenger-side window. She asked if we'd heard the news, and I leaned into her car as she pointed at the radio. She was listening to NPR, and the announcers sounded shaken. Just as I asked her if it was an accident, the voice announced that the second plane had hit.

    I remember feeling as if the ground gave way, the emotions falling from the knowledge that someone – anyone – had intentionally attacked our country were more than I could feel all at once. I wanted to chase the bus down the street and grab my daughter's small hand back into mine – what if cities everywhere were going to be attacked? Should I get in the car and go get her? But what about the baby? Should I call someone? What does one do when war has been declared? We three moms just held together for a moment, all of us feeling the same rush of utterly helpless confusion. Our neighbor finally drove on down the street, hoping that by the time she got to her office, someone would be able to explain what had happened, make sense of that which couldn't be explained.

    My friend and I walked up to my house and turned on the TV. We couldn't decide what to do about our kids, finally choosing to let them stay at school, let them experience their normal for as long as they could. What would we do if we brought them home? What would we say? I called my husband but he couldn't talk – obviously, they'd gone into full news mode, and he didn't come home for another 30 hours. He agreed with me about school, and we said we loved each other with an urgency we couldn't explain. Be safe. How strange to not feel safe. All the way out here in St. Louis, we didn't feel safe, not at all. My little one woke and I wanted so badly to will her innocence into all of us. Her sleepy morning smile and spider web of messy bed hair brought tears to my eyes. What have we done? I thought.

    A close friend came from the next block with her two little girls so that they could amuse each other while we watched the news. After that, the memories have already become fuzzy – it seems as if we didn't move from the TV screen for days. Figuring out how to explain it to my 6 yr. old, realizing that this would forever be a defining moment of her childhood, knowing in our souls that our country would never be the same – and always wondering, what have we done? My life was about nothing more than the well-being of my two precious daughters. Suddenly, bringing them to America to grow up no longer felt as clearly the right thing to do as it had when they were babies in orphanages on the other side of the world.

    A few days later, we took the girls to the city's memorial service, at the World's Fair Pavilion, in Forest Park. Another gloriously beautiful fall day, an enormous flag flying between the ladders of two fire trucks, and everyone who could get there, no matter their ages or professions or religions or ethnicities or citizenship, gathered and prayed and listened, and tried to remember who we were, what we stood for. Looking out over the vast crowd gathered on that hill, I was reassured.

    We may be shaken, and we may never again be exactly as we were before – but I believed then, and I try to believe now, that our strength will find its way to the light again, and that we will be alright, all of us, someday.

  • Susan

    I was in my home watching tv at the time. I started crying, and then I remembered that a very good friend of mine worked the WTC. I called his wife (my bf), and she said she had spoken to A. What follows is my recollections of the many times that A has told the story to me.

    A worked for the Port Authority on NY on the 72nd floor. He reported later that he had been in the bathroom when the plane hit the building. He did not return to his desk to get his wallet or anything, he just hurried to the stairs and started walking down. It was clear to him by the jolt of the plane hitting the building, that it was best to start walking down.

    A said that the stairs were packed tight with people trying to walk down. A cell phone that worked was being passed from person to person in the stairwell so that each could call their loved ones and report that they were in the stairs, on their way out.

    A called his wife several times. The going in the stairwell was slow. Everyone was helping the elderly, disabled or overweight, but as time passed, people were getting more and more panicky. There were times that individuals would simply stop because they could walk no further. At one point, A carried a woman down several flights, but in the end, she too asked to be left behind.

    At some point, those in the stairwell heard the rumbling of the first tower to fall. A had lost his shoes, his glasses, and his legs were trembling from going down so many flights of stairs. The air was smoky, hot and foul. Firefighters would pass on a regular basis, in full gear, going up the stairs.

    Despite the panicky conditions, with few exceptions, the people in the stairwell kept up good spirits and encouraged each other to keep going. They helped on another so that they all might survive, though by this time, they knew their survival was not certain.

    When A got to the bottom floor, firefighters and police were yelling "Run for your life!" A ran barefoot, barely able to see without his glasses. As he ran, the tower he had just escaped from crumbled, and as he ran he was covered with ash. He kept running until he got to the river, where he stopped.

    A lost about 20 colleagues from his office, as well as others he knew in the building. He suffered from PTSD, and went through years of treatment to rid himself of the symptoms of the trauma. And now, he is pretty much ok, though as he says, he will never be the same as he was before 9/11. He still works for the Port Authority, ironically, in an area that involves designing spaces that are best to thwart terrorism. (He is an architect)

    His son just entered a top tier ivy league school as a freshman, and his daughter is in high school. His wife is a school administrator. A and his wife immigrated to the US when they were children.


    The funerals here in my neighborhood went on and on for months. It seemed like every morning as I took my toddler to preschool, there was another cortege of police and firefighters lined up in front of the Catholic church. It seemed as if they would never end.

    For a week or so after 9/11, the sky was dusky, and if the wind was right, I could smell the smoke and all I could think of was that I was smelling the smoke of the people who died. It made me furious at the time. The fighter planes would roar overhead, and that too would infuriate me – even as I was glad that they were there.

    I was nervous about low flying planes for a couple of years, but that seems to have passed, just as my anger, while still there, is tempered with a deeper understanding of what happened that day.

  • peet

    At the time, I was an editor for a fashion magazine and had scheduled a photo shoot for that morning. I got up, got in the car, and turned the radio on. I heard these frantic voices, words like “smoke,” “attack,” ‘flames,” and my first thought was that it was some kind of a “War of the Worlds”-style prank. But Halloween was six weeks away, so I began paying closer attention. And by the time I got to the office, I knew what had happened.

    There was a call from our model on my phone. She was stuck in the airport, her father had just had a heart attack, she wasn’t going to be there for the shoot. I walked into my publisher’s office and suggested we cancel for the day. He told me no, we were going ahead, and he’d get his daughter to be our model. OK.

    So I packed the outfits into my car (evening gowns from Dior, Gucci, Chanel), and drove to the hotel where we were going to shoot. The photographer was there, the hair and makeup artists, the hotel PR rep, the model, and me.

    We put the clothes in our room and turned on the TV. For the next four hours, the routine was like this: off to the hotel gardens, tell the model to smile for the camera, back to the room to watch the towers burn and the people jump out the windows, get another gown on the model, and off to take some more photos.

    Also at the time, my dad was working in the Capitol building in DC, and my sister’s wedding was scheduled for September 15 in San Francisco. The minute the planes hit the Pentagon, the Capitol was evacuated, so my dad was out on the National Mall, and it occurred to him that the airports would most likely be closed for a few days. So he called my mom and told her to pack for a long drive. By 4 p.m., they were in their car driving west. They drove non-stop to St.Louis, slept for 6 hours, and then drove non-stop to San Francisco. They made it for the rehearsal dinner. The wedding went on without a hitch. They had an Elvis impersonator for the entertainment.

    He was really good.

  • Tim

    I had woken up just before 6am PST and flipped on the tube. I was going about getting ready for work when I passed the tv to see one tower on fire and something had just slammed into the second one. I turned on the sound and the commentators were estimating that as many as 25,000 people could be in both towers by now. I was transfixed and I have no idea how much time had passed as stood dumbfounded and continuing to think this was special effects and someone was going to say this was all part of a movie coming out. The first tower fell and I began crying believing that 12,000 people had just been crushed to death amidst the tumbling tons of concrete, twisted steel and suffocating dust. My wife's brother was a co-pilot for United on the east coast and she was franticly trying trying to reach him on his cell phone. He finally called her from a pay phone at Reagan. His flight was grounded because of the attack on the Pentagon. I called my work and asked if we would be holding a special vigil or offering extra counseling services for our congregation or just anyone who would be needing a reassuring voice…it was all so unfamiliar. To my mom and dad, they felt exactly as they did on the morning of December 7 in '41.

  • DR

    My god.

  • Scott

    I was a US citizen living and working in The Netherlands at the time. It was mid-afternoon and I was in the office. A colleague came in and told me the WTC had been attacked by a plane! I thought he was joking — something he was known for doing, although not about something like that! He left the room and I switched the internet to CNN. Everyone in the office was doing the same. Soon I found that the internet even in our high tech office had slowed almost to a halt. I was manic. I wanted more information. I called home and asked my wife to turn on the television. I asked her to put the receiver nearby and I turned on the speaker phone in my office. I listened in shock for some minutes. While pretty much of a workaholic in those days, I couldn't take it any more and went home "early" to watch everything on television. I was completely absorbed for at least two weeks afterward. I don't think I really thought about ANYTHING else at all! Although I went to work all I dd was think about and try to come to terms with this horrible event. If it hadn't been so generally traumatic I might have lost my job due to negligence. I was addicted to the news on television and on the internet. I read what others were feeling and wrote my own tormented feelings down on various websites. This was the first time I had ever done this. September 11, 2001 remains vivid to me to this day. Although emotionally scarred that day I have not been deluded into blaming all, for the terror caused by a few so-called, Muslims.

  • Mindy

    Robert, we still remember Pearl Harbor Day, every year, on Dec. 7. And for those who were old enough to remember that day, it seems to remain seared into their memories still. My mother was just a little girl then, but she remembers coming home from kindergarten to her parents crying.

    Some things, we can't forget. Somehow, the memories seem more bearable when we remember them together.

    What I'm remembering today is the feeling of being completely and utterly together with my entire nation – ALL of my nation, in those ensuing days. Maybe if we remember the tragedy, we can also remember our unity. And remember that our enemy that day was not each other, but one tiny group of hate-filled monsters, masquerading as human beings.

  • Mindy

    Yes, what DR said. My god. Thank you for that, for the reality of it. I don't know why I/we need to feel it, but I believe we do. We need to remember how strong the human spirit can be, and we need to remember that people like your friend came here from somewhere else.

  • MJC

    I was at work. I worked in a large financial institution in Minneapolis. What the head of my department came out of her office and said will forever play in my head….after the second plane hit, she said, "first it was exciting, now it's kind of scary." I can't make it up.

    I was scheduled to visit NYC on my vacation the following week. Although delayed by a day or so, I still went. I still saw Rocky Horror on Broadway before it was forced to close…I find it hard to describe the air and the way people moved through the city so soon after it happened.

  • Well put. The object of terrorists is to terrorize. Let's fight them, not join them.

  • Don Whitt

    I was on the road for business, staying at the Boulderado Hotel In Boulder, CO. I had an early mtg 9/11 with IBM in Broomfield, CO. As I got out of the shower that morning and walked from bathroom into the hotel room, the news was showing video of the hole in the first tower – they were stating that it was a small private plane that had accidentally flown into the tower. I looked at the hole and thought, "No – that doesn't work. The scale's all wrong. That had to be a large plane and that just doesn't happen…shit".

    As I quickly dressed the news showed the 2nd plane hitting the other tower. It was so surreal. Like watching someone get shot in the head and seeing their brains fly across the room. I was really shaken. I went down to the hotel restaurant, meeting my 7 coworkers for breakfast – none of them had seen the news yet. I tried to explain what was happening, but it didn't register with them – it was as if they didn't believe me. The 8 of us piled into the 3 cars we'd rented and drove to IBM. We got to IBM early and, before our mtg started, the mtg coordinator at IBM booted-up his laptop in the conference room and we watched news on the internet projected by an LCD projector onto a huge screen at one end of the room. By then, people in the WTC were leaping from the buildings. Finally, everyone in the mtg got it. This was big and bad. Horrible. The mtg started at 9am, but IBM put their campus on "lock-down" within about 5 minutes and we were told to leave the place immediately.

    We all gathered in the parking lot – we were shifting into survival mode. Understand, these were a bunch of operations guys – we deal with crap failing or blowing-up all the time, so naturally shifted into "the mode". The Denver airport was shutdown – we knew that. So I suggested we dump one of the rentals and head back to the SF Bay Area in the remaining 2 cars, taking turns driving straight through. Everyone agreed. We were headed west in about 20 minutes.

    We headed back to San Francisco. Besides a stop for dinner in Park City, Utah, and a few necessary rest stops, we drove straight through and got back to San Bruno, CA (where SFO airport is) at about 7am the next day. Unfortunately, the airport was locked-down and we couldn't get at our cars parked in the airport garage. We dropped-off the rentals and got cabs home. Our company was shutdown except for my skeleton crew who were keeping things going – we were running a supply chain automation hub for people all over the world and the wheels of commerce kept turning, regardless of the tragedy in NY.

    I think it was 1 or 2 days later when I was allowed to walk into the SFO parking garage and retrieve my car. It was strange walking on foot, checking-in with a security officer and continuing into the structure and finding my car. The place was full of cars, but there were no other people that I could see. Just me. As I drove very slowly out into the overcast day I knew that life had completely changed for all of is – I just didn't know how much.

  • Tanager

    I was at work at MIT and it was the first day the TAs were meeting to discuss the fall class they’d all be assisting with. As they came in, someone mentioned a plane hit a building in NYC. They began the meeting, and I turned on the radio and started hearing more. I slipped in to the meeting and passed the professor a note that there was a terrorist attack on NYC; not long after I went back in with another note about the Pentagon and suggested a breakup of the meeting. We all went down the hall to the media lab where the news was being projected on a wall. I watched the towers fall as Peter Jennings reported, tower 1 falling behind him before he even got the feed to report it.

    An hour later I was at my desk when I received a call from an MIT start-up company confirming that one of our students, co-founder of the start-up, had been on Flight 11. I was in the building’s lobby when I had to tell the administrative assistant of his direct student group, and she burst into tears. I shook in that lobby, feeling fear for the first time rather than just being stunned. I wanted to go pick up my 2.5 year-old from the daycare. Or just see him.

    After work, my son and I walked around the city in the beautiful sunshine, saying hello to strangers and, in m son’s case, hugging them. It was a beautiful late summer day, and it seemed impossible. I still have the front pages of many world newspapers from the next morning. And today I remember Danny Lewin, whose throat was slit in front of passengers and crew on Flight 11 because, as a former Israeli Special Forces solider, he never had any doubts about what was going to happen, and he tried to stop it. He was dead before the plane hit the WTC, as reported by flight attendant (Betty Ong, I believe, of my hometown) and left behind a wife and two little boys.

  • Sarah Childers

    I was in eighth grade, attending school. I didn’t even find out anything in our world was wrong until almost noon. In the middle of my Algebra class a woman came to the classroom door and started whispering to the teacher. We had absolutely no idea that since early that morning the entire country had been going to pieces.

    I was 13 years old. I remember that a classmate of mine started crying because her parents were in New York at the time. I was angry that nobody would let us see what was going on, and I had to find out later on TV at my house.

    The Algebra teacher informed us that an airplane had flown into a building. She said that it was a building in New York, and that some people had been hurt. We went through the rest of the day worried about the hurt people, but we had absolutely no idea of the magnitude of the situation.

    To this day I check the Internet every day for world updates simply because I was left out of the loop.

  • Wow. Reading these is amazing and heart-wrenching.

  • Vince

    I was in 7th grade. Like all mornings, I woke up and walked into my parent's bedroom, where the bathroom that I showered in was located. My parents 13 inch, 1970s TV was blaring 9news, just like every day. I ignored it, just like I did every day. I got out, and as I was getting dressed, sitting on their bed watching, my Mom started relating the news of the morning to me. She was worried about my Dad, he was flying out to Nebraska that day. His flight took off before they grounded everything for the day. My Mom hadn't heard from my Aunt yet, but Mom was sure that my Aunt worked in the Trade Centers. I left for school before the second tower was struck, thinking that the crash had been an accident, and assuring my Mom that I wouldn't accidentally ride my bicycle into any buildings on my way to school. By the time I got to school, it was obvious that something was amiss. I was livid, and prepared to fly or swim or hitchhike to Afghanistan and personally snap bin Laden's neck if anything had happened to my Aunt. Fortunately, she had taken the day off to study for a re-certification test. Gym ended up being the "adults explain what happened to the children" period, so we sat their quietly in alphabetical order, everyone completely silent as my gym teacher revealed the plane in Pennsylvania and D.C.

  • Kara

    I was eight. We were house-sitting that week for some relatives. I was doing my school in their kitchen when my dad called me in to the living room. I didn’t know what was going on. I had never heard of the WTC before. I didn’t know what terrorism was. I’d never heard of anything like this anywhere, much less here.

    My dad’s been a pilot for as long as I can remember. I just remember this crushing sense of fear for him, even though he was sitting in the room with me. I didn’t want him to leave when he went back to work. For at least a year, we prayed together as a family for his safety every single time he left.

    On that day itself, though, I mostly just remember being so terrified and confused. It was a massive paradigm-changer for me. The world as I’d known it – safe, happy, and mostly free of violence – was replaced by an uncertain and frightening world that I didn’t know how to deal with. It was horrible.

  • Karen Lyn

    As I remember those who died today, I cannot help but recall what I was doing the morning the terrorists attacked: I was at home, in my living room, I was holding my son, who was but 4 months old, in my arms. Since then America has been at war. My son, like some many children, has never known peace. He knows we are at war. He knows people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He wants the war to stop. If America truly wants to stop terrorism we must stop attacking and start building. It is no coincidence that terrorism is bred in under-developed nations among people living in poverty.

  • i was at home. i woke up and turned on the tv. my 2 month old and 18 month old were still sleeping.

    i saw the replay of both crashes.

    i begged my DH to stay home, i was not sure what or where was safe. after he left i took the kids to a friends house and we put the children in front of the little mermaid i think.

    my friend and i sat in the kitchen listening to NPR. and knowing that the world had changed forever.

    what i remember most? was the silence, our house was under the landing path for the long beach airport. and not hearing the flights was deafening.

  • Jessica

    I have the same fear now about the planes. There are two images I can't get out of my mind. When a plane flies over I always fear it will crash and when I see people walking across bridges I always wonder if they'll just. The latter stems from an equal (to me) horrifying experience at the opening of Qwest field in Seattle when a man jumped from the top balcony.

    It's weird the way our brains translate memories. I can't even imagine how those people that saw the towers fall felt that day. I wonder if they can even walk down that street.


  • Don Whitt

    Blueberry: Okay, I give up: What does "DH" stand for?? Designated hitter?

  • donna

    i think that stands for 'dear husband' … makes sense.

  • Andrea

    I’ve lived on the west coast my whole life, except the five years I spent in New York, going to school near Yonkers from 1992-1996 and working in the City during 1997. That time was life altering for me, and I still see my life as divided into before and after that amazing experience.

    On Sept 11, 2001, my mother-in-law was scheduled to return home to Las Vegas after visiting with my husband and me for a week. We’d only been married 9 months, and as I was getting ready for work I was also very ready to be alone with my husband again. My husband came into the bedroom and told me his mother wouldn’t be going home anytime soon, and although I knew he was anxious for us to have our tiny apartment to ourselves again, I couldn’t figure out why he was crying about it.

    As he told me about the towers, I remember sinking to my knees. We didn’t have television and so we listened to the radio for a few hours. I finally went to work because they were permitting all the employees to watch TV in the break rooms all day, and I was desperate to know what was going on.

    I cried all the way to work and once I was there, I kept trying to reach my friends in New York. Of course the lines were down. I had lived in Battery Park with some friends who still lived there and I was most concerned about them, as well as a guy I had known who worked in the WTC. He had called me as he evacuated the first time the towers were bombed, a semi-failed attempt in 1993. I wasn’t able to reach him or my friends from Battery Park for weeks. I was able to reach a friend who lived in Brooklyn. She told me about the papers in the air and the smoke, and part of a cubicle wall that had landed on her fire escape. The panic and sadness in her voice were unlike anything I’d heard from her before or since. Nine years later, I can’t think about that day or its aftermath without choking up.

    I’m grateful to read everyone’s posts on this site. I actually think it’s very important to remember. It saddens me, living where I do, how much 9/11 seems to have faded from our collective consciousness. I’m not saying we should remember so that we promote war or hatred, but because I know how much it means to the living when others remember our loved ones who have passed away. And because memory can be a powerful force for positive action and for peace.

  • I was awakened shortly before 03:00 Hawaiian Standard Time on this day nine years ago by a phone call from my mother in Chicago. She had the tremulous tone in her voice that she always presented when she was desperately worried, and had been crying, as she said, “Dean, darling? Honey, I think you should turn on CNN. Something happened.”

    I had lived in New York until three years previously, when I had left it to set up house with my then-boyfriend in a condo in a Waikiki high-rise. However, although I had left the city physically, I had never left it in my heart, nor in my mind. In both of those I was still a New Yorker.

    I turned on CNN as my mother directed, and had not even oriented myself around the images I was seeing and the information I was hearing when I heard the screaming of a jet on the audio track and saw United Airlines Flight 175 fly directly over lower Manhattan and into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

    My mother and I both screamed in horror and shock.

    I remember feeling intellectually suspended from what I was seeing, as if it really was a scene from a new Hollywood action flick that nobody yet knew about, some tasteless shock media campaign for it, and not real life. How could a plane flying into the South Tower of New York City’s World Trade Center, and the ensuing explosion and wall of flames ascending the face of the building, how could any of that be anything but a figment of someone’s disturbed imagination?

    I remember hanging up the phone after my mother gently suggested, through her tears, that I try to contact all of my many friends in New York to make sure that they were safe. I remember doing that, and being relieved when I heard they were all safe, one watching the fires from his office building’s rooftop in midtown Manhattan, another who had just missed a business meeting in one of the towers and was instead safe in his own office, and a host of other friends, all of whom were safe, thank God. But I remember very little else from those dark, pre-dawn hours of that Pacific island morning save for the images, and the sounds, and the screaming.

    The screaming on CNN’s coverage, and the screaming from my own throat when each of the towers finally fell. Screams of incredulity, pain, rage, and utter, complete heartbreak.

    At the time I was a senior graphic designer in the Honolulu office of a global financial services firm whose headquarters were split between a building on Sixth Avenue in midtown and several floors in the 90s of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I remember I called the emergency voicemail line for our office repeatedly that morning, awaiting a message that would tell us that we would not be opening our offices that day. When I did not hear one, I resentfully left for my office at the appropriate time, filled with rage and wonder as to why our office’s Managing Director had not notified us that we were to work from home that day. The answer to such wonderment arrived shortly after I arrived in our offices: the Managing Director was not closing our office, he said, because our chief competitor in Honolulu, a firm whose New York headquarters were also housed, above our firm’s, on the topmost floors of the North Tower, had decided to close its own doors that day, and that if our office remained open we would therefore be “ahead of the competition” when they finally returned to their offices on Wednesday, September 12th.

    I remember being enraged by this decision, by this care for profit over human life, by this flagrant lack of respect for the events of that morning, for the lives of our colleagues in New York. But I worked anyway. Although none of us really “worked” that day; all of our communications were wired through our company’s data servers in the World Trade Center, which by the time our office opened had been obliterated, so our access to the Internet and e-mail was spotty, at best, and the majority of us spent the day on our telephones, trying to track down friends and family and colleagues in New York and Washington, and popping frequently into our office’s main conference room, where CNN coverage was blaring on the flat screen television all day long.

    When I finally returned home that evening, still enraged, emotionally exhausted, and utterly soul-destroyed, I finally got in touch with my final New York friend on whom I needed to check, whose boyfriend told me that she was sleeping, after walking from the remains of her office at the World Trade Center several miles through smoke and debris back home to Brooklyn.

    Milton Glaser, the graphic designer who designed the original “I Heart NY” artwork, and redesigned it to read “I Heart NY More Than Ever” following September 11th, with a black mark on the lower left side of the heart, representing the World Trade Center’s location on the island of Manhattan, said in an interview on the day’s second anniversary, “Something happened. And I realized that what had happened was an injury, like when a friend of yours, somebody you love, gets terribly sick. You suddenly become conscious of how much you care for them. That’s the inevitable consequence of somebody you have affection for. And I realized that my feeling about the city had deepened.”

    I can’t think of a better way to describe how I felt that day nine years ago: utterly helpless in the face of the pain and destruction of a loved one. My city had been injured. My country had been injured. Something happened. And there I was, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so very far away physically, but so very, very close in my mind, and in my heart.

  • Ace

    I was in high school, my senior year. Specifically A.P. Calculus. It was the first class of the day so we would all be shuffling in before class started and we always had the TV up in the corner of the classroom turned on to something or another until our teacher showed up.

    The teacher came in and shut off the TV and started class so none of us had any flipping clue what was really going on except that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center until the next period, when my World History teacher just turned on the news and sat in the back of the room at his desk while the rest of us sat there like idiots staring at the atrocity unfolding on the news.

    That’s pretty much what we all did for the rest of the day, we’d shuffle from one classroom to the next to watch the news coverage, until we piled on the school buses to go home.

    The Methodist church my family was going to at the time had a prayer vigil that evening and my mother took me (my brother was at college and my father still at work) and we just basically sat in a shocked state in the back pew for an hour. I think I cried a bit and we went back home.

    That was pretty much the end of my childhood, in a whole lot of ways.

  • Gina Powers

    THIS. Thanks, Dave.

  • That morning I was preparing a sermon. My assistant came into my study and said, “Our nation is under attack.” I couldn’t comprehend what she was saying. It soon became clear.

    After absorbing the magnitude of what was happening — as far as I could — I changed the text for the sermon to 2 Corinthians 4:18. Nothing less matched the moment.

    Thanks for giving all of us this opportunity, John.

  • Yes, I usually try to read them all.

  • Mindy

    Aw, Ace, that made me cry.

  • berkshire

    I am thinking of 2 days after the nightmare. I worked night shift at a hospital in a sleepy new england town, and was driving home in the early morning.

    There was a light rain falling on that cloudy day, just after dawn. I saw a man of about 50 years of age running, jogging. He had the sort of physique that would lead one to believe this was part of his regular routine. But on this day, after lacing up the sneakers and before heading out the door, he grabbed a small American flag, which he carried as he ran, tears clearly mixing with the rain on his face. He looked both sad and determined in this routine-turned-tribute.

    I was also a runner then, and would often run as a way to work through a problem or clear my head. I remember thinking as I watched him, "How far must one run to outdistance this kind of pain? How far will you run today, friend?"

    I write this now on my phone, waiting at laguardia airport in NYC, having just passed by that gaping hole in the skyline on my way here.
    I always see it, that hole. The absence of the towers is still a looming, sad presence. I think of Andy and so many others who perished there. I think of the police and first responders, and I give thanks. The horrors took planning and secrecy and time to enact, but our deep goodness, our deepest nature arose in an instant as strangers sought to comfort and help eachother in an hour of need and made such great sacrifices.

    THIS is who we are, this is what we are.

  • At home in Cape Town, South Africa. It was mid afternoon, and I'd just gotten up (I was working nights at the time) when I heard it on the radio. I switched on the TV in time to see the second impact.

    I sat on the couch, watching numbly, trying to process it. I absent-mindedly started flipping through my wallet as I watched, and I spotted the ticket stub from the tour to the roof of the World Trade Center. I had stood on top of that building just a few months earlier.

    Then it really hit home.

  • textjunkie

    Like a lot of your readers I was on Pacific time, so I was just out of the shower getting ready for work in the morning when I saw the smoke from the towers on CNN. For a full minute I thought it was an ad for some new disaster movie–I couldn't grasp that this was NEWS, really happening.

    I don't remember now what I saw live and what I saw in replay (did I watch the first tower crumble live? What about the 2nd plane?)–I have no idea. I woke the hubby up by saying something like, "You'd better get up. They've started World War III." I couldn't believe that this wasn't the beginning of something that would lead to Mutual Assured Destruction, that there was going to be reaction, over-reaction, and ab-reaction leading to world-wide conflict. Things were Going to Be Different.

    I went to work, though; but we were all zombies, listening to the radio and watching the TV in the kitchen, hearing about the Pentagon, the Pennsylvania plane, the possibility of a plane heading for Los Angeles, etc. In the early afternoon the boss called it a day and told us all to go home.

    I picked up half a dozen gallons of water on the way home. Where we lived there was a HUGE ex-pat Iranian population, very active Moslem population, and I had no idea if things were going to get ugly or not. I'd lived through and near major riots before and I know how easily they can get started and how violent they can get. But by the end of the day it was clear things were amazingly calm, for which I was grateful.

    My folks were all on the East Coast but not affected–my parents could see the smoke from the Pentagon and my sister lost an acquaintance from college in the Twin Towers, but that's about it. I'd visited the Twin Towers two years before and just loved the view from the top–it was very, very weird to think no one would have that view of Manhattan again, that where I had stood was now a hole in the ground. We were all exceedingly grateful the plane had NOT hit the side of the Pentagon that is a major a bus and subway hub, which would have killed thousands at that hour in the morning.

    I didn't see the films of bodies falling out of the windows until the 5th anniversary. THAT was traumatic all over again.

    But generally speaking, every year Sept 11 comes and goes and I have other things on my mind.

  • I was awakened by the phone; my brother called me from his work on his Air Force base. Quick, turn on the TV, he said, a plane flew into the WTC tower and while they were all watching the second one hit the other tower! I flipped through the channel to the chaos of the smoking towers on every one of them. Then the first news of the Pentagon attack came in, they hit the Pentagon I said-

    Then I told my brother I need to get off the phone, you're going to get a call. Dead silence as the reality sank in. Yeah, you're right, he said and we hung up. Minutes later he got the call to secure the base.

    A little later a friend from Pittsburgh called in a state of panic, his cousins worked at the Pentagon in the section that was hit. He later found they were not there that day. Another friend from just a county away from the plane that went down in Somerset…

    I had walked into the other room just before the first tower fell. I saw the second go down. There was a strange felling as it crumbled, a sense of…. emptiness; as if all the souls in the towers had already left and all that collapsed was just empty shells…. I jumped online and went to Beliefnet where I'd been a member of for months. People from all over the world were online, consoling each other and trying to make sense of it all. We came together that day as a World Community, a global family with people from every faith and walk of life. Beliefnet became a place of healing and understanding. Many friends from Beliefnet I keep in contact via Facebook and private emails daily.

    The world changed that day. 9-11 was not just an attack on the USA, but upon the world. This was clearly evident to me on the days following when billions across the world stopped to pray all at the same time. Churches, synagogs, mosques, parks, every place of worship was overflowing with people. Middle of day or middle of night, millions upon millions came to that quiet place in the heart and prayed.

    To me that is the day that sticks in my mind more vividly than the timeless images of the smoking towers; for this is the day all the world stopped and prayed. It was not just Jews, Muslims or Christians that prayed, but people from all faiths. We prayed upon the same question: my Gods, how could be let this happen to ourselves? We prayed for the same outcome: for healing and understanding so something like this could never, ever happen again.

    We had grown so wild, so callous, and the results was the death of 3000 innocents. We were shocked into consciousness by the inevitable outcome of such arrogance; 9-11.

    Now, this day nearly a decade later, I am afraid that sense of healing and understanding has faded. The prayers for healing and understanding have changed. No longer is the call for healing and understanding. It now seems to have mutated into something akin to revenge. Seems fear and hatred are speaking louder than compassion; with Islamophobia and distrust for anything and anyone Muslim….

    I pray today that compassion, healing and understanding sooths the still raw wounds of that day and calms the anger, fear and hatred that is growing more and more. I fear the result of this growing ignorance and rage is another global wounding….

    We have a choice; and this choice has always been ours to claim; we can either be pathways of peace, or the instruments of war.

    We are the Peace we seek. We are the Peacemakers.

    We cannot let 9-11 ever come again….

    Namaste. Shalom. Amen. Blessed Be. Mitakuye Oyasin.

    Be the Peace.

  • I was driving my then-only-son to his preschool, and I was dressed to volunteer at their book fair that morning. I'd had the radio on but hadn't really been listening to it when I heard "World Trade Center hit". The next thing I knew, the second plane hit.

    I got Michael to his classroom and went to the church library where they'd set up the book fair. My co-volunteer was there, as were about three other stunned mothers who'd dropped their children but just wanted to be with other people. We'd get updates on the situation by rotating just who was going to go back up to the church office and see what new news had come through.

    Not one book was sold. I think that was a first.

  • lilypad

    I was at a stop light and happened to look over to my left. There was a man in a Crown Victoria on his cell phone. He put the phone down and sped off. Only when I got to work and heard what had happened did I realize he was probably government, law enforcement or something like that and was more than likely being called into action.

  • yes, dear husband.

  • Don Whitt


  • Raquel

    I was on a bus in Spain – I had just moved there and was riding with my friend to the train station. I didn't speak Spanish too well, but heard over the radio that all flights had been cancelled to the US and then heard something about "an act of terrorism". My immediate reaction was a feeling of claustrophobia, thinking I couldn't go back to my country even if I wanted to. I got home and turned on CNN, but things were so chaotic I still didn't quite understand what was going on. I remember trying to get ahold of my family in the States and all lines to the States were full and I couldn't get through. And I remember wondering if I would ever be able to go back to the States again or if I would see my family again. I know that that seems so exagerated, but since no one would have ever imagined that something like 9/11 would ever happen, it was easy to think the worst.

  • Ace

    "I didn’t see the films of bodies falling out of the windows until the 5th anniversary. THAT was traumatic all over again. "

    Ugh, I saw those on the news, live. And they weren't "bodies" they were living people, falling to their doom. I'm still horrified that the news outlets put those images on air. And it still colors my perception of news media as a bunch of a bunch of heartless carrion vultures today.

  • Spark

    I was in college. I remember going to one of Dr. Carr's philosophy classes (I think it was Logic), and hearing that some plane somewhere had hit a building. I got the impression that it was some biplane, maybe hit a skyscraper or something. No one knew much at the time.

    After class I went to lunch, and in the cafeteria, I saw what had happened for the first time on the televisions there. I spent the rest of the day in the Wesley Foundation building with my friends, watching the news and huddled up with them on the couch.

  • berkshire

    All this reminds me that the PBS news program Frontline did a program called "Faith and Doubt After 9-11". They talked to religious leaders and ordinary citizens about how their faith was affected by those events, for good or ill. I think it was one of their best shows ever, and they always do a great job.
    I believe you can watch the program streaming online for free by going to the show archive on their website. Definitely worth watching. Have a box or two of tissues at hand if you do.