September 11, 2008
911, Year 7
Trinity church on Wall Street in NYC
The world changed seven years ago. I don't think that's an overstatement. The world changed.
When they're old enough I'll tell my kids my story of 911. I'll tell them about the blue sky. I'm sure I'm romanticizing it but I don't think I've seen a sky that blue since that day. I'll tell them about the drive home, the mad dash away from Washington DC, a city scarred by the attacks as well. I'll tell them about the plume of smoke rising from the Pentagon in my rearview mirror. I'll tell them about arriving home, finding Beth glued to CNN, and realizing that, despite all the radio coverage I'd heard on the way home, I never imagined there would be actual video of the towers being hit and coming down. I'll tell them about the brave people on United flight 93 who sacrificed themselves to save others and found their final resting place in a Pennsylvania field. I'll tell them about the intense quiet as the planes across the country were grounded. I'll tell them about the heroism of police, firefighters and every day people that made me truly believe in the goodness of mankind. I'll tell them about the flags that flew everywhere, the pride that swelled, and the kindness that overflowed.
I will tell my children my story of 911 knowing that each one of us have our own stories. That each one of us was somehow impacted. That each of our worlds was either dramatically or subtly changed. And I will tell my children my story of 911 so that it will never be forgotten. Because 911 - the horror, the humanity, the victims, the images, the kindness, the pride - is something that needs to be remembered.
Where were you on 911? What is your story?
Posted by Chris at September 11, 2008 6:37 AM
I can't even really comment right now because your post touched me so much I'm just sitting here speechless. Bless you and hug your kids a little closer today.
I was at school, attempting to piece together my schedule for the year. I was wearing a jean dress with flowers sewn on it. I remember watching the news on a tiny 13-inch TV screen in the library. I saw the towers fall. I don't remember ever being so sad or as scared as I was that day. I was in the Cleveland area, just under where Flight 93 pulled a u-turn to head back to its final resting place in Pennsylvania. I have a cousin who was in one of the AmEx buildings near Ground Zero. He was one of the last lucky ones to get across the river on the last ferry.
I visited Ground Zero about 3 years after the attacks, and I have never been so moved as I was at that moment. I was far from the "action," but I still am scarred from that entire horrific day.
What a lovely post, Chris.
Thank you for your post. It was and still is my birthday. I was at work, at a title company in Lincoln, NE. We were at the "new" office that didn't have any television. I remember wanting to see what was happening, but couldn't. We tried to get on the internet, but it was slammed. Waited all day to get home and once I did, oh my gosh! I was glued to the replays of the towers falling. All the shock, hurt, and scared feelings were bubbling to the surface. We are a country that pulled together in the worst of times and came through with our pride and hope. Thank you for your post!
(First of all, happy birthday to Becky who commented before me! I don't know you, but hope it's a good one)
On 9/11, I was at work and my boss came to our cube farm to tell us. I remember all of us watching news coverage in the cafeteria all day, not able to work. Far away from everything here in Michigan, everything here was still closed, and it was just this sense of unity with everyone - we might not have had anything in common otherwise, but we all had something to say to each other.
I realized just a few short weeks later that my oldest daughter was conceived a few days before 9/11 - which honestly changed the whole scope of my further reactions to it... This was the world I'd be bringing a baby in to. I wasn't sure how I felt about that.
To be honest, I prefer to believe that most people are inherently good people - that we're all doing the best we can with what they have got. (I go thru days where I think everyone's an asshole - but I prefer to believe we're doing our best). Though 9/11 was horrific, it never stopped amazing me the things people did to try to help other people.
I was on my honeymoon in the outerbanks. We walked into the inn we were staying at and watched the towers fall on tv. We were so confused, we didn't know if it has just happened, happened yesterday, or what was going on. We sat there the rest of the day. We couldn't get in touch with any family or friends in DC or NYC.
I was taking the kids to school when the radio said a plane had hit the first tower. I was right away suspicious. I gathered with two other friends that morning and we stayed in front of the t.v. and cried as we watched horror after horror.
You are so right. The world changed completely that day.
I was home on maternity leave with my oldest. The television broke into a rerun of Little House on the Prairie to announce what was happening/what had happened. I was watching live when the second plane hit, and I was still watching live as people jumped from the highest windows and as the towers came down. I sat there in my living room holding my 7 week old son and watched people die. My husband was at work, out on a farm call, so he had no idea what was going on. I spoke to my dad several times over the course of the day.
I will never forget. No one ever should.
I was at work in a very busy office in Oklahoma City. Suddenly the phones quit ringing, then one of the guys called in and told us about it. We essentially shut down the office and spent the day watching it on tv. 911 brought back so many memories for all of us here in OK...
I actually saw the entire events unfold LIVE, as I was working in a Judge's chamber and my court clerk heard that the WTC had been hit on the radio. The Judge had a TV in her office and we were glued to it. I live in NJ, so it seemed very nearby. One of the attorneys in chambers at the time (ironically, now my boss), her husband was supposed to be in, at or near the WTC at that time and she was a nervous wreck trying to track him down. Thankfully, he wasn't there at the time.
I'll be posting on my site today about my 9-11 story. Please stop by.
I was sitting at the checkout desk at the elementary school library and the librarian came out and said her husband said something hit one of the towers. I thought she was crazy but he kept calling with updates and then the principal came around and confirmed it.
I've been to ground zero a few times and also have pictures in one of my rooms of the view from the Statue of Liberty ferry with and without the towers.
I was also in Oklahoma...in my office just a mile from the the Murrah bombing site (where I was during the Murrah bombing too). I remembered the horror I felt that day and thought of all those having to go thru the same feelings...wondering about their loved ones...were they safe...where were they?
Then I turned off the TV and didn't watch for days because I knew what would happen after that point as I had lived it before and didn't care to live it again.
I live in NJ, and on 9/11 I arrived at work to find the office empty but the lights and radio on. I remember being annoyed because the radio was turned up way too high and thinking how people always did that b/c they didn't sit right next to it like me - and then I heard the DJ say something about a plane hitting the WTC and right then my boss burst in the door to tell me a plane hit the WTC and we're under attack and come to the coffee shop to see it on the TV. So we rushed up the street to get in front of a TV - just in time to see the 2nd plane hit. I immediately tried calling my brother-in-law who worked a couple blocks from the WTC and took the PATH train there every morning. Couldn't reach him and immediately went to my sister's house so she wouldn't have to wait alone to hear from him. She was on the phone with a guy in his office when the 1st tower collapsed. The guy on the phone freaked out b/c his building was shaking and he had no idea why, and then he hung up b/c he was being evacuated. When my brother-in-law called (he was fine, thank goodness), it turned out his train was diverted and he had only just learned why. Somehow he wound up in midtown and was walking around trying to find a way home - I remember us telling him to get away from any really tall buildings which, uh, yeah, not so easy to do in NYC. Finally he got on a Ferry and made it home that way. I still remember standing out on my sister's front lawn when we heard this low rumble and thought it was another plane coming in (they turned right over my town before they headed for lower Manhattan) but when we looked up it was fighter jets. I never thought the sight of fighter jets would inspire such relief, but it did.
Now I work a few blocks south of the WTC. I take the PATH through there every morning and it still freaks me out - though not as much as it did at first. I just try not to look, b/c otherwise it's a really depressing way to start the day. Couldn't fall asleep last night and have been procrastinating leaving the house this morning (should be getting there right about now), b/c I'm freaked about making the same commute so many people made 7 years ago not knowing what was about to happen to them. Most people at my job are working from home today b/c it'll be so crowded downtown (unfortunately I can't work from home today b/c I'm training someone), but otherwise they seem completely unaffected by the whole thing. I guess a lot of people are just better at not thinking about this stuff.
I was sitting at home with a 1mth old on maternity leave. Suddenly horrified at the world my son had been born into, and then amazed at the human kindness that was exhibited, and then disgusted at how that goodwill was squandered by our administration.
It happened just after lunch our time. I was the first in the office to know as I got a news flash email from the Guardian newspaper (I subscribe to a fair amount of news emails). One of my colleagues didn't believe me and thought it was a hoax. The major UK and US news websites all seemed to be clogged up with other people all trying to get on so I used an Australian one to find out what was going on, figuring they were still asleep. I think we all spent the rest of the afternoon talking about it.
I'd arranged to go to the cinema with a friend that evening and we still went, I can't remember what the film was but I do remember watching the footage of what had happened on the news when I got home.
In the city I was living in at the time, Sheffield, there is something called the Peace Gardens, just a nice public space where people hang out. On the Friday it seemed like just about everyone in the city centre had gone there for a 2 minute silence. I don't normally participate in things like that but it just felt like the right thing to do, even if wasn't practically helpful.
The blog I posted last night was about that sky.
You are not alone.
I have a story of that day, just like everyone else. But this morning is what's heavy on my mind. I came into the city over the Memorial Bridge, and the clouds were Just So - the sun looming behind, spreading rays of light over the skyline of our city, and it took my breath away.
Hug everyone a little closer today.
I was home (still living with my parents) getting ready for work. I turned on the TV to check the weather and instead saw coverage of what was happening. I went upstairs and got my daughter out of her crib (she was 5 months old at the time) and held her close. Crying, kissing her sweet little head. And feeling incredibly guilty that I brought her into a world where things like this happen. My parents were gone, but I went and woke up my younger sister (she was 17 and I was 22) and told her she needed to come downstairs with me. She must have seen something in my face, because she didn't hesitate. Instead, she grabbed my hand and I led her down the stairs. The three of us sat curled up together on the couch for hours, never letting go of hands, crying and never loosening my hold on my daughter.
You are right Chris, the world changed that day. Even after 7 years, I still cannot even begin to comprehend what happened that day. Like many others said, I saw the second plane strike. But one of the images I find most horrifying is when people started jumping out of buildings.
My wife had a dentist appointment that morning, so I was working from home and keeping an eye on the kids. This was our house in Leesburg. I was at the kitchen table going through email with Good Morning America on the TV in the background, so I saw the whole thing unfold. Then I went into the office in Tysons and we could see the smoke from the Pentagon from our office Windows. The company shut all offices nationwide shortly after I got in so I went back home.
I don't think the world really changed that day. There has always been evil in the world. The fact that the US took the brunt of it on one day doesn't mean that "everything" changed. I refuse to live in fear. When we do that, the terrorists truly have won.
I was in college, that's for sure, but I am actually kind of hazy on which apartment I was living in at the time. I know my roommates and I were getting ready for class when we turned on the TV and one of them, Tina, came out and told us to look at CNN. That was right before the second plane hit. We saw it live. Then deduced that we probably were not having classes. We were right.
My father was working in Jersey that year and he could see the plumes of smoke across the bay. Just the day before he had had a meeting in the Twin towers and he was utterly thankful that the meeting was not on the 11th!
I was about to get the girls up for school (I'm in CA) and was tuned in to GMA on ABC. Their first news sounded non threatening but soon it was obvious what had happened.
I called both my sons (one was Army Reserve at the time and is now in Iraq) and kept watching in disbelief.
And then I kept the girls out of school. I wasn't afraid for their safety exactly but instinctively knew I wanted them close to me and I wanted to be the one who told them what I happened.
My t.v. stayed on for days. You don't remember the JFK assassination of course but this felt the same to me only on a much larger scale. It seemed like the entire country stopped.
I worked 5 blocks from the WTC in 2001. I was on my way to work and was walking between the building, right by the big fountain thats now a statue in Battery Park at the time of the first plane hit. I hate this day because I hate reliving all the images in my head of planes, smoke, falling bodies but at the same time its something we can never forget.
Damn. Seven years? I was at work when the towers were hit -- someone heard about it on the radio -- and they sent us all home early. I worked at the art museum and the powers that be thought that "they" might decide to target Philadelphia landmarks. I didn't really think anyone was coming for Philly but I WAS a little nervous driving over that bridge on the way home.
I went in late to work that morning, as I was recovering from a miscarriage that had happened 3 days earlier. I didn't have the TV or radio on at home, so the first I heard of it was walking into a co-worker's office and finding people crowded around a radio in shock. I was on staff at a church, so we jumped into action arranging a prayer service for that evening. We prayed for the victims and the perpetrators that night, even as we didn't yet understand the scope of the loss.
Exactly one year later, my first child -- a daughter -- was born. Several other patients of my OB had asked to be induced so that their children would not have a 9/11 birthday. But to me, my daughter's birthday redeems the day. And as awful as that day was, I remember that even in the midst of death, life cannot be stopped.
I was starting a new job at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” but was also working on my second degree so I had class at the University on the other side of town in the morning and was heading into work around lunchtime. My normal routine was to watch the Today show and the first 15 minutes of Regis and Kelly – that would give me enough time to walk into my financial accounting class exactly 5 minutes late (the professor always said he could set his watch by me – I hated the class, loved the professor). That day, oddly, I turned off the tv at 8:40. Didn’t hear anything until I was on the road listening to the shock jocks on a local station – they were oddly subdued and were talking about a plane hitting the WTC. I tried calling my mother who was in NJ with my grandmother who had just had triple bypass surgery the month before – wouldn’t connect. Called my dad who told me he thought it was a small plane and he was still planning on heading to Gainesville to visit my brother and sister. I flipped the radio station to the local simulcast and listened to the first tower fall before blindly finding my way to class. I walked in – 15 minutes late this time – and was shocked that class was business as usual. There was no way I could concentrate.
Fast forward to my second class – the professor was a small Israeli man who I adored (he loved chocolate and Madonna – it was so much fun to listen to him talk). I walked into the classroom to find him with the television on and tears streaming down his face. He offered to let anyone use his office phone to check on family. About 10 minutes after the class period started, a runner came around and told us to leave – they were shutting down the University.
Obviously, I never made it to my new job that day. I went back to my old location (a resort) and helped manage a team serving food to people at the “Happiest Place on Earth” on the saddest day in America until 2am.
I remember the rain in the afternoon (a tropical storm was threatening us that day too) – I remember thinking about how it was tears for all of the people who lost their lives and for all of the children who would never know the world before 9-1-1.
Chris – your post is beautiful. Thank you.
We were living in a Boston suburb and I was at home limping around with a newly broken toe while attempting to keep up with my then 21 month old daughter. I turned on the Today show moments after the first tower was hit--when it still seemed possible that it was an accident--and I saw the second plane hit.
I grabbed my daughter and called my husband at work. The people in his office had no idea anything was happening. I told him he had to come home immediately, and he did.
I remember the sky as well, Chris, and I agree it has never been as blue since that day. I remember being so confused, so terrified, looking up into a sky so blue, so still, and knowing everthing, every single thing, had just shifted.
I still remember the day with disbelief. The alarm went off for an early morning shift and I lay in bed listening to the news before getting up. Being on the other side of the world, the early morning news was all about the confusion of what was happening in the US. I remember thinking that someone must be pranking the radio station, that the world really couldn't be turned upside down.
I turned on the TV and with watched with disbelief as the second tower was hit. The reports were confusing and disturbing and no one seemed to know what was happening. I was stunned and in shock when I went to wake my husband before heading to work.
I spent the day at work watching the constant news updates and fielding calls questioning if we were safe in Australia, would Melbourne be next? I tried to sound convincing but I had no idea what was happening or why it was happening. My thoughts kept drifting to thoughts of all the brave people, the firefighters, medics and police who were walking into terrifying situations to try and save others.
For me the tragedy continued and was much closer to home with the Bali bombings on October 12 the following year. Throughout it all, stories of human strength and endurance have made me realise that despite the horrors the strength of the human spirit is amazing.
I as living near an Air Force base in OH, and I was sleeping and awoke to a phone call from my family telling me about the tragedy, and I could not believe it. I was in shock. My husband was pretty much stuck on base until they could figure out what was happening.
When he got home we stayed glued to the TV and then it was just too much for me. Later that afternoon I heard a loud thunderous noise and I really hadn't heard that before (even living near a military base) but it ended up being fighter planes. Everyone on our street all came out of their houses scared that somewhere in our town something had happened too. Very scary.
Thanks for the great post and reminding us all that we should never forget. Our country should always remember the kindness and the brave spirit that was shown by so many people during that tragedy.
I was getting ready for work.
More importantly, I was watching my then infant son, playing innocently in his room when I heard the reports over the radio.
I scooped him up, and walked into our bedroom to check out the TV, and I was holding him in my arms when the second plane hit. Then we watched together as things began to crumble and fall.
I was a newspaper reporter at the time, in the midwest, and knew I needed to get into the office as soon as I could. But watching that, disbelieving what I saw, and then letting it sink in as I got ready for work, it was clear that things were changing.
And when I left that morning, I lingered at the door longer than usual, watching my infant son playing oblivious to what had happened. I'd never been scared to leave him with our sitter, but that morning I was.
After the day was over, I came home, hugged my son, sat and watched the coverage and cried.
Beautiful post, Chris.
Happy birthday, Becky!
I was standing at my office window watching it all unfold. My office building was/is four blocks from the WTC and directly across from the NYSE. I walked through the debris from Wall Street and Broadway (where Trinity Church is) to Grand Central Station. I hit the major subway hubs in crooked/diverted route to see if the trains had resumed service, so I wouldn't have to walk all the way home. I got home at 6:00 p.m., took a shower, feed my dogs, sat in front of the television and cried for about two days.
Seven years later and I can close my eyes and see the planes hit, see the buildings burning, see the people jumping, see the buildings fallin, see the ash coming towards the office windows, feel the numbness of walking through the ash, hear my own voice in my head chanting that I had to get home to the dogs, see the debris from companies that were housed in the WTC, feel the panic-hope that the debris would only be litigation bags and papers and not something else, the quiet at home because no planes were flying overhead, remember the first walk through Ground Zero to get to my office, etc. I try not to think about it often.
You know what gets me? EVERYONE had a perfect fall day with a clear blue sky that day. I know I did in Ohio. How many times to you get a day that perfect across the whole country? It's too bad it had to end up being something so awful.
My husband was in Manhattan (not too far from the towers) and I was home with a newborn and a toddler. I was scared shitless until I heard from him 2 hours later. I'm trying not to obsess today, because that time and the days following when he couldn't get home were some of the most emotional of my life, and I have no desire to re-visit those feelings.
(p.s. this is Amy formerly at PsychoBabble)
Excellent post. It was horrible to watch on TV--I can't imagine seeing it up close. I just wrote my recollections of that day on my blog as well.
i was sitting on a wooden bench in a stairway landing at the junior high school where i worked, doing a math worksheet with an autistic student, a fifth grader, my favorite... his case manager interrupted our lesson to tell me quietly and privately what had just happened, but he sensed immediately the change in tone. as was his typical reaction (and as is typical for many on the autism spectrum), he became agitated and awkwardly giggly; he refused to comply with most of all direction he was given for the remainder of the day. and when the principal made a school-wide intercom announcement at the day's close, my student made several outbursts of forced laughter mixed with verbal aggression and ridicule. i remember looking right into his eyes and allowing myself to completely understand that he had no other way to cope with this situation, and i could hardly punish him for his inappropriate behavior. each of us responded in our own way that day, and how dare i not grant him the same luxury? it was a very revealing display of the challenges that population faces with social/emotional function. and it was both perplexing and heartbreaking.
i think of him today, and will every damn 'anniversary' to come i suppose.
be well, all...
It's true, the sky was so remarkably clear and blue that day. We lost quite a few people in my hometown (my parents still live there, it's a suburb of NYC), and a few close friends. Eve more friends of ours had to survive the experience.
I have a copy of President Bush's speech following the attacks (his formal address to the country, not the bullhorn speech), and we kept copies of the major newspapers so that we can talk to our children about September 11 someday when they learn about it in school. But honestly, I think that for those of us who lived through it, there is a tactile quality to the memory that we'll never be able to let go of.
I was up at the crack of dawn to go to my work study at USC (international graduate student gets no respect, I swear...) I came out of the shower and found Brandon on the couch, watching TV. I thought to myself, why would he be up this early to watch an action movie...and by the way what movie is THAT? Then he said, "We're under attack. You are NOT going to Downtown LA today." His friend called to wake him up.
I called work and settled down on the couch. Me and Peter Jennings didn't leave each other until nightfall.
Amazing that the details come back to us all with such clarity. My mom called me in the AM to tell me to turn on the tv. My husband (not then, just live-ins at the time) compained that she woke him up when he was staying home sick. I told him a plane hit the twin towers. He went back to sleep. She called again when the second plane hit. "Another plane?" He asked sarcastically. "Yes." He didn't go back to sleep that time. I went to work at my law library, where we had a spontaneous flood and spent the AM saving books from the water. Stopped to do mid-morning interviews, which were surreal, then watched tv at work all day. When I went to teach my night class at the University, only about half my students were there. We talked about it. A LOT. The past spring, one of my students in aadvanced composition was a practicing Muslim, and it was him I thought of most that week. Emailed him to be sure he was safe from the anti-Muslim frenzy in the air. Thanked him for having taught me alot about his culture so I was less apt to join the frenzy. Spent the whole week marveling at the empty sky.
i live in portland, so i was still in bed when the towers were hit. i woke up early and for some reason felt like i had to go out to the living room and turn on the tv instead of getting in the shower for work. when i turned on the tv, both towers were still standing, but burning. i don't think i've ever felt the kind of disbelief i felt that morning watching them crumble minutes later. like it had to be a movie. it couldn't possibly be CNN. i felt so helpless and disconnected watching that happen to actual people from my living room three thousand miles away. it was years before i could start my morning without checking the news first...
It was my first day of work at the job I still have. My husband was still sleeping, so I did not turn on the TV. When I got in my car and turned the radio on, I did not realize the magnitude of what was happening. Needless to say, it was a very strange first day at work. And the whole company knows how long I've been here.
Thank you Chris. Your post was very moving. I wrote, too.
I remember one of my coworkers coming in from his smoke break and telling me that one of the employees from one of the nearby FDA building telling him of the first plane crashing into the WTC. I tried to log onto one of the newspaper websites, but they were not loading. I scrounged through the closet to find a beat up radio that I know was tucked away, and managed to find a station that had decent reception. By then, the second crash had taken place, and it started to dawn on all of us that something huge was going on. When news of the Pentagon crash spread, a number of my coworkers began frantic calls to loved ones' cell phones. My husband was doing demonstrations for the band program, and I was lucky that I knew which school he was at for the day- I left a message with the school secretary and on his mobile phone to say that I was going to be at my mom's with the kids, and I would speak to him later in the day. My mom and I sat in her living room, watching the non stop news, and we let Princess watch videos on the big TV in the den. She was confused about my presence, since I never came over for lunch on a work day. It was sort of surreal to see people I knew on the news over the next few days, since nothing like this had ever happened so close to my home and office before.
I doubt my daughter remembers any of it, and my older son was only about as old as Owen is now. I'll never be able to explain exactly what it felt like on that day, and I hope neither of them (nor their brother, who didn't make his appearance until 2003) never experience any of those feelings first-hand.
Beautiful post Chris.
I was at home, because our buildings were closed (the LA version of the twin towers) and I watched TV all day and called everyone I knew. Six months pregnant wondering what kind of world I was about to bring my baby into.
I was in college in Florida, sleeping in because I didn't have a class until 2:30, and one of my roommates came in and said that we had to get to a tv because someone had bombed the WTC. We huddled in the rotunda in a crowd of people too shocked to cry, and I thought about how I had just had breakfast in the bottom of the WTC a month before when I fainted on the subway, and about how the day before had been my mother's birthday and I had forgotten to call her. And I couldn't get through to any family or friends in NYC or DC and was nearly frantic with worry.
Today, I'm getting on an airplane for a little vacation. I still never get on an airplane without a little twinge, but fear isn't going to stop me from going on adventures.
Well said. I posted my story today as well. It took me 7 years to do it.
I was living in RI, home sick from work when my sister called and told me to turn on the tv because a plane had flown into the WTC. I turned on the tv and watched the second plane hit and people jumping off of the burning towers.
My little brother was 15 at the time, 5 years later he was in the army and on the way to Iraq. I'm so grateful that he's home, safe, and out of that horrible mess.
I walked the kids to school today and was relieved it was a cloudy, overcast morning. A beautiful blue sky on 9/11 is too much to take.
I live just outside NYC. I was sitting in my son's 3 year old preschool class that day -- from 9-10am I think. I came out to chaos. His preschool was in our temple and the rabbi was out in the lobby consoling people. When I heard what happened I raced home to my 7 month old daughter and to 10 or more messages on my answering machine from freaked out family members asking about my husband. My husband worked in the WTC, for Aon, on the 102nd floor. He was late to work that day because it was our son's first day of school. He got out of the subway just after the second plane hit -- everyone was standing still, staring up in disbelief at the plumes of smoke. He lost so many friends and colleagues that day. When he finally managed to get home we just held each other and sobbed.
The whole year following 9/11/01 is somewhat of a blur for me -- so much sadness, so many memorial services, such anger. It's true that time heals wounds -- it hurts less each year. But it still hurts like hell. My kids are now almost 10 and 7 and they know some pieces of the story, but they're still not ready to hear the whole story.
I had taken the boy to school and was running errands or something. I was in the car when I heard it start to unfold on the radio, I didn't believe it and raced home to watch everything live.
What I remember the most about those early days, was despite all odds--everyone had hope for their loved ones and we were all joined together as a nation in our wanting to help, grief and pain.
Most of the world joined us in our outrage and concern and I found it profoundly touching and surprising.
I find it sickening to think how 9/11 was used afterwards and how all that goodwill was wasted and squandered. Who knows what could have been accomplished had we had a president that reacted differently and not marched us off to war in Iraq.
Can you believe that it has been 7 years since that horrible morning of September 11, 2001? I remember, as I'm sure most Americans do, exactly where I was and how I was told. I was riding in the car with my dad on the way to my parent's business where I went before school, somewhat asleep in the car, and it came over the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Towers. At first it came across as just a small plane, nothing major. It wasn't until we got to the office and turned the news on that we saw what really happened. A jumbo jet had flown into the building. A few minutes later, another. Later on, a plane crashes in Pennsylvania. We seriously didn't know when it was going to end, if it was going to end.
I ended up not going to school that day, mostly because like I said above, we didn't know if it was going to end. All we could do was stare at the television in shock. Unbelievable. Was this really happening? Of course it was, we were watching it.
In those days I was working across the river in Jersey. I'd take the subway to WTC and from there walk under WTC (there was a large shopping mall there) and change to the Path train.
When the first tower was hit I was on the phone with a client and honestly neither of us thought much of it. Then the first tower fell and people started freaking out. Our building was evacuated. There were huge glass doors in the front. Right as I walked outside I saw the second tower go down. It roared loudly and smelled really bad.
Many were trapped in the trains and died when all the water came in.
People started coming aross the river via ferry. Everyone was really messed up. I was stuck in Jersey until around 11pm, when transport back into Manhattan was allowed.
In Manhattan people were being sprayed down before boarding transit because of all the dust and possible toxins.
We had a week off from work. (Financial industry)
That was a horrible week for everyone- I spent time down at the Armory helping out. The streets throughout Manhattan were literally plastered with pictures of lost relatives and that was the saddest thing I have ever seen.
Well put, simply put. I love how everyone has their own story, but everyone comes to the same conclusion.
My friend overslept and missed his 5:30 flight into NYC. My other friend woke up, stepped outside and said, Funny, the WTC in on fire.
He hopped on the subway, and stepped out into hell.
I was on the phone, trying to call them that day, all day, just frantic.
Thanks for this post.
I had just come downstairs from my dorm room to the cafeteria, planning to eat before class. I was standing in the lobby next to a good friend who came from NYC... each of us stopping to stare at the TV because everyone around us was doing it and we were curious as to what was so interesting. I can remember reaching over to grab his hand at the exact moment he reached over to grab mine. And then we wrapped our arms around each other and cried.
I spent the rest of the day in my room glued to the TV with my best friend's boyfriend, waiting for her to call and watching in horror as people jumped from the towers rather than burn alive. My best friend had left that morning to drive to Long Island, and we waited and waited, worried that she'd gotten caught up in it all. I can remember spending a very large portion of that night just staring at the television, unable to turn away even though I knew I would never ever be able to forget what I was seeing.
In a factory in rural Pennsylvania, trying to reach one of my good friends who had, unbeknownst to me, switched jobs the week before from working on one of the top floors of the WTC to a job a few blocks away.
He is now married with a little boy about Owen's age.
It was such a surreal day - I still remember feeling like I was walking in a fog all day. The thing I still remember most clearly is how strange it was to not see or her any planes in the sky.
Today strikes us all differently, but I had to write about it too.
]I worked in IT at a law school (we also managed the AV supplies). A friend called me to give me the news about the first hit. I figured it was just another one of those small planes that hit the towers/empire state building every few years. Then after all the web sites I tried to hit to get the news started to get overloaded and failed, I decided it was time to turn to TV.
We didn't have any cable TV hookups in the building ... and since it was a big concrete building, regular rabbit ears wouldn't pick up any signal, even if we had a set of rabbit ears to use.
But I did manage to wheel one of our big TV's on a cart to the front of our library circulation desk area. I then found some scrap wire, and managed to rig up an antenna that got a usable signal by climbing on the circ desk and taping said stripped wire to a bare spot on water pipe behind the suspended ceiling. Word spread throughout the building quickly - and the somewhat cramped quarters by the circ desk filled up as well all watched the 2nd plane hit and the towers collapse.
One of my truly great MacGyver moments ... I just wish it was a memory of a happier event. And I'm glad I was able to help the students, staff, and faculty that came by have a chance to 'be there' for the event. The fact that it was such a 'primitive' way of getting the news makes it all the more real to me to this day.
I also made sure we got a cable TV feed into the building so that future events were a bit easier to cover.
I will never forget where I was that day. I was getting ready for work (I was a high school English teacher) and was watching the TV and saw the first plane crash into the towers. I did not think it was real. Then I saw a second plane and I was just stunned. Completely speechless; could barely move. Getting through that day was horrible. To make matters worse I had a student whose uncle worked in the Trade Center. He was anxiously awaiting news. A few days later I got a call from the counselling dept. telling me his uncle had been killed and they wanted me to tell him right there. I was a brand new teacher with no counseling or grief experience. I refused unless they provided me with someone on hand prepared to help this young man when the news was broken to him.
I agree that our country, our way of life was forever altered on that day and I too will someday have to explain that horrible day and all its implications to my children. I hope I can do it as eloquently as your post!
I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby. 5 days earlier a nurse slipped at my doctor's appointment and told me I was having a girl. I remember that day so vividly because I was so mad someone told me. Now I think back and realize that day was one of the last few days before the world changed. The morning of 9/11 I was awakened by my best friend calling to say a plane had hit one of the towers. I then saw the second one hit live. I clutched at my huge belly wondering what kind of world I was bringing my baby girl into. I too marveled at how much evil could come out of such a beautiful sky. Today I looked up and saw that same sky. Many people commented on it. We all felt the irony in our guts. But today, 7 years later I have the most beautiful daughter. She has sprouted long legs, beautiful thick hair, round deep brown eyes, a sweet sweet smile and a genuine love for life. Just as I hugged my belly 7 years ago, today I am hugging my big baby girl and her younger brother. Rules are out the window tonight. Pizza picnic dinner on the living room floor and a later bed time so we can snuggle in bed reading stories. Daddy is on a plane tonight which makes me uneasy but we'll get through. Thank goodness for my children and the fact that they don't have the weight of this day on their shoulders.
The thing I remember most about that day is crying on the way to work. I live on the west coast so this unfolded in front of me while I was getting ready. I saw the plane hit the second tower...I watched in horror and shock as the towers collapsed...
I got in my car and drove to work...and cried as I listened to the news on my radio. I did NOT want to go to work. I wanted to stay home with my family and my friends and my neighbors and my dog. I drove and wondered if all these people knew what was happening. I remember sitting in the parking lot at work and fixing my face so I didn't look like I had just cried all the way to work. I went in and commandeered my coworkers radio and listened to it while working. We were finally sent home two hours later.
I don't remember the sky...just the shock. And the eerie quiet of having no planes in the air (I live in an area with lots of ag and thus lots of crop dusting)...and that eerie quiet went on for days.
You must be brave because I could barely see through the tears after reading your beautiful post let alone after all the wonderful comments...how do you DO that?
Beautiful post Chris.
I was at home, preparing to go to work in the Los Angeles offices of Cantor Fitzgerald that morning. We lost 658 colleagues that day. This year is the first 9/11 I haven't spent in a Cantor office, actually.
I still have a hard time watching ANY coverage of anything 9/11. After glutting myself on it in the days and weeks immediately following it, I just can't watch it without breaking down.
It was my second year teaching middle school. I was still a kid myself, really. No one knew what to do. At first I didn't believe it when a student told me to turn on CNN. There it was. The first tower with smoke pluming out of it. I honestly could not comprehend it. It had to be a joke, a hoax, a movie. Shortly after that the building shook with a deafening noise as B2 bombers flew over the building from a nearby Air Force base. I still remember with odd clarity the deafening silence that descended over my room at that moment. It was all very real in that one moment.
The rest of the day was a blur. Unfathomable questions coming from students. I just wanted to get home, to hug my husband. To know he was alright even though we were 1,100 miles away from the event. When he finally did get home we sat and watched CNN for what felt like hours, in shock, in horror, in fear.
you sometimes, have such a beautiful way with words.
Living along the shore in Long Branch NJ I was close enough and far enough away.
I was at the med cart at work on the second floor getting Harry Z****'s medicines together when news of the first crash came from the TV down the hall. I was still running the physics of the first crash through my mind when the second plane hit the towers and like so many others I thought, "Now wait. One is odd enough- but two?", and then the day unfolded.
I remember work went numb. There were power outages and the building got so quiet with so many of our coworkers off on ambulances and fire trucks and such to go try to help. We kept most media off to keep the more confused residents from over-absorbing. We did a lot of sitting around and talking.
From the days that followed I remember picking up a Daily News every day afer work to read it on my living room floor and just cry. I remember the ocean being extraordinarily rough though the days were sunny and no storms were pending.
I too remember thinking how our world would never be the same. Something tender and trusting was ruined that day.
I'd forgotten until I read other's comments how obvious it was to not have planes flying over-
and how I cringed fearfully for an awfully long time after 9/11/01 every time one did
I left work and took my child out of school early. I remember being unable to turn off the television for days. But it really hit home how absolutely thorough the damage was spread, when more than two years had passed but the fingers of it reached out and touched our lives directly. It was in the form of a woman at my child's daycare having a violent breakdown in front of the children. We learned later that she had been a flight attendant and was only a few blocks from the towers that day. Because she regularly flew to the Middle East, she was placed on a "watch list". She couldn't even get a driver's license years later. Eventually her life was destroyed. I imagine that new moments like it are still happening every day.
Thanks for this post, Chris. You've got a way with not missing what are the important bits.
I'm well past 27 posts again in the ol' reader, and I'm just returning from a trip to New York. This post caught my eye...
I had AP Biology for first period my senior year of high school. We made it through the entire class, oblivious. When I walked into Economics for second period, the TV was on, and they were telling us what had happened. My thoughts were jumbled. The TV boasted smoldering columns, frantic anchormen and frightening images of a city gone crazy (and with due cause). I sank into my blue plastic in disbelief.
We opted not to have class that day. Instead, we just stared at the TV for forty five minutes wondering what in the hell this would mean for us individually and as a country.
Feels like yesterday.
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