image from US Navy
I woke up to hear a voice on the radio saying that two planes had crashed into the twin towers. I knew instantly it was no accident, but I had no way to compute the information with my pre-9/11 mindset. Then I turned on the TV, and I knew our world was changed forever. And I held my children close and wept.
Where were you?
I was just getting into the office. I worked at 1701 Penn., right next to the White House. I saw the first plane, followed by the second, crash and I yelled at my office mates, “I’m getting the fuc* out of here–they’re coming for the White House next.”
I called my husband and he said, his voice strangled sounding, “Cutie, it’s burning.” He was staring out his window watching the flames shoot up from the Pentagon.
I’ve never been so freakin’ scared, Piper.
That sounds terrifying, El. It was scary enough from Colorado, but to be right there . . . Thank you for sharing your experience.
Holy Hell, El…that’s brutal. You and your husband both must have been scared down to the bone.
Reblogged this on EditorEtc and commented:
Short & sweet, Piper. To the point & straight to the heart.
I was on the phone with my sister-in-law. We were going to meet for lunch. We didn’t. 🙁
I remember the country froze.
I had a post locked and loaded — and then my friend called. And then your post came up. Or recollections are similar — except I watched it live while it happened. I hope that never happens again. Ever.
So now my post is up. Feel free to link up. If you care to. So glad I “know” you. One of the best things to happen to me — post 9/11.
You do a brilliant job of capturing the moment. What do You Remember Eleven Years Later?
I was my mother’s caregiver at that time. At the moment of attack, I was in prayer in the living room. When she told me what had just happened, I thought my sons, one who worked in NYC, and the other, a USMC Captain, at the time. I knew he would soon be called into action as a result of the attack on our nation.
Oh, Kim! How terrifying for a mother! Are your sons okay?
Thanks for the question, Piper. Yes, both are thriving. One son (the one who lived in Brooklyn and worked in NYC at the time) now lives in Sweden with his family. The other, now a USMC Lt. Colonel, lives in California with his family. (When I replied, yesterday, I accidentally cut off this reply. ;-))
Please thank your son and his fellow Marines for doing so much to give me my freedom today.
You’re welcome, J.
I second what Holmes said. And thank you for your sacrifice, too. It’s so very hard on mothers, spouses, siblings, and children.
You’re welcome, Piper. Terry’s been over to Iraq more times than I have fingers to count. Even been over to Afghanistan, too.
Wow. What torture for a mother.
Thanks, Piper. He’s been at a base when he’s been over there, but still….. Well, all I can do is pray and be thankful for the phenomenal mover-and-shaker Terry has become.
I was getting ready for work and oblivious. My husband called and told me to turn on the TV. I was stunned. I didn’t know how to explain those images to my then-3-year-old.
I know what you mean about explaining to the children. My son was five and my daughter was three. I didn’t know it for another seven years, but son understood enough that it has shaped him and his life goals. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I was not in the USA that morning. I called my father and my wife and asked them to keep our children as isolated from the news as possible.
I was sitting in 8th grade sitting in my history class, watching history take place on a little TV screen. School didnt’ let out, but everyone was basically glued to the TV all day. We pretty much milled around the school in confusion. I watched a lot of news that day as I wanted to know what was going on. Many others didn’t. It didn’t seem real then, and now eleven years later it still doesn’t.
Surreal. That is the word that still keeps coming back. Do you remember how different things were here in America before that day, or were you still too young?
I remember some of it. We weren’t as paranoid, for one thing. Mostly I remember that economically speaking things were much better. For people like me and mine in the working class and lower middle class typically things don’t change a whole lot–it’s always tough–but at least then there was more stability.
Plus people didn’t seem to be as mean, for lack of a better word, as they are now. Probably because they weren’t afraid to the point of paranoia (a paranoia stoked by Patriot Acts and TSA pat downs and terror threat levels, I might add). Plus the fact that the attacks happened when the internet was taking off didn’t help, as conspiracy theories flourished in their wake out there in the wild hinterlands of the electronic frontier, further stoking paranoia.
I think you’re right. People weren’t as paranoid. But back then, we didn’t have as much to be paranoid about. I would elaborate, but I am a bit more paranoid than I used to be, too.
I was in the middle of teaching a class at NASA. One student kept checking his phone (which, admittedly, was starting to drive me crazy) then finally he raised his hand and informed the class that something was happening in New York.
We tried logging on to CNN.com but the sites were overwhelmed and we couldn’t get any information, so we adjourned to the media room. The room is like a small movie theater, complete with a gigantic stream where we could view the news.
We watched as the second plane hit. It didn’t seem real. We were watching it unfold on a movie screen, but it wasn’t a movie.
As I stood there, I could hear announcements over the PA announcing what threat level we were on. Being a non-essential employee (a contractor) I was informed that I should get out while I could. Once the threat level reaches a certain point, the whole campus goes into lockdown – no one in, no one out.
By the time my car passed the final checkpoint, they’d raised the threat level again and went into lockdown. I’d just managed to make it out in time to get home to my (very scared) sister.
I’m glad you made it home to your sister. That sounds like it was very intense, not only because of the attack, but because of the lockdown and the possibility that you would be stuck there away from your family. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I was at home alone, and my nephew called me to ask if I knew about it. I thought he was kidding at first. My post yesterday (http://davidnwalker.com/2012/09/10/lets-never-forget/) was on the same subject.
Thank you for the link, David. I don’t think “forgive” requires us to be stupid, and I don’t recall anything in scripture about forgetting.
I was home, in my office, for the first time in three months. My husband was in the hospital, had been for six weeks, and this was the first time I had dared come home. (It was such an odd thing, trying to later explain to someone, when they were finally coherent enough to understand, what had happened while he was in and out of consciousness and lucidity–I don’t think he ever really got it, not like I or anyone who watched it happen did) My best friend called. All she said was “Turn on the TV. Any channel.” I watched in shock for a few minutes. Then went to wake my sister, who was staying with me to help for a couple of weeks. I knocked on the guest room door and said “You might want to get up. We’re at war.” I went back to my office and my phone call, and we watched in horrified shock. When the first tower went down, my friend kept saying “No, no, it couldn’t have, it must have been the camera angle.” I didn’t argue, I knew what I’d seen, and moments later it was confirmed.
The first thing I did this morning was put out the flag. As I do every year. And will continue to do, no matter what.
Wow, Justine. What a difficult time. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Piper, thanks for making it possible to share the events of that harrowing, heartbreaking day! I’ll truly never forget that terrible day as long as I live. We lived in the Bronx at the time – usually a short drive from Ground Zero, if it hadn’t been for the panic in the streets. I actually wrote about it back in 2010, but I updated it today on my blog TALES OF THE EASILY DISTRACTED, if you’re interested in the details:
For us and our loved ones in NYC, “Never Forget” is definitely more than a catchphrase!
That’s a beautiful post, Dorian. Thank you for the link and for sharing your experience.
Thanks for sharing, Piper. Please read my post that describes those moments: http://clearlykristal.com/?p=1117.
Thank you for your link, Kristal, and for sharing your experience. Running is great way to deal with the stress.
I was in my last semester of college. As an elective, I had taken a freshman level anthropology class because I thought it would be easy. I was the oldest student in this class. \
The thing I’ll never forget is that a) the professor refused to cancel class for the day and b) the students were angry/indignant. I still wonder if the students were angry because of the implied disrespect or because they didn’t get a “get out of class free” pass. With that group, I’d have believed either.
Like you, I had no idea all the ways this would change how we function in day-to-day life. I have almost forgotten what pre-9/11 was like.
I make it a point to pull up memories from before. I don’t want to forget the innocence our country had. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Do you think you’d be willing (for a blog post) to write about pre-911 America so we can all remember?
I’ll give that some thought, Catie. Thanks for asking.
I was at home getting ready for the day. It was unusual for us, but we had turned on the TV that morning and were watching the news. The report of the first plane came on, and then we watched in horror as the second one hit. When the towers came crashing down, it seemed so surreal.
Afterward, the skies were so quiet. We lived near an airport and were used to hearing the planes overhead, but all the flights were grounded. Then we started hearing military planes flying over. It felt very real then.
I still think of all of those families who lost loved ones and of the courage of the first responders and many ordinary Americans that day.
It was so quiet, wasn’t it. I had no idea how much noise filled the skies until it wasn’t there, and the military planes did make it very real. No one knew what this would mean to us. I’m not sure we know now. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I’d seen a tiny bit of coverage on my way out to work that morning (we’re on the West Coast) and, as I contract trainer, I had to go to work. I spent the entire drive to work trying to find my mother who worked at Fort Leonard Wood at the time. My brother told me they were on lockdown and their were tanks on the front steps but no one could find my mother.
I was at Kaiser Permanente that day, at an outlying smaller facility and there was no television. I was required to teach four 90 minute sessions and I called my brother on each break. Finally at 4 pm we found my mom – she was safe and fine at a conference but the phone lines were jammed until then. I didn’t get to watch any news coverage until 6 pm that night.
I will never ever forget how hard that was. It was nothing compared to what the citizens of New York experience, but damn difficult all the same.
Wow, Jenny. That had to be excruciating! What a relief when you found your mom. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I woke up, thinking how I’d love to surprise my mom because it was her birthday. But I had to go to work. When I got the paper outside (still in my jammies), the neighbor screamed at me about a plane going into the towers. I ran in to turn on the TV, and then was paralyzed, like most of the country, tears pouring down my face. I saw the second plane hit. I saw the towers fall. And I was so far away in California, that the only thing I could do was cry.
It’s so hard to see people suffering and to be helpless and distant. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I was in college, living in a house with a group of friends. I had just gotten up to get ready for class with two of my friends came in and said the World Trade Center had been bombed. That’s what people thought at first. We went right to the TV and watched as the second plane hit. Being in a group of usually talkative people now absolutely silent and unable to tear our eyes from the screen, all we could do was wait and hope.
When the first tower fell, I stood up off the couch, reaching out. All I wanted to do was catch it. Stop it. Now, the least I can do is remember.
So true! The least we can all do is remember. Thank you for sharing your experience.
That was the day the government sang together.
I remember that. Thank you for reminding me.
I can still remember driving to my 10:30am university English class 11 years ago and listening to something on the radio about all the airports in Canada and the US being closed and the stock exchanges being shut down, and thinking the DJ was making a joke…because why would airports across North America have all closed? I remember thinking it was a stupid joke. It wasn’t until I got to class that I found out it wasn’t a joke. Our professor unofficially canceled class and sent us home. My roommate and I spent the rest of the day watching coverage on the news. One headline still stands out too. It was “Innocence Lost” and I think that summed it up well.
That does sum it up well. A song that was played over and over on the radio was “End of the Innocence.” What a shame when people choose destruction and hate over simply being decent to each other.