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.
One of the many things I remember was how all of the hospitals were preparing to take in survivors, but so few came. People either died, or they walked away.
What do you remember?
Too much. I watched from a New Jersey cliffside.
That must have been incredibly intense. Thank you for your comment.
Shortly after we watched the second tower get hit, our building in Minneapolis was closed by the management as a safety precaution. So many planes were still in the air over the US and no one knew what might be targeted. I worked on the 27th floor and remember that I was the last person to leave the building that morning. The building was so empty and quiet. It was spooky.
I remember the quiet, too, but I am thinking of our skies. I had no idea how much noise came from above until it didn’t. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I remember how beautiful the day was driving into work. I remember hearing my cube neighbor say the first plane hit then standing up demanding to know the type of plane after the second hit. CNN’s website was crashed and getting through to NYC on phone lines was madness. We were evacuated out of downtown Cleveland when one of the planes breached our airspace, but it was a cluster of vehicles in the streets stuck. Howard Stern’s broadcast details was a saving grace. It took me five hours to get contact to my sister in NYC to know she was alright.
Sounds like an excruciating five hours. Interesting that Howard Stern could ever provide a saving grace. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I remember everything down to what I was wearing.
I lived in Houston at the time, and I was driving in to work that morning when the first plane hit. Having had enough of radio DJs, I’d turned off my radio and, therefore, the news. I remember being angry at a work van who was driving erratically and that I was going to report him to the number on his bumper sticker when I got to the office.
I also remember upon first hearing the news from the receptionist, not fully realizing what had happened. I thought it was just a small plane or glider. I had no idea. I then remember joining everyone in the conference room and watching the news with them, including seeing the second plane hit. That’s when I realized what what going on.
I never did report that van. Maybe the driver was afraid for a loved one. Or just upset about what he/she was hearing on the news radio. Besides, I raced home at top speed like a crazy person to hold my family.
I can’t even imagine what it was like for people directly involved and impacted. And I can’t even begin to express how much my heart goes to each and every one of them.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I remember that there was a lot of forgiveness for the small stuff that week.
I had just got up. My brother-in-law told me about what had happened. I watched on my TV. I know it sounds macabre but I had one thought “Why hadn’t someone done this earlier?” I wasn’t hoping that it would happen but the towers were such a symbol of America and what a lot of our enemies thought we stood for. We should not forget, but not dwell. We have to move forward, s**t is happening right now that could make 9/11 look relatively mild.
I agree we should never forget, but we should also never forget that it isn’t over, and there are more terrorists in line who would do as much or worse. Thank you for your comment.
I was later to work than normal that day because I happened to turn on the TV before I headed out the door – just in time to watch the collapse of the south tower in real time on CNN. I knew at that moment I needed to get to the office, that I was facing what promised to be a very long day. Turned out I didn’t know the half of it.
I hustled in, noticing that the main feeders into the Microsoft campus were nearly empty – like Sunday morning. When I got to the office, my message light was blinking. It was a voice mail from an agent in the FBI’s Seattle office, asking for an immediate return call. I sat down and started dialing. The agent they had files they needed to pull apart and examine ASAP. I got the call because my team wrote the software the terrorists used to plan their attack – Microsoft Flight Simulator.
I rallied the team and we got the FBI the help they needed. But then the horror of what had happened started to settle in. We felt like accomplices, as if we were responsible. Honestly, I still do. I held an all hands that day. We talked. We raged. More than a few of us wept. And then we got back to business. We were in beta on a new version of Flight Simulator then. And we had to make a decision. Would we stay true to our slogan, “As real as it gets” or keep the twin towers in place?
Looking back it seems such a little thing. A bit of geometry in a computer game. But it mattered to us. Ultimately, we decided to keep the towers. Yes it was a pretty trivial act of defiance. But it was ours. We refused to let those bastards win.
We still do.
Hi Scott. Thank you for sharing that very personal story. I’m glad that you left the towers in.
Perhaps by now you and your team have come to accept that terrorists will use any modern technology to their advantage along with rocks, water, air etc. The fact that there are rocks available does not cause anyone to pick one up and hit an innocent person with the rock. I will not risk enlightening some very dim and defective minds by pointing out all the easy primitive opportunities that are available to every ill-willed maggot on the planet.
Air traffic would be perilous without the benefit of all the great modern software tools. Stopping all progress and abandoning modern technology would do nothing to slow terrorists. Whatever they lacked we too would lack.
Here in NZ, my wife, who’d been unable to sleep and was listening to talkback radio with earphones, woke me up at around 3 am, our time. ‘Something’s big’s happened in New York’. We got up and turned on the TV – discovering live coverage. We watched it unfold, vicariously via that TV coverage, from half a world away.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
I turn on the radio first thing in the morning to the classical station. That morning there was not music. I listened while reports of the happenings in New York continued to unfold. The first tower had already been hit, but I heard the newscaster all but cry when the second tower was hit.
Meg Cabot was living in NYC at the time, not far from the World Trade Center. She wrote a blog post about her personal experience that day that teachers ask her to re-post every year. The Boatlift that was organized and carried out by civilians is particularly poignant. Here’s the link to her post, if you’re interested: http://www.megcabot.com/2013/09/911-post/
Thanks so much for this link and for sharing your experience.