Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Stories





Today is the anniversary of the acts of terrorism in New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. Each of us will remember where we were and what we were doing that fateful day.






Please share your personal story in the comments.

The rules are simple, the story you share must be:
  • Your own thoughts and rememberances of that day.
  • Free of politics.
  • From the heart.
Anything not following these simple rules will be removed.

47 Comments:

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Sinner said...

September 11th, 2001 was just like any other morning, I got up very early, as usual, and got myself out the door of my suburban Chicago condo, just like hundreds of days before. The heavy Chicago traffic was the same as was the normal banality of talk radio. Nothing different, all routine. I got off the expressway at my regular exit near O'Hare airport. I took my usual route to the office and parked in my usual parking spot. I went up to my office and started working. I did not know that my politics, my belief structure even my very life would change this cool crisp morning.

I took a break from the grind of coding and fired up a web browser to check the news. I couldn't get through to any of my regular news sites. I tried a few non-news sites and also found them to be unreachable. I thought that our IT department might be cracking down on Internet access, so I shrugged my shoulders and went back to work.

Later, a co-worker came to my office to ask if I was OK and why I wasn't in the conference room. Was I late for a meeting? Did I even have a meeting? What was up? That is when I first heard the news. It was surreal, I didn't believe it. This guy was a known joker, it must be a sick joke.

I went to the conference room, people were crying. There was a radio on, I didn't understand the words, but the tone was unmistakable. Something very bad had happened.

We didn't get what we needed from the radio so we all decided to go down to the local shopping district and see if there was a TV display we could use. As we entered the local Target store, there was nobody around. Nobody at the customer service desk, no cashiers, no shoppers, no managers just a crowd in the electronics department. I watched in disbelief as the network news showed the planes hit the building, again and again from all angles, each time driving the stake further into my heart. New footage came in and it was before my eyes before anyone had even considered editing it.

Then the tower fell.

I don't remember anything. Nothing. I was empty and on autopilot. I went to my car, I didn't know where to go, I was confused and disoriented. I ended up back to the office break room, eating my lunch. I was alone, but with a whole bunch of other people. They were alone as well. We were lost, our world was different.

I decided that I needed to be with my wife, so I headed home. I thought to call her in route to ask if she had heard. When she answered the phone, I immediately wished that I had not called. It was clear from her voice that she had not heard and I wished I could have been there to hold her when the news came. My wife knows me all to well, my feelings could never be hidden from her, even over the phone. I told her the news, mainly so she didn't wonder if I was sick and/or dying for the hour it would take me to get home.

That is when I noticed it. Maybe its a defense mechanism, maybe I was so emotionally drained that I wasn't thinking right. To me this was the strangest thing on a strange day.

It was quiet.

Not “out in the woods” quiet but some familiar noise was missing. I wasn't having trouble hearing or being heard on my cell phone. The road noise was there, the radio was on, someone was honking at me because I was going too slow for his taste, but something was missing.

The planes were gone. O'Hare was quiet.

When I got home, my wife was a wreak, not like I was any better. We stared at the TV for hours, we went to bed and could not sleep. We cried, we raged and we loved. Finally falling asleep.

The next morning I got up very early, as usual, and got myself out the door of my suburban Chicago condo, just like hundreds of days before, but it no longer felt like any of those previous days. It would never feel like any of those days again. That was before, now it was after.

At lunch, I went to the bookstore and bought a Qur'an. It was time to learn about these people. I had to know what would make a man do such a horrible thing. 5 years later, and lots of research completed I am no closer to that understanding I seek

My world had changed. It looked the same, but it was different and would never be the same again.

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Sinner said...

rabbit submits:
--------------------------------

I worked as a Ground Transportation Regulation Agent (GTA) at DFW Airport. We were responsible for code enforcement of taxi, limos and airport shuttles. I was in terminal A, section 3. This area had American Airlines and other international arrivals. The taxi Starter, Gerald, was running the taxi stand in that section. There are 3 taxi stands in each terminal. There are 2 GTAs that cover the entire terminal on foot dealing with driver violations and assisting the Starters and passengers (pax).

Earlier that morning, Gerald and I turned off our radios to attend a class at HR. The classroom was on airport grounds, outside of the parking control plaza (toll booths). I chose to drive us in my truck (so I could smoke!) rather than have a supervisor drive us. My truck radio was off, so we could talk. The class ended at 9:00am CST. We lingered outside HR, chitchatting. I was smoking and neither of us were in a hurry to get back to work. I didn't turn my radio back on.

The first clue that something was up came when we entered the toll booth. The Parking Services Agent (PSA) seemed upset and hurriedly gave us our ticket. In the background, I heard alert tones going off. An urgent voice on the intercom said "All PSAs call the console immediately!" I turned to Gerald and said I had never heard that announcement before. I figured there was an emergency in the parking office and I'd get the details later. I turned on my airport radio and heard nothing unusual.

I drove to the terminal, planning to drop Gerald off at his stand before parking in the middle section. The other GTA had been running his stand while we were gone. She saw my truck pull up and ran out into the street. She was upset and said, "Planes have crashed into the WTC! Planes are missing. Planes have been hijacked. The Pentagon is under attack!" All I could say was "NO!" I was stunned, shocked. She got on her radio to tell the supervisor we were back. Then I turned my truck radio on and headed to the garage. What little I heard confirmed what she had told me.

I hurried to the taxi stand in section 2 where my supervisor was standing. He's a Viet Nam vet and was very calm. He said he needed both GTAs to forget our other duties and just stay at a taxi stand to help the Starters get people out. The airport was going to close and no one would be allowed to stay there. Even the homeless that "lived " there were getting the boot. He said all planes were being diverted to the next nearest airport. He watched closely for my reaction.

The truth of the matter is that I wanted to stay under his wing. I wanted him to make it go away, I wanted to go home, I wanted my world back. But that lasted a fraction of a second. I knew I had to help people in the only way I could, by doing my job. So I walked back to Gerald's stand which was usually the busiest section.

I made a quick call to my partner, a supervisor in parking, "I'm OK, I love you." She said her family was already calling her, wanting her to go home. But she had people to lead on this dark day. Both of us knew the next plane coming in might crash into either of our locations. The phone call took less than 30 seconds. We were both too busy the rest of the day to reconnect. We didn't even try.

By this time, it was around 9:30am CST. Seeing DPS (airport police) or armed Customs agents was part of the job-no big deal. But now, uniforms I had never seen before were all over the place carrying shotguns and machine guns. Dept. of Interior, Forest Rangers, Military, Plainclothes FBI and DEA were walking around, guns in hand. The K-9s were out.

They weren't letting the public drive up to the curb, and they weren't letting the taxis queue up on the curb. We had to call dispatch to send 1 or 2 at a time instead of 6 or 10. We didn't know if the next cab coming around the bend would have a car bomb, a shooter or a scared cabdriver inside. Early on, the drivers were only allowed to stop long enough for people to get in. If they were there longer than 30 seconds, a uniform and a gun wanted to know why. Later in the day the uniforms weren't so prevalent and the drivers stayed longer. Plenty of the drivers left the taxi queue and didn't work that day. Some never did come back. All of them had their radios blaring And we could pick up a little news and rumors. Many drivers were openly weeping.

The airport CNN feed was turned off. Gerald and I only ran inside to use the restroom or get a bottle of water a couple of times. No breaks, no lunch that day. Our news came from the pax waiting with us. So many, many, people had family and coworkers at the WTC or in NYC that they could not reach. So many people would have been there if they weren't on a plane. So many people weeping and getting comforted by strangers. My eyes welled up, but I had to push the tears back, keep it together and do my job.

Wave after wave of people poured out of the terminal, looking for a way out, a place to go in a city they never planned to visit. They had to trust that we would put them in a cab that would take them to a hotel nearby. They had to rely on the kindness of strangers, me and Gerald. We were the last ones at the airport giving them individual attention.

Only one person threw a hissy fit. Some girl was screaming because the flight to Cancun was canceled and "ruined our honeymoon." Other pax stared at her in disbelief. Even her husband looked disgusted as he tried to console her. Some people do not and will not ever get it...

By 2:30pm the last of the pax were off the curb and gone. We had worked solidly from 9:30 to 2:30. The airport was a ghost town. When my shift ended at 4:00pm, most airline and airport employees were gone. Dead, eerie quiet. No planes in the sky, no engines revving on the ground. My partner and I got home and turned on the TV. We were stunned all over again, finally seeing it for the first time. Just staggering. We literally could not move, watching it. The tears flowed freely. I cried for my country and knew we were at war.

In the grand scheme of things, putting people in taxis doesn't seem like much. But on that day, I stayed at my post, I comforted and assisted people, I did my duty. I learned that I would do my job, not knowing if it would be my last act. And through it all, I remained proud to be an American.

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger Sinner said...

Yoda submits:
------------------------------


Twenty years ago I used to work in the South Tower and at the bottom of the complex at the New York Board of Trade (known then as the COMEX).

On September 11, 2006 my day started with a 6:15 AM flight to Atlanta. A business associate picked me up at Hartsfield at 7:30 and we headed north toward Alpharetta for a meeting with a bank. We decided to stop and get some breakfast and while we were eating we heard the sound of cell phones ringing everywhere in the restaurant and word spread across the room that the first plane had hit the WTC.

My first thought was that it must have been a private plane accident. The couple sitting across from us said something about it being a commercial jet. We got in the car and headed north to the bank. When we entered the conference room at the bank, I saw a row of televisions set up and people watching in stunned silence.

My first look at the burning towers was jarring. For several minutes I tried counting floors to determine if my old offices and colleagues were above or below the impact zone. Then word came of the attack on the Pentagon. For a moment I stopped trying to assess the burning WTC towers and it hit me: an enemy has attacked the very center of our military command. We are at war.

A young bank officer who stood next to me immediately ran from the room. Looking out the windows I saw her racing for her car. I had met her only the week before and was very impressed with her demeanor and work ethic. As I watched her running to her car I turned to her boss and before I could ask a question he said “She just finished ten years active duty in the USAF. Her fiancé works at the Pentagon.”

I turned my attention back to the television. I’m a corporate finance consultant, not an engineer. But for some reason I began to worry about the structural integrity of the buildings. I had done fire drills in the South Tower, 69th floor…but that was twenty years ago. I started to worry that some of the older employees could not make it out.

After hearing of flights being diverted everywhere, I tried to call my family and tell them I was safe and on the ground. No cell service. No hard lines would connect to a LD carrier. No internet service. I worked the phones for well over an hour while still in the bank’s conference room. Then the South Tower fell. A collective groan went through the room. My first thought was the memory of the train of people moving slowly down the stairwells during those fire drills many years before. But for a few different career choices (and more importantly, the grace of God), it could have been me. I didn’t feel anger at first, just disbelief that the WTC could be destroyed so completely.

I was stuck in Atlanta for several days but had finally reached my family to tell them I was OK. I went to a MARTA station to catch a train to my hotel and was met by Hilton Hotel employees at the station handing out long distance calling cards to anyone who needed them to reach family and friends….a nice gesture by people just trying to help in any way.
As I went to bed that night I was thankful that my family was safe. I was thankful for our country and our military forces, the latter being always ready and vigilant.

I later learned that I had lost no friends in the attack because of the timing. Had it been forty five minutes later I would have.

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger Trainwreck watcher said...

My day started just like thousands before it. Got up, woke the kids up for school, and made it into work by 0700. I was on active duty at the time working with the AF space program. That morning I had a mobility inspection at 0800 to check all of our unit deployment gear. At 0855, the inspector and I were half done with our unit’s gear when my boss came into the room and notified us that a plane had hit the WTC. He said initial reports said it was a commuter plane and didn’t look like it did a lot of damage to the building. The inspector wanted to quickly finish up, but I remember wanting to make sure it was all there. At about 0905, my boss came back in and told us about the second plane. We ran down to his office and watched things unfold on TV.

At 0940, time stopped. The Pentagon got hit. My close friend and several other friends were assigned there and the reality of events hit hard. We were at war. My next hours went by like a bullet, I checked in with the base command center, briefed my coworkers on everything that we knew, and called the school to find out if they were being sent home early.

This is a good point to bring in a frame of reference about my life at that time: I was a USAF NCO, single dad and trying to decide what my next steps were. I had been injured the year before and was told I could no longer deploy. The AF did not medically retire me although the damage to my spine eventually contributed to a 60% VA disability rating. My contingency duties were mobility NCO and working in the command center during hurricanes and other crises.

At about 1200, our base commander shut down the base and sent all non-critical people home. My counterpart was a single Captain and covered the command center desk, so I could go home and get things set up for the kids. We went to the store and stocked up on easy to prepare food.

That day changed my life. The next months were spent working incredibly long days, watching co-workers deploy to the desert and to Gitmo, and my frustration of not being able to go. My friend Rob was seriously injured at the Pentagon, but recovered and is now a squadron commander of a Special Ops unit. My 32 year-old cousin joined the military after 9/11 and I decided it was time to make room for people who could deploy. I looked at ways to make a difference after I got out and changed my major from business to counseling. This led me to a different campus and meeting a school financial advisor who last year became my wife. I retired from the military in 2004 after 22 yrs. I am trained as a Red Cross volunteer in shelter operations and counselor. I guess I’ll never get away from feeling the need to help out.

 
At 7:59 PM, Blogger Fatwa Arbuckle said...

These are the little slices of that day which I remember most vividly.

-------------------------------

On September 11, 2001, I was living in Studio City, CA and working freelance. I received a phone call just before 6:00 a.m. from my dear friend Diana who had been watching TV while getting ready for her job as a nurse.

""D____, I'm sorry if I woke you, but you need to turn on the TV; something just happened in New York City."

I did so and was horrified to see that a plane had hit the WTC. Diana and I watched together and spoke quietly, mostly of our hopes that casualties would be as light as possible. And guessing that this was not an accident; we both were pretty sure we knew who was behind it.

I was loading the coffee maker when I heard screams from the television; it was the second plane. Diana muttered, "oh, my God!". I blurted out a string of invective and was grateful I was talking to a trusted friend.

We both broke-down and tried to comfort one another until she had to leave for work.

Shock. Grief. White-hot, murderous anger.

-------------------------------

I continued watching and called my folks in Cleveland; I particularly wanted to know what my Dad was thinking (as he had one of the keenest intellects of anybody I've ever known). And truth be told, I just needed to not be by myself. Even though I was forty-five-ears-old at the time, I'm not ashamed to admit it was comforting talking to my Dad. (He was a pretty awesome guy.)

He and I agreed this was unquestionably war; we were still talking when news came of the Pentagon attack. He, too assumed it was our friends, the Mohammedans.

We were still talking when the south tower fell at 6:59 local time and agreed we'd speak again later in the day. And I started getting very worried for some friends in NYC, particularly one who had just started a job less than a block from the WTC complex two weeks before.

Starting to feel a bit numb from grief (how much can one take?), but rage still set at "max".

-------------------------------

Some of my neighbors, many of whom were in the entertainment biz and weren't working that morning, began to stir. Because of the layout of the complex (and the manager's propensity for finding "good neighbors"), I was fairly friendly with most of the other 26 residents. I put on another pot of coffee and opened up my door.

Endless repeats of the crash video, as well as ground shots and new video of the attacks being added.

For the next few hours, neighbors dropped by and (mostly) stayed; I think we all took some comfort in simply being together as we watched things unfold. One of my neighbors freaked when the north tower fell (not that I didn't, too; I just superficially handled it better). Another neighbor (ex-Navy) who was a big, burly and avuncular guy simply wrapped the woman who was freaking in an enormous bearhug and did a marvelous job of calming her down quickly.

For some reason, I was particularly touched by that.

A few folks went back to their apartments for breakfasty things: fruit, pastries and other comestibles to share. Everything I tried to eat turned into a lump of concrete on the roof of my mouth.

Somewhere during this time, we heard about Flight 93, and the President made two brief statements.

We were all stunned by the magnitude of the destruction and unimaginable chaos we were watching unfold. And since our building was on one of the approaches to Burbank, the quiet resulting from all commercial aircraft being grounded brought another gut-punch of reality after someone pointed it out.

People started drifting back to their apartments to call their loved ones. And to grieve.

I got some some emails and phone calls from friends; found out that NYC folks were all accounted for. Large feeling of relief.

Coming out of "shock" phase; grief for the dead and injured; the beginnings of a cold, hard anger with the perpetrators.

-------------------------------

About noon, it occurred to me to walk to the little neighborhood liquor store/mini mart. The owner, who was always cordial to me (despite the fact I rarely bought anything other than the odd pint of half-and-half or chocolate bar from him) was Lebanese and always struck me as a stand-up guy. Knowing that angry, upset people can do dumbass things, I felt the need to stop by.

In addition to the lack of jet engines, there was almost no traffic on Riverside Dr., either. Incredibly eerie.

When I got to the store, everything appeared normal; I went in and asked if everything was okay. The owner's eyes welled-up as he told me that literally dozens of customers had already stopped by for the same reason as I had. He marveled at that.

Frankly, I did, too. In a place like L.A., things like that don't seem to happen very often.

Rather than go on with more minutiae, I think I've come around to the one positive aspect of that unbelievable day which I try to remember through the myriad emotions:

I was incredibly proud of my fellow Americans that day.

We pulled together despite our horror, confusion and anger. We didn't go on murderous, destructive rampages. We didn't lash-out in fear. We collectively did our best to handle the unimaginable, and it was more than good enough to get us through those first few days.

I remember the way that seemingly half the vehicles in Los Angeles spontaneously sprouted American flags; that flabbergasted me. American flags popped-up everywhere. It may sound a bit treacly, but seeing them lifted my spirits. And I don't think I was the only one who responded that way.

For a few days, we were a little kinder to one another. We tried a little harder to be good neighbors to one another. We stood together for a few days in a way I'd never experienced in my life

For a very short while, we were all simply Americans.

That we could do this in divisive times after such a devastating attack surely says something favorable about our national character.

But it saddens me that it took the worst to bring out our best.

And I wish it had lasted just a little longer.

 
At 8:38 PM, Blogger SkyeChild said...

I'm an instructor at a local university, and I was on my way to school. I had the radio on and heard about the first tower. I admit that I was a bit naive...I thought something had gone terribly awry with navigation on a plane. I guess I just wasn't really comprehending.

By the time I arrived at school, the second tower had been hit. We had the television on in the conference room, and we all just sort of stood around, not knowing what to say or do. We women were in tears, and the men were silent.

We were watching when news came of the Pentagon. Then came the speculation about the missing United flight...the one that went down in Pennsylvania.

I had a class to teach that morning. I cancelled it. I was in tears, and it was all I could do to announce that our country was under attack, and that it was best if everyone went home. Most of us cancelled our classes that day...it didn't seem important.

I remember staring at the television as the towers fell. All most of us could say was, "Oh my God!" over and over and over. I was hundreds of miles away, safe in the heartland of America, so I didn't fully comprehend the magnitude of what happened.

As Sinner noted, the skies were quiet. It was an eerie calm. I am used to seeing contrails and the planes "fly over" us. I live near Offutt AFB, and all that was in the sky were the Air Force jets that escorted President Bush to and from our base.

I had gone to WalMart for something that day, and that's when I saw the military jets. I hadn't known that Bush was here; I didn't find out until later. I was glad that the Secret Service wouldn't let him return to D.C....he needed to be safe.

Later, I found that my aunt had been at the Pentagon for something that day. Her family, of course, was desperate for information. She was, and is, safe and sound.

I was fortunate not to lose anyone that day, and my heart goes out to those who did. I cannot watch the tower videos, or the 9-11 movies because they break my heart all over again. Never forget!

God bless America!

 
At 8:42 PM, Blogger BrendaK said...

My memories of September 11, 2001 are vignettes, short images that will always be with me.

I was still on the highway on the way to work on the morning of September 11, and about to be late. When the announcement came over the radio a plane had hit the WTC, and no one knew what kind of plane it was, I thought that maybe a small personal plane had gone out of control. The second plane hit just as I pulled into the parking lot.

Along with some 20 other people, I rushed to the company media room to watch Fox on the wall-sized tv. My heart froze at the attack on the Pentagon. When the first tower fell, I had my hands up, pushing back, as if it were possible to hold that building up by sheer force of will. When the second tower fell, you couldn’t hear the announcers for the crying in the room.

As the second tower was falling the company president came in, extremely angry with all of us, and told us to get back to work and they’d let us know if anything significant happened. I was absolutely floored that he’d actually said that. When I looked around the room after he left, everyone was pale and crying. We all went down to the lobby café to continue watching the news casts with the rest of most of the people working in that 14 story building. Every person with a car in the parking lot had their car doors open and their radios on. Without a word of discussion, they had all adjusted their radios so that the same station was on

That night, my neighbors and I gathered in the street and prayed and talked and burned candles for the dead. No one else seemed to get that we were at war, that these acts of terrorism could not and would not go unanswered. Not one person could recall ever having heard the name Osama Bin Laden before that day. We stood in a circle, held hands and sang Amazing Grace. For weeks thereafter, every single home in my neighborhood had an American flag flying at half-mast. By the evening of September 12, there was not one flag to be purchased in or around Atlanta.

**Christmas Eve 2001, I turned on the computer to pull up the NORAD Santa Tracking site for the children gathered at my parents’ house. I was in tears and had to leave the room when the site indicated that Santa had received special clearance to fly American airspace, and had fighter jets escorting him. I just could not read that to the children.

 
At 8:51 PM, Blogger Petrarchan Motif said...

September 11, 2001 was like any other day for me. I work in downtown Chicago, a quarter of mile away from the Sears Tower. I got into the office around 8:15 or so, and was checking email, checking voicemail, getting myself a cup of coffee. At the time, I was working the Help Desk at the software development company I still work for. A co-worker must have had a live video feed from CNN.com on, because she murmured to herself, “Oh my God.” We started crowding around her monitor, and we saw a replay of the first impact. It was simply unbelievable to watch it. Then CNN updated that a second plane had hit the other tower. People in the office were visibly upset, and frankly fearful about other skyscrapers as targets.

No work was getting done, but at this point no calls were coming in for support, and customers were calling us to cancel teleconferences because they were activating emergency procedures. Most of our customers are hospitals and medical care organizations, so getting support on a software issue was not going to be high priority that day. It was about this point that I called my parents in L.A. to see if they were alright, and to tell them I was alright. It was still before 7am, so Joe picked up the phone, rather groggily, and asked, “Dude, what’s up?”
I replied, “You don’t know yet?”
“Know what?”
“Turn on the news.”
Silence…then… “Holy…”
That’s when Joe woke up my parents, and we talked for a bit as they got better news than I did from the TV, but since I was still at work, I had to ring off, with the promise that I would call back later.

Then we heard about the Pentagon. That’s when one of our co-workers asked our CEO what we should do. He immediately said to finish up whatever we were working on and go home. I left work at around 10am, taking the ‘L’ back to my apartment on the North Side of Chicago. Riding the ‘L’ was eerily quiet, because it wasn’t that crowded, but everybody in the car I was on was very subdued.

When I got home around 10:45, I put on Fox News and called my parents again, who were watching the same channel. We stayed on the phone for a few more minutes, and then hung up. I pretty much watched cable news all day. Later in the afternoon, I received a call from a former co-worker of mine from my old job back in Pasadena , who was worried about me in Chicago. We chatted for a few minutes, and promised to update each other later.

My parents called again later that evening, and we talked about what we knew and didn’t know. That was my 9/11.

 
At 9:45 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I remember where I was that day. At home. I had just bundled my daughter off for school. She left the house and walked up the street to the school, and I went upstairs to shower and get ready to go into Atlanta for the paperwork to be completed on my new job. I got out of the shower and noticed that Fox was reporting a plane had hit the first tower. A thought briefly crossed my mind as to how some idiot pilot could hit something that big. I laid out my clothes and went downstairs for a Coke. I don’t drink coffee unless it is really cold outside - I’m a native Atlantan and Coke is the Georgian jolt of caffeine. The TV downstairs was on from earlier, and I sat down to see what was on. I saw the second plane hit and I vividly remember John Scott saying, “Was that another one? Folks, this has to be deliberate.” I just sat there in a towel and stared at the screen.

About 5 minutes later, I called my old boss, Janet, and told her to get into the server room and turn on the TV. JUST DO IT, I shrieked at her. I had worked in the IT department of a telecom company that had “downsized” me in April. I had taken the summer off to be with my family and travel and didn’t start looking for a new job until school went back into session. Besides, they had retained me as a “consultant” and I actually had more money coming in but that gig was winding down. She called me back and we talked about it for a few moments. They were all debating about going home and trying to decide what to do. I told her I needed to call my new job and find out what they wanted me to do. Go or No Go. I called them and they said go. I really didn’t want to. I didn’t want to leave the comfort of the TV. I say comfort, because, I am a control freak and not being able to watch it would stress me out. I really didn’t want to be in my car on an interstate stuck listening to the radio and praying my city was safe. I got up and went back upstairs and was just about to get dressed when they called me back and said they were closing and would call me the next day or the day after and let me know when to come in and get the HR stuff out of the way.

Relieved, I went downstairs and stared at the screen. I needed to talk to someone and couldn’t think anyone I knew who didn’t work. I called my sister in law. She was a stay at home mom and I knew she would be there. She loved being a stay at home mom. I hated being at home since the job loss. We sat and talked for about 40 minutes and were on the phone when the first tower collapsed. She got hysterical and I had to calm her down. We eventually hung up and I went outside to get the mail. I was on my way back from the mailbox when I realized that I had gone out to the street in a t-shirt and panties with a big towel on my head. My neighbor up the street (a woman thank God) ran down and said that she was going up to the school and did I want her to get my daughter and bring her home. I said sure and she looked at my butt and said “nice fashion statement.” That was the first time that morning that I actually got my bearings. I said “well at least I got the t-shirt on.” Neither of us laughed very much, but it did seem to make me feel better.

Two days later, I got the call from the new job. CANCELLED. They were in a hiring freeze. It took me almost 18 months to get a 6 month contract with another firm. So many people in IT got dumped due to the dot.com bust and 9/11. I have had two more short contracts (4 months each) since, and am still trying to find something steady. It seems that my inactivity during the fall of 2001 and most of 2002 is an issue. Well duh, No one was hiring. I have had headhunters tell me that I am “overqualified” and I had one last week tell me I was “not fresh enough.” My skills are current, so I guess that was the equivalent of telling me I’m over the hill.

So how has 9/11 affected me? I can’t turn off the TV. EVER. If I’m not watching Fox, I switch to it during commercials, just to make sure the world is still there. If I am working, I have to check the Fox website every couple of hours – my TV at work, I guess you would call it. I’m still trying to get a new job, but with each week, it seems more futile. I had a bout with cancer, and am recovered from that, but it just put another hole in my resume. I want my life to be normal - with a job and coworkers and all the responsibilities and teamwork that it entails. I want to feel wanted and to be a productive member of society. But I don’t. I still feel lost. And old. So I troll the internet pouring over job sites and searching for comraderie. Sometimes it even makes me feel wanted again.

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger Ducky said...

September 11, 2001 was a school day, and I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing out in the living room. We let the answering service take it and set about caring for kids and pets. I stayed upstairs, focused on the immediate (breakfasts, packing lunches) while my husband went downstairs to iron a shirt.

As he went downstairs, I checked phone messages. The first was from my husband's sister in New York, telling us to turn our TV on as she had just seen the first plane hit (she was outdoors in Greenwich Village, walking back to her apartment after taking her daughter to preschool).

I shouted to my husband to turn on the TV and ran down the stairs while listening to a second brief message from my mother-in-law, also alerting us to turn on our TV.

The kids and I reached the family room just in time to see the second plane hit.

I can't remember anything about getting the children to school and so forth.

We couldn't get through to my sister-in-law in New York by phone.

I stayed by the TV as the unbelievable events continued to unfold. My brain wanted to go right back to September 10, when I placed a shiny new aluminum pail bursting with three dozen gladiolas on the altar of our church.

When Flight 93 plowed into the field, I felt utterly overwhelmed (still do) at the unimaginable courage of the passengers and crew. I am grateful to them every single day.

That evening, people of every imaginable political and cultural stripe gathered together in the heart of Eugene with candles. We wept. We prayed. Our hearts belonged to New York.

I wanted to wrap myself up in the flag and stay that way for the rest of my life.

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger Hawksp said...

It is usually still pretty warm here in North Carolina in September. My pace wasn’t real fast, but it was enough to break a sweat. Where I live, there are beautiful country roads that are perfect to run on. I remember on that morning, I had gotten up a little late. There wasn’t enough time to get to the airfield where I worked to do physical training, so I did PT from my home. I was running through beautiful farmland oblivious to the horrors that hundreds of my fellow Americans would soon realize in the air over our nation. My thoughts were on my upcoming retirement. I was finishing my 25th year in The Army and was looking forward to easy morning jogs like this with no time schedules or meetings to worry about getting to. The only hard part in my decision to leave the military was that I worked for one of the finest men I know, my battalion commander.

I turned left at our main road and sprinted the last couple hundred feet to my driveway and then jogged up to my front door. When I went into the house it was quiet and dark with my wife and daughter still sleeping. I took a shower and got ready for work as quietly as I could. My wife had gotten up by the time I was dressing and had coffee on. Only then was a television turned to listen to the news, but nothing much was happening. As I started out the front door my wife gave me my car cup with coffee and asked if I’d be late that night. I told her I didn’t know but I’d call if I were.

The radio station knew nothing of what was about to unfold as I started the 30-minute drive to the airfield. The station was discussing local politics or something as I drove. I was about ten minutes from work when the first report came out. All they knew was that a plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center and they weren’t sure if it was an accident or not. As I came in the gate of the airfield, one of the soldiers asked if I had heard about the towers. “The tower you mean,” I asked.

“No, the towers Sir. Both of the World Trade Center Towers have been hit by jets.” The news on the radio hadn’t said that, so I thought he must have been mistaken. After parking my truck I ran upstairs to see if the battalion commander might be watching the news on a television he had in his outer office.

As I stepped inside I saw that the only person there, the commanders’ duty driver, was watching the news on the Fox station.

“Are both towers hit,” I asked him.

“No Sir, just one of them. The North I think they said.” I wonder to this day about the gate guard thinking that at time he saw me, that both had been hit and what a prophetic mistake that was.

It was almost 9:00AM when the commander came into the office with the Sergeant Major in tow. “Have you heard, Sir?” I asked.

“Yes, is that the news? What are they saying now?”

“I don’t know Sir, I just got here myself.”

“Jim, can you walk down the hallway and see if any of the company commanders are in their offices yet?” “Yes Sir,” I answered and stepped out.

I was not more than a couple of steps into the hallway when I saw one of the lieutenants coming from the company areas walking towards me. I began to ask him if the commanders were down there. At the same time a pitched chorus of voices came from the office I had just left. The lieutenant and I walked back into a silent room. The men there stood with absolute blank looks on their faces. The TV was silent. We stared at the screen and tried to figure out what the latest commotion was about. After what seemed like an eternity, the announcer made a statement to the effect that the South Tower had just been hit.

“Is that right?” I asked.

“Yeah, we all just watched it hit,” the Sergeant Major said.

“Terrorists,” my commander added. “It had to be terrorists.” Then after another quiet pause he concluded, “We’re at war, guys.”

Amidst the monitoring of the news, the command started to organize crews for possible relief missions. Other officers stepped in, were given instructions and moved out to complete their tasks. The morning became a blur. While some events become unclear or completely forgotten, others became so etched in my mind as to become unforgettable. It was just before 10:00AM when the news said that the Pentagon had also been hit. My commanders’ face showed a horror that I didn’t understand at first. I asked him what was the matter and he said he had a buddy that worked in the Pentagon. He quickly went into his office to start making telephone calls as we turned our attention back to the news. In the coming minutes the reports got worse. Almost exactly one half hour after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, the structure started to collapse. Then to the horror of those watching, the South Tower fell. I remember how incredibly surreal the morning became. I remember staring at the TV utterly disbelieving the only event I saw happen live. The North Tower fell. I recall thinking that it was just the news showing the first one falling again. I asked the lieutenant, “Is that video of the South Tower?”

“No. Look. They’re both gone now,” he said. The only unanswered question was what had happened to a jetliner that was missing somewhere in Pennsylvania. We didn’t know it then, but the attacks were over.

Hours passed and we became numb with the events. The line companies continued to make contingencies plans. We left in shifts to get food and I went with a group to our dining facility. I ate and then excused myself and headed back to the hangar to see if any other instructions had come down. I met our Brigade Standardization Officer and he told me the FAA had grounded all flights and to not allow anyone to launch.

“Nothing?” I asked.

“Nothing leaves the airfield for now,” he replied. He then left to tell the other units.

I walked back upstairs to my commanders’ office. I wanted to see if he knew about the flight restrictions. I was also curious to see if he had heard anything about his friend. The television was still on outside. There were still a few of the enlisted soldiers sitting and watching, but my commander was in his office. His chair was turned away from his desk. He was looking towards his computer against the far wall, but wasn’t using it. I stuck my head in and asked how he was doing. He turned and I saw he was talking on the phone. I knew by the look on his face he was hearing bad news.

“Your friend, Sir?” I asked. He just nodded. Looking down, I pulled the door closed and cleared his outer office of the soldiers watching the television. I turned it off and then went to watch the news in the Flight Operations area. It was hard not to think about my commander.

Through the day, instructions came and went. We made plans to deploy to New York or the Capitol if called and waited. We assigned crews and then changed crews and then changed plans. It was killing us. We wanted revenge. We wanted to move out and find these people. Little did we know that all those responsible were among the rubble with our dead and dying. Late in the day, we were asked to assign crews to patrol over our installation and the community next to us. We were told that we might be doing that over the next couple of weeks. We heard the Chinook company in our brigade was going to the Capitol to help with relief. That was good in that at least someone was getting a chance to do something.

Then the word started to filter down that we were to go home. “Get some rest and be ready to execute any of the missions we had worked on,” we were told. The hangar was emptying. I saw my commander one last time before I left for the day. He was there with his staff, giving orders and preparing them for any eventuality. I walked over to say goodnight to him and told him how sorry I was. It was then that he told he about his friend that had died that morning in the Pentagon. He was a classmate of my commander and the type of friend you’d follow through their career. Their wives had become friends when they were stationed at the same base and their children played together. They were close. Although it was a great loss to him he allowed himself just a brief moment to react to the sad news and then did what good commanders do. He remained in charge and gave the men and women who served under him confidence that he could lead us anywhere we were asked to go.

Many of us have long passed the days when we expected to leave the military and we continue to deploy in these dark times. It can be hard to look down that tunnel where once everything was visible on the other side and now not even see the light. So we tend to seek those things that help to motivate ourselves. I think of my love for this nation and my family. In my heart of hearts, I know that God has blessed this country and the Americans people. Mostly, I think of my commander on that fateful day. A man who in the darkness of the events around him, was also given an additional burden that might defeat a lesser man. On that day he took time to reflect on the loss of a friend, but didn’t forget the task at hand. On this anniversary of the attacks on September 11th, may we all pledge to do likewise.

 
At 10:07 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I wrote this a few weeks after 9/11. I finally posted it on my blog today.


Do you have survivor’s guilt? Yea I have that, too. But not because I could have been on the airplanes or in one of the towers or the Pentagon. One of the terrorists actually worked in a conv. store near my house. I spoke with him several times. Inane pleasantries masking his unbelievably disgusting ideas about me. For my part, I thought him nice, pleasant and somewhat of a flirt.


Until that day. No, not 9/11. About a week or two before. I went in for some milk and a coke and the atmosphere was evil. He was there, but not. No pleasantries, no personality. And then I saw them. About four to six sinister looking middle-easterners in robes and beards. Coming out of the back of the store. I had interrupted something, I know not what. He stared. They stared. The stare said "get out." It was condescending and then I remembered. A woman had interrupted a male meeting in an Arab-owned store. But it seemed much more than that. I tried to get him to snap out of it. I chatted insanely, but he was stone. I gave up. I paid and left. I lost that round in this war, but I didn’t know I was at war. I do now.


I wonder to this day what was really going on. I replay scenarios over and over again. The store is only a few miles from a CDC center that researches who knows what. I don't really want to know. But I do know. They do bioresearch on some pretty nasty things. This used to be the open lands of exurbia. Now it is suburbia. Surrounded by schools and homes and Americans they want to kill.


I contacted the FBI. I never heard from them, but the local news reported that he was one of the hijackers and that he had taken flying lessons at the airport nearby. So, they know. Maybe that was all he was here for, maybe not. I still can't bring myself to go into that store again. We refer to it as the "terrorist Texaco."


I wonder. I wait. And my television has never been off again. 24 hours, seven days a week. Always Fox News. If I watch another show, I change channels back during commercials. Just in case. I am gripped by the fact that my life has changed. By them. By him.


I don't go out as often as I used to. I am uncomfortable. I watch people now. Not "people watch," "watch people." There is a difference.


I wait, I watch, and I know. It will happen again. These creatures have changed me alright. They say "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" and they are right. I was scorned that day in that store by creatures that saw me as "dhimmi." Hell will be wrought, by me, without remorse or guilt. Neither I, nor my family, nor my kids, nor my kids kids will submit to their nightmare. The hell that will be wrought will be my tribute to the first warriors in this war, and I will not fail them. The first warriors on Flight 93 did not fail me or mine.

 
At 10:16 PM, Blogger Mariposa said...

On September 11, 2001, I was trying to multi-task while getting ready for work (as usual). I had the Today show on in the bedroom as I was brushing my teeth at the bathroom sink. I wandered into the bedroom and glanced up at the screen to see an image of smoke coming out of a skyscraper while Matt Lauer interviewed a man over the phone. They were almost arguing- Matt kept insisting that the person he was interviewing had to be mistaken. It must have been a small private plane that hit the tower, there was no way a commercial jet would make a “mistake” like that. Just moments later we all saw the image of the impact of the second plane and Matt stopped saying the other guy was wrong.

As the images of two smoking towers filled the screen, my first thought was “I have to call K”. I lived in the central time zone at the time and my friend “K” was living in Washington state. She liked to have the news on in the kitchen while she was getting ready for the day and feeding her preschool aged daughter. I knew she would not want her little girl to see what was on the news, plus I knew it would have an impact on K’s life that was much more immediate than that of any of my other friends. You see, her husband is a tanker in the Army and her brother lived in NYC at the time, working in the financial district. When I called K was still asleep and was very groggy at first when I told her what had happened and to turn her tv on. The grogginess went away quickly and was replaced by disbelief.

More than anything else about that day and the days that followed, what I really remember is K’s response. Her husband spent a year deployed in Bosnia early in their marriage, they had a preschool aged child and she was pregnant with their second child. She had a very rough time during his deployment to Bosnia and it was under fairly safe circumstances. She used to jokingly say that if the Army ever tried to deploy her husband again she would shoot him in the foot. After seeing the images of the planes hitting the twin towers her response was “we’re at war” and “he’s going to deploy”. There was never any doubt in her mind that her husband would deploy and that she believed he needed to for the rest of us. Shooting him in the foot wasn’t even something she was willing to joke about anymore. Her husband was in the field for training and was supposed to be away for another week. A few of the guys had access to cell phones and the news spread quickly. By that evening, they were all back home and preparing for an unknown future.

After calling K, I finished getting ready and I went to work (I had patients scheduled- one of whom was driving in three hours for the appointment). Throughout the day we crowded into the one office with a tv to see what was happening. I couldn’t get to my regular online news sources (cnn, msn, etc.) and ended up getting the most information from a Spanish newspaper (I remembered enough to make sense of what they were reporting). Eventually I stumbled on the online version of Stars and Stripes and spent the day alternating among the tv downstairs, elpais, and estripes.

Since then, my friend and her husband had their second child (another precious little girl) and he completed one year long tour in Iraq. He had one run-in with an IED, luckily while in the tank (it was totaled) and his injuries weren’t too bad. He is now on his second tour in Iraq- Baghdad this time- and over the summer they welcomed their third child into the world. A little boy named for his father. In the midst of all this, and with the full knowledge that he will likely keep deploying every other year for a while, K’s husband re-enlisted with her full support. He’s seen firsthand what can happen with guys he knows losing eyes and limbs. Life has gone on in their family with the birth of a new child and the death of a parent/in-law and K has learned to adjust to basically functioning as a single parent while he is gone. Her husband has seen the inside of palaces adorned with gold and the village streets full of trash and raw sewage. They love and adore each other and their children, but also believe that what they are doing is necessary to ensure a safe future for them and all of the children in our country and in Iraq.

My friend and her husband are one example among countless others of the sacrifices so many of our fellow citizens are willing to make for others. Whether it is a military family, a first responder or a civilian who does what they can to support those who serve, we all have something to contribute.

I now live very close to NYC. My friend and her husband visited last fall before his deployment began. I thought going to the site would be too emotional for me to handle, so I hadn’t been there, but it was one of the top items on their to-do list. So, we went. I can’t put into words what it was like to look into the hole in the ground and imagine the towers that used to stand there. What really strikes me about living up here is the way people go on with their lives, almost in defiance of the continuing threat. I live near the commuter train tunnels that were reported to have recently been targeted and regularly take the bus to the Port Authority bus terminal. The attitude seems to have rubbed off- I try to honor the sacrifices of others on my behalf by going on with my life and not letting the fear rule me.

 
At 11:07 PM, Blogger iamfelix said...

On 9/11, I was sleeping late. I work 2nd shift, and I was working 10 hr. shifts. I was awakened by the phone; it was my sister in California (I'm in Michigan). I was very groggy, but recognized her voice right away, though I couldn't seem to understand what she was saying. My mind kept saying, "What??? And why is she awake at this time?" (3 hrs. earlier there, and she is a bartender who rarely gets home before 4:00 am) Focus!

Finally I got most of the words, all run together: "Are you watching, ARE YOU WATCHING, do you have the TV on, DO YOU HAVE THE TV ON, turn it on NOW ... the world is coming to an end, turn it on, turn it on, TURN IT ON ... I have to hang up and call Mom ... " *click*

So I turned it on. And sat there, trying to comprehend. Both towers had already been hit, and they kept rerunning the footage they had so far. I kept thinking, "What IS this?" I flipped between several channels, finding the same confusion everywhere. I just couldn't believe it was real. But why would every channel be running the same awful movie? My mind just wouldn't wake up.

Then the South Tower fell, and I was completely awake and crying.

I watched until I had to leave for work at 2:30. I nearly ran out of the house, feeling that work was the only thing that could tear me away. I wondered if anything would happen at work (a large engineering facility). When I got there, everything was hushed. The main thing I remember about the rest of the afternoon is everyone going outside and staring into that blue, blue sky that was just like the sky in NYC.

 
At 11:31 PM, Blogger joeschmo1of3 said...

On September 11th, 2001, I was awakened by the phone ringing just before 7 AM. It was my brother James, calling to make sure if we were okay.
I asked, "What's up?"
He said, "Turn on the news." He said two planes flew directly into the World Trade Center.
I said, "Holy…" then, "Oh no, oh no, oh no!" The first image I saw was the South Tower falling.

With James on the phone, he quickly caught me up as I watched the replay of the planes hitting the towers. I woke up my parents and we all watched the news together. James said that they were probably going to make everyone go home. I watched the live broadcast as the North Tower fell, as the news cameras gathered at the Pentagon, as the news broke that another plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

James called when he got home from work and my mom's first worry was about any of the tall buildings in Chicago. While on the phone we speculated that it was Islamic terrorism and all the pundits they could throw on the phone or who were already in newsrooms all pointed at bin Laden as the prime suspect. We knew that we were at war. We watched, numbed, as the death toll rose along with the missing. At one point, the suspected number was over 15,000. I saw live coverage of Tower 7 collapse.

What I most remember that night, was that even ESPN, Comedy Central, and MTV were carrying the news coverage.

 
At 11:46 PM, Blogger maggie katzen said...

my husband and i were getting ready for work. I was eating breakfast, watching Fox & Friends when they reported that a plane had hit one of the WTC towers. kept thinking it had to be a small plane or something. then the second plane hit as my husband was heading out the door. at that point he was mad. "it's deliberate" I headed to the office, wondering if they'd heard, since i was the last one to get there most days. they had. anyway, i pretty much just plugged away at my job and my boss would come over occasionally to give me updates. it was all just too surreal. the main thing i remember from that time is being glued to the tv when we were home. only the tv in the living room had cable, so we wound up sleeping on the folded out couch a few nights. it reminded me a lot of being in OKC during the Murrah bombing. life has to go on, but at the same time this thing is always nagging in the back of your mind, there's never enough info.

 
At 12:32 AM, Blogger Sulla said...

On September 10, I’d called the girl I was seeing. It was her daughter’s birthday, and she was at her dad’s. I wanted to see her, but I didn’t have the gas money, and she didn’t have much either. So we used the phone.

I loved the woman, but I was lousy husband material at the time. I’d had to leave a great job because of chronic ill health, and though the job market in CA had looked promising when I began preparations to move, there was nothing by the time I arrived in March 2001. I’d been living with my parents for the past six months, with poor but improving health, and only one stint as a contractor that had lasted all of eight days.

She gave me a pep talk. I went to the gym and worked out, then resolved to get up early the next day to resume my job search.

I set the alarm for 6am. Five minutes later I opened the bedroom door for my shower, only find my brother there, about to knock.

“A plane just hit the World Trade Center,” he said.

“Long Beach?” I asked. He was a courier, often delivered packages there.

“New York.”

My parents and other brother were already up and watching TV in the family room, flipping between CNN and Fox News. I sat down and tried to pay attention to the voices while I looked at the smoking hole in the tower.

That doesn’t just happen, I thought.

While watching the screen, I saw a plane. It was hard to tell how far away it was, but it looked bigger than expected. Maybe the camera angle, I thought. Maybe there’s an airport nearby. It’s just passing behind--

No…no…NO!

The plane disappeared behind the tower, and the other building exploded.

We’re at war. Someone just attacked us.

I didn’t know anybody in New York. But I didn’t care. Someone had just attacked my country with our own planes.

We stared at the television for as long as we could. Dad still had to go to work downtown at the courthouse, but he was back early. My brother had to work all day, and when he came back he talked about how the radio would explain other likely targets – the ports, airports, tall buildings – each of which he was driving to throughout the day.

Me, I had no place to go. I called my girl and told her what had happened. Her initial response: that’s not funny. She didn’t have cable, and her TV reception was spotty. She asked another question that didn’t set right with me. We never did make it work, and I still think of that phone call as one of the reasons why it wouldn’t.

I watched the towers fall that morning. I thought of the attempt, eight years before, to take the towers down. I remembered the response of that new president, and prayed that this new, untested president would respond better. I heard his words, that democracy would be defended, and I breathed easier. But I kept praying.

That night, my two brothers and I sat down and talked about what they were feeling. Both were scared. Both worried greatly that there might be no tomorrow. Perhaps it was my own thoughts, so many times over the previous year, that helped me say with absolute conviction – there is a tomorrow. There is ALWAYS a tomorrow, until there’s not, and the end can come in many ways besides a terrorist attack. That I was still walking around and breathing felt like a miracle, granted day by day by my unwillingness to give in to the depression, to the discouragement.

It would be three months before I found any work – ironically, perhaps, swallowing my pride and working as a courier for a year. It wasn’t great pay, but it saved me mentally – it got me out of the house, forced me to talk with people of all stripes, and most importantly it taught me just how vulnerable we are. As a courier I could see any number of ways that I could get into places that should have been far more secure than they were. It awakened me to the need to prepare. My confidence grew. Eventually I did get work in the tech sector again, first as a contractor, and then as a permanent employee. I found the woman I later married. She was living in Colorado Springs at the time. She knows what we face. She lived among those who were and are acting to keep us safe.

I think of President Bush’s words often – a local talk radio host, John Ziegler, ends every show with it. “We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.” I also think of George Washington’s vision of the Three Perils that would face us, and the answer he was given: that UNION is what will help us weather the crises that assault our nation and our liberty.

The divisions we face scare me more than any foreign terror. United we stand. Whatever else we disagree on, there should be that one thing bringing us together, as it did on that day. Even France said, “today, we are Americans.” People of many nations died in the city that represents the melting pot. Subsequent events prove this is a global struggle.

We must stand united. There is no “or.”

We will not tire. We will not falter.

We. will. not. fail.

 
At 1:10 AM, Blogger Hosedragger said...

I had been on shift September 10-11. We were all asleep in the dorms after getting spanked all day running calls. Though sleep never comes easy as you are always expecting the tones to go off at any minute, I was happy to be getting a couple of minutes.

Just before 0600, the tones went off in the dorms. The dispatcher came over saying to check the printers for a message. Every call that goes out gets printed up on a printer that tells us what the call is, the location and any other pertinent information. The printer system is also used to send department wide messages. Being low-man on the totem pole, I staggered out across the apparatus bay and into the captain’s office to see what it was. Being as it was so early, I figured it was a message saying that some kind of equipment was down, or maybe a multiple alarm fire was working somewhere in the City.

Instead, what I read was confusing. It read “All U.S.A.R. members stand by for possible immediate deployment!” Not really sure what was going on, I now was thinking that there must have been some major earthquake in Iran or somewhere again, as occasionally our U.S.A.R team will get deployed there. They have gone all over for everything from floods to the Oklahoma City bombing. I was about to toddle off to bed as I am not a member of the team, and thus it didn’t really concern me when one of the guys was in the Day Room watching T.V. and called me in. “You’ve got to see this!” he cried.

I walked into the Day Room, still half asleep and saw the picture of the Tower burning from the top. I asked what the hell was going on. He told me that supposedly a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Of course the usual “No Shit”s went around and we were discussing whether or not it was intentional and what type of plane it was. At this time, a couple more guys came in to see what the tones were for and we had them watch. One of the guys went to make some coffee for us, and the conversation continued. Someone said something about the idiocy of a pilot that could hit a tower that big, others had their own theories. Deep down inside I knew it had to be some kind of Islamic attack.

As I was watching I noticed something behind the other Tower. I was looking at it and thinking that it must be a police or news helicopter trying to get the shot of the year. Suddenly the black speck disappeared behind the Tower. In the next split second the whole middle of the Tower exploded out of it in a huge fire ball. The next instant, about five firemen yelled in unison “HOLY SHIT!” Flight 175 had just crashed into Tower 2.

We were transfixed. We were all made drastically aware that the United States was under a surprise attack. We all knew instinctively that it was being orchestrated by members of “The Religion of Peace”. We were pissed. Soon others slowly made their way into the Day Room. The conversations ran the gamut, but mostly centered on the FDNY’s response and how many guys were working the incident, the tactics they might be using and how much walking up those stairs just had to suck, what with being weighted down with all that gear. There were reports coming in that other planes had been hijacked, some unknown as to where they were. At one point a report came over that The Pentagon had been hit with yet another plane. We were having a hard time believing this was going on, yet we were now poised and ready for anything. We were not sure if places in California were going to be attacked and how it would affect us throughout the day. We also were talking about the possibility of collapse. We all knew how fire works and what it does to a building. We figured that the top part or at least several floors of one, maybe both the Towers would fail to some extent. We just didn’t know how or when.

Then suddenly, as we watched in utter amazement, Tower 2 began to implode upon itself. There was a great deal of yelling as I recall, and more choruses of “HOLY SHIT!” I looked in amazement at the smoke and dust where once stood a monolith to industry and American know-how. Then, without even knowing what I was saying, I said, “Holy shit…the entire First In Companies are dead? That killed every fireman that was inside!” We couldn’t imagine how many of our brothers we just watched die. FDNY has a huge department, and a Second Alarm fire could bring as many as 50-85 firefighters. This was obviously something that was bringing in Mutual Aid from everywhere, so there was no telling how many were inside.

Suddenly it got very quiet in the Day Room. Almost everyone was awake now, save for one guy who actually was from there. He was still snoozing away in the dorms. Once you got in the Day Room though, you never left except to walk the ten feet to the coffee pot. Now the anger set in and there was a lot of cussing and swearing and “Fuck this…we need to bomb the shit out of those bastards!!!” The feeling was mutual whether it was said directly by a fireman, or just felt deep in his heart. Someone needed to pay.

The next thing we knew, another loud sound on the T.V. started, and down came Tower 1. We watched as in crumpled in a cloud of smoke, ash and office paperwork. The last thing we saw was the radio tower as it disappeared into the cloud. For a second it looked like it was going to stop collapsing but then the cloud dissipated somewhat and it was gone. We had no idea how many American’s, let alone our brothers were now instantly killed. We heard the T.V. report that upwards of 50,000 people could possibly be dead at this point, as the average amount of people in those buildings and the surrounding area can be much more than that at any given time. They were talking about time of day being a huge factor, and that it was a Tuesday, so most people would not have called in sick etc. Of course the collective “HOLY SHIT!” had gone out. It seemed to be the word of the day.

The tones had been going off repeatedly, giving updates and so-forth concerning possible deployments. None of us could tear ourselves away from the set. Death was on our minds. Death of the innocent and the now mandatory death of the guilty. The television announcers were talking about not jumping to conclusions, reminding people that they jumped to conclusions six years prior in Oklahoma City, but we all knew exactly who was responsible and that they must pay…and pay now.

I suddenly realized that my buddy was still sleeping. I was in complete shock and not thinking too clearly, but I managed to go into the dorm and start shaking him awake.
“Hey…wake up!”
“Fuck off!”
“Wake up. We are under attack. America has been attacked. The Trade Center…it’s gone. The whole fucking thing is gone. We just watched it collapse. Wake the fuck up!”

He woke up, but thought I was jerking him around. I gave him the readers digest version as to what happened. He still couldn’t believe it, but finally got up and went to see for himself. You’ll never guess what he said. Yup; “Holy Shit!” Told you it was the phrase of the day.

I went outside and got on the phone and called a buddy of mine in New York on my cell phone. It took awhile to get through but finally I did. He was fine…but barely. Seems he was working a gig there the day before putting up a stage in the Plaza for some kind of concert. He had been working non-stop for days and had decided to take the day off. He had got a buddy of his to work for him and slept in. His buddy was there when the planes hit. They had taken cover underneath the stage. When the bodies started raining down from the jumpers and landing on and around the stage was when they left. He had just got off the phone with him. Amazing what fate has in store for people. Had he not been a flake, he might not be here today.

Then all of a sudden I remembered that my wife was on her way to San Francisco. I frantically began trying to cal her. I didn’t know what was going on yet. All I knew was that she shouldn’t be going to a city that was an international symbol and had some of the most famous landmarks in the world. She had gone there for some kind of meeting at her corporate office and took a co-worker with her. She has a bad habit of not hearing her phone, and knowing that the radio was blasting and they were talking was frustrating the Hell out of me. During that time, we had been given orders that no one was to go home. Even once our relief arrived, we were to stay on duty until further notice.

I finally got a hold of her and asked where she was. She was just getting on the Bay Bridge. I told her she needed to turn around and come home. I couldn’t figure out why she was still there and why they were both laughing and such. She explained she couldn’t and wanted to know why. I asked her if she hadn’t heard what was going on on the radio. She told me they were playing tapes. I then explained to her about the attack, that three planes had been used to destroy the Twin Towers, The Pentagon and there were as many as three more planes that they could not find and feared had also been hijacked and headed for further targets. I warned her of possible further chemical attacks and all major cities such as Chicago, L.A. and most importantly San Francisco were all potential targets. She told me she couldn’t figure out why there was no traffic on the freeway, and that was it. She had immediately turned around and headed back home.

I went back inside and continued to watch. By this time the rest of the new shift was there and there was a lot of talk. I don’t remember when we heard about flight 93. By 1230, I was relieved and told to head home. I drove and got a Jamba Juice on the way home, phone glued to my ear trying to call my friends in New York. Some of them I obviously couldn’t get a hold of as they were already digging through Ground Zero or handling the medical emergencies the attack caused. I went and picked up my girls and sat at home, glued to the T.V. Fortunately they were 3 and 2 at the time and I needn’t worry about them. I got my step-son out a bit later, and called my oldest daughter to reassure her. I couldn’t sleep that night as I was waiting to get called back at any minute, and at the same time felt incredibly helpless as it was all I could do not to get in my car and set out for New York.

Our U.S.A.R. team did head out there. They loaded up the Air Force jets with men and equipment…and our search dog, and landed in New York (or near by) and had boots on the ground there before midnight that night. They spent the next ten days searching for their brother firefighters and their fellow Americans. I have spoken with several of them since then and can ell you, the destruction you saw on T.V. was nothing compared to actually being there.

No one I know was killed that day, thankfully. I even have an in-law that worked for Canter/Fitzgerald who went downstairs to get a coffee, and had just got off the elevator not one minute before the first plane hit. Had he not had the need to drink something other than office coffee, he wouldn’t have even known that some Islamic bastard had snuffed out his life. The plane plowed right through his office.

My Paramedic friend has also sent me CD’s containing pictures of the scene…including wheelbarrows with various body parts, and other assorted mayhem as well as CD’s containing the radio traffic of the FDNY. I can’t tell you what it does to me, but am willing to share with any of you VBS’es, and only you. I have friends in the department who went back to fight in the war. My partner was called away and was gone for two years. He brought me Iraqi Dinars with Hussein on them as well as several patches. Others went back to SpecOps to do battle behind the scenes in Iraq and I haven’t heard form them since. They are alive…just not talking and haven’t come out yet. Others went and are flying medical helicopters.

That day changed me intensely. There are reasons that I do not tolerate this “dissent” and conspiracy theorists. I make no bones about it and I do not hide my disgust with them. I have seen what evil man can do for years, and nothing will compare with this.

So now, every year it is remembered in my household. I watch the video produced by the French Documentarians, and have my children sit and watch it too. We will never forget. We will never forget the evil that is Islam and what hey wish to accomplish. I have seen the “Eyes Only” reports of what they plan. I have attended training, and I am determined to do what ever I can to make sure it never happens again, and that anyone I come in contact with never forgets.

God Bless my brothers and sisters in the Fire Service
God Bless our brave men and women in the military fighting everyday to end the Islamic Terror and guarantee our freedoms and making sure we never live in a world controlled by such animals.
And God Bless the United States of America. May she always be there as a reminder of what is best in Man.

 
At 1:19 AM, Blogger Hosedragger said...

Addendum to my post:

There was haunting sound that we heard that morning as we watched the news. As they began to show footage from people that were at GZ during and immediately after the Towers collapsed, we heard it. It is a sound all firemen know and all firemen dread hearing. I was asked if I heard all the car alarms going off. In the dead silence that followed the collapse, you heard it piercing through the smoke and dust.

Those were not car alarms you hear in the videos my friends. Those are what we call P.A.S.S. alarms. They are what is activated on a downed fireman. You can activate them on your own or after you have not moved for over 30 seconds. They are mounted on the SCOTT S.C.B.A. breathing apparatuses.

Each and every one of those tweeting sounds you hear on those tapes is a downed, and more than likely, dead fireman. That is the sound that pierces my very soul. There were alot of them going off.

 
At 2:16 AM, Blogger SBH said...

It was like watching the world around me awaken from a long sleep.

I'm a retired musician with a talent for death. I deal with those who are about to die. Not the family, not the long-term hospice patients, I deal with people who are on their way out the "door" and would find some company and comfort in music. Those first few days of 9/11 I was afraid that I was finally watching the death of Western Civilization - without time for music or reflection. I knew that the west couldn't continue to ignore the Islamist threat. Islam had already issued the required calls to convert but no one seemed to notice. They’d provoked us in incredible ways and yet the west kept going back to business as usual. It made me so angry! That morning the planes crashed and crashed, and people died and died, and still some folks didn't connect the dots. The shock was tremendous, not at the event taking place as much as in the complete surprise I saw in others. How could people not know? Hadn't these same terrorists tried to bring down these same buildings once before? Hadn’t they taken control of the embassy in Tehran? What about the USS Cole? For goodness sakes, the nineteen seventies were the decade of hijackings!

It’s no secret: I love Americans. I swore I’d marry one and I did. I love how cocky Americans are. I love the way they jump right in and get things done. I love that most of them still think there is a “right” way of doing things. I educated my daughter in a Lebanese/Armenian elementary school because I wanted her to have a strong, family oriented, and very Pro-American culture, as well as fluency in several languages. Looking at it now, it seems funny that I had to send her to an Armenian school to find an unabashedly pro-American environment in California. Spending several years in close association with the middle eastern branch of the Armenians gave us a front row seat when it came to learning about why they live in America and what the Middle East has to offer Christians and all other Non-Muslim cultures. The Armenians have strong feelings about the Turks! Jihad has been of concern to my family for well over 20 years.

For the first time since I was a child I saw people raising the American flag. They were everywhere! It didn’t matter what political party someone was from – massacring 3000 Americans on our own soil just wasn’t going to fly! Finally, people were asking the right questions: What was the Taliban? Why were the Wahabi Islamist sects blowing up Historical Trust sites and statues of Buddha? Why are we allowing the Saudis to fund schools here without making an issue about the racist, subversive, hateful things they were teaching? Really, they have a right to express their hate filled values, but we have a right to be aware of it, too. In fact, we have a responsibility to be aware of it. The mainstream media was still looking for “common ground” with the “Religion of Peace” but across the web people were educating themselves about Sharia law and reading the Qur’an and Hadith. People began to seek out translations of the media broadcasts from the Middle East and websites were formed to disseminate cultural information.

Maybe of primary importance to me was that I began to see regular people reflecting on the type of Multiculturalism touted on college campuses today. Sacred cows were indeed slaughtered. We, as a culture, began to question the values of those in the “intelligentsia”. They’d really been getting a free ride before. How had we become so self-loathing and soft that others weren’t afraid to challenge us to “convert or die”? The comprachicos—those who would deliberately mutilate the minds of our innocent children—were being exposed. The internet had made it possible for the average person to be informed to a level never before seen in history. It had made it much harder to keep whole populations in ignorance. There would never be another “Winter Soldier” where a few evil people besmirch the honor of a whole generation and leave our soldiers to return home to scorn and loathing -- to steal their reputations as decent men and leave them to pick up the pieces of their lives without the gratitude and support that they deserved.

America was awakening. The people killed in the World Trade Center that day were us: Regular Americans going about our daily lives. They weren’t soldiers but they have each bought and paid for a hero’s memorial with their life’s blood.

So, this is my very personal recollection about my feelings surrounding that fateful event. I have no connections with the people involved. I, like so many others, sat in front of the television set with my family and cried. It is hard to separate the 9/11 tragedy from other things that were happening in my life at that time. It was an unsettling and frightening period for me and I can't reflect on it without conjuring up all of the other feelings of loss and bewilderment that I was experiencing at the time. It was already a time of terrible loss and strong emotion. For that reason I know it will be a hard anniversary for me today. But, thank God, I won’t spend it alone having lost a loved one in that disaster.

I am thankful that my sweetheart is by my side. He provided the stability I needed when I was sure the world had gone mad. Today He will work on refining one of the fugues he is writing and I will be blessed to be able to spend the day here by his side. After many hours of immersion in the sound taking shape, after listening to it being played over and over and over -- the feelings of grief and sadness will ebb. Awash in the harmony and balance, despair will be held at bay - and I will consider, once again, how blessed I am to live here in America where I can choose the people with whom I share my life.

 
At 2:50 AM, Blogger Bilgeman said...

I began September 11th on the roof of the Trinity Center 3,(or maybe 4) office building in Centreville VA.

I had had a bellyful of the seafaring gig and was trying my hand at a normal job ashore working for a mecanical contractor in the DC area.

It seemed that my quirky little seabag of nautical tricks I had accummulated over the previous 15 years before the mast often proved kinda useful, and it looked like I was all set to give up the sea and become just another "farmer".

I was up on that roof replacing an end door of one of the building's AC units which had been damaged...my gig with this firm was commissioning new equipment...als a kind of half-assed quality-control. So there I was, providing half-assed quality.

We were right under Dulles airport's flight path(s), but it wasn't a big deal...I live under Dulles' flight paths also, as does just about everyone else in Northern Virginia.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Trinity+Parkway+Centreville+VA&ie=UTF8&om=1&z=11&ll=38.887292,-77.391815&spn=0.211651,0.582962&iwloc=A

After my crony and I had finished our repairs and were toting our gear back down through the building, I noticed that the receptionist in one of the tenant's office suites was standing at her station, face ashen, and apparently crying.

I didn't think much of it.

When I got to my van in the parking lot and turned on my radio, I learned of what ad happened in New York, and that the Pentagon was on fire.

It didn't take an Ivy league PhD in Psychology to figure out that NOBODY was going to let me park my large service van next to THEIR building that day.

And since I figured that the cellular frequencies would be direly needed by emergency services, I could best go home, park my van, and stay off the company Nextel.

That's exactly what I did. On the short drive home I learned that the South Tower had collapsed.

I'd sailed in and out of New York more than once, I'd even travelled up there to catch a ship or two when the jobs further down the coast had cooled off.

I figured that 50,000 people had just lost their lives.

I also figured that I'd probably be going back to sea, since so much of he modern US Merchant Marine involves military cargo.

In my department at this company was only one Muslim, a Pakistani fellow, who I got along pretty well with, since I've been to Karachi often enough to know to avoid the Chicken Tandoori at the Sheraton.

Guess who, out of my entire department, was at the Pentagon Row Condo jobsite...directly across I-395 from the Pentagon impact... and folks say God doesn't appreciate irony.

Google Map "Pentagon Row Arlington VA" to see HOW close my Paki colleague was.

He later told me that entire squads of hardhats raced off of the jobsite and through the tunnel under I-395 to help in the rescue.

People can be pretty fuckin' decent, y'know?

People can also be pretty fuckin' nauseating also.

I remember watching the candlelight vigils, and especially Congress, which added the "America the Beautiful" sing-along, and wondered how long it would be before it was "Bullshit As Usual" again.

As it turned out, not too long...all it took was someone to suggest some REAL air security..letting pilots have he option of having handguns to defend their cockpits with...and then "America the Beautiful" faded out and the normal "Looney Toons Soundtrack" volumed back up.

I aplied for a job as an Air Marshall...they told me thanks, but I was a little too old for their taste.

Strange really, if they knew how much of a seaman's career is spent with his ass in a (coach) airline seat..

So, September 11th was a Tuesday, and the company I had been working for laid off a whole heap of us that next Friday. I figured that I was going to be axed anyway...a "fish out of water" in more ways than one.

I had to mark some time working as a deckhand on a Baltimore harbor tugboat,(a career field I can heartily NOT recommend), while I got all the shots and physical examinations and whatnot necessary.

And by December 13th, 2001, I was a crewman on this ship:

http://www.msc.navy.mil/inventory/pics/1ltbonnyman.jpg

Anchored in te lagoon near to the end of the runway on this island:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/diego-garcia-pix.htm

Again...doing half-assed quality control while watching aircraft taking off...only this time, the aircraft taking off were our tankers and our bombers...and a few hours of flight time later, some asshole in Afghanistan was fixin' to have himself a REAL bad day.

I've pretty much been sailing military sealift "black hulls" and "gray hulls" since.

And in fact, I lookout the porthole of this hideously ugly crew lounge and see the in-port destroyers of the US Atlantic Fleet.

I reckon I'll be doing this gig until I keel over and I ride home wrapped in plastic in the reefer...or the vet says I'm not healthy enough to climb the gangway, and then I can wrestle with whoever i need to abot disability.

What I most take away about September 11th was how many miracles I saw that day.

The Twin Towers were NEVER meant to survive the insult they suffered, how could they have been? No plane was bigger than a 707 when they were designed.

And yet they stood long enough so that most of the people below the impacts were able to evacuate.

Perfectly scientifically explainable...but they stood when they needed to for as long as they did.

Miraculous.

Likewise, when and WHERE American Airlines 77 hit the Pentagon.

Any Nigerian cabdriver in DC can tell you where in the Pentagon the VIP offices are...here's a hint: YES they are in the "E"(outer) ring, but NO, they do nt have a wonderful view of the Fort Myers Bachelor Enlisted Quarters.

Despite all their planning, they were dumber than we were in all our unpreparedness.

Again, miraculous.

And most of all, the only victory that America had on September 11th, Pyrrhic though it was, the Unorganized Citizens' Militia of United Airlnes Flight 93, who despite being let down and effectively disarmed by their own government, nevertheless managed to hold an election and act on their decision, and thus saved the White House? the Capitol?

The spirit of my countrymen at their peril.

Miraculous,inspiring...and tragically forgotten by the government that STILL does not realize that THEIR victory was achieved IN SPITE of the government and it's "Bullshit as Usual",

I largely like George Bush, but frankly, if he were any kind of a President, he would have held his Second Inauguration in a Shanksville, PA field...and dragged all of official DC up there with him.

I'm also left with the sad impression that we were not hit hard enough to take our security as seriously as we should be.

And this means that it is a certainty that we will be hit again, harder.

The Pig Fuckers cannot ALWAYS be dumber than we are choosing to be.

Have an uneventful day, everyone.

Regards;

 
At 3:15 AM, Blogger Infidel753 said...

Since I live in Oregon, the attack came early in the morning by our time. Shortly after getting up I checked the internet for news. I remember seeing an item about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. Wanting to see what was happening in real time, I put the TV on. I hadn't watched TV in years; I only had a TV set so I could watch tapes on the VCR, and the reception wasn't very good, but I was instantly in shock. Film of the plane impacts was shown again and again. It was obvious that it was a deliberate act. Then one of the towers collapsed. I'll never forget the sickening feeling it gave me. I didn't know how many people were still inside, but I knew there must be many.

Pearl Harbor, I kept thinking. This is like Pearl Harbor.

The other tower collapsed. I thought there was a very slight possibility that the people who did this were from some extremist group of Tim McVeigh's ilk. But I knew that wasn't very likely. It was almost certainly Muslims. I still felt sick, but I was feeling more and more angry.

Eventually the TV started showing statements by leaders reacting to what had happened. I remember Tony Blair in particular. He spoke of the need to "stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends." He also spoke of the terrorists and their "barbarism". I realized I had been mentally searching for the right word for what had happened, and that was it. Barbarism.

At that time I lived at the end of a cul-de-sac. Several neighbors were standing in the street talking. I went out to join them. Mostly they were expressing bewilderment. The attack seemed inexplicable. I told them I had studied Islam for years and understood the culture and mentality well, and I had been expecting for a long time that they would eventually launch a major attack on us (by then I had no more doubts about the indentity of the attackers). It was technically true, but it had always been an abstract idea, something I didn't think about much. I had never anticipated the horror of the thing when it happened.

None of the dead were people I knew personally. Nevertheless, the attack affected me personally in a profound way.

I had never been a patriot. I never understood that kind of emotion. It had always seemed outmoded and naive. September 11 forced me to confront feelings I had not acknowledged before. If the same attack had happened in London or Tokyo, it would have affected me, yes, but the fact that it was New York made it hit me much harder. It was an attack on something that was MINE. It was like the difference bwteen a tragedy you read about in the paper and one that strikes your own family.

You can't deny what you feel. I realized that America was desperately important to me. That feeling has just grown stronger ever since.

Over time I learned of the heroism of that day -- of the New York Fire Department, of the ordinary people on Flight 93 who rose to the occasion and fought back. The greatness of this country runs so deep in its people. We are so much better than the murderous barbarians who attacked us. I know that in the end, whatever it takes, we will win.

 
At 4:48 AM, Blogger phil said...

I was fixing a computer at a school district in New Jersey, a co-worker called me and said a plane just hit the World Trade Center. Being a volunteer Firefighter my first thought was to go to one of the scanner sites and listen to the FDNY. I was going to go there right after I finished whatever I was doing on the computer. About 15 minutes later my phone rang again. You all know what my co-worker said to me.

The rest of that day was spent doing duties that were not in anyway shape or form part of my day to day work. As parents were getting word of what was happening they were calling into the school to get a hold of their kids or coming to pick them up. My job became answering the phone or helping the secretaries find kids when there parents came in.

One story I will never forget: The phone rang and the principal of the school answered it. She said that we need to call a girl down to the office because her mom works in the WTC, it was her mom on the phone she wanted to let her daughter know that everything was ok. While we were waiting the phone on the other desk rang, it was the girls dad who worked downtown in Manhattan, calling to tell his daughter that he was ok. The husband and wife had been trying to get a hold of each other but with Cel phone lines were jammed. The principal stood with a phone in each of her ears relaying information back and forth between the parents, where to meet, where they were. The vision of her doing that is burned into my mind.

After work, I went to the firehouse and saw on the call board a crew had been put together to go to NYC if needed. We live 100 miles away.

I think the part of the day that is most ingrained into my head would be the weather. It was gorgeous, not too hot, not too cold, beautiful blue sky. It just struck me how in contrast to what I was witnessing how nice a day it was.

I'm a part of the 2,996 project. It's a group of bloggers that are memorializing one victim from the attacks. I have two blogs one at
http:\\reagancon.blogspot.com and the other at http:\\enginegoes.blogspot.com please read them, not for me but for the souls I'm memorializing.

 
At 5:30 AM, Blogger dv8 said...

Earlier today, my wife told me that a blog she frequents had put out a call for people to write about their experience on that day—a sort of Where was I on 9/ll sort of thing—and asked if I wanted to offer up a contribution myself. My first reaction and indeed the first words out of my mouth were, “I can’t do that!” Obviously, I overcame that initial reaction, but not before a lot of serious consideration.
The truth is I’m not like other people. I have a mild form of Autism known as Asberger Syndrome. Over the years I have come to terms with the fact that I am different; I have learned to mitigate it when necessary; but it is true nonetheless. The thoughts I have, and the emotions I experience, are far from the norm. I might feel deep emotion—even be moved to tears—at little more than the memory of a piece of music I love; I might not feel any emotion at all at a moment when every sane and normal person should; and I might find humor in something that hardly anybody finds funny at all. As you might imagine, this causes me a considerable amount of difficulty.

Regarding 9/11, I was so sure that my reactions at the time were not the norm—that they would be incomprehensible, perhaps even hurtful, to those who had lost so much or even to those who had experienced a more normal range of thoughts and emotions. So I firmly told my sweetheart that, while I’d help her with her account, I wouldn’t write one myself. I’m a good proofreader, particularly when it comes to making order out of chaos—another Asberger trait.

In fact my tendency toward pattern recognition is part of what this account is about, but I’m getting ahead of myself. After I got done helping my wife edit her own account and helping her post it, she asked me if she could read me some of the other posts. I said she could, and she began to read them. What I heard was very touching. Some of the writing was quite lovely as well, but pretty much what I expected—the normal range of emotions. So I had been right not to write and post my own account. Still, somewhere between five and ten such accounts, a strange feeling came over me: I started remembering that day in vivid detail and had a desire to write it down. I can’t explain what it was that came over me, but I suddenly thought that I had to get it all out.

I remember that I had been up late the night before writing some music and I was pretty deeply asleep. I recall that my wife came into the bedroom and asked me the strangest question: “If any more planes crash into buildings do you want me to wake you up?” I said no. (I’ll always say no to waking up though if I really have a choice.) Really, I thought I was dreaming anyway. Planes don’t crash into buildings over and over except in movies. A while later, I woke up and went into the living room where the rest of the family were watching the news. Buildings definitely were burning and collapsing. The first words I remember saying were: “So I guess I wasn’t dreaming, then.” I remember that some newscaster was talking about how “no one had any idea what or who” was behind the disaster. That’s when I started laughing. It was so obvious to me, that every time I heard a jet plane roar overhead I started yelling “Aaaahhhlaaahhalalalalalllaaaahhhhh!!!!!!” That was the main part I thought might hurt everyone’s feelings, but as I mentioned earlier, I often see humor in things no one else finds funny. And I thought it was hilarious that these talking heads were so completely clueless as to the very obvious cause. I knew we were under attack. I knew it was Muslim extremists. And I knew that you didn’t have to be the rainman to put that together. Of course as the hours passed, everyone came to realize what I knew in an instant; the talking heads could no longer deny it, even though it seemed like they, as usual, had to be dragged kicking and screaming toward the truth.

That day, I was never sad, angry or afraid. But I was and am an American. And I knew we had to do something serious or many more Americans would die. As time went on, I felt, as I still feel now, very positive about the steps that have been taken; but still, it doesn’t seem like enough. I love America and I don’t want Americans to suffer. I would prefer if it were not necessary to turn the entire Middle East into Glassistan, but I sometimes I fear that may be the only way to protect the civilized world. I also see that America and Americans may have become too civilized to fight this war as aggressively as necessary.

It’s often said that people with Asberger are detached—too detached to see the human cost of such extreme actions. But the truth is that I see these costs only too well—the cost of doing too much, and the infinitely greater cost of doing too little.

 
At 5:45 AM, Blogger Victoria said...

I drove my kids to the clinic that morning (one of them had the flu) and I heard bits and pieces of the attacks on NYC while waiting in line. No one knew for sure what was going on, since cell phones had to be turned off and there was no TV or radio.

I didn't get to a TV until 11 am or so. At the time, my kids were 2, 4 and 6 and I was trying to joing the Army Reserve.

The events of 9/11 only made me more determined to give something back to the country that has given me so much. I just had to wait 2 more months to be sworn in a a US citizen.

My mother's friend worked in the second tower, but he managed to get down just minutes before the collapse. He was also there during the 1993 bombing.

http://mnflygirl.blogspot.com

 
At 7:07 AM, Blogger Southern Fried Yankee said...

5 years ago today, I was exactly where I am right now. Since we homeschool, I was at my desk getting our lessons ready for the day. Our 3 children were in various states of getting up and my husband, who just so happened didn't have to be into work until late that morning, was getting dressed. As always Fox and Friends was on the TV.

Having grown up 20 miles north of NYC with my father who commuted there everday on the train, I spent a lot of time there. I remember when they finished the Towers, I was just a kid...

Now in Eastern, NC I heard E.D. say a plane had just hit the World Trade Center, called Dan and the kids to the TV and watched in disbelief as a second plane hit on live TV. At 9:01am I knew our world had changed, it was no accident, our country was under attack. I will be forever thankful that we were able to all be together that morning. We wept and prayed for those who died, those who were dying or trapped, those who were rescuing, the families, and for our country.

As the hours wore on, the plane hit the Pentagon, another hit the field in PA, and the Towers crashed to the ground. Then the deafening silence in the skies...

Little did I know, as I planned the lessons for that day at 8:45am, that in the next minute it would all change so drastically.
What we learned that day we will never...must never forget.

 
At 8:28 AM, Blogger Petrarchan Motif said...

Just an addendum to my post after reading my brother's. I had completely forgotten about it until this morning. Around 3pm Chicago time I received a call from my other brother, Jeff. Some of you here know that Joe and I have another brother who is a Cistercian Trappist Monk. This is a very strict Catholic order whose members are cloistered, and whose contact with the outside world is kept to as minimum as possible.

The Abbott of his order allowed the monks there some brief tv news updates on what was happening that day. Later on, my brother asked the Abbott for permission to call me, as no one yet knew if other cities with large skyscrapers were under attack. I was glad he called because at the time, he had no internet access (so no email), so the only way he would know I was alright was if I posted regular mail to him. He was very worried when he called me, but was relieved to know that I was safe, and that Chicago was safe. He also let me know that all the monks were praying for America that day, and that was their only job the rest of the day, and also that Trappist around the world were doing the same. We only talked for about 5 minutes, but I felt heartened to know that monks everywhere were praying for us.

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger cathyf said...

For me, it's a sound. The trumpet fanfare that ABC radio plays at the hour for the news. I had dropped my daughter off at preschool and hopped back in the car just before 9am, and the trumpets were just starting up. Then the news came on.

It's been five years, but every time I hear that fanfare come over the radio my guts clench up. I hate that damned trumpet fanfare.

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger Purple Avenger said...

I was sleeping when it happened. I'd been on an all night programming binge the day before.

When I woke up and found out, I realized the next "100 years war" had begun.

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger TC said...

I woke up and opened the bedroom curtains, same as every day before. I lived in the St. George section of Staten Island. The view from my window was that of a glorious day, a cloudless blue sky, New York Harbor shimmering and the Manhattan skyline glistening, the Towers gleaming in the sun. I went into the living room and turned on the television and radio, muting CNN's sound and tuning the radio to WABC. Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby were doing their schtick and I went into my office and fired up the computers, then stepped into the kitchen and got a cup of coffee. I went back into the office and started sorting through the morning's e-mail avalanche. Then the radio bozos said something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I went back to the bedroom and looked across the harbor and saw smoke billowing from the North Tower. While I was standing there, trying to comprehend how stupendously retarded a pilot wouuld have to be to not see something that big staring at him from the other side of his windshield, another plane appeared, coming south down the Hudson. It banked and crashed into the South Tower, a ball of fire blowing out the opposite side from where the plane had struck; the cuncussion racing across the harbor and hit me through the open window. Then the sound caught up.

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Kirk Hays said...

I rise early (about 4:30 am, on the west coast), and was out in the kitchen getting the day started.

Turned on the tube after breakfast, and there it was - the first tower, in flames, and the talking heads trying to figure out what was happening.

I knew, the moment I saw it, that it was the second time Al Qaida was attacking the WTC, and said as much to my wife.

The kids, 9 and 12 yo, came downstairs, and I said to them, after a bit, "Your grandparents and great-grandparents defeated facism in WWII, your parents and grandparents defeated communism with the cold war, and now we see the first great blow against us in the next world war, one you kids and your kids will fight."

By this time, the second tower had been hit, and, watching them burn from across the continent, I told my wife that there would be 10,000 to 20,000 dead if the towers could not be evacuated.

I was relieved to be wrong.

To this day, I see red when folks try to place the blame for this on the US.

I will never forget. I will never forgive.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Dianna said...

In a lot of ways, my story is going to sound strange.

I got up a little late, so I was in a hurry. I walked my dog, and raced back and jumped in the shower without turning on the news or the computer. I didn't get my coffee, just ran out the door and (because it was beautiful) didn't take my car, but walked to BART.

The train seemed a little empty, but I had a new book, so I had my nose in the book and wasn't paying attention. When the train got to Montgomery Station, the platform was full of people headed out of San Francisco, and I finally asked someone - a security woman from my building - what was going on.

She stared at me for a minute, then said, "Two planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York. Another flew into the Pentagon. Another...my aunt's on 93, and they haven't said, yet..." and she started to cry.

I went to work. Everyone else was leaving, and there was this weird smell of panic in the air. The financial district was empty. But I still had work to do, so I did it.

The strange thing were the calls I got. People I hadn't heard from in years called me at work, knowing I'd be there. I had an e-mail exchange with some very angry, very experienced people.

Though I'm not Catholic, I went up to Old St. Mary's about 3. It was open, and many people were there; a whole lot of non-Catholics were buying and lighting candles, so I joined the line.

When I got home, I called to see if my blood-type was needed (I'm not really rare, but they tend to prefer to have me keep my blood until they need it). It was, so I dropped by and gave up a half-pint.

Did my world change? Not that much. I'd known something like this had to happen. The size of it was a shock; but the thing itself, no. I was angry. I was sad. But mostly I was resolute, that I would do whatever I could to help see this long war through to victory.

To fail is to fail humanity, and what progress we've managed to make after the bloody 20th Century. Freedom breeds anxiety, and a certain amount of fear; but I'll take that over the alternative any day.

 
At 10:12 AM, Blogger Chell said...

My day had started out the abnormally normal way. Dropped the kids off at the bus stop between towns and came home to sleep off the night's coding work. My husband works in radio, so he caught the newsflashes right away and called home to say to turn the news on. CNN had their text bars rolling updates across the screen while showing both updated views and repeats of the unfolding nightmare. And all I could think for the longest time was, "Is this real? It can't be real. Is this really happening?" I started to think maybe it would be a good idea to "regroup" the family at home, and then not. Who knew what was going to happen next? Turns out they had the news on for the kids at school too, and were well aware of the situation. The hole that was being punched into this country, the suffering and loss... I just sat and stared at the screen and cried.

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger X_LA_Native said...

San Diego, CA
I remember. I had just begun my commute to work, and just before 6:00am, the local FM morning show came back from commercial break talking about a jet hitting the one of the WTC towers. I felt cold. As the show's rarely serious, I called my then-boyfriend now husband, and asked him to turn on the TV. I remember him grumbling on the way into the living room, and hearing the TV turn on. Then he went quiet. "Honey?" "It's not a joke. Come home as soon as you can." I got colder still.

I don't remember the rest of the drive to work. But I remember looking into the eyes of my best friend and co-worker as I walked into my office. Without a word, we walked to each TV and turned it on. We then stood side-by-side, absorbing the news of a plane crashing into the Pentagon. I remember watching the North Tower collapse, the antenna ghostly yet almost regal as it disappeared into the smoke. The GM came in a few minutes later and told us to call everyone and turn them around. "No one's working today." Not too long after that we left to return to our homes, and I don't remember the drive.

I remember sitting for hours, mute, watching the coverage. I remember looking out the front window and thinking, "Everything looks the same, but it's not." At some point I went to the store and bought a yahrzeit memorial candle. I remember lighting it at dusk and thinking it was so small, and the events of the day so big.

I remember vowing, "Never again."

 
At 12:13 PM, Blogger Fred the Genius said...

I was at UAW headquarters in downtown Detroit, attending the first session of a three-day chemical safety training seminar. I don't recall the exact floor we were on but the building is fairly large and we were up pretty high. We had a fantastic view across the Detroit River into Windsor, Ontario, with the Ambassador Bridge just off to our right.

The instructors began to give a brief summary of the training material, describing the different types of chemical classes they would cover, along with the procedure they would follow in presenting each individual training module. During this overview, one of the instructors reminded everyone to please turn off their cell phones and pagers. Feigning indignation, he assured us there was always one numbskull who failed to comply with this simple request, asking us if we had any idea how annoying that can be for an instructor, and sarcastically wondering aloud if this class might possibly be the first he'd ever taught where he wasn't so rudely interrupted. He no sooner finished this earnest, not to mention amusing, plea when his own cell phone rang.

Having immediately plummeted from authority figure to veritable schmuck in the course a fleeting instant, our instructor graciously deflected the myriad of wisecracks as he hurried out of the classroom to answer his phone, obviously embarrassed. The banter had barely receded when he returned with what appeared to me as a very confused look on his face. That was his son on the phone. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

I don't specifically remember how any person in the room responded but I distinctly recall wondering how in the hell could a pilot be so incompetent as to fly his aircraft into a building. At that point we had very little information. We didn't know how big the plane was. We didn't know whether it was a commercial or cargo airline. People began monitoring the news updates accessible on their pagers and within minutes we learned that a second plane had struck the other tower.

It was now clear to everyone that this was an act of terrorism but none of us could have ever imagined that the carnage had only just begun. I remember when the report came of the Pentagon being hit. For several minutes I was convinced that what we were hearing could not possibly be true. I was sure there had been a attack, but this was getting ridiculous. Obviously the media, in full scoop mode, had spiraled completely out of control, with absurd, unconfirmed reports emerging from the chaotic aftermath and growing like malignant tumors. It wasn't that I didn't want to believe it. I simply couldn't believe it.

It wasn't long before I realized that the reports were apparently true. Not only had the Pentagon been hit, but there was still at least one other hijacked aircraft somewhere in the sky. We were informed that the building was being evacuated, that we should not return to our respective plants or office buildings, and that we should go directly home.

I remember looking out the window at the bridge. It was completely empty. No cars, no trucks, nothing. Detroit's Ambassador Bridge is the busiest border crossing in the entire nation. Now that border was closed. My country had literally come to a halt.

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger kentuckyjoe said...

I had come to work early to get some unfinished projects out and had walked down to the Canteen to get a cup of coffee. The proprietor had the TV on and it showed the WTC burning from the first hit. I couldn't believe my eyes. After I got back to my floor several people had their televisions on and we saw the second hit live. Soon after that came the news of the Pentagon. After that, people on our floor were terrified. The country was being attacked and it really did feel like it deep in your gut-that primal fear that someone was attacking your homeland and there was nothing you could do about it. Helplessness. I would imagine that quite a few folks felt the same way about December 7, 1941.

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger jennifer_elin said...

My husband, Hosedragger, posted here, and I am adding to the story. Background: In 2001, he had just graduated from his fire academy and was in his "probationary" first year. He had come to this late in life, competing against 20 year olds when he was in his early 30s. But it was fulfillment of a dream and I was happy for him.

On Sunday, September 9, 2001, my grandmother-in-law had died after a long fight with old age. It was a sad day, but I remember sitting up that night, not able to sleep, my husband and the kids were asleep on the couch and I was feeling this strange general malaise, a PANIC that I hadn't felt before. I was saying to myself, "Something bad is going to happen. Something is wrong." But my thought editor was running alongside that stream with, "You're just upset about Nannie. This has been a sad day." I don't consider myself very psychic, though from time to time, I experience coinciding events and awareness that is not rational or explanable. But feeling was definitely premonitory.

The morning of Tuesday, the 11th...I was on my way to San Francisco/Oakland for a meeting at our Corporate office. My husband was on a "24" (Monday 8 am to Tuesday 8 am) and I had to leave early. So my sister had spent the night to get the children off to their schools. My coworker picked me up at 6 am and we were driving the 2 hours to the office in the dark. We were chatting away in the car and had just stopped for our first fuel up (i.e., Starbuck's). When I returned to the car, my phone was going off and it was the first I'd heard it because of the radio and our conversation. My husband told me to turn around. I couldn't understand why he'd be telling me this. Then he said the Twin Towers had been hit. (I'll admit it. I don't know that much about New York, but I had some vague recollection that this was important, but I just couldn't focus.) I repeated this information to my friend, and we sat together in alarm. She immediately got on her cell phone to call her family; I called my mother in law to find out if her cousin,who's a VP for a brokerage in the Towers was okay. (He was okay - went downstairs for coffee and missed being killed. He'd also been in there when the Tower was bombed by OBL.)
Then I called my boss to find out whether to continue on into town, or to go back. She called our VP and then called back and urged us to turn around and go home. At this point, it was dawning on us that airplanes were being rerouted and landed...there were airplanes missing and no one knew what other targets could be hit. A city like San Francisco certainly had a fair share of noteworthy American targets.

We were so absorbed in our morning, we had failed to notice that traffic was nil. As the reality of what was happening began to settle, we turned around outside Oakland and drove home as fast as we could. My sister was still there. I will never forget coming home and seeing her sitting there watching TV, dumbstruck by what she was seeing. The three of us watched the replay of the airplanes and the towers crashing in, in complete silence. Over and over again, "Oh My God, Oh My God" rang through my brain. I felt numb with the overflow of emotion and tragedy.

By the time the inital shock wore off, I felt the sudden urge to be with my children. I drove to my son's middle school (it was nearly 11 at this point) and picked him up; many other parents had done the same thing. My husband had picked up the girls and we sat glued to the TV for the next ...

Well...to tell you the truth, we haven't turned the televisions off since 9/11. I'd always been bugged by the constant noise from the TV, but since 9/11, we had the TV night and day for weeks...and really, it's always on now.

There's an episode of SouthPark that shows all the parents in town laying on their couches, paralyzed by the viewing of the Towers being struck. This resonates with me because that was me; I was horrified to my core. And I couldn't think straight for weeks; I was just scared: for my family, for America, for people I don't know, for the future.

After that came the dawning that we were now at war and that there we were no longer safe. I packed up our SUV with water, special belongings, etc and created a plan to head to the hills if we needed to. I was scared and just felt so helpless to protect my family if the need should arise.

My world changed then because I had taken for granted the role firefighters play in the safety of the community. As a Firefighter/Paramedic, my husband would have to care first for the community and unfortunately, our family had to be second. I knew the sacrifice that my husband may have to someday make, I knew the sacrifice our family may have to make. It was Real then.

After 9/11, it was an intoxicating time: cookies and gift baskets and cash donations poured into the local firehouses from the community. People lined up at the local bloodbanks because they wanted to help and didn't know what else to do. For months people held doors open for eachother and said, "God Bless You" or "Have a wonderful day" because they felt it, they meant it. I had never been so proud to be an American. I sported a flag on my car along with everyone else. We were unified for what felt like the First Time. Slowly, it waned.

A month later, I was sent to Virginia (near Washington DC) with this same co-worker for training in a heavily secured training facility. We were very hesitant about flying, but went anyway. We'd discussed going into D.C. to do some sightseeing on the weekend and then the "ANTHRAX" thing happened. We stayed sequestered in our dorms for two weeks. We were depressed. She tried to quit smoking; we all begged her to light up. It was a very stressful time and I will never forget it.

September 11, 2001 changed my entire outlook on life, and exposed me to the reality that my husband's career choice was actually a Life Choice that affected our whole family in a way I hadn't truly grasped.

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger ..bruce.. said...

My wife Sandra and I were in the process of moving from one house in northwest DC to another about two miles closer to downtown. By September 11, we had already started sleeping in the new house and even had cable hooked up. I wandered into the bedroom just in time to catch Fox & Friends being interrupted by a news story about a plane hitting one of the WTC towers. They repeated the report that it was a commuter or other small plane, but once they had video of the WTC, I questioned that.

I called my wife in from the bathroom to see. As we were watching and discussing what this might be (I thought it was a deliberate crash of some kind), we both saw--live on TV--the second plane crash into the South Tower.

At that point I knew (a) that it was a terrorist attack and (b) that we were now at war.

We stayed glued to the TV all day, more so after reports came in about a third plane crashing into the Pentagon (about 3-4 miles due south of our new house) and a possible fourth plane also heading for DC. We watched and we watched and we watched.

The steady stream of commercial planes overhead going to and from Reagan National Airport ended; it was replaced by periodic overflights of military jets and the occasional helicopter.

I don't remember much else about the day other than the horror and heartache, particularly of watching the WTC towers collapse, one after the other. We lived in DC, and I frequently went to NYC on business, and I knew that things would not be "normal" again for a long time. ..bruce..

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger womanllee said...

I remember. I remember seeing the 2nd plane hit on live tv. Im not a big tv watcher but my clock radio went off to the news of the 1st tower being hit and I was half asleep when my husband turned on the tv...My first thought is that my brother had told me he was working just 1 block from the towers. Panic set in but he wasnt feeling well that day and stayed home..of course I didnt know that until much later that evening..I couldnt leave the tv.. I spent days in front of that thing. I couldnt work, I couldnt hardly eat..I really felt that I couldnt leave the tv even for a few hours because I might miss a rescue of just one living human being..hoping beyond hope that somebody could survive...It still brings a knot to my stomach. I visited ground zero a few months later. What still haunts me to this day are the hand made missing posters that were still up in grand central station. All the faces of loved ones that were never seen again...

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger Stashiu3 said...

I was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia and working a regular day shift on the Inpatient Psychiatric ward at the hospital. I remember we had six patients, but only one with a diagnosed mental illness. This was a pretty standard ratio, 20% or less mental illness (schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, etc...) and 80% or more behavioral issues (personality disorders, adjustment disorders, substance abuse/dependence, etc...)

I was a Captain and in charge for that day, doing the paperwork, organizing the group therapies, doing individual counselings. The inpatient psychiatrist came up to the ward and told me that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers and the tower was on fire. We don't allow patients to watch television during the treatment day, except at lunchtime, but there was a TV in the staff breakroom. I made sure the ward was covered and went into the back to where the doc and a couple of other staff were watching CNN. We wondered aloud if some small plane had accidently hit the tower, maybe the pilot had a heart attack or something. Just as I was getting ready to return back to the ward, the second plane hit. That's when I knew it was terrorists and said as much. It hadn't occured to anyone else yet, but after trying to think of any other possible explanation, everyone agreed that it must be.

I pulled the doctor aside and asked him how he wanted to inform the patients. I suggested that he let me go into the dayroom and tell them, then allow them to watch the
TV coverage. They were going to find out anyway and we could have most of the staff in with them to both monitor the milieu and keep themselves informed on what was happening. I suggested that was better than having rumors running around and uncertainty escalating the patient's anxiety. Staff would monitor to make sure none of the patients were becoming overwhelmed, removing them to talk individually if it was needed. The doc agreed and we watched events unfold.

When we heard about the Pentagon, we all froze, instantly trying to remember which of our friends might be there. I took the doc aside and told him that we were going to be at war soon. He was a DOD civilian I had a very good working relationship with, but he looked almost out of it right then. We began to talk about how this would change the way we did business. As we spoke, he kind of came back to himself and agreed that we were going to see a lot of things change very quickly.

I went back in and talked with our patients, asking them their thoughts on what they had been watching. Most of them wanted to return to their units which was very surprising because up to that point, they had wanted out of the Army. One of them said that his difficulties with the Army just didn't seem that important anymore and his buddies would need him there. That ended up being a fairly common sentiment after that horrible day. Nobody wanted to let their buddies down.

We all watched in horror as the first tower fell. The possibility had not crossed my mind and I sat in shock as each layer crumbled the ones beneath. Not long after, the second tower disintegrated and it seemed as if the world was coming to an end. Since nobody knew how many people were able to evacuate, some stations were reporting that as many as 50,000 people or more could be dead.

At the end of the shift, I gave report to the oncoming staff and told them to call me at home if they needed anything. Other than guidance on what to do with the patients, I kept silent on my personal reactions. I wanted to set a professional example that others could follow. Inside, I felt completely lost, no longer connected to reality. Only when I got home and watched more of the coverage with my wife and kids did I begin to feel anything again. We sat together and held one another, my children occasionally asking me questions about what they were seeing.

For the life of me, I can't remember any of those questions, just that I tried to answer as honestly as I could while setting their fears at rest to my best ability.

I don't think I slept more than a few minutes at a time for the next several days, maybe weeks. If I wasn't at work, I was watching the coverage on TV. If I tried to sleep, I would soon wake up and turn the TV back on... I just couldn't help myself. Like most military guys, I really didn't think about crying a lot. If you had a problem, fix it... crying was just giving in to weakness and didn't help. I cried every day while watching TV now, while everyone worked to recover and feared there would be a second wave of attacks.

The strange part was that I wasn't crying because I was sad, although I did feel sadness. I was crying more with anger at what had been done to us as a nation. I wanted revenge against whoever had done this and would have gladly hit the switch on a nuke aimed at those responsible.

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Paddy O'Furnijur said...

On September 10th I celebrate the birth and lives of two men who have shaped me into the man I am today. Fourteen years ago, we began a new tradition to celebrate the shared birthdays of my father and my father-in-law. The family boards a pontoon boat for a sunset cruise around a local lake as we share appetizers, laughter, and memories. In 1997 we lost my father-in-law to cancer, but the cruise and the memories continue.

My father was born dirt-poor in the deep south – so poor that a pair of shoes had to last all year and you took them off when you came home from school and started your chores. So poor that education beyond the 6th grade was a luxury that few could afford. My father joined the United States Marine Corps at the age of 17 and it was his home and his family for the next 30 years. I often remark that I spent the first 16 years of my life in the Corps. In the Korean War my father took part in the Inchon Landing and the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir – by all rights he shouldn’t have survived to marry and raise a family. He never let his lack of childhood education hold him back. During his career he was educated by IBM at their Rochester research lab and served as the head Staff NCO of the Marine Corps Computer Sciences School, Quantico, Virginia. Along the way he earned a couple of high school diplomas. He instilled in me a thirst for knowledge and a deep and abiding love of God and Country.

My father-in-law was born into a middle-class family that valued hard work and education. He earned his Engineering degree at Berkeley and later received Masters Degrees from both USC and UCLA in Engineering and Operations Research. The latter portion of his career was devoted to anticipating the ways in which our country’s enemies might attack us and how to prevent and/or survive those attacks. We had many wonderful conversations as we discussed (he in vague generalities, me in specifics) RFID tags, biological and chemical weapons, and data mining and attempted to knock holes in each others’ attack scenarios. In the late 1980’s he briefed the SECDEF on a possible attack scenario that involved hijacking commercial airliners and flying them into government buildings. Imagine our surprise when Tom Clancy included this scenario in his book Executive Orders (it’s tough to keep things secret inside the Beltway).

It was hard watching the second plane hit the south tower on live T.V. on September 11th (I don’t know why we even had the set on that early in the morning.) It was even harder to hear the claims of “nobody could have predicted this”. I wanted to scream “You fools! You were warned about this years ago!” The waste, the sheer, unadulterated, absolutely unnecessary waste of human life! In the days following, my mother-in-law received phone calls from many of my father-in-laws former colleagues, expressing outrage and disgust at the government’s failure to plan.

On September 10th, we gather to celebrate the lives of two extraordinary men – and our celebration is tempered by the remembrance of the day to come.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger DC Criminal Defense Lawyer said...

After a beautiful clear morning doing my usual feisty preliminary hearing on behalf of a fogotten client in Pennsylvania, I returned to the office to find everyone glued to the sole television in the conference room. I watched as the second plane flew into the second building. I commented out loud that this was professional because of the discipline that it took to do an act of this magnitude. Several people gasped at my comment, but I simply replied that clearly this was a premediatated attack on the United States and that we were now at war. I will never forget that moment.

Then the news came that the Pentagon was under attack. As a retired Army Colonel (28 years service), I felt compelled to immediately get into my car and get to Washington as soon as possible. Having been stationed in the DC area for 15 years, I eventually managed to get to Fort Myer and talk my way onto post. I parked somewhere near the Commissary and walked down near Henderson Hall where the odor of aviation fuel was more pronounced. I could not see much and was not allowed to get any further than Henderson Hall, but I felt closer to all my comrades that had been actively fighting the flames and rescuing people. The horror of that moment was beginning to fade as reality set in and I realized how heavy our losses were. I learned at Fort Myer from a friend that conservative Barbara Olson, the wife of the Solicitor General Ted Olson had been on the plane that had gone into the Pentagon. I teared up at this news as it sank in how badly these people wanted to destroy us as a nation, culture and a way of life. I will never forget that moment.

Later, after returning home, I saw the telvised images of the Palestinian woman shrilling her tongue as she celebrated tha deaths of all our innocent and defenseless people at the hands of these cruel terrorists. For me, she personified the hatred and fear of our culture that so permeates the Arab world. I will never forget that moment.

I will never forget those moments. Someday, I may be able to forgive, but I will never forget September 11, 2001.

As a nation, we must never forget!!

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger OttavaRima said...

I was alone that day.

My family is all still in Texas and my close friends are scattered across the globe. By September 2001, I'd lived in North Carolina just long enough to become really good friends with two people. They'd both moved away earlier that summer, one to Seattle, one to Milan.

Monday night when I went to bed, I'd turned the ringers to the phones off so I could sleep in on Tuesday . . . one of the good things about a layoff (yeah, that whole dot com bust got a lot of us) is that you can turn off the phones and sleep late occasionally.

On the other hand, the world can change and you don't even know about it. And that day it did and I didn't until maybe three minutes before the second tower collapsed.

I'd called a friend to confirm our lunch plans and she was surprised I still wanted to meet. She was shaken because her husband was supposed to have been on a plane that morning and if he had actually gone, there's no telling where he'd be now.

It took a few seconds for her to figure out that I had no idea what she was talking about. It took a few seconds for me to realize something horrible was happening, and when I turned on the television, I sank to the floor in disbelief.

We stayed on the phone for a while, each watching what was happening. Each willing the North Tower to stand.

After it collapsed, I stayed there on the floor of my office, alone except for the dog. Numb. Just completely numb with disbelief.

I stayed there until Sunday. Sometimes talking to friends on the phone, sometimes not. I wouldn't have left the room at all had the dog not needed walking.

It was odd, but it seemed like a betrayal to turn off the television, to leave that room. If I'd turned off the TV and walked out of the house, I could pretend it hadn't happened.

After all, my life wasn't really affected by it. Everything in my little world was operating as usual, from government offices to Taco Bell. I could take the dog to Duke Forest and she could swim in the creek and chase the squirrels and deer, just like any other day. I'd finally gotten through to my friend on Long Island whose husband and brothers worked in lower Manhattan and everyone was safe.

My little part of the planet was fine.

So, I left the TV on. And I sat in front of it day and night and watched a haggard Diane Sawyer in New York interview husbands who didn't know if their wives were still alive. Mothers begging for news of their children. Scenes from a lonely field in Pennsylvania. Smoke rising from the Pentagon.

I wasn't a fireman or a police officer or a marine who could race to the scenes and help save people.

I was just one lonely American that week who reached out the only way I could to the people who were suffering: I left the TV on and I didn't shut my eyes to their pain.

And I prayed. And I woke up.

I slept through most of that morning and, indeed, through the first twenty years of this war that history may very well say began on a Sunday in Tehran in 1979.

But I'm wide awake now. And thank God I'm not alone.

 
At 7:10 PM, Blogger lunarpuff said...

I was in Denmark working on a software project with several newspapers.

It was close to the end of the day.

This was a new building and the official dedication was that day.

Everyone gathered for the speech by the company president. It was in Danish, so several people kept sneaking off to a conference room to check e-mail, etc.

Soon, someone tapped me and whispered that the WTC had just been hit by an airplane. I waited a couple of minutes and then snuck out to see. By then, the second plane had hit. I could only stare in disbelief. He kept saying "This was on purpose, this was deliberate."

I was still in complete disbelief. It just was not possible for someone to do this on purpose.

Soon, more and more of us were whispering and leaving the room. Everyone tuned in to their own paper's coverage and then went out to let someone know what was going on.

Someone went up to the president and whispered something in his ear.
He looked out and said, "I'm going to wrap this up now. America has just been attacked."

Well, then it became real. I never in a million years would have believed I would hear those words in my lifetime.

Another guy and I immediately decided it was Bin Laden. We were both shocked that so many people didn't know who he was.

We got back to the hotel and it seemed like the entire hotel was in the lobby watching it all on tv. Nobody wanted to be alone.

I started to get worried because my family and many of my friends didn't know where I was. I was afraid they would think I was in NY, because I went there alot. I couldn't get thru to the US at all.

I went to bed with the BBC on, not sleeping a wink.

 
At 11:58 PM, Blogger Rachelrolen said...

My husband and I were living in Wa while he was stationed at NSB Bangor. He was deployed at the time. The night before I had this feeling that he might call. Since he hadn't been deployed that long I knew those phone calls were rare, but I made sure the phone was charged and took the phone into the room with me.

I was pretty restless that night, and didn't doze off until 4 am. It was one of those naps were you're half awake and keep looking at the clock. I was afraid I'd sleep through his phone call. When I actually started to relax and fall asleep the phone rang. First quick thought that went through my mind was .." he has the worst timing ever.." ( not the nicest person when you wake me up ). I looked at the caller ID and time, seeing it was my my old neighbor who had moved to Pa a few months prior I answered it... " Stacy, it's not even 6 am why are you calling me?" All she could mutter out was.."I'm scared, a plane hit...turn on your tv." I'm thinking it was just a plane crash or something. But I stumbled out into the living room, I turned on the receiver and since I had left the channel on MSNBC I heard right away that a plane had hit the WTC. I still wasn't use to the way my husband had set up the TV so the actual TV wasn't on. It took me a second to realize that, so I felt around the TV still half asleep and turned it on, rubbed my eyes and tried to open them as wide as I could with out having my first cup of coffee. Had another quick thought about my feet being cold and how I hated waking up like that.
" Stacy what the HEL---..." was all I could get out before I saw the second plane hit. " DID YOU SEE THAT?...DID YOU SEE THAT?.." At the time I didn't realize I just screamed it scaring her, making her choke on the cigarette she was now smoking outside. " See what?!?!?.." I couldn't even articulate it. Just grunted out.. "another plane...go.. tv.. NOW!"

After we listened to the TV for a few minutes in a sort of disbelief she asked if it was a terrorist attack, in an irritated reply I said.." What do you think it is...this can't be an accident." Her son had started crying for breakfast so she let me go for the time being. I called another neighbor whose husband was doing ASF shift work and they were still in bed. Told her what happened and to turn on her TV. I could hear her yelling at her husband to get up and look. Then she said she would call me back because her husband was going to call work.

Stacy called back first and we just went over what had happened. Now it seems like it was only a few minutes but in the middle of me cursing who ever had done this we started hearing the first reports about a possible car bomb at the Pentagon. I was pacing back and forth from the kitchen to the living room to the front door and back again. Stacy was asking if I thought it would be safe if she took her little boy to day care. " Sure, I don't see why not..you're in the middle of no-where PA, what's going to happen there."
I got off the phone with her as the other neighbor walked in my house. Her husband had been called back to work for an indefinite period of time. I sorta caught her up a little. We walked into the living room and barely had time to sit down before we saw the first tower collapse. She just stood up, walked into the kitchen and started doing my dishes.
At this point we knew it was a plane that hit the Pentagon but we kept hearing those reports about possible car bomb threats in DC and out of my kitchen window we see an unmarked white van next to a house that wasn't occupied. We lived in off base housing with no security. I just watched it for a little while debating if I should try to call the police and go through the usual conversation that yes, you are supposed to provide security for us. I decided against it assuming it was most likely maintenance guys.

I went back into the living room and heard about the plane that hit in PA and instantly got a lump in my throat thinking I may have just sent my friend off into god knows what. Thankfully she called not to long after and had heard it on the radio and informed me that is was around 30 miles away from her.

By now I still haven't had any coffee or breakfast so my neighbor and I go to McDonald's to grab something to eat. She had a dentist appointment that day so I promised I would take her. As I drove her I noticed there was virtually no one on the road. Almost like an early Sunday morning not almost lunch time during the week. I sat out in the car waiting for her listening to the radio and it was so surreal.

After I got home I mostly fielded calls from family members worried about my husband. All I could do to reassure them, as bad as it was, was to sorta joke that I didn't think any terrorists had the capability of diving down that far so they could try to hijack a submarine. Once the calls had died down I laid on the couch watching TV trying to stay awake to hear Bush speak but fell asleep shortly before. I woke up a few hours later and stayed glued to my TV for the rest of the night and following day.

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Kate said...

I have never been to VBS but I do live in Lawrenceville. I am not a redhead although I do share some temper issues with them. I have followed this site and the tragic-comic arc of teh crazee almost since it started, but it was the combination of the group coming together as friends and the request for 9-11 stories which lured me to post.
So, My 9-11 story:

My daughter's birthday is 9-11.
If it hadn't been her birthday I doubt I would have known about the attacks that morning because I did not then keep either the tv or radio on during the day. I went to the elementary school at 10 am to have a special birthday lunch ( yes, too many kids in the school to have lunch at a decent hour) and as I was signing in I noticed the tv was on in the office - odd enough but the announcer was obviously fighting sobs. I caught the basics and some rumors, tried to keep the special birthday lunch cheerful, if rushed, went home to catch up on what was really happening.

First thing on the news was the plane down in Somerset - I have family there, so of course I call my folks. No answer. Turns out they had finished a Somerset visit the day before and were meandering back home ( no surprise,my parents meander a lot)

My daughter came home to find me transfixed by the news. Her brothers came home and became transfixed by the need for news. her father came home, same need.

About 7:30 that night the news broke for a commercial - was it the first commercial break of the day?- so we rushed to the kitchen, lit the candles, sang the song, cut the cake and rushed back to the tv abandoning our 1st grader to her cake and ice cream.

To this day I regret that. I wish I had had the sense to seize the chance to celebrate a wonderful person on the day that so many wonderful people had died.

The next year we got it right. We ignored the 9-11 stuff ( while she was around) and focused on her.

Today we celebrated the 12th birthday of a wonderful, bright and beautiful girl with a manicure and pedicure, buffalo wings and chocolate angel food cake. We watched old footage of the attacks and prayed for the families of the wonderful people who will have no more birthdays.

 
At 4:06 AM, Blogger Deep Thought said...

I was working as a manager for a computer company that specialized (at the time) in disaster recovery - rebuilding computer systems after emergencies. I was working away when I heard on my radio that a plane had hit one of the world trade center towers. I let the guy who was escalation manager (a rotating position of 'I respond to big deal emergencies') know that we were there to help him. We were getting a list of teams together to send to Manhattan when I heard on the radio that another plane had hit the other tower.

Our cheid sales rep for Manhattan was a good friend of mine and I suddenly went from emailing her details of what we were doing to paging her to get off Manhattan island. I had technicians in the city and in the air and I couldn't reach anyone The rest of the morning is literally a blur. I remember seeing the towers fall on a TV wheeled in from one of the break rooms; standing outside smoking my first cigarette in 10 years and realizing I didn't hear airplanes for the first time in 20; finally hearing from my sales rep who had been scheduled to be in a meeting in tower one - she had missed her train and wasn't in the building when the plane hit. I remember going through the escalation list for one of my clients in tower one, trying to reach them to set up recovery - but no one answered. There were some husbands or wives at home numbers, but that was it. We learned later that everyone in the firm had died in the tower. Other managers had clients where all their IT staff, or everyone not on night shift, or just everyone, had died, too.

 

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