Where were you on September 11, 2001? I was sitting in the parking lot of Denver’s rail system listening to NPR when I heard that a plane flew into the World Trade Center. I thought it was a private plane trying to fly between the two towers and missed.
It was not until I got to work at the Community College of Denver that I discovered what had happened. I quickly went to my classroom and turned on CNN so my students could watch the coverage. We saw the pictures of the second airliner hit the towner. We saw the buildings collapse. We heard about the plane hitting the Pentagon and the fourth crashing in Pennsylvania. Classes for the rest of the day were canceled.
I am from the New York area. I grew up with the building of the Towers. I cannot watch the remembrances of 9/11 without getting emotional.
Today, I wear my Twin Towers tie to work as a reminder of what the buildings were and the nearly 3,000 who died in the terror attack.
I worked at home and was preparing for a 9am conference call. I had the TV on, the last 5 minutes of The Today Show. In stead of local news for those last 5 minutes the network took us back to live coverage of what was first reported as a fire at the World Trade Center.
While I was casually watching that live shot, the second plane flew into the shot and hit the other building. Immediately it became obvious what was going on.
My conference call began on time. I was clearly the only one who knew what had happened, but the other people on the call were all-business and all assholes so I didn't mention it to them. I still had my TV on and muted, but I turned it off because it made it impossible for me to concentrate. After the conference call ended I turned the TV back on.
It was a clear golden day here in Rochester. The whole city went quiet. There were no airplanes overhead for the following 5 days.
I was driving my 10-year-old stepson to school, lecturing him (yet again) because we were late (yet again).
Today, I'm actually glad he had dawdled that morning, or we would not have been together in the car when it was announced the second plane had hit.
I had NPR on my car radio, as always back then, and like everyone I'd assumed the first plane crash (8:46 a.m.) was simply a sad accident. We were just pulling into the school parking lot when the second plane had hit (9:03 a.m.), and I just stopped -- slammed on the brakes.
"What's wrong?" My stepkid asked me.
I blurted, "I don't know if you have school today. I think we're at war."
Of course, we were 952 miles away, in Madison, Wisconsin... but at that moment, nobody knew anything at all. For all we knew, bombs would be dropping on us.
I checked with the school office, dropped him off, and went to my job at an energy efficiency firm. They put a TV in the break room and we were allowed to spend the morning watching events unfold, which included seeing both towers collapse in real time.
People were overcome. It was my generation's "JFK" moment.
My parents happened to be on vacation in Europe, and a tour guide in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, announed the attack. My mom spent a day trying to get through to me on the phone, a nervous wreck. Cell phones and the Internet were in their infancy; it's easy to forget how "primitive" communication was at the time.
My husband at the time was a Chaplain and a Red Cross volunteer, and since he had lived in New York previously, he was almost sent out there.
That didn't happen, but we did have to fly out for a wedding in the Greater NYC area just a month after 9-11; what a nightmare flying was!
This photo of me was taken a block or two from Ground Zero, either on that visit or one the following year. I've been out to NYC several times since the event, and even though I've never lived there, it's always been my "fantasy home" and I still have visceral grief about the whole thing.
I noticed that for at least a couple years after, New Yorkers were INCREDIBLY friendly to visitors. Cab drivers, hotel workers, waiters ... everyone seemed so happy visitors were still coming.
I have never felt like 9-11 was a black mark on all of humanity. There were 14 hijackers, but in the towers and on the ground there were thousands of First Responders and average people who, in ways big and small, helped and comforted others.
I was on my way in to work (where I worked from 1998-2018). The second plane hit before I got there. I spent the morning alone in my lab, listening to events unfold on the radio, while having a conversation with an intern in France who at first thought I'd lost my mind to make up such a tale.
I was living in Montreal and I had a job as a graphic artist on the evening shift. I opened up my computer at home and I took a look at a news website. I read that thing about jetliners crashing into the Twin Towers in New York and my first reaction was "Why are they advertising video games on a news website?! That's not serious!" Then I went like "Oh! That's not an ad! That happened for real! That's insane!"
A month before that, I went south of the border to go cycling along Lake Champlain in Vermont. Back then, I didn't need a passport to pass through the customs. I only needed to show my driver's license.
Two years ago, I went to New York and I visited the Ground Zero memorial. Impressive.
As the manager of Wenatchee Natural Foods, I was working. A customer ran in, ashen and shaken, and told us about a plane hitting the the World Trade Center. Like you, I thought some guy was trying to fly a private plane between the Twin Towers.
Horrified, we closed the store and gathered at the store owner's house. Watched with horror as the second plane hit the second tower, the raging fires, collapse of the Twin Towers, horror of people jumping to their death, Pentagon and Pennsylvania plane crashes.
The first plane hitting the World Trade Center was played over-and-over on TV. This image is burned into my brain. Traumatic.
In October 2011, my 11-year-old daughter burst into tears when the Blue Angels flew in formation over a baseball game in Seattle.
"I thought we were being attacked," Claire sobbed.