Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where were you?

It's hard to imagine that on a morning very much like the one today, eleven years ago, everything changed in the matter of 102 minutes.

9/11 has become our generation's JFK or Pearl Harbor. At least, that's what I believe. It is an event that most people will always remember what the were doing the very moment they had first heard of the attacks on NYC and the Pentagon or realized what was happening wasn't a horrible accident.

I remember clearly what I was doing and where I was.

I was at the University, in class when the first two towers were hit. Everyone in my class was oblivious to what was going on. When the class ended, I had about 15 minutes in-between classes and had headed outside before going to the computer lab for an exam. That's when I knew something was up. Everyone was on their cellphones or just standing in small groups. When I first heard that a plane had hit one of the towers, like probably everyone in the world, I thought it was an accident, Of course, as people around me gathered more information from people at home watching TV or on the Internet, it quickly became obvious that what was happening was no accident. I remember being sort of dumbfounded by it as I went to my next class, like I couldn't believe that anyone or anything would dare attack the US. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who thought that. That belief may sound arrogant to some, but nothing had ever happen like that in our generation. I went to my computer class and like everyone in the room, we were trying to get on news websites to find out more info. CNN. MSNBC. FOX news. All the major news sites were down due to traffic. That had never happened before. We still had our exam. I remember the professor saying something along the lines of not stopping our lives and that was what the terrorists wanted. And I remembered thinking taking a computer lab exam was probably the last thing on everyone's mind. After the exam, I met up with my friend Shelly, who had been home and was woken by another friend that morning, telling her to turn on the TV. She saw the second plane hit. Shell and I left school and went back to my apartment and turned on the news. Neither of us knew what to say. The towers had already fallen by then, but the news kept reshowing images of the planes striking the buildings, of people jumping or falling from the towers, of flames shooting from the Pentagon and from the field in Pennsylvania, of the towers falling down into themselves and everyone in the world knew that there were still people in those buildings when they came down. Then they were images of people all around the world: Japan, England, China, and so on, of their citizens stopped in their streets, watching the events unfold in the US. I don't think I'll ever forget the looks on their faces. That even separated by thousands of miles, language, and culture, there were sharing a moment that had been felt around the world. For days afterword, I was glued to the TV. Every time they pulled a survivor out from the mass of twisted metal and debris, it was a good moment in the span of many bad ones. Hearing and seeing fighter jets fly over where I live, because the president had refueled at our local, regional airport was another thing that is hard to forget, because you really don't expect to see that when you look at the sky. I remember going to my parents house that night and my brother being there, too, mostly because I don't think anyone wanted to be alone. I remember going to sleep that night wondering what kind of world I was going to wake up in.

I didn't know anyone who lost their lives on 9/11. While I live somewhat close to the Pentagon, about an hour or so away, this didn't happen in my backyard. But for anyone who lived through that moment and the days and weeks afterward, it impacted the lives of millions. I never saw that one firefighter with blue eyes heading up the stairwell of one of the towers in person, but I will remember his face forever. I didn't know any of the firefighters, EMTs, police officers or Port Authority officers who lost their lives that day, but I know they were heroes. I will also never forget the sound of all those beeping of all the trapped firefighters.The world literally stopped that day.  I hope that for the generations too young to remember what happened on this day are taught by their parents and teachers to not forget.

Never forget doesn't mean that if we do, that history will repeat itself. At least that's not what it means for me. Never forget means to remember the 2,977 people who go up the morning, on a morning very much like today, where the skies are a beautiful blue, and went to work, having no idea that their lives would be tragically cut short.

So, where were you on 9/11?


  1. Thank you for writing this post, and we will never forget.

  2. That was one of the saddest, most frightening days, especially being so close to D.C. I was on my way to class at George Mason University, listening to it on the radio, driving through tears. When they said that the Pentagon had been hit I turned around and went back home. Watching Americans ban together in love and unity was the one beautiful thing to come of this tragedy. <3
    Thanks, Jenn.

  3. What a beautiful post. I remember I was at a friends house because I had broken up with my boyfriend. I had that day off of work for some reason. I woke up in the morning and went downstairs and her dad was watching tv. I thought it was a movie he was watching. I sat down with him and he told me that what was happening was real. I was in total shock. I didn't even know what to think. It was terrifying and heart breaking. I was so scared for the people who were affected and wondering how much more destruction would come that day. My heart goes out to all of the families who lost someone in the tragic events of 9/11. We will never forget.

  4. I was at home ,in the afternoon( there's a diference of 8 hours between Romania and US) and I was watching tv,and suddenly Breaking news- I remember I cried like a baby ,when I've seen those people at the windows,.It was hard.They all are my heroes!

  5. I was on my way in to teach, on a Tuesday very much like this one. To be honest, it's really still painful to revist what it was like to be in new York that day, trying to gather my kids. It was the most terrible frightening day of my life.

  6. I was torn about commenting, only because I have a little different 9/11 "story"... I look at it differently. After talking with my husband, we agreed to share.

    On September 8th, 2001, my husband and I having just celebrated our first wedding anniversary, had our first really huge argument as a married couple. I woke him in the middle of the night, and we fought. His first meeting (he works for the government) was scheduled. He was to lead a huge and rather important discussion. he'd wanted me to travel with him for this trip... take in the sights and all that. Our oldest child was just beginning school and our daughters were 22 months and 10 months old. We had no one to babysit, so I had already told him I wouldn't be going.

    I asked him to cancel his meeting. he was LIVID! The chance to really get his name out there, to help grow his career. For some reason that, and to this day I cannot tell you why, I began crying. I said to him "I will NEVER ask you to set aside your job again, but please...this one time, don't go."

    After almost 3 hours, he finally agreed, cancelling his meeting (and remaining rather upset with me.)

    Fast forward to the blue sky morning of 9/11. I was just leaving the grocery store, both the babies in the car, when the local radio station broke in, telling us about the "accident"- a plane had hit one of the Towers. Living in Upstate NY, just a little over 2 hours from NYC, and having friends and family there, I hurried home. I called my husband. He helped bring in the groceries and the girls (he worked from his home office that day) we made it inside and flipped on the news... just as the second plane hit the other tower.

    My husband went upstairs, calling coworkers to see if he could find out anything. He was on the phone with one of those coworkers at the Pentagon when the plane hit there.

    The government had nonessential personnel get off the phones to free up the lines of communication, and as such, my husband was done with work, but was asked to keep his cellphone on...just in case.

    News broke that a plane had gone down in Pennsylvania. We were shocked, as was the rest of the country who sat watching these horrible events unfolding.

    The reports of the plane down in Pennsylvania, finally giving the number of the flight- 93. My husband, who had been sitting beside me holding our youngest daughter, swore and handed me the baby. I watched him jog up the stairs. I thought little of it at that moment, turning back to the news.

    My husband returned with a piece of paper in his hand. he sat beside me and put his arm around my shoulder. As he handed me the paper, he said (and I'll never forget it) "Hun... I want you to just breath, ok?"

    Confused, I looked at the paper. It was his trip itinerary- Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco.

    Every year on 9/11, I'm physically sick to my stomach. For whatever reason, that fight... my begging him to just skip that trip that lead to him cancelling that meeting kept my husband and some of his co workers off that flight.

    So, you see, I struggle on 9/11... I am thankful that he didn't travel and at the same time, feel guilty for still having him when so many other families suffered immeasurable loss.

    It is impossible to forget.

    1. Lisa,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    2. Lisa, I don't know you, but *hugs*. I can't imagine what must have gone through your mind reading that itinerary. Sometimes fate has a way of intervening.

    3. Thank you for sharing your story. It made me tear up. I am so glad for you that your husband didn't go on that trip. I am so sorry that you struggle with it every year. *hugs*

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. I accidently deleted my comment by accident. My comment was somewhat like this:

      This story made me tear up too. Lisa honey I'm so happy that you and your family are okay. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. Really this story has truly touched my heart. xoxo

    6. what happened was incredible.thank u soo much for sharing.

  7. I was young when 9/11 happened. But I remember I was in elementary school, no one knew anything. It wasn't until I got home and saw my mom was home early from work. I asked my dad (who had picked me up) why that was. He just told me something bad had happened and they wanted to make sure everyone was safe. They refused to tell me anything else.

    The next day at school I got told the same thing though with an added "many people died" when we had a moment of silence.

    It wasn't until I was older that I realized what really HAD happened that day, the impact of 9/11 and the lives that were lost.

    Despite the fact I live in Canada, it was something that affected everyone. The security we once knew was gone. It really showed me that any country is vulnerable to anything. No one is invincible. We can only do what we can to prevent anything in the future. But it also showed how people can band together and help each other in a time of crisis. It was those moments that I like to focus on.

    I can't believe it's been 11 years. Beautiful post Jen.

  8. Jen, I absolutely agree that it was a defining moment in our generation. It's something that my kids ask me about as the younger was born the year it happened.

    I was 24, married with 2 kids, and commuted 2 hours to college every Tues/Thurs so was up early and at my sitters house, dropping of my boys. She had the news on and we were listening to the newscasters speculate about what had happened with the first plane.

    I was lying on the couch, watching the program and nursing my 3 month old before I had to leave, when the second tower was hit. I sat up in shock, ripping the uh...food away from the kiddo (a spot of humor in an otherwise horrible day) and yelled for my sitter to come inside.

    I chose to go ahead and make the commute to College Station for class and was listening to the radio, where they made the announcement about the Pentagon. All I could think is What the hell is happening?!

    I ended up going home--later learning A&M had cancelled classes--and stayed glued to my TV. I sobbed when I saw the towers fall, and was fiercely proud of the people on Flight 93 as their story unveiled.

    It's so crazy to think it's been 11 years, yet it feels like barely any time has passed at all. Thanks so much for posting and sharing your story with us.

  9. I posted my 9/11 story this time last year. I'll post the URL, if Jennifer doesn't mind (please delete my comment, if you don't want the link), and anyone would like to read it: http://www.tinamoss.com/2011/09/ten-years-and-one-day-my-story-of.html

    I live in NYC. I'd lost my mother two years before 9/11 to cancer. My aunt worked at World Trade 7. I will never forget that day.

  10. I was 15...School was going to start in a few days so I went shopping with my brother for notebooks and stuff. It was about 4 PM here when I got back home and my dad was watching TV. That's when the first plane hit...We watched it all live from across the Ocean... It was horrible... and the hits kept coming and coming...and we just stood there, watching TV...watching people die. That day is a mark on our memory, even if we're not from US.

  11. I was 10 years old at the time. I remember that I had a clarinet practice that day. My mom drove me there and we both heard the news for the first time on the radio. Afterwards we watched what was happening on the TV. I´m from Germany, so it was already late afternoon when the towers collapsed. I was only a child then, I couldn´t even comprehend what was happening. I just knew that what I was seeing on the TV was horrible and terrifying. I didn´t understand the repercussions of this day. But now, everytime I read or watch something about it, it affects me more than ever. All this reminds me of how innocent and naive children really are. In a way, that they live in a protected environment. Until 9/11 I didn´t know what terrorists are, nor have I been confronted with war in such a way. I will always remember that day!

  12. I was at home in Falls Church, VA, prepping to teach a class in DC that afternoon, when my mother called me and told me to turn on the TV. The second plane hit about a minute later. There were rumors that a car bomb had detonated in front of the State Department, as well.

    Later, we could see the smoke plume from the Pentagon from our front yard.

  13. I was in my third year of Dental School in Ft. Lauderdale, thousands of miles away from my family in Utah. My wife was at home with our baby who was turning one in a few days. I'll never forget the horrible feeling after the second plane it...the unknowing of how many more there were. Young or old, American or not, it affected everyone and took a piece of innocence with it.

  14. 9/11/01.

    I'm getting ready for school, throwing on jeans and a black button down, my mom calls me and tells me to look out the window, a plane flew into the towers. I run to the window and look out. sure enough right across the water one of the towers is smoking. At the time all that's running thru my head is wtf? There must have been a mistake how could some1 accidentally fly into the center? I do what every new yorker does when something happens- I turn on ny1. Pat kiernans on the tv saying a plane crashed into the center. As he speaks they zoom in live on the center, pat kiernan stops in his tracks. something small and white moves across the screen. I watch, i dont understand, whats going on?. surely thats not another plane? what are the chances of 2 planes both hitting the towers...i dont understand. while my feeble mind is trying to work it out the other plane hits, I run to the window and watch the explosion. the fire, the smoke. I call my mom we have to get my little sister out of school right away. I go down to centre boulevard which is on the east river in queens right across from the united nations 1 block down from my house. The schools on lockdown. No1 in no1 out. I walk up the blok to vernon boulevard, which is the 1st stop into queens from grand central. People are streaming out of the train bloodied, dirty, crying. No cell phones work. The train stops. I have never seen the train stop. Not even in the blizzard of 96. I cry. I don't know what to do. I walk 1 more block to my moms restaurant right on the water watching the towers burn. I hear a rumble like a farway train coming right at you. I stop and with my mouth open watch as the first tower comes down. I can't fucking believe it. This cannot be happening. Fighter jets in the sky so noisy. So I sit on the floor in the street and cry. I cry because I'm 14 and I live in ny. nothing touches us and somethings happend. Something big that is bigger than me bigger than us, ny, the u.s. People line the streets. cars stop and we all just cry and watch as the second tower comes down. I'm overwhelmed.

  15. Like you, I was on my college campus. I was in the library, killing time before class, and when I cut through the little cafe attached, I saw about 20 students huddled around the small TV mounted in the corner. A boy I had graduated with saw me and said, "I think World War 3 just started."

    I remember moving closer, pressing in against all the bodies and more people stopping behind me as we all watched, horrified and amazed, when the second plan crashed into the South tower. After several minutes I went to class - I remember it was only my second week of college and I couldn't possibly be late. I got there and the teacher quickly informed us class was cancelled and we were all to go home.

    I had a chance to visit the 9/11 Memorial when I went to BEA this June, and I was so glad I did. It is such a humbling, moving experience to walk through there.

  16. My mom makes us go home and locks us in while she tries to find our downstairs neighbor felicia. Felicias italian, like us. She's lived in my grandmas building since I moved here from italy. Usually we'd sit out on the steps and talk crap in italian and eat ice cream. I hear mom crying talking about felicia being okay. Felicia worked at feduciary trust on the 92nd floor, I don't know if they ever identified her remains.

    In the days after we sit glued to the tv watching the news waiting for survivors surely the hospital is going to be flooded!? nothing happens. Hospitals are waiting for people who are never coming. #7 falls. I can't watch. Does this mean people who might have survived before just died? Why aren't they getting in there mom what are they waiting for? The phone still doesn't work. My family in italy must be going crazy, its also my cousins birthday today, theyr expecting our call and probably thinking were all deaad.

    Mom doesn't let us go to school or leave the neighborhood for 2 weeks. She goes down toground zero to see what's going on. She comes home a wreck, doesn't talk. Weeks go by, everyone on the block puts out an american flag in front, even the neighbors who just moved here and don't speak english. 6 months pass, ny is surreal. Downtown is off limits. The smoke is still there it still hasn't gone away. I wonder what will be there when everything is cleared like some answer is just going to be waiting for us at the bottom of the pile for me. but there isn't. Thousands are missing and not identified.

  17. I hear mom talk to felicias daughter downstairs crying cleaning out her apartment. I cry for her because I've already heard mom on the phone. Felicia died on impact, her son in law, her daughters husband got out of the center only to go back up to get his mother in law, felicia. He didn't make it out a second time. Felicias daughters pregnant. I keep crying I feel useless.

    A year goes by.

    There's nothing left everything is clean, or somewhat. The hotels still fucked up. The wall of missing is still there. Mom takes us to the site. We go to the church pray, look at the wall. Im at the wall. I'm so sad deep in my bones I feel the ache for everyone whose lost someone. I don't know what's wrong with me. Surely someone who wasn't even there can't feel this strongly?

    Every year on the anniversary I'm somber. I cry and I pray and I watch crazy documentaries on the history channel or put on msnbc, they switch back to the news of 9/11 and I watch it all over again.

    I decide I want to change the world and fight crime. So I enroll in john jay college of criminal justice. I become obsessed with psychology law and terrorism. I take classes on 9/11. I start having nightmares about being stuck in the towers. I actually start to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. I completely submerge myself in audio tapes, books, reports, m.I.t. bullshit experiments conspiracy theories etc etc etc. Its surreal. My professor wants me to see a counselor. I'm not stupid, I know exactly what's happening to me I am majoring in forensic psychology after all.
    I lie and say I will but I don't. Professor G knows but let's me continue. My debates in class are fierce. My classmates don't even wana mess with me. I'm a badass 9/11 know it all. I'm out of my fucking mind.

  18. I take a break from school and read. Bullshit like twilight jane austen my favorite childhood books a wrinkle in time the giver the phantom tollbooth...I'm okay again.

    I'm a senior, working full time school full time. My experimental psychology paper 30 pages of 9/11 research. Mental Health effects on first responders. Emergency management on 9/11. Thesis paper - a study of people who suffer ptsd from 9/11 eventhough they were not directly exposed, meaning they were like me. Somewhere in ny but
    I impress everybody. Blow every1 away. Rumors spread about me in the psychology department, whatever I don't care. Every1 who knows me loves me and knows I am passionate about things I care about. Prof G emails me to congratulate me. Yeah right more like searching my reply for verbal cues of mental instability.

    I finish up school and graduate with honors. I get an easy job with my family before figuring out what to do. I'm looking at going back to john jay to enorll in their terrorism program. Its good shit, I'd learn a lot. but i know it would not be healthy for me, im not one of those people that can seperate their obsessive work from their life, so

    I decided to live.

    to just live my life and enjoy the time I have on this earth. normal shit like clubbing, retail theraphy and eating too much bad shit. i still watch the documentaries, as i type im watching the name reading ceremony and in my heart i feel lightet than i did the year before, and the year before that. it gets easier every day, every year, even though it never entirely goes away.

    See the where were you? is asking much more than just really, where you were. its where were you before, where were you during, present, after, future, past, it means so much more because that 1 day, ultimately, can shape the person you become.

    I'm sorry for the novel but I had to explain it in all its confusion and 14-23 yrd old thoughts. This event has had such an impact on me, idk If it will ever go away or be okay or will it always be like a weight on my shoulders, it will forever effect me in ways i dont even understand. Idk if it affected all nyers the same. I honesty don't know any1 else like me. None of my friends and family feel as strongly as I do surely something in me's fucked up.


    right now im alive, And I will NEVER forget.

    Jenn im so sorry for posting multiples but i just really needed to get this out and your post sparked that need to let it go in me. I hope that is okay. Sometimes a questions isnt just a question. thanks for listening

  19. My husband and I were luvinf in DC. He worked fir the State Department. I remember him goinf to work. Everything fine. I just got the baby back to sleep, so I did too.
    I kept beinf woken up by loud noises. I thought it was just neighbors slamming doors. My friend called and told me to turn tv on immediately.
    Phones were only allowed to be used for emergencies. 3 hours later my husband called to say he was ok, but they were on lock down and could not leave yet. 3 hours later he was able to come home. Bomb threat was just a sick prank.
    I thought we were never going to see him again. Horrible day

  20. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    I work about 15-20 min. walk from Ground Zero, and I was on the bridge in the train when the first plane hit. The conductor told us that it was a small plane that hit as an accident, nobody knew exactly what was going on. They let us out a few stops before mine and I walked to work, where people were already gathering in the conference room where the TV was. We watched in horror as the events developed, as the towers collapsed.
    A group of co-workers decided to walk back to Brooklyn. Transportation wasn't running but the bridges were open to pedestrians. My brother was evacuated from his job on Time Square, as they didn't know what to expect, and he also came by to pick me up. As we walked towards the bridge, the streets looked like a war zone, with people gathering around cars listening to radios, running, crying and the air was filled with little pieces of paper and ash.
    Once we walked across the bridge, there were people (individuals and from businesses) standing there with bottles of water to give us. It was such an amazing show of unity and compassion.
    I couldn't sleep for 2 nights, just kept watching the TV. On the 3rd day, I went back to the city with my dad to deliver clothes for the fire fighters.
    I still can't think about this without crying. We will never forget - we can never forget!

  21. My older brother used to work at the towers and he ended up being late that day and saw the whole thing happen. If he wasn't late I wouldn't have my brother now.

  22. Believe it or not, I was in my first grade classroom on 9/11. I got taken out of school early because my father worked on Wall Street at the time and we could only be taken out if a parent could have been hurt in the disaster. Otherwise, they wanted to keep us oblivious to what was going on. I can tell you they didn't succeed, but that unfortunately is one of my earliest memories. I remember the entire day, especially the fear that my Dad could have been one of those people. While I am sorry for those who lost loved ones, I am grateful that my Dad was not one of the victims.

  23. I was in fourth grade. I remember sitting in class, in Florida, and being called to the office for check out. I walked into the office and saw my mom, looking grim and worried, and my younger sister, looking confused. I was right along with my sister, confused. I didn't understand what was going on even when my mom tried to explain. She said people were worried about other attacks. I remember being scared then. The next day, we were told to wear red, white, and blue to honor the people that were in those buildings. Back then, I think I was too scared to really pay attention to what was happening but I've since watched footage from that day and it scares me so bad. I feel as helpless as watching the ship sink in Titanic. People died, so far away, so helplessly. There was nothing any of us could do about it but wonder if we would even be brave enough to be a hero. I don't like that feeling and I hope we never ever have another experience like that again.

  24. I was in my 7th grade health class. A teacher came in the room and told my teacher. I didn't understand what was going on and neither did many of my class mates. Growing up in MN we didn't know what the trade centers were. But, as soon as the TV's turned on we knew how serious it was. We watched it on TV for the rest of the day. I cried at school that day and I didn't know anyone there. It was a sad day for everyone in the country. For some reason what I remember most was going home after school and all the TV stations had a message that said "due to the tragic events of today all regular programming is cancelled." Or something like that.