Where Were You?

Today is 1 month before 9/11/11. Where were you on this day burned into the hearts of all of us? I was in my American Women Writers 8am class at Boston College…the teacher came in, but didn’t turn on the lights, and we were all immediately excused.

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Stephanie Slade

Tenth grade. I remember begging my teachers to let us turn the news on. There was nothing for them in the rulebook on how to handle a national tragedy… all they knew was that we weren’t supposed to watch TV at school.

Denise Petet

I was at work. I worked at a local TV station at the time. I got to work to the notice that there was a special report, went into master control but they had already turned to the report…I saw the footage of the tower with the hole in it, but having never seen the world trade center, I had no idea the scale of the hole. That it was a jet liner and not some small plane.

I thought ‘what an idiot that they couldn’t see something that big and hit it’ and went back to my desk. Bout then others started coming to work and i heard Matt Lauer say something like ‘what was that? was that another plane?’. I then saw the replay of the second plane hitting the tower and I remembered thinking ‘wow, catastrophic failure of the air traffic control system’ (I honestly didn’t think it was terrorism)

I remember being on the intenet, seeing reports, responding to people i knew in other parts of the world that didn’t realize that you could be thousands of miles away from new york and thus ‘safe’. I remember the internet blipping in and out as it was overloaded. I remember watching the towers fall, and seeing people post ‘if you have a post card, keep it, cause it’s a collector’s item now’.

We watched for a while – really had nothing else to do. We made the log for the next day, but never used it because we ran no local programming or commercials. I remember one of our photogs going outside to get a shot of the contrail of Air Force One going over head as it sought refuge in Nebraska (one of several places it ‘hid’ in during the day).

we drove out of town that evening – we literally needed to get away from the tv…you can only watch the footage so many times, see people jumping off the buildings, see the replay so many times before you just can’t watch it anymore.

It was a nice drive, but odd…only time in my life there were no planes in the sky.

I flew to Seattle a week after the attacks…and oddly enough it was one of my most pleasant experiences. We took off 10 minutes early on the first leg – because everyone that hadn’t cancelled was there and the pilot was ‘why sit here for nothing?’

Landed at an almost empty O’Hare, rode in a 777 and was able to sprawl out across 3 seats because the plane was almost 2/3 empty (even the flight attendants, instead of ‘stay in your seat!!!!’ were ‘as long as it’s not first class or anyone else’s seat, you can sit anywhere you want’. I laughed as they served me breakfast, with a plastic knife but a nice metal fork and I though ‘you know folks, if i wanted to cause chaos, this metal tined fork would do more damage than a dull butterknife’ (the first of many kneejerk ‘fixes’ to security we’d experience)

I ended up in Canada. (The border crossing was quite interesting, as you can imagine they were a wee bit tense) I’d had a vacation planned for over a year and was not going to let some terrorists ruin it. It was a group thing, and many others did cancel. But others were just as determined not to cancel. And the solidarity was inspiring. There was a very definite ‘screw the terrorists, we stop living they win, so to hell with them’.

Everything changed that pretty Tuesday morning.

Ed Albetski

I was at work that morning in DC. I heard the news story from someone in the Director’s office that monitors CNN about reports of a plane hitting one of the twin towers but I had to hurry off to walk the seven blocks down to the Hoover Building for a meeting at Main Commerce. I could see black smoke in the distance behind the Washington Monument. When I passed the Old Ebbitt Grill on 15th Street I could see folks pouring out of the Treasury Building. I asked one if they were having a fire drill. The guy told me of the report of a missile or plane hitting the Pentagon. As I approached the north entrance of the Hoover Building I met my CIO coming out who gave me a fuller account and let me know that all meetings were cancelled, we were being dismissed for the day, and that they were evacuating the city. Of course with absolutely no evacuation plan in place and all roads south (that go by the Pentagon) blocked, workers getting across the bridges to Virginia were faced with a near impossible task. We went west and eventually got home about 5 hours later. Cell towers were overloaded, so we spent the evening reassuring relatives we were fine. The odd thing is that I had purchased airline tickets that morning for my son and I for a trip to London later in the year. And the purchase date September 11. 2001 was the first thing I saw on our boarding passes.

Alan L. Greenberg

I was a few blocks away in the Federal Building. The first plane whizzed by my window. Myself and senior staff watched the second plane hit from the 16th floor of 26 Federal Plaza. We made an instant decision to evacuate the building because Federal Plaza was a known terrorist target because of the presence of the FBI. Some of us, including myself, stayed behind to be sure the buidling was cleared and systems shut down. We then went to our emergency command center a few blocks away where a few of us worked 24/7 for the next week. I was proud of my GSA staff which got seven buildings back on line and which found space for the federal law enforcment agencies displaced (Customs, DEA, AT&F, Secret Service) as well as for FEMA. One of our property managers, Nelson Palma, ran back to 6 World Trade Center (A low rise building occupied by feds) to make sure everything was shut and everyone was out. He was trapped in the basement when the lights went out. Because of his knowledge of the building he was able to find his way out before the collapse. A lot of feds were heroes over the next few weeks but you will never read about them.

Geoffrey C. Patterson

I was teaching a freshman class at the US Air Force Academy. It was a small class of 11 students and the second plane had hit just minutes before class started. We watched the news for 40 of the 50 minutes of class and then shut it off. I knew they would get their fill of it over the next few hours and days, so we talked about what happened and what it might mean for them. Many were, for the first time, realizing what their new commitment meant by being in the AF Academy. We had, for the most part, served in relative peace and that was about to change. All 11 students finished the Academy and were commissioned as officers in the US Air Force with one exception … one student cross commissioned into the US Marine Corps.

I’m still in touch with most of those students today. To watch their dedication to something other than themselves gives me a level of comfort in the future of our country.

Jenyfer Johnson

I was at work that morning in the Shaw AFB Environmental office. Our Pollution Prevention Manager came walking down to my office and asked me if I’d heard that a plane just flew into the World Trade Towers. I said no and told him that wasn’t really very funny. That’s when he told me he’d heard it on the radio. We walked down to my Supervisor’s office to ask if he’d heard anything and by then a couple of other folks came in talking about hearing it on the radio. We turned the TV on and could watch the local news; some of us went up to the Golf Course lounge to watch their cable TV, which was on CNN. Our base went to immediate Force Protection Delta, which meant no one off or on the base and all doors and windows locked. By the time we left for the day there was a Humvee with a gun mounted on the top, manned and aimed at oncoming vehicles sitting at our front gate. It made me very sad that the world has come to this and how much we lost our innocence that day.

I remember crying off-and-on all day because I grew up in NY, had been to the top of the Towers and my ex-in-law’s lived in Manhatten. I called my ex- to make sure his parents were okay and found out his mother was actually down helping people at the crash site.

I still can’t look at a picture of the NYC skyline without getting choked up; it’s just not right anymore.

Shannon Donelson

I was in my 8th grade social studies class back home in Atlanta, Georgia. Our teacher game in and told us that we weren’t going to have regular class, and then sat down at his desk and began to cry. Our school administrators had informed the faculty not to inform us of what had happened. Without cell phones and all of the social media we have today, it was extremely difficult to know what had happened.

Rumors spread all day and students were being pulled out of school. When I got home my mom assumed I knew what had happened and was shocked to find out that I had no idea.

Hard to believe it will have been 10 years next month. I think we all remember it like it was yesterday.

Carol Davison

Immediately upon entering my Crystal City office I saw the plane sticking out of the first tower and thought “Terrorist Attack!” because no one could hit a building in NYC without steering into it. Then the second plane hit. I emailed and called my family to ensure they knew I was okay saying “today American was robbed of her innocence.” Then I called the dog sitter to ask them to take care of my Husky. (American under attack and like any parent, my second thought was my fur kid. We all have our priorities.) Then I stayed off the email and phone to free it for real emergencies. When they closed down our building I grabbed all of the granola bars from the snack bar and visited the bathroom because who knew what would happen? As I stood outside people came out of the VRE screaming “Bomb!’ I grabbed my friend and ran down the street. Surreally, we came upon a man selling hotdogs and asked why he was still doing so. He said he had no way out either so he kept working. Again because I didn’t know what would happen, my girlfriend and I bought lunch and went out our organization’s warehouse to wait and see. In a fabulous act of leadership by being present, our highest executive sat with us. There we watched the news from NYC including people jumping to their death from the towers, as well as scenes from the Pentagon. As people figured out how to get home they slowly left. An intern asked “Are we supposed to come in tomorrow?” I looked around and realized that I was the high grade and said with as much strength and sensitivity as I could “I’M coming in. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, please call in.” Finally, metro was running to my sister’s house so I asked her to pick me and went there because I couldn’t get home. Because she couldn’t take care of me in any other way telephonically, my big sister told me to go to the bathroom before I left. An intern who had only spent two months in DC rode with us. As my sister and I watched the very young woman walk up to the empty house where she rented a room from strangers it was all I could do to stop myself from crying out “You can come home with us!” But I didn’t, and still wonder if I did the right thing. The next day I asked my sister to take me to the metro. She said “Don’t go to work today. Let’s go shopping instead.” I replied “I HAVE to go to work today. Furthermore your sons NEED to see me go to work, or the terrorists win.” I got in two hours late and everyone was already there. God bless the honor, courage and commitment of the U.S. Navy retirees and civilians! The picture you saw of the computer in the Pentagon was of our organization. All of our VICTIMS of the attack escaped, with only one burnt toe among them. And yes there were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice or risked their lives to save others, including an officer from the much maligned NYC Transit Police who stayed in the basement of the World Trade Center to prohibit the trains from stopping. God bless the firefighters and police officers who went back or stayed ini buildings to save others. Who knows how many lives they saved by sacrificing their own?

Peter Sperry

What I remember most was talking with my mother the next day. She had lived through WWII and never known anyone who was actually killed or seriously wounded and now we had lost 3 cousins and several friends in one day.

Carol Davison

And God bless the police officer from my mom’s church who went back in and as the building was collapsing cried “Jesus help me!” and walked out..his partner was crushed. During cleanup, a huge sheet of glass broke on the same police officers’ back, again hewas unhurt. Also the NJ Transit bus drivers who saw the World Trade Center (WTC) in flames and had the good sense to break the law, risk their jobs, turn the buses around and take everyone back home. Who knows how many lives they saved? It was a blessing of God that so many people had reasons not to go to the WTC on time that day, or as my friend did, visited the bathroom so we wasn’t in THAT wing of the Pentagon. Can you tell I’m from New Jersey or the greater NYC area and a state certified police instructor with numerous emergency workers in my friends and family?

Mark Hammer

I was on my way to a whole-of-government working group planning out our employee survey. I had stopped at a convenience store on the way to pick something up before hopping the bus downtown. I heard something on the radio in the store about an airplane hitting one of the towers, and in the absence of more information assumed it was just some doofus in a Cessna who didn’t know how to fly and had bashed a wing on the roof, trying to get a better look at Manhattan.

Once I arrived at the meeting, things started picking up, and all the other folks from the various agencies started getting cell calls from their office. Once things became clearer (as if that word could possibly apply), and our hearts were just not in it anymore, we agreed to cancel the meeting and returned to our organizations/offices. My own is also in a pair of twin towers not far from the Parliament Buildings here, though certainly nowhere near as tall. Still, it was a sickening feeling. All of this was in the complete total absence of video footage.

Sally Beecroft

I was in my boss’s office at Dept. of ED with his TV on to the Today Show. When the second plane hit my cell phone rang, and my husband urged me to get home. I went to my office, grabbed my purse and caught a cab. We passed the Pentagon about 30 minutes after it was hit. My cabbie was Arabic. He was crying, saying over and over, “…we are not all terrorists. I love this country.”

Matt Woor

I was working on the Jaguar Cars export jetty at Dagenham Docks in the UK. I was inspecting vehicles before they were loaded onto a ship bound for Zeebrugge (it was a Cobelfret Ferry called the “Celemdine”… amazing what you remember) and I heard the drivers talking about the damage in New York and that the White House had been hit in Washington. I stopped on the car I was checking (It was a red Jaguar XKR) and went over to the inspectors cabin. Everyone was gathered around the television in the break out area and thats when I saw the twin towers on fire, it was both of them by that point. Then the port alarms went off, they were old WWII air raid sirens and suddenly it felt as if we were under attack. The vessels were unhooked from the quayside and we were informed that we would be unable to leave the dock as it was believed that other american owned business around the world were targets (It was a Ford owned dock then, so an american company). I went back to the cabin and turned on my little radio, it was Radio 1 and i think it was Simon Mayo who was on air, he was playing really quiet calming music, and every so often would go straight to the news. I remember him informing the listeners that another plane was unaccounted for, and thats when I heard that it was the pentagon which had been hit and not the White House. Then I noticed that the airplanes were circling overhead not being allowed to enter London airspace (Dagenham is on the thames on the outskirts of London). One of the drivers told me that Canary Wharf was being evacuated, and I could see that building from my cabin. I think I just sat and stared at Canary Wharf for about 5 minutes. Then the radio confirmed that a tower had collapsed. After that I got a call from work to confirm that no more ferry’s would be filled today and that I could return home. I explained I couldnt leave at the moment, but then a minute later we were allowed offsite. I remember driving up the A12 listening all the way to the radio… everything seemed quieter, the roads were quiet, the junctions were empty and I made it home in Suffolk in record time. Then I watched like everyone else on television. Truly shocking day, my thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of those who lost someone that day, and with the American people.

Donna Lee O'Brien-Torres

I was born and raised in Bklyn, NY and lived there until I was 40, then I moved to Florida. I happened to be home sick from work that day and watching TV. There was a news alert and I saw the plane hit the first tower and then the second and then the buildings cumbled, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I was screaming and crying. A piece of my heart died that day and it will never brought back to life. I get sick to stomach everytime I think about it, as a matter of fact, it is making me sick just writing this. Those poor people & their families are forever in my prayers! May they all RIP! God Bless their families and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Andrew Krzmarzick

Lived and worked in Washington, DC. I was two minutes into my walk to work (a gorgeous day), rounding Logan Circle toward my non-profit job just two blocks from the White House…when my best friend called me and asked, “Did you know two planes crashed into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon?” I hadn’t and I was stunned. I picked up my pace to get to work so that I could get to a TV. That’s where I saw those images for the first time. Our boss had not yet arrived, but we all made a unanimous decision to return home. I’ll never forget all the people in the streets, walking out of downtown to wherever they happened to live. It was pretty eery. Of course, I spent the next couple hours watching TV and just feeling stunned…

Ashley Fuchs

I was a senior in a Minnesota high school. Walking down the hall from my locker to class I noticed a group of kids starting to gather around a TV in the hallway by the main entrance to the high school. It took about 2 minutes to realize what I was looking at. Everyone was pretty much frozen, watching the TV, and anyone who didn’t notice what we were watching just walked by like normal. I went to class and the TV was on and then second plane hit. Almost every teacher that day skipped their regular plan and used it as a discussion time to talk about what was going on.

Anne R. Urbanski

I was working where I am now, doing the same job, and I’d just gotten to work when my husband emailed me and almost simultaneously a close friend called and told me to go to cnn.com and watch what was happening. I didn’t get much done that day (assume most people didn’t either); spent a lot of the day trying to get onto cnn.com, msnbc.com etc. to find out what was going on. I think I ended up spending the day listening to NPR (with headphones on) because it was easier than trying to find stuff online. Once I got home, we spent the evening watching the news roundups on TV. I also went online and hung out in a chat room full of music fans and we commiserated with each other. One friend of mine lost a high-school classmate in the flight that hit the Pentagon.

Lindsay M. Aaronson

A view of the NY memorial today from my friend at SEC in NY. We were both undergrad at Drew University in Madison, NJ 10 years ago. I was in an economics class that was quickly dismissed. For many classmates that had parents working in NYC it was a very emotional morning. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already.

Tricia Adkins

I was at work. I had just started a new job and we provided support to people in New York over the telephone. I remember when the first plane hit. One of my co-workers said, “Hey, come look at this. A small plane ran right into one of the World Trade Center buildings.” The internet was really sporadic so we gathered around his desk to look at the pictures. I remember seeing the smoke and not thinking a whole lot about it other than what a bad accident. Not long after I went back to my desk, my co-worker turned around and said, “Guys, another plane just hit the other building. We’re under attack.” The look on his face sent chills down my spine. Everyone was trying to call people in New York that we usually spoke with but all we got was busy signals or a message indicating that the switchboards were full. Then the plane hit the Pentagon. At this point it was complete chaos because no one knew how many other planes were out there. Then the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, not too far from where we were. With each crash, someone came over our address system to tell us all what was going on. I tried calling my husband who was on a military base in Norfolk. All I could think about was that someone was going to do something to the largest military base in our country and just by chance he happened to be there. Once everything started calming down and the media was reporting that there weren’t any other planes, we spent the rest of the day huddled in a small break room watching news coverage and talking to each other. Our phones which usually rang nonstop from New York were eerily quiet and they didn’t start ringing again for several days after 9/11. When I got home, I spent the rest of the night on the phone with friends and family recounting the day over and over again.

Mary Yang

I was sleeping, in my dorm room at Mount Holyoke. My roommate and best friend at the time ran into the room and immediately turned on the TV. I didn’t know what was going on, and she shook me awake and told me planes had hit the Twin Towers in NYC. I remember sitting up in my dorm bed, staring at the horror and smoke. We were transfixed. We watched as the second plane hit the second tower, and our hearts sank.

We didn’t get any notices – email or otherwise – that classes were cancelled. So I went to my English lit class. Everyone showed up and we went through class; our professor didn’t know what had happened. Only when the school towers started tolling over and over did she ask us what had happened. When we told her, she ran from the room; her husband was in NYC and she hadn’t heard from him yet. Classes were officially cancelled, signaled by the tolling of the school towers. Everyone spent the rest of the day in front of the television or trying to get a hold of friends and family in NYC.

Cassidy Seeman

I was getting ready for school, and eating my cereal. I remember flipping the channel and at first I thought it was a preview for an upcoming action movie, but then it sunk in that this was live, and real. I woke up my mom, and we both watched shocked as the 2nd tower was hit. Most of my morning at school was spent watching the news, and praying, and being heartbroken. Even though we were in Billings, MT. One of my class mates had an uncle in the tower. I can’t believe it’s been ten years.

Scott Kearby

I was the Base Engineer for the Maryland Air National Guard at Martin State Airport outside of Baltimore. I had a 9am meeting at the Security Police building with the Chief of Security & a contractor to review the details of a project to install protective film on the windows of that building (it was only about 25′ to the fence & adjacent public highway). I arrived about 8:45 and they were watching the TV reports of the plane that struck the first tower. While we were watching, another plane hit the second tower. Needless to say, the meeting was quickly concluded. In very short order the base was cleared of all visitors and non-essential personnel as we implemented heightened securtity measures.

Geoff Hancock

I was standing in the parking lot of the Pentagon. I was going in for my 6th interview for a job. Heard an airplane noise, looked up and saw the explosion…. my life changed…as all of ours have.

Terri Reitz

I was home and out chasing an escaped dog. After I found him and dropped him in the house, I wondered over to my neighbor’s house for coffee. As I walked in, the TV showed the Pentagon where my then husband was giving records management training including a section on disaster preparedness. All of our family and out of state friends were calling me to ask where he was working that day. I was so scared for him. Until I heard from him around noon, my biggest support was my goddaughter who kept patting my arm and telling me it was going to be okay. Our neighborhood was lucky. We had several who wroked in the Pentagon and they were all safe.

The days and weeks that followed were scary. We lived near College Park Airport and in several flight paths. I had never heard the neighborhood that silent. Just hearing or seeing a fighter plane in the sky had you wondering what was going on. Some in the neighborhood left deciding it wasn’t worth the knowledge that Washington DC was always going to be a target for the terrorists and nut jobs of the world. Our family was lucky as we were all safe but some of my friends who lived near New York were not as the toll of the destruction came very close to their homes and workplaces.

Danielle Fuller

I was on my way into work listening to my morning radio show when they aired the breaking news of the plane crashing into the first tower. I was so distraught that I almost pulled over to the side of the road, but I continued into work. I ran to my work station and turned on the radio to immediately find out the second plane hit the second tower. One of my co-workers who was standing there listening to the news turned and looked at me and said “Do you realize what is happening? This is a terrorist attack!” I immediately started crying and praying for everyone affected by the tragedy. My phone started ringing off the hook with family and friends asking me to leave work. When I left work to go home, it felt very surreal. I felt like I was walking into a movie scene. The state capital building and government center was surrounded by armoured tanks. There were no cars driving on the street or any pedestrians walking. I was the only person on that street at that time. I hurried back home to meet my husband and kids staring at the TV. From that moment on, I held onto my family and watched in horror of the day’s events. NEVER FORGET!! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

Renda Johnston

I was woke up by the phone ringing and being told to get my TV on immediately and not to come into work in Seattle. When I came into work I had to assist one of my trainees with getting leave…her mother-in-law had died in the Pentagon. Her In-laws had just returned from being ambassadors and were due to transfer to Los Angeles in four days. Her Mother-in-law was not feeling well that morning but decided she needed to wrap up some loose ends before leaving. It was heart-wrenching.

Elizabeth Hyde

I never listen or watch the news in the mornings, so I had no idea why the school staff was so serious and gloomy when I dropped my kids off at school that morning and turned in paperwork to the office staff. I went into work (a WA state agency) blissfully unaware, cheerily greeted my coworker and asked how she was. “Grateful that we don’t work in a tall building on the East coast,” was her cryptic reply. “Oh, why’s that?” I asked in my ignorance. “Because no planes will fly into our building,” was the response. Confused, I asked for clarification and was completely dumfounded by the news that planes had hit the two towers and the pentagon, another crashing in a field. I rushed to my desk and turned on my radio, tuning to the first news station. We all listened, horrified as the towers collapsed. No one got any work done that day, we gathered around radios, called for news from people with access to t.v. My two older kids (15 & 13) had watched the news on t.v. at their schools and discussed it all day with teachers and each other. The teachers in the elementary school kept classes as close to normal as possible, so my two younger ones (8 & 10) were only vaguely aware of events. When we all got home that night we watched the t.v. news reports over and over. I had friends in Brooklyn and Manhatten and no way of knowing if they or their families were affected. My kids could only watch the news for so long. We prayed for the people of NY and DC, we prayed for the first responders and wept over the lives lost. To avoid inundating my kids, I devoured newspapers and looked online for news. I later found out that my friend in Brooklyn was scheduled to be at Two World Trade Center that morning, but was feeling unwell and decided not to go in. She has since moved to Ohio. My friends in Manhatten lost family members, coworkers, and friends. They remained in Manhatten, determined to rebuild their lives in honor of those whose lives were lost.

Jana Opperman

I was singing “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” on the way to teach 7th graders ( I am trained for HS science teaching but I tried middle school that year-not a good thing) I did not want to be in school that day it was so nice! Then later in class the Principal came up to tell me there was one and possibly 2 planes that crashed into the twin towers and I was confused, my class room TV had not been hooked up yet, so I really didn’t know what was happening then later the head mistress called to tell me the school was closing and there had been another plane that crashed into the Pentagon to please call all the parents of students who did not ride the bus. This was horrible because the classroom phone required log to an outside line and use a password that was 11 digits long for each of 20 phone calls!and the 7th graders were celebrating that they could leave school early even though we were under attack. The school building was located next to the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden right next to Philadelphia on the Rutgers campus so we could also be a target. I used to teach in another town next to Fort Dix and I was experienced in bomb threats but this was much different. After the students were gone I sat with another teacher and we watched her TV to see what was going on. Dear Hubby working for NJDEP was located in Trenton right near fed buildings had to observe officers going on alert there. I went home to meet my grade school son-the Principal decided not to tell the students, to let the parents handle that. My middle school son came running when he saw me with the horrible look on his face hugging us. His Principal explained very little saying the twin towers were on fire after planes flew into them and left it at that. Not good because every time they called for a kid to come down to the office (To get picked up) he thought they lost a parent or two and were being told the horrible news. When we walked home it was so eery not having planes in the sky -in NJ, not far from cities there always are planes and helicopters above. The kids went to soccer practice with all the parents agreeing to keep things as normal as possible, then I got a call from the mother of a bed ridden MS patient I had been helping most evenings for years. Her brother was supposed to get her dinner that night but he worked at Ft Dix and could not leave, so I had to run off. I have a neighbor who was transferred to the Pentagon a few years back and her office was in the wedge that was blown up but her daughter told me she was at a Doctors appointment! So many stories with all the close calls! A good friend who works in the Treasury building as a reporter was stuck reporting and not wanting to, it was horrible all around. And then we started with the Anthrax attacks in a town 15 min away talk about paranoia after that. I am now a state employee, not a teacher anymore I miss the actual teaching but I do not miss those middle schoolers on that day, I was never ever so mad at any of my students (I had taught for 8 years in high school) and that made it so much harder on me to not scream at them. Horribly Surreal .

Allison Primack

9/11 is my dad’s birthday. As a 11-year-old, I thought it would be a really good birthday surprise to wake up early and surprise him before he had to go to work. When I came out into the kitchen, I watched the news coverage with my parents (I lived in California, so it was only 6am), and literally watched the second plane slam into the building with them. On the way to school we heard on the radio that the buildings were collapsing, and about the planes going into the Pentagon. I remember going into school that day, and basically just watched TV until lunchtime, after which our parents were called to come pick us up. I cannot believe that it was already 10 years ago!

Kurt Williams

I was at my parents house sleeping around 10AM (slacker… I know), I just had graduated college that spring and moved back to NJ in August, when my older sister who was coincidentally, going for her first day at a new college, came in the room where I was sleeping in a pullout bed. We just watched in horror the second building get nailed and then the collapse. She never went to school that day as it was probably closed anyhow.

Deborah Johnson

I was in bed (West coast time) & the clock radio came on, tuned to NPR news. Bob Edwards literally paused & stammered, which brought me bolt awake because it was clear something was terribly wrong. For the 1st (& only) time I turned off NPR & turned on the TV. I saw the 2nd plane hit on the screen behind network announcers blabbing on as filler, & they didn’t even see it or respond initially. My husband was on vacation in Canada, & I called & woke him up in his hotel room, insisting he come back across the border because I was convinced they were going to close it (they didn’t). I went into the office late, because despite the horrible scenes unfolding I just couldn’t tear myself away from the TV. At the time, my husband observed it would be like December 7 was to our parents and grandparents, where people would remember in intricate detail what they were doing.

Jonathan Gaines

I was in English class when this happend. They didn’t let us go home but for the rest of the day all the classes watched the news on the tv.

Caryn Wesner-Early

I was at work in Crystal City, having just come in and still getting settled. I was looking at a friend’s vacation photos when someone said, “They hit the Pentagon, too!” I had no idea what was going on – I thought the plane crashing into a building was an accident (we didn’t hear about the 2nd plane until after hearing about the Pentagon, since you could see the Pentagon from the upper floors of our building), and hearing about the second one was the first surreal thing in the most surreal day of my life. They turned us loose, since it was a government building and had to close, but no one could go anywhere because the Metro was closed and the streets were clogged. I went to the Marriott hotel next to our building, where they were being just wonderful. They were stuffed with people who’d been staying there and meant to fly out, but couldn’t and walked back over from the airport. The hotel turned on the TV in one of the conference rooms and brought out water and extra chairs. When I arrived, a man got up from his plum seat on one of the couches and gave it to me, and we were talking off and on for the next few hours. There were long lines for the phones, since no one’s cellphone was working – another surreal touch was all the people standing in line for a land line, trying to use their cellphones. The crowd eventually started to thin out, and it must have been around 2:45 when the man who’d given me his seat suddenly said, “I just remembered! Our office is in the process of moving to a new location in the WTC!” His mind had apparently just blocked that knowledge for a few hours. He immediately started worrying about who might have been at the new place as opposed to the old place, and left to try for the Metro. I sometimes wonder what happened to him. When I finally got home, there were messages from family and friends to make sure I was ok, and one from a close friend in NYC to let me know that she was.

Everyone was on such good behavior for the next month! People were nice to each other, and gave each other seats on Metro, and cut each other breaks for small shows of temper, and so on. And then normal behavior returned, but the terrorists had won – our formerly free and carefree society had changed, and wasn’t going back.

Megan Price

It was in my senior year of high school and we were switching classes. I walked into my American Government class to see the TV tuned to a building on fire – I remember asking what happened and the teacher said ‘a plane hit the building’ and my first reaction was ‘how do you hit a building that big, bad pilot’ then I saw the second plane run into the other tower. We all realized then that the first plane was no mistake and this meant something big.

My high school is located in Sarasota County, which if you recall, is exactly where the President was speaking to a classroom of kids. For this reason all phone communication went down and there was no way to contact parents, friends or loved ones to see if they were okay or if they knew what was going on.

For what seems like a lifetime, we sat in horror and watched everything happen on TV and then were permitted to leave once the phones came back on (which wasn’t when the POTUS left the state of Florida – for some reason).

Caryn Wesner-Early

One other thing – there’s a verse of America the Beautiful that I’d never liked much, because of its military overtones:

Oh, beautiful, for heroes proved,

In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved,

And mercy more than life.

Ever since then, though, the “liberating strife” has become a vision of emergency workers helping panicky people down long, long staircases, and “loved… mercy more than life” reminds me of those workers who didn’t make it out, after helping so many others do so. Gives me chills, now.

Pam Broviak

The month before, we had found out my 14-year-old daughter had cancer. So on 9/11 we were driving to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in St. Francis in Peoria for her chemo treatment when we heard on the radio that planes had flown into the towers. Then a short time later we heard the towers were falling. Once we arrived at the hospital, we saw the photos of what happened on the televisions there.

Dorothy Duran

I was waking up it was 6am in Sacramento I set my radio to 92.5 a local radio station I heard about the attacks from Paul and Phil the radio DJs. I was working as a Policy Associate at a local non-profit near the Capitol building.

Lida Verner

I was a volunteer paramedic with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad and got sent down to the Pentagon. I grabbed my camera which turned out to be the wrong one and was the one that was supposed to be sent into the shop so I only got one semi-useable roll of film. I wrote up my experiences and put them up on my Sept 11 site if anyone is interested. The Pentagon on September 11

Tom Melancon

I was riding the water taxi from West Seattle to downtown Seattle. I had gone into work a little late. I noticed that the radio was blaring on the water taxi, which had never been done before. They were playing the news, but I really didn’t grasp fully what was happening. When I got off of the boat, it was an eerie feeling seeing everyone flee the city, no one but me was walking toward the buildings. When I arrived at my building, my supervisor told me everyone was being sent home and they were closing all buildings in downtown Seattle. I went home and saw the first images of the attacks on the TV.