Where Were You on 9/11?

I saw this on fark, so I thought I’d add my own story.

On the morning of 9/11/2001, at around 8:50am, I was at home, just waking up. The day before, I had flown from BWI (Baltimore/Washington International) to Tampa, and after a long weekend I was catching up on sleep.

At that time one of my biggest fears was flying. In fact, I almost didn’t go on the trip due to my paralyzing (sp?) fear of flying. When I woke up that morning, the first thing I heard was a news person saying something along the lines of “an air plane crashed this morning…” and I silently thanked God it wasn’t my flight. Selfish, I know, but there it is.

I walked to the living room to catch the news on TV. My dad had been watching the news in his room, with the volume a bit on the loud side, as usual. I turned on the news and saw the live pictures from the WTC. After getting over the shock just enough to pick up the phone, I immediately called my mom, who had been raised in New York. I told her what I knew and while on the phone, the first tower fell. I remember saying “Oh my God, Oh my God…”

“What,” she said, still shocked, “what is it?”

“The tower,” I stammered, “It just… fell. The tower just went down. Holy F**k’n God!”

Later that day, as we headed to that evening’s special mass, she told me, “I’m glad your grandmother died when she did. She wouldn’t have wanted to see this.” My grandmother, who lived with us pretty much all my life, had died just a couple of weeks before. She had lived in New York — mostly Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx — for a good portion of her life, as had my mother.

I was supposed to go to class that day — music history with Dr. Robison — but I couldn’t move. In fact, for the next week, it was all I could do to watch the news and listen to every report possible, to try to understand. I’ll be willing to bet even the CIA didn’t have someone as attentive to this as I. Guess that’s what you get when you have an addictive personality.

Eventually pulled myself away from the TV, radios, and newspapers. Actually, my family sorta pulled me out by force. In either case, after about a week I finally started to get back into the groove of life, but I remember for a long time asking the questing “Where were you on 9/11”. I stopped asking after I asked a friend of mine who had just moved down from there. “Watching my cousins die,” was his answer; turns out he had family there that morning, on the 91st floor.

It being 5 years later, I’ll again open the book. Where were you on that morning?

3 thoughts on “Where Were You on 9/11?

  1. Believe it or not – on the morning of Sept 11, 2001 during both attacks on the WTC, I was on an airplane. I don’t fly that often, in fact I think I maybe had one or two other flights that year.

    It was the year I got laid off from my awesome dot com job in Morrisville, North Carolina after the bubble burst. I was starting a new job in Raleigh on September 15th. and has decided to visit my parents in Michigan since I had all the time off and was collecting unemployment benefits and severence and enjoying my time off.

    I was at South Bend Regional Airport, and my dad drove me over and saw me off. I also has a friend that was the manager of customer service for Northwest Airlines at the airport and thus – I could get discretely bumped up to first class on occasion =) He also waved good by from the terminal with my Dad.

    The flight to Detroit went well. I landed at 9:45 am or something like that. Turned on my cell phone and like every person I knew had called me, voice mails, text messages, etc. “Dude, there are planes crashing everywhere”. I informed the other passengers that a plane crashed into the WTC. At that point everyone thought it was some freak accident. I called back everyone to let them know I was okay.

    So I was on a puddle jumper, although I think it was a jet. They picked us up by bus and took us to the terminal. The lady driving the bus was like, I don’t know if you know or not but, two planes crashed in the W.T.C. I was like wow two planes, man that’s freaky.

    I went to the gate for the connecting flight from Detroit to Raleigh-Durham International. The airport had discretely disconnected all the TV sets attempting to avoid a panic. I was sitting there thinking look, the sign says my flight is on time, no worries – I’ll be in Raleigh soon. So I was talking on my cell phone to a friend, and I’m like yeah be at the airport to pick me up my flight says it’s going to be ontime. The guy sitting next to me said, sorry to say – but, I don’t think you are going anywhere today.

    A couple of minutes later… a voice comes over the P.A., “Attention please, the F.A.A. has grounded all flights. Detroit Intenational Airport is now closed, please leave immediately.”. The TV’s then mysteriously all turn back on to CNN. I can still vividly remember the faces on people – everyone was disoriented, confused, sad – some people were crying. There were flight attendants and other staff broken down and crying because they knew people on those flights. We all walked solemly to the ticketing area. Police from about every agency, security, were sweeping the building, explosive sniffing dogs were out.

    I sat outside, my cell phone has stopped working because of the network congestion. After about an hour I was finally able to call my Mom. She was sleeping and the housekeeper answered – I told her to let my Mom know I was okay, but stranded in Detroit. I finally also got my Dad at work in South Bend, he left work to a four hour drive to Detroit to pick me up.

    The four hours sitting there was a blur. I remember a police officer asking me if I had a ride, and if I was ok. I thought to myself – how can something like this happen in the U.S. and worried that there was going to be a massive attack. I was born in 1975, so I grew up at the tail end of the “cold war”, where the Russia was our enemy but the Berlin Wall well, and the government in Russia fell – I’ve always felt totally secure until September 11. Terrorist attacks didn’t happen here, every once in a while some right-wing N.R.A. nut would plant a bomb in a federal building, but that was all that happened – in my lifetime, up until September 11.

    My dad arrived four or five hours later. It would take me 3 hours to drive that far, cause I have a lead foot, I was a bit ticked my Dad drove his slow usual. I headed home (my parents house). Gas stations along the way were selling gas anywhere from $3 to $5 a gallon (which was high then), and there was a mad rush to get gas.

    I got home, and the next few days I could not get a plane out, rent a car, or anything, I was starting work on Sept. 15 and had to get back to Raleigh. I called over there, and they said they understood, my boss was also stranded at a conference in Boston. Eventually I got a greyhound ticket and headed to Washington D.C. and then down to Raleigh. The busses were packed full – and was very oddly full of people with shirts and ties working on laptops (Greyhound is usually the ghetto express). The bus from DC to raleigh drove past the pentagon – everyone stopped talking and stared as we went by.

    Eventually I got to Raleigh in the middle of the night, the cabs were lined up at the bus station like it was the airport. I got a cab home. The next few days were eerie. I lived near Raleigh-Durham international airport and would hear the constant flights, it was soothing to me. The sky was silent. There we no flights. It was very odd, out of place. and eerie.

    On September 15th, I met my boss who hired me again. She told me she was in a training seminar in Boston, and sitting next to two CIA employees who were taking the class with her. Before the news hit, both their pagers went off, and they dissappeared for a moment. Then when the news was announced everyone was talking about the “accident”, the CIA employees shook their head and said – it’s no accident. Everyone was silent.

    5 years later, I’m now living in South Florida (the terrorist training ground =). I still remember Sept. 11, 2001 more vividly than any other day in my life. The memories still affect me.

    Nate

  2. I was in my bedroom, just waking up. A friend had called, she was talking about a plane going into the WTC. I was confused, so I turned on the tv. I couldn’t believe what I was watching…a plane had crashed into the WTC. As I was watching the live report, a 2nd plane flew across the screen and hit the second tower. THAT’S when I started to freak out. At that moment, I knew it was no accident. My thoughts immediately turned to my parents, who at that exact moment, were on a flight from Tampa to San Diego, California. I tried calling, but no call would go through, so I left messages for them to call me ASAP to let me know they were ok. As the news reported more hijacked flights, I wanted so badly to turn the tv off, but I couldn’t. I was glued to the tv wondering if I would hear the status of my parents flight. I had even called the airline, but they couldn’t tell me anything. I couldn’t help but cry. I couldn’t look at the tragedy unfolding before my eyes, but I couldn’t look away either. All those people… I never imagined that we would be attacked on our own soil. Even the possibility of such vulnerability never entered my mind, until that day. All I could do was pray.

    When they announced the grounding of all flights, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief. I had no idea where my parents were or if they were ok, but if the planes were grounded, that meant less of a chance of other planes going down. It wasn’t too long after the planes were grounded that I received the long-awaited call from my parents. They were ok, thank God, but they were shocked and disoriented.

    Their plane had to make an emergency landing in Phoenix, AZ when the grounding order came through. They now had to figure out how to get from Phoenix to their final destination, San Diego. They told me that all the rental cars were sold out and they would be sharing a rental with a nice young man who was headed in their direction. Of course, I was now worried about the “nice young man,” but my parents were comfortable. Again, all I could do was pray…and pray I did, lots of it.

    I kept in touch with my parents, when I could get an open line, their whole trip to Cali. They finally reached their destination, only to find out that there were no more rooms at any of the hotels. It was so bad that the hotels actually had cots in the lobby for people to sleep on. Luckily, my parents already had their reservation. They returned the young man’s kindness and let him share their room for the night. Again, I was worried. I didn’t sleep well that night, but they were ok and I was very grateful.

    Interestingly enough, the reason they went to Cali in the first place was for my dad’s Navy reunion. What a time… Their reunion class traveled to the Mexico border with the intent to spend the day there. However, they were informed that if war was declared and they were still in Mexico, they would not be allowed back into the US. So, they turned right back around and headed back to San Diego. Good thing they did.

    Looking back, I wonder just how far we’ve come, and what we give up for security. What freedoms do we give up to have the freedom from fear of attacks. I hate to say it, but Bush is right…we have to be right 100% of the time. They only have to be right once.

  3. I saw this, thought it fitting.

    John Stewart’s message after 9/11. “The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center…it’s now the Statue of Liberty.” Fitting.

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