Sept 11, 2001 - Where were you; what were you doing?

SuperMatt

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When I was a kid, my Dad could tell me what he was doing when he learned of JFK’s assassination. Today, those who saw the 9/11 attacks on TV probably have the same curse.

I was at work at a conference center in Maryland. When people heard a plane hit the first tower, we all thought it was a terrible accident and a number of people came over and watched the TV at work. When we saw the 2nd plane, I could not believe what I was seeing. Everybody was silent. A short time later, I heard somebody shout “they hit the Pentagon!” We were all worried the Capitol or White House would be next.

When they replayed that footage on TV today, I remember the feelings of shock and anger I felt that day.
 

Runs For Fun

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I was in 7th grade. I heard the announcement of what happened during history class. A while before that a friend had come back from the restroom and said he got a glimpse of the coverage on TV while passing the teacher’s lounge. No one he mentioned it to really believed him since he was the kind of kid that would make shit up a lot. I don’t know if it was because of being a K-8 school but they kind of kept us in the dark other than the initial announcement. It was kind of a surreal day with a lot of panic and uncertainty. I didn’t see any of the footage until I got home and it basically left me speechless. It was just a bone chilling sight.
 

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we were having breakfast and it was like what the fuck? my daughter did not understand when we told her she was 12.
 

MEJHarrison

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I had just returned from vacation the day before. My sister-in-law had tried to get us to stay one more day and fly out with them, but we didn't. Obviously, they didn't fly back the next day either. At the time, I was getting ready for work.
 

Pumbaa

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At home studying (time zones yay). Immediately called BFF to recommend turning on the TV and warn that WW3 was about to start (shit’s gonna get ugly at least, that much was obvious).

Followed it on TV throughout the day, going from holding on to the slim hope that it could have been an accident to seeing the second tower get hit live, and learning about other planes…

we were having breakfast and it was like what the fuck? my daughter did not understand when we told her she was 12.
You had to tell her she was 12? (sorry, couldn’t resist)
 

Edd

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I had just left the military weeks before, settling into a new state and job. I guess I was feeling confident about the job because I drove to a car dealership to consider a purchase. On the way to the dealership I heard the first story on NPR about a plane hitting the tower. Details were very sketchy with some chatter about it being intentional and the story sounded a bit similar to the WTC bombing that happened years earlier. The scale of even that first plane crash wasn’t clear at all to me.

Got to the dealership and test drove, the story left my mind. When we returned, the 2nd plane had hit and customers and staff at the dealership were discussing it. Now it was very clear what’d happened. The TV in the service department was on and everyone paying at least partial attention. Weird vibe in there.

The salesperson’s desk was very close to the TV and he’s going into his spiel when the 3rd plane hit the Pentagon. That freaked me out and I said I’d think about it and come back tomorrow.

I spent the day wondering if I’d be pulled back into service somehow, which they can do for a period after you leave. It didn’t happen.
 

Alli

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I was at school. I had just left my room for a planning period trip to the loo when my principal grabbed me and pulled me into his office saying “we’re under attack.” I assumed he meant the school and wondered why he was telling me instead of ordering a lockdown. But we went back to his conference room where he had the tv on. My heart sank and my first thought was “gotta get hold of my family.” At the time my kids were in h.s. In NY and my parents lived in Albany. I spent the next few hours trying to get through from the phone in the library. I finally got through to my kids who were safe at home instead of the usual playing hookie in NYC. By the time I got hold of my parents, my father had already been called in to man the EOPS center in Albany as a member of the NYSG.

Did anyone sleep that night?
 

fooferdoggie

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At home studying (time zones yay). Immediately called BFF to recommend turning on the TV and warn that WW3 was about to start (shit’s gonna get ugly at least, that much was obvious).

Followed it on TV throughout the day, going from holding on to the slim hope that it could have been an accident to seeing the second tower get hit live, and learning about other planes…


You had to tell her she was 12? (sorry, couldn’t resist)
ya and she would not accept it still does not.
 

Scepticalscribe

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In Europe, obviously, it was different, but we watched in appalled horror at what was unfolding.

However, my own family were a bit preoccupied, - although I do recall my mother's genuine outrage as she watched the news - as that very week, my father had had extensive heart surgery - a couple of by-passes, plus stents inserted, on September 10 - which necessitated a week in hospital, and lengthy daily visits on the part of my mother and I, (in early September, I was fortunate that the university teaching term hadn't re-started by then, so I was free to give her what support I could), followed by several days in intensive care, and then, a few days in step-down, before he was released to our care for recovery and recuperation.

And my brother, Decent Brother, (who had returned to university where he studied as a "mature". i.e. second chance, i.e. adult, student) had to sit some of his law finals (exams) that very week in the Law Society, - and was also commuting to his work where he was taking his "articles" as a solicitor's apprentice, trying to squeeze in visits to the hospital, and be supportive as he could to both parents.
 
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DT

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It was shortly after my previous company was acquired, my VP, lead sales, a partner relationship guy and myself, were all in Chicago. I haven't traveled much for work over the years, but they had made me some kind of Director-in-charge-of-something-another, hahaha, so they drug me along to yap at a couple of high profile clients. We were doing a morning strategy session at a breakfast joint, they had a couple of TVs running, but I hadn't noticed anything yet. My VP comes back from the restroom and had stopped at the counter to watch, he came back to the table, said what had happened, and I remember he said something pretty close to, "This is huge, and very bad, and I think we all need to immediately get home, take your rental car and drive, don't worry about the costs or whatever".

So me and my sales guy jump in our car, and hit the road, that's an 1100+ mile drive, probably 17-18 hours, we get all our info from car radio news, we talk to our families pretty constantly. We wind up staying overnight at a Motel <something>, get home the next day, and pretty much was where everyone else was the day after - confused, mad, concerned.

Our President was in NYC, and had business down the WTC area that he postponed till later in the afternoon (he got home safe too).
 

Thomas Veil

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I was at work at a conference center in Maryland....

I was actually in a similar facility, and I remember pretty much co-workers spending every moment they possibly could near a TV, watching the horror unfold.

Being a media person, I also remember the professionalism with which Peter Jennings (then ABC anchor) covered the tragedy. He was being very factual, clearly delineating how much we did and didn't know for sure about what was going on, cautioning us that there were many things we were hearing for which we had no actual proof yet. That's the mark of a good journalist. As professional as he was, there were moments where just he went silent. Even for pros, there are times when there are just no words, and when silence is more eloquent than speech.

I just remember the whole day being surreal. It felt like being trapped in a horror movie come to life. I also recall how security was immediately upped. Every vehicle entering our facility was stopped and searched before being allowed to proceed.
 

lizkat

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I was upstate here, still working but all remotely by then, having let go of my pied-a-terre in NYC the year before,

Still had a TV then, and habitually half-watched ABC's morning news show while I had a few coffees and went through emails from the overnight batch jobs. So that's what I was doing on September 11, 2001when they started talking about a plane having hit the World Trade Center. It seemed impossible, because it was such a clear and beautiful day outside, at least up here.

Then it became obvious it was a nice day down in the city as well, when they started showing video of the smoke pouring out of one of the WTC towers. So I was still puzzling over the weirdness of any sane pilot "choosing" to crash-land in the financial district rather than on water all around lower Manhattan... and I happened to be watching when live video of the second plane hitting the other tower was broadcast.

So then no one could hang onto the idea any longer that the first hit was an accident. It all just became surreal to me from that point on, through the collapsing of the towers. I don't remember a thing that was said on television; most of my mind seemed stuck on "how could this even be happening?" and the rest was random flashes of wonderment offered up as my brain rummaged through memory trying to come up with something relevant.

So I remembered stuff like the 1965 blackout when I was on the 53rd floor of the Pan Am Building with Mayor Wagner saying on the genny-powered radio that "Con Ed will have the lights back on within the hour" for six hours until we figured nah, ain't happening and we started the long walk down (and how long that took) and how our knees turned to jelly after we finally reached the lobby and went outside and could rest on the curb for awhile.

And I remembered the first time my boss at a job down at 120 Wall Street said "Look down, you can even see them unloading the banana boats onto the docks from up here".. . and I was just thinking how damn far it was down to the water even though I think that was only 15 or 20 floors up. And thinking about that again later on and from that same vantage point, when some idiot from a firm with nearby offices on the same floor had started a fire with a cigarette in a wastebasket in a room full of artists' supplies including assorted accelerants, and we were told to shelter in place at the farther end of our own firm's space --yeah in the boss's office by the windows-- because "it was just a small fire and would be fully suppressed in a few more minutes."

And I was impatient and shrugging off all those memories because nothing about any of that explained or minimized what I was seeing on TV. My brain kept trying to view it as drama, not news, even after accounts rolled in from destruction at the Pentagon and then the fourth plane diving into the ground in rural Pennsylvania. So it remains surreal to me even to this day in some ways. I have never been able to get my head around it even after all so many eyewitness accounts. I did drive down to the city later and took the subway down to see the 9/11 ground zero site, trying to make a connection to it as reality. All that did was make more real to me the real-time incredulity of friends who lived in the Village or Soho or Hoboken. They still can't believe it either despite having been near neighbor to the months-long smoldering of fires persisting under the rubble.
 

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I was on the computer reading and responding to emails before getting ready to go to my part-time job. I glanced at the time, thought, "OK, better get off this thing -- time to head out to work!" I was just about to shut down when one more email came in and I thought, "yeah, why not?" and opened it to read it. The writer was a Canadian member of an email loop to which I belonged, and she made a comment about "the terrible thing happening in the US." I thought, "huh? What's she talking about?" It was a beautiful September morning (not unlike today's weather) and all was well in my world, or so I thought, but just out of curiosity I decided to quickly jump into the website of The Washington Post and see what was going on.....

This strange, unbelievable headline and photograph popped up on my computer screen and I stared, confused. WTH? Oh, how weird, that couldn't be real, that was fake -- had someone hijacked the Post's website? Or maybe I'd typed in the wrong URL..... I tried again. That same image, the same incredible headline in huge, bold letters appeared. I hurriedly went to another site, I think the NYT, and saw something very similar. I began to realize that yes, something very terrible WAS happening in the United States. I immediately ran over to the TV and turned it on, just in time to see the second Tower going down, and spent the next several hours glued to my seat, mesmerized, stunned, horrified and terrified by the unimaginable, unfathomable images I was seeing and the words I was hearing..... The world was turning upside down as one thing after another happened, and of course the plane crashing into the Pentagon was literally hitting very close to home. I will never forget that day.
 

GermanSuplex

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I was a senior in high school. I watched the towers come down in government class. Was horrified like everyone else, but admit to hoping it would get me out of working the night shift at my job. It did not.

The event and 24/7 news coverage in the days that followed were unlike anything I had seen up to that point or since… other than maybe when Michael Jackson died. That was surreal too. Oddly enough, MJ performed in NYC the night before 9/11, I believe, in what were his last concerts ever.
 

Thomas Veil

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So I was still puzzling over the weirdness of any sane pilot "choosing" to crash-land in the financial district rather than on water all around lower Manhattan... and I happened to be watching when live video of the second plane hitting the other tower was broadcast.

So then no one could hang onto the idea any longer that the first hit was an accident.

I know. Watching the first tower was freaky enough, like, “How could something like this happen?”

And then when the second plane hit, that turned to, “Tell me this is not what I’m thinking it is. Please.
 

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I was 19 and at McCarran airport, flying to DC from Las Vegas super early in the am. I was in one of those slot machine/smoking areas by myself. A janitor came in to dump trash and told me about the first plane. I’ll never forget it he said “some dipshit flew a small single engine plane into the World Trade Center (which was what the reports were at first I guess), so you’ll probably have a delay. We boarded and during take off we stopped aggressively and the pilot said “we’re going back to the gate, take your belongings and exit the plane in an orderly fashion. That’s it. When I got off of the plane the airport had turned to chaos and it took me an hour or so to use a pay phone to call my sister. Took another 2 hours to actually get out of the airport. Ive never seen so much panic in such a large group before.
 
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