General Question

ucme's avatar

Well, where were you & what were you doing the moment you heard of the 9/11 atrocity?

Asked by ucme (50031points) June 29th, 2010

No offence or intention to trivialise such an overwhelming tragedy.Simply curious, I mean several events in modern history evoke the same facsination.The notion that something so hugely memorable enables us to recall our precise location & to track our thoughts at that exact point in time, however long ago it may have been.So again apologies in advance to anyone who may be offended.I shall put this in general so as to hopefully receive only sobering thoughtful responses, thank you.

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56 Answers

CMaz's avatar

South Bend Indiana. Watching the morning news getting ready for work.

It was a bright, snow covered day. I wanted to head to the city and help. Having friends and family in the city.

wundayatta's avatar

I stayed home sick that day. Heard about the first hit on NPR and decided to go up and see it on TV. I spent most of the rest of the morning glued to the TV, trying to figure it out. Around noon, I had to go pick up my daughter at school. They sent her home. My son got to stay at daycare all day, though. After my daughter came home, I couldn’t watch it on TV any more.

knitfroggy's avatar

I was at work at the local newspaper. They used to run a contest that whoever called in the best news tip would win a small money prize. A lady called wanting to report that a plane had hit the WTC. My desk was near the receptionist and she and I got a giggle because it was local news that won the prize. We weren’t giggling later as everyone in the office huddled around the TV sets and watched the terrible day unfold. There wasn’t a lot of work that got done that day.

earthduzt's avatar

Hollywood California, my roommate at the time woke me up and said “Hey check this out a plane just flew into the building” started watching it and then the other flew into the other building. Was a very surreal moment in time.

janbb's avatar

I was driving to work and absolutely ecstatic that I had received a happy e-mail from son who had just started at NYU in the city the week before. Plus it was a beautiful day. They announced on NPR that a plane had hit the World Trade Center but it didn’t really make a blip on my radar until I got to work and the news became clearer. I remember a boy running up to the reference desk looking for a t.v. because his Dad was working in the WTC. They closed my college at 11 and my husband had come home from work to try to reach our son. The phones weren’t working, but we received an e-mail from him sometime in the early afternoon. He had been asleep and didn’t find out about it until he got to his 11 a.m. class.

DominicX's avatar

September 11th, 2001 was just a couple weeks after my 10th birthday. I remember the morning very well. I was in Las Vegas, Nevada, where I lived at the time. My parents were watching it on the news and I remember seeing the footage of the plane hitting the tower and the smoke coming out of it. I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time, though, just a little too young and too long ago to remember that, but I do remember going to school that day and discussing it at school (this was 5th grade). I remember getting to school that morning and my friend Lindsay was there telling everybody about the attacks. For some reason, she seemed to know more about it that anyone else and was informing all the students in my class who arrived to wait in front of the classroom for the teacher’s arrival. The funny part is she doesn’t remember that! But I told her a few months ago and I was like “when I remembered 9/11, you were the first person I thought of.” :)

El_Cadejo's avatar

I was in middle school at the time. I remember hearing about the first plane crash in math class and our teacher turned it on the tv. Then we went to english around the time the second one hit but our english teacher wouldnt allow us to watch it because “we were just middle school kids and this meant nothing to any of us”

missingbite's avatar

Just about to work a flight from Greenville Spartanburg to Newark NJ. Dispatch called and said stay in the hotel and don’t tell anyone what you do or who you work for. Stuck there until the following Saturday. Long, long week.

rebbel's avatar

I was home alone that day, and heard it on the radio.
I did not have a television that time (and for some years more) so i couldn’t see it.
Was quite solitary living those days, so i didn’t see it at other people’s houses either.
Believe it or not, i hadn’t see the (moving) images of it for several years.
The first time i did see the planes go in to the towers it made me sick to the stomach and ashamed to be part of humankind.
I remember that i called my little brother on the phone when i heard of it, to ask him if he thought that this could start World War III, because i was so shocked and frightened that i thought it would i was suffering from depression at the time and wasn’t very stable.

Coloma's avatar

I was at the bus stop with my daughter waiting on the school bus on our country road in the Ca. mountains, it was about 7 a.m. PST.

A neighbor was waiting too and we were chatting at her car window when the report came on the radio. Drove the mile home and walked in the door and turned on the TV at the EXACT moment the footage of the second plane hitting the tower was being filmed.

It seemed unreal….total shock.

Qingu's avatar

Working at a library. I thought it was a joke at first. I spent the rest of the workday on the internet.

wgallios's avatar

I was in high school in Nevada. I remember hearing about it in the morning, then I had to goto class. All day no one would talk about what was going on. Teachers were instructed not to bring it up throughout the day, however all the kids kept talking about it.

I remember it was very hot that day (it’s Nevada), and when I got home, I was grabbed something to eat and drink, and turned on the TV and remember seeing every channel playing what was going on. I wasn’t able to really keep updates throughout the day, so it was very unreal watching all the updates from the entire day in the late afternoon.

ucme's avatar

Thanks for your answers so far, i’m off now, (late-ish in England town) I shall look forward to reading more tomorrow.

wilma's avatar

I was home, doing laundry and dishes and watching the morning news show.
They broke in with the news and footage of the first strike and while we watched live, the second plane hit.
I called my husband at work and told him to get the news on, and then called my sister who was supposed to be traveling (flying) that day.
It makes me sick and sad just to think of it.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I was at home, sleeping. My mom came into my room and woke me up, saying, “Sara, a plane just hit a building in New York. I don’t think it was an accident.” I got up and went to the TV, where my mom and sister were watching. I remember just sitting there, trying to figure out how the heck it could have happened by accident, because it just didn’t make sense to me. When we saw the second plane coming in, all of us knew what was about to happen, and we knew that it couldn’t be an accident. After the news reporters saw it, I remember how badly they all started losing their composure and everyone was sure, by that point, that it was intentional.

It was very surreal and shocking because I had never seen anything like it before, in my own country. I had to walk away from the TV several times. When I saw the building collapse and the dust-covered streets and people choosing to jump from the buildings, and wailing in the streets, it was just way too much for me to handle.

Randy's avatar

I was in Ms. Mynatt’s 9th grade civics class. I was late to class (as usual) and the tv was already on when I slipped in. Every class for the rest of the day had the tv on and we didn’t do much class work except in a few classes. Every year after that my English teacher made us write a reflection paper titled: 9/11; X year(s) later. I HATED doing that paper as I never knew what to write. I wouldn’t be surprised if she still makes the kids write that to this day.

Coloma's avatar

Oh man…this is really churning up some long dormant emotion….I don’t feel so well in the moment. :-(

JLeslie's avatar

I was in Raleigh, NC. I had woken up and turned on the news, but the sound was not on and I was still groggy. They were showing the towers with a big smoking hole near the top of one of them. As I tried to gain my focus my sister called; she was upset. She kept asking, “did you see it, did you hear what happened in NY.” I replied, “What is going on, I though I was watchng a movie or something? I am watching it on TV, but I don’t know what is going on?” She continued to babble into the phone that the tower was hit. She lived, still does, in downtown NYC. Suddenly, while I was talking to her and watching my tv I saw the second plane hit the other tower. I told her, “I need to call daddy and make sure he knows what is going, make sure mommy is not working in government building,” and I hung up. Somehow I knew, I had not been listening to the news at all, but suddenly I knew for sure Washington could be in jeopardy, and my mom worked at the time just outside of DC for the federal government I called my dad, he confirmed my mom was not in a government building, and I tried to call my sister back. I couldn’t get her, lines were tied up.

For the days following my sister called my 2 and 3 times a day crying from the street. She was an at home nurse, and many people did not make it into work, so she took on more than usual. There was no public transportation downtown, so she was walking or riding her bike everywhere, carrying around all of the stuff a nurse has to carry medical and paperwork, trying to make sure people who needed care still got it. The air was thick downtown, and she was carded constantly, because people were not allowed downtown unless they lived there.

My ex boss lost a brother in the towers. He did not regularly work there, he was there for an appointment that day.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I was at my office on West 18th Street off 6th Avenue. I got an IM from a friend of mine who heard the story on the radio, and we though it was a small Cessna-type plane that crashed. I got off IM and turned on the TV to see what happened. The second plane flew over our area, but I didn’t pay attention to it until the VP of Sales came in screaming that a commercial plane had been practically over her car. A few seconds after that, we saw the plane crash into the South Tower on the Today Show. The receptionist and I looked at each other and said, “Osama bin Laden!” at the same time. We’d been discussing the report presented to the President and Secretary of State that had been in the New York Times over the past few weeks.

My boss kept calling and asking when I was going to have the budget for one of our clients. They were having an executive sales awards weekend at the end of September and I was co-producing it with someone at the office. My boss, who lived in New Jersey, and north of the city, was under the impression that it was also a Cessna crash at first, but even when he knew what was really happening, expected us to work. I hung up on him the 4th time he got through.

Everyone else in the office called family they could get hold of and made preparations to leave the city. It struck me later that no one but one person asked me how I was getting home or if I would be OK, but they asked each other. Aside from that, there was a lot of shrieking and crying. After the first tower fell, which we saw on the news, the panic became acute. I went outside to escape it, and walked down to the corner of 6th and 18th. As I was crossing the street, the South tower fell before my eyes. It took less than 5 seconds, and I’ll never forget it. I thought all my insides fell out at the same time. Horrible.

At that moment, I knew the people we’d been in talks with for our project and had done business with before, Jackie Sayegh-Duggan and Jay Magazine, event managers at Windows in the World, were dead. They’d had no chance. For a second there was silence. Then a low moan rose up from everyone on the street. I don’t remember if I made any noise. Then some people rushed over to the bagel vendor on the southeast corner, who appeared to be of Middle Eastern extraction, looking to hit him, but he was already on his knees wailing, and the cops stopped the men from hurting him.

I was too dazed to cry. I left the office maybe an hour after everyone else, and I was able to reach my friend, who was panicking because she hadn’t heard from her then-boyfriend, who worked downtown. We did end up reaching him and went to a pub on 36th and 5th. People were walking up from downtown covered in blood and dust. I don’t think I ever drank so much as I did that evening, and the place broke out in sobs after we saw 7 WTC collapse.

I didn’t go back to work until that Thursday, and of course, the “party weekend” project had been cancelled, much to my boss’s chagrin. I had taken the office manager, who had been the wife of a lobbyist in DC some years before, to scout Windows on the World with me almost a fortnight before on an equally beautiful day. I wanted her to see if the place was up to snuff. Jackie had somehow sussed out between very casual me and my well-dressed hat-wearing office manager that I was the one in charge. Jackie was so glamourous. I remember how much I envied her style and grace. I never met Jay in person, but I’d spoken to him on the phone plenty of times. He had a such a cheery voice, and we’d always joke a little during our calls.

I can’t believe it’s almost been 10 years now. There are moments where I still freeze up when I hear a plane flying low.

wtfrickinfrack's avatar

I was spending the week with my sister in SLC. I saw the first plane hit while I was flipping through the channels and dismissed it because I thought it was a movie at first. Then my mom called in hysterics and I spent the whole day trying to get in touch with various NYC friends and family. Thankfully everyone was ok.

JLeslie's avatar

@aprilsimnel Are you serious about the bagel vendor? Why would people already have been hitting him, people barely knew what was going on? I know you guessed Osama Bin Laden, but I don’t think it was common knowledge on the street? Thank goodness the men in blue protect all citizens.

bolwerk's avatar

I was on a Subway heading uptown from it. I had just boarded the train near the WTC a few minutes before it happened.

Coloma's avatar

It’sinteresting that so manys first thoughts were that it was a smallprivate plane.

I thought the same thing at first on hearing the broadcast on the west coast.

Little did I know…

JESUS..I can’t keep reading these anymore, I feel sick allover again. :-(

aprilsimnel's avatar

@JLeslie – People were speculating “Middle Eastern terrorism” PDQ after the second plane hit, even if they didn’t read the Times. And it took an hour between the hit and the collapse, so there was time to come up with all sorts of stuff in people’s minds. Even in my office, aside from me and the receptionist, only the President of the company (a Holocaust survivor) knew who bin Laden was. He kept up with that kind of international news, but he was out of the country that day.

chyna's avatar

I was at work and heard it on the radio. I told some other people around me and they didn’t seem concerned. The second plane hit and everyone was glued to their radios, no one talking at all. By the time the plane hit the pentagon, everyone was aware it was terrorists. I worked for the government, so they evacuated our building, not knowing what else would happen. All I wanted to do was go home and sit in front of the TV and watch shell shocked as the whole nation did.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I was in Greenville, SC (USA) conducting a hotel inspection. We were in the lobby/breakfast area, and I noticed that all of the guests had their attention glued to the large screen TV. Upon glancing at it, thought, ‘What yahoo crashed their Cessna into the World Trade Center?

As soon as we realized the reality of the situation, I offered to stop the inspection, but the manager said to go ahead and continue. As we moved from room to room, the TV was turned on, and the horror continued.

Once done, a call to the office said to cancel plans for any more inspections until we knew what the situation was, and just head home or stay put. All flights were cancelled, but I had a rental car. 9 hours in a car with only the company of the radio news reports was surreal.

Back at HQ, the customer service phones were ringing off the hook, and they asked for volunteers to help out, so I did. The first wave of calls were from people who had a loved one staying in one of our hotels that they couldn’t reach and were hoping we could inform them of their status. The second wave was from hotel guests who wanted to know if there was any chance of getting their belongings left in the hotel back. The third wave came from people who had future reservations at the hotels, including things like wedding receptions.

After that, we focused on helping those with reservations find another hotel in the area that was still open. We also helped coordinate flights and accommodations for the families from out-of-state/out-of-country that were missing a loved one.

mrentropy's avatar

I was in my office, in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. I was getting everything together to start my day and my mom, living in Texas, sent me an IM about a plane flying into the WTC. At first I thought she meant a small plane, like a Cessna. I looked on the web and found out that it was a lot worse than that.

The company set up a few televisions in the cafeteria and every once in a while I passed through to see what the latest news was. I spent the rest of the day wandering through the building talking to people who weren’t on the phone trying to find their friends and family members who worked in or near the buildings. There was a lot of crying and shouting going on behind closed office doors.

I was in the “home base” when the first tower collapsed. A woman there, who had many friends who worked for the Transit Authority, screamed. And screamed. And screamed.

When I finally left and headed home, I looked in my rear view mirror. For the first time in my memory, I couldn’t see the towers. Just a pillar of smoke.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

I had just turned 5. As I have said before, I’m homeschooled and have been since before kindergarten. (When I was 4 I wanted to “do schoolwork” like my older brother.) We had just started school for the morning, and my mom had the radio on. We turned the TV on and never got anything done. I think I went without lunch that day for the first and only time in my life. I remember swinging between two chairs by my arms for about 4 hours while my mom and brother had the TV on. I’m somewhat glad I don’t remember much about that day – I remember enough about it. I’m glad I don’t and didn’t know anyone who was anywhere near it.

Coloma's avatar

This reminds me of the intense emotion I felt gazing at the spectacular Taipei sports arena with the revolving beautiful banner for world peace in Taipei Taiwan last March. sigh

Seaofclouds's avatar

I was on my way to work and heard it on the radio. The radio stationed I listed to back then always did prank calls in the morning. I remember thinking it was a really messed up prank. Then I got into work right about when the second plane hit. Everyone that came into our store that day was really nice to us and each other. We had the radio on the whole day at work.

I had a friend that worked at the Pentagon. When the plane hit the Pentagon, I had a sinking feeling in my gut. I remember hearing that he was in the area that the plane crashed into like it was yesterday. :-(

I remember the fear we all had at work. I was living in Delaware at that time and we were very close to an oil refinery and not to far from a nuclear power plant. Everyone was wondering if one of those would be targetted next (since we were practically right in between NY and DC).

I have all of the newspapers from the days following 9/11/01 and the one year anniversary paper still to this day. I will never get rid of them.

MissAusten's avatar

At the time, I worked in a daycare center. Our daughter was in a class down the hall from me. The stay started normally enough, but when I went into another classroom one of the teacher said to me, “Someone blew up the World Trade Center. It’s completely gone.” At the daycare, we had no TV, no radio, and no internet. I absolutely did not believe her.

When I got back to my own classroom, the phone started ringing. Teachers’ husbands or boyfriends started calling, parents started calling, and each person had some different bit of news to pass on. It was very frustrating to be at work with no chance of learning more or knowing what was true and what wasn’t. On my lunch break, I sat in my car listening to the radio in complete shock. My husband called to say he was going home, and all I wanted to do was get our daughter and be home with my family. A lot of people must have felt the same way, because parents started picking their kids up, and by the middle of the afternoon we had no children left in our class. We live in CT, and a lot of people have friends or relatives in NYC. Everyone was just horrified and didn’t know what to think.

When I got home with my daughter, we set her up in the spare room with a Disney movie so we could watch the news. We sat glued to the TV all evening and half the night. I will never forget those images, shown over and over, and just the completely overwhelming horror of it all. My husband’s cousin is a cop in Greenwich, and for a while we thought he would be sent to the city to help out with recovery efforts.

I could add so many more details from that day. I don’t think I’ll ever forget any of it. I hope no one in this country, or any other, has to experience a day like that again. :(

Cruiser's avatar

I was on a United Airlines long distance flight and we had an emergency landing and upon landing people with cell phones started screaming about planes flying into the twin towers and HS I was on a plane!!! We were greeted by the National Guard with M-16’s pointed at us screaming to get the “F” out of the terminal and to run!!! Needless to say we had an intense day that day!!

AmWiser's avatar

I remember being at work when someone said a plane had flown into the WTC. All the staff went to another floor to watch TV in an office that had one. None of believed the devastation was going to be as horrific as it was. We thought just a plane crash but then realization set in and we were glued to the TV all day. No one got any work accomplished.

But @ChazMaz.. you had snow in South Bend Indiana in SEPTEMBER???

YARNLADY's avatar

I had just gotten out of bed and turned on the TV. They were showing live shots.

augustlan's avatar

In my home about 40 minutes outside of Washington, DC, I woke up to a beautiful, sunny day… which always makes me intensely happy. I hopped in the shower in a glorious mood, and was just getting dressed for a doctor’s appointment when my then-husband called. He told me to sit down and turn on the TV, any channel. I sat, half-naked and soaking wet at the end of my bed trying to comprehend what I was seeing. Moments later, I watched live footage of the second plane hitting the tower. My earlier mood and the events at hand were so incongruous, that it was surreal. Time seemed to stand still.

I went through the motions… finished dressing, got in my car and drove to the doctor’s office, listening to the radio all the while. Just before I went in, the tower collapsed and my heart broke. Everyone in the doctor’s office was stunned. We all had that blank-eyed look as we went on about our business.

Back in my car, I heard the news that the Pentagon was hit, too. For a split second, I panicked. My husband had worked at the Pentagon up until about two years earlier, and I suddenly forgot he didn’t anymore and was now working about 15 minutes from there! Just as I calmed down from that, I realized my mother worked in DC, at NIH – a prominent government building. I frantically began trying to call her (and my husband, for reassurance), with no luck. All phone line circuits were busy… no calls going anywhere. It was a tense few hours before I heard from her and knew she was ok. They’d been evacuated, and she was making her way home.

My children attended an elementary school about 20 minutes outside of DC, and many of the parents whose children went to that school worked in DC, so there was a mad rush to get to the children before any road closures or evacuations caused folks to be stuck in place. More than half the students were picked up by parents that day (including mine), and many somber discussions on an early-elementary-school-age appropriate level followed. “Bad men flew some planes into some buildings, killing many people” was about as much as they absorbed at the time. They have probably already forgotten the awful, fearful atmosphere of that day… but I never will.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@augustlan your kids will probably remember the atmosphere, if not the details. Just like the kids that don’t remember much about Pearl Harbor or Hiroshima that remember the fear but not the details of those dates.

I was at work going from building to building performing maintenance on our LAN system. We didn’t get much done that day.

Coloma's avatar



I was just about 4 when JFK was shot..I didn’t reallycomprehend the situation but have a strong memory of all the adults crying and being all worked up.

augustlan's avatar

@aprilsimnel Yours made me cry. :(

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I was teaching a class in Plymouth NH when the attacks started. I didn’t learn about it until I turned on the car radio about an hour later. When I heard that the Pentagon was hit, I was thinking “What the f*ck is the Air Force doing? Caught with their pants down again just like Pearl Harbor”.

Vunessuh's avatar

I was in the bathroom getting ready for school (8th grade.)
My mom called my dad to tell him. He turned on the news.
My dad doesn’t show much emotion at all, but while in the bathroom I could hear him getting angry and emotional. I had never seen him like that before and I hope I never do again.
My mom also lost a friend in one of the towers.
Damn, that was some shit. The whole thing broke my freakin’ heart.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@augustlan – I’m sorry! :’(

Seek's avatar

Junior year of high school.

Second period, American History. We were all packed up, ready for the bell to ring. It rings, Mr. Eckstein says “Tomorrow we’re going to talk about the Shot Heard ‘Round the World”

Then the teacher from next door slammed the door open and shouted “Turn on the TV – a plane just hit the twin towers!”

talljasperman's avatar

playing Command and Conquer… and sleeping all day I found out when my mom came home from work…now I watch the news radio every hour on the hour even at night…except when I’m watching the news on TV

trailsillustrated's avatar

I was in my operatory at the VA explaining to a very nice old gentleman about premedication and why I couldn’t do the work until he had taken it. It was wierd when two fighter jets flew at eye level, so close the sonic booms shook the building. My then boyfriend called me and told me. It was a very slow day at work. For some reason, when I went to leave, our building was on lockdown. I got home really late. I watched the news when I got home, things have never been the same

rowenaz's avatar

Crossing the Throgs Neck Bridge had given us a gorgeous view of the Twin Towers on our way to a Dr. Appt. I said to my husband, “Can you imagine living here and having that view every day?” A few minutes later the first plane it, and I was terrified because you could hear the explosions and I didn’t think it was highway work. We turned on the radio and then we heard the second plane hitting the second tower. We drove straight through to the other end of Long Island, and were able to take a ferry back to Connecticut.

Jabe73's avatar

It was already a horrible time period for me to begin with because my brother passed away shortly before that and my dad was on his deathbed from terminal colon cancer but I was installing sodium lights for a shipping dock when one of the shippers I knew yelled up to me (on the boom truck) to come down. I thought he was freaking joking because by the time I heard anything both buildings already collapsed, I really thought he was joking at first.

casheroo's avatar

In 10th grade I think was “Global Studies”. A teacher walked in and said something to my teacher, who ran and put the tv on and we watched it. I don’t remember it really hitting until around lunch time, and quite a few people were taken out of lunch because of relatives in NY. (We live outside Philly, I’m sure plenty of people travel up there to work.)

filmfann's avatar

6am in California, having breakfast before going to work, watching live coverage of the first tower on fire. I watched the second one hit live.

Flavio's avatar

biochemistry lecture

danny's avatar

It was so weird for me…I never turn my tv on when I wake up…but for some reason I did on this morning and CNN was showing smoke pouring from one tower. All of a sudden while watching I saw the second plane hit and was shocked to see all this. I had to go to English 102 class and told the class about it because very few heard about it that morning.

mattbrowne's avatar

Cost center planning for 2002. One of my staff knocked, entered and began, “Have you heard…” I hadn’t. His wife had called him at the office. I tried a few websites and they didn’t load in my browser. We went to a different floor finding a tv set. It was still before the collapse.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I still have a copy of USA Today dated September 12, 2001, that was given out at the hotel where I was staying.

Sharrona's avatar

I was driving and had to pull off of the road.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Got my deployment orders two weeks later. I was in Afghanistan by December. Rode into Kabul in a Combat Engineer Vehicle.

kbee1123's avatar

I was at work checking in patients.

CMaz's avatar

I was in bed. Living in South Bend Indiana. Watching it on the News.
It was a sunny, but, snow covered day.

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