As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Where Were You on September 11, 2001 When You Heard?

I know most of you probably remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard about the Sept. 11th attacks. On the 15th anniversary of the attacks, I thought maybe some of you might like to share what you were doing, and perhaps what you were feeling and thinking when you first became aware the planes had struck. And perhaps some of your other experiences the rest of that day as well.

I think our readers would be very interested in how others experienced the day.

Thanks for your contributions. And may God bless the victims and their families, and all of those who continue to suffer as a result of the evil that struck the United States 15 years ago today.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

27 Responses to Where Were You on September 11, 2001 When You Heard?

  1. I live in a small rural town in West Virginia. It was autumn and I was walking up the street to my parents house when a boy I knew called out to me as he rode by on his bike, “A airplane flew into one of the Twin Towers in New York.” I assumed it was a small plane, some sort of accident, and it wasn’t until I got to my parents’ house that I learned the truth.

    After a while, I walked home and sat in my landlady’s parlor to watch because I had no tv. When the first tower fell, I knew the second would fall, too. It was like watching a bad dream on tv — a nightmare in that little electronic box.

    I had visited the towers once and ever afterwards had a nightmare about them in which I was on the top of the taller tower, on its roof, and a stiff wind was trying to blow me off. I could see the roof of the shorter tower nearby as I clung to something to keep from being blown off and falling to my death. I wonder now if this dream, repeated so many times, was a kind of precognition. After 9-11, I never had it again.

  2. I was on the 29th floor of the Rhode’s tower in downtown Columbus, Ohio, doing maintenance on a Xerox printer.
    One the girls that worked in the print shop dashed in and said that they were flying planes into the World Trade Center.
    We all went down the hall to the snack bar and watched it on TV.

    At first I thought it was a movie.
    As we saw the first building on fire, the second plane hit.
    Once we realized what was going on, and that this was real, a certain pall fell over the room.

    Needless to say that the rest of the day was spent in somewhat of a stupor.

  3. It was early morn here in AZ – 7am-ish. We were getting ready to start work, daughter was getting her 4 children ready for school.
    She called us, said something is happening in NYC – she didn’t know if it was real.

    Turning on CNN, we sat on the coffee table in the living room in stunned silence as we watched a video of the second plane hit the Tower. Then the horrors of live TV – the burning building, the faces of terror, then the bodies falling out of the windows.
    The collapse. Another collapse. Dust. Smoke.
    The sound of muted screaming, sirens, and silence.
    Not long after came the announcements that all air travel was grounded, all massive transport was stilled.
    We waited for the rest of the attack, the planes with bombs, and it never happened.
    We waited for an explanation and it never came.
    No one was blamed or took responsibility.

    It took months for the fear of another strike somewhere to subside. Muslims? we asked – what the heck is that all about.
    Are they angry about the Shock and Awe 1991 war, or what.
    IMO, we are more at risk today than in our innocent pre-9/11 days.

  4. My husband and I and his brother and wife were recuperating from a family reunion at a resort in Montauk. I’d finished breakfast first so I wandered over to see what everyone was looking at on the big screen TV.

    I returned to the table and said, “No big – some idiot flew his private plane into a building in New York.”

  5. My story is insignificant really…but, to me, it does shows how hard it was for those of us who were not in NYC to grasp what had happened to all of us that day. We struggled to process all the horror of new information in the midst of witnessing the grief and sorrow and fear of those who were actually there.
    We lived near Syracuse, NY. My husband was in Seattle, Washington on business that day. I was “home alone” that beautiful, normal, Fall morning. I remember watching the many “almost-neon yellow” finches congregating in the back flower garden.
    He phoned to say “Good Morning” to me as we both watched “The Today Show” …and then, we saw the towers hit and the ensuing chaos. It was difficult for our minds to process what our eyes had seen.
    “What just happened? Did you see that?!?!?”
    He immediately decided to return home. There were no flights available and because he is not a “wait and see” kind of guy, he decided to drive home.
    He phoned the rental car agency to tell them he was driving their car across the country. They told him he could not.
    He said, “I have the car and the keys to the car. I’m taking it to Syracuse and will turn it back in there.” The agent said, “If you do this, it will cost you thousands.” He said, “Do what you have to do. I’m going home.”
    From time to time he would phone me with trip progression updates. Once when he stopped for gas, two men in suits were fueling up a Uhaul truck. He asked them what they had in the back of the truck. One of them replied, “My briefcase.” They told him that was the only vehicle they could find to rent so they could go home.
    He phoned me later that day and asked me to find him a hotel room. I called the local Holiday Inn and asked them to help me locate a room. They found ONE room in a Holiday Inn on his route. I reserved it and called him with the location. He said, “I’ve already passed that area and I am not back tracking.” He eventually stopped at a truck stop and rented a room. He said the bed had a plastic covered mattress.
    See what I mean? We remember the bed had a plastic mattress…a stupid memory in the recall of those days.
    He made it home safely after nearly three days of hard driving. The rental agency waived the exorbitant charges.
    For me, It was eerie being home alone. We lived in the country. It was “deathly quiet.” No planes in the skies. People left work and came home and stayed there.
    I was on alert. The intensity of emotions remains within my memories. I was shocked and saddened and fascinated and frightened…and then, comforted and made proud when President Bush stood on that pile of rubble with a bull horn.
    He said we would get the guys who were responsible and I believed him.
    My dear mother called to see if I was OK. She asked if I could smell the smoke. I explained that I did not live in NYC. She said, “I know, but can you see the smoke?” I said, “Mother, I live out in the country too far away.” She was a bit disappointed, I think.
    Our child was in an upstate NY college. He was aware of the events but basically rather unconcerned. I was relieved that he, too, was OK and aggravated at his lack of fear.
    Later that week, I had a manicure scheduled. I debated if I should go. Our leaders urged us to live our lives normally – to not live in fear. I decided to go. I entered the mall and saw only two other customers…a Muslim woman in full abaya and scarf and her very young daughter. I still have conflicted thoughts and emotions about seeing her that day. She smiled at me…perhaps I returned the smile. I don’t remember.
    On that day, our lives changed forever. CHANGED. The sanctity and safety and strength of our nation was challenged. All the familiar paradigms of our lives took a hit. We saw a new normal emerge. I suppose it is much the same for those who lived through WWI and WWII. Except, to me, this was different because it was our homeland that was attacked. The only place in the world where the enemy would never be able to attack and yet…it had happened. Did we still have safety and security?
    Fifteen years later and I can still remember the eerie quiet. I can still remember the shock and horror of the unknown and the known. And I will never forget the unity and the national pride we exhibited as citizens of this great nation.
    I guess it will come to be an historical event that will lose impact as new generations age. But for me? I will never forget. And I hope to see that sense of national unity re-emerge someday.
    I prayed for God to preserve and protect our country those days. I still do.

  6. On my way out the door, passed by the TV to shut it off. Sat down and watched in horror. Unbelievable. Burlingame, CA.

    To this day I find it difficult to watch or listen to. I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow of all those personally affected by this attack on America.

    RIP the fallen and the heroes who tried to save them.

  7. I was sitting where I am right now…in my living room in front of the TV. I was having breakfast while watching the local news, getting ready for work. I live in Los Angeles, so it was sometime around 5:30 am.

    When the local broadcast broke the news, I initially thought it was an accident involving some small plane…but the picture showing the size of the hole in the building didn’t support my theory. I called my mom in Palm Springs, some two hours away, to fill her in…her immediate reaction was that it was a terrorist attack.

    As I drove to my office some thirty miles from my home, I listened to Howard Stern, who was giving updates live on the air from his studio in NYC…the second plane, the Pentagon attack, reports of another down plane in Pennsylvania. The timeline became a blur as things were happening so quickly.

    Thinking we were under attack and now at war, I instinctively stopped to get gas before I got to my office…my tank was getting low, and I wasn’t sure what would be happening next.

    At work, around 7am local time, we all huddled around a radio to listen to the news. It was surreal. Nobody could keep their mind on work that day, understandably. One of my co-workers, who had become a close friend, was worried about her two young children at school…she eventually left work early to pick them up.

    I don’t remember much about the rest of the day…just talking to my mom on the phone again that evening about the whole thing. She was a teenager when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and she expressed the similarities in her feelings compared to that day.

    I always make it a point to take some time every September 11th to remember the victims…I read an old Time Magazine from the week after, which includes many stories of personal tragedy and heroism. For many years, I would wear a commemorative lapel pin when I would go to work (I’m now self-employed and work at home, but I still take the pin out every year). And, of course, I put up my flag every year on this day…proudly displaying it in honor of those who lost their lives.

    One sad personal note for me is my mom passed away three years ago, so we can no longer discuss that Tuesday morning from long ago…something we used to do every year as well. We used to talk on the phone every day…so an anniversary like this is a reminder of how much life has changed since then. Hard to believe it’s been fifteen years…in many ways, it seems even longer.

    • Speaking of your Mother’s remembrance of the Pearl Harbor attack- my own Mother said about the same.
      They didn’t know where “pearl harbor” was, and were mystified as to why Japan would attack any of us here. As the news developed and the heavy Navy/Marine loss was revealed, the wonder was how a little island like Japan thought to invade a country 2600 miles wide.
      My dear Mother had long gone to her eternal rest by 9/11, but I imagine her feeling would have been the same as you described.

      • My Mom had the same kind of remembrances about Pearl Harbor as yours…she often said they had never even heard of this place. Her older brother wanted to volunteer right away – and he eventually enlisted (as a pilot), but sadly was killed in action near the end of the war.

        One of things I miss most about my parents is their wonderful recollections of events that happened decades ago…growing up during the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, WWII, etc. In their later years, sometimes they had memory issues for recent events, but they could remember things that occurred 50, 60, even 70 years prior right down to the smallest detail.

  8. I live in northern New Jersey and can see the NYC skyline from high spots. Heard the first news (“small plane crash..?”) on the car radio, drove to that high spot, saw the horizontal smoke streaming from the first tower top before it fell. Drove home and saw the rest on TV with wife.

    After watching all day, I told my daughter-in-law “The rules have changed.”

  9. Actually my story starts the 9/10…

    Took my son to hospital North of O’Hare Airport for Knee surgery. Stayed with him until wife and her sister came so I could go to a men’s bible study which I was a group discussion leader. one of the themes was what do you rely on… and listed out a lot of the things most people rely on, self (strength, savings, wit..), government (military, elected officials, law enforcement…), Family / friends ..

    With that as background, Tuesday morning I was heading to work and heard reports that a small plane had flew into one of the towers of the World Trade Center, when I got to work I had a radio and turned it on to get updates… later that morning went to the hospital to pick up my son and take him home and … watched the tv in his room and the hospital was in chaos since the realization of what took place had sunk in and we were delayed for hours leaving, nurses apologized finally and explained that they were preparing for large influx of patients due to potential of other attacks since Chicago was a prime target according to reports.

    Our route was past O’Hare, and the airport at that time and the main road going into airport was blocked with police and city vehicles (tow trucks).

    also the rouute around took me very close to runways and could see the airplanes on the runway and people being exited on taxiways. Also military aircraft were flying over head… No planes were landing or taking off (nor did they for several days)…

    I spent the rest of the day watching TV (and helping son who was suffering from the pain)…

    Also remember watching members of Congress singing God Bless America …

    And living close to ORD, the silence of no planes flying…

  10. I worked one mile away from the Pentagon. I was inside a converted construction trailer being used as office space. I heard the plane as it flew overhead and less than ten seconds later heard the explosion as it hit the Pentagon and then the ground quake from the explosion rattled the building. I ran outside and saw the mushroom cloud of black smoke over the Pentagon. The next day on my way to work my bus went past the side of the Pentagon that was hit. To anyone who ever saw it on TV it was so much worse when you saw it in person.

  11. The night before the attack, my brother called me from NYC, where he had visited an office in the towers. He wasn’t sure when he was leaving. I was working retail, standing on a ladder while moving merchandise. One of my fellow employees, who had been on break, came out and told me that a plane flew into the World Trade Center. I thought it might have been due to bad weather, shortly after making that comment, another employee told us of the second plane. We went into the lunchroom and witnessed the horror unfolding. Everybody was quiet and we were all crying. I lived in Chicago then and people were worried that some of the planes would be flown into our tall buildings. I tried to reach my brother, eventually he called our Dad, he was ok and in NJ.

    I couldn’t imagine having someone I loved trapped, having to choose to jump or face the flames. I get so angry that our government has chosen not to face the fact that we are at war with Islam, murderous Islam.

  12. I was in my Home Office in Atlanta. I was a Road Warrior at that point where in my career and I was scheduled to go to Memphis the next day. My boss called me on the office line and was happy to hear I was home. He asked if I was watching TV. I remember laughing and stating I actually work,when I am in the office. It was then that he explained what was happening.

    The ffirst Monday after 9/11, I flew to Norfolk,VA to go on the Disney Magic Cruise Ship. I had a meeting with someone from Disney and the ship,was in dry dock. I arrived 3 hours prior to the flight. I walked through security with no lines. There were 5 people on the plane and we all sat in First Class. They gave us a bagel and I remember them giving us a plastic knife to cut the bagel. Like the butter knives were sharp. The strange part was seeing the fighter jet on the wing as we were landing. We came down over Norfolk and I could see the Disney Wonder in dry dock and The Big Stick aircraft carrier and all its’ supporting ships with the engine plumes smoke off shore going to Afganistan (found that out later).

    Air travel was the best for 30 days. Everyone thanked you for flying., No change fees,etc. Congress approved loans for the airlines and they went back to being jerks,LOL.

  13. It was a beautiful blue sky early fall day here in Northwestern NJ, about 45 miles outside Manhattan. My son, almost 14 months old at the time, was happily sitting in his high chair in the kitchen while I fed him his oatmeal and fruit. My husband was back at work at his office after taking some time off. His parents had just been here, from their home in Marin County CA, for their usual end of summer visit and had flown back to San Francisco on a United flight just two days prior.

    I hadn’t yet put on the usual morning TV, Fox news, when the phone rang. It was my best friend from law school. He lived on Long Island and worked at an investment firm in Jersey City. He asked if I had the TV on and when I said no, he told me to put it on because there was an accident, a plane flew into the World Trade Center. I put on Fox and they were as confused as we were, thinking it had to be a small private plane, some terrible mistake and accident.

    Then, as my friend stood with his co-workers in the lunchroom at his office in Jersey City so he could see out the wall of windows across to NYC and the WTC, I simultaneously watched it on TV as the second plane hit. We both said, “Oh My God, this is deliberate, we’re under attack.” I told him he had to get out of there. He quickly discovered that there was no way to take a train back to his home on Long Island, so he eventually managed to take a bus out here to NJ and I picked him up not far from here later that afternoon. He camped out here the rest of the week, as we all watched the coverage in shock, disbelief, and sadness.

    Upon realizing it was a deliberate attack when the second plane hit, I looked at my innocent little son, and thought the world will never be the same again. He will never know the world as I’ve known it. Everything has changed, permanently. On one hand, I was sad that I had even brought a child into what was now a horrible, dangerous, and uncertain world. Yet, on the other hand I was glad that he was born just the year before because I’m sure that after 9/11/01 I would not have wanted to even start a family, at least for a while. He’s now sixteen, and we’ve had many discussions about 9/11, the war on terror, and Islamic jihadism. It’s sad he has to know abut these things, but I’m pleased that he is very much interested in world events, news, and politics. I don’t think there is an issue in the news, both domestically and internationally, that he can not speak about with great detail and understanding, and often passion, (proud home educator here!).

  14. I called off work and stayed home (I’m from north central Ohio) just because I worked 72 hours a week and needed a break. I turn to watch tv and I heard Regis say “it looks like another plane hit! Folks this ain’t no accident”. I stayed clued to the tv until my husband came home.

    Later that day after 5 pm we walked the village (we were the only ones out walking). We heard the loudest noise flying over. It lasted at least 5 mins and you couldn’t see any planes. We knew they were military since all flights were cancelled the rest of the day.
    I’ve been told that flight 93 turned right around where our elementary school was. I’m not sure how true that is/was.

  15. At work on Abercorn St., in Savannah, Ga. We had a TV in our office and I remember seeing the tower collapse and just thinking WTH is going on?