That morning was sort of surreal as I look back at it. In fact some of it is a blur now, some 7 years ago. My wife & I were not married yet and had barely even started chatting it up (if I remember correctly). We did work together at a .com startup that had made a splash in its shortlife span – Onetravel.com.
I remember coming into work and going through the normal routine of coffee, surfing and getting ready to tackle the day. While getting a refill of coffee one of the people that worked there kind of announced to the whole room that a plane had just hit one of the world trade centers. To be honest, when I was 21, hard I hardly knew what that really meant. I knew they were big buildings… I knew it was in NY. I had never visited, I had never really thought of them (other than the time they were bombed, I remembered that vaguely) – so it didn’t mean much at the time. I figured it was a small engine, private plane taking a wrong turn and it would all get sorted out.
After going back to my desk to knock out some code, a congregation had kind of grown outside in the main hall and people were huddled around one computer. I didn’t think anything of it, we were a team oriented company and so small meetings happened from time to time.
Before long someone had come in and explained that it wasn’t a private plane at all. If fact it was an airliner. The tower was on fire and thats when things changed. It didn’t take me 5 seconds to realize what this meant. Everyone kind of had that feeling deep down that this was a planned attack by some sort of terrorist – but everyone kept mum about it. For a while at least.
I joined everyone out in the main area and read along and looked at pictures of the towers burning. That infamous hole the shape of a plane gashed into the side of the building. The smoke barrelling out of it. The frantic looks and desperate people that were taken advantage of by photogs at their most vunerable moment. That will never leave my mind when I think of that day.
Still with this happening, everyone kind of kept a spot in the back of their head for it, but went about their morning. Then the second plane hit. That shook the world. Even our little world in West Texas.
Things changed when that one hit. It made clear the fact that this was not a random act… it was a highly planned event. One that took time, effort and elusive strategy to carry out. One that would set our nation into a series of events that still we are living out today and will continue to live for years to come. An act that took fathers away from sons & daughters, wives away from husbands, grandpas away from grandkids and friends away from friends.
Of course we were far away from NY, being in Texas – but it didn’t mean it didn’t make a direct impact on us. Of course our eyes were turned directly at what was going on. We were worried for those involved & effected, but something started to creep over the whole company. This was going to effect the travel business… like it or not. Watching 2 planes fly into a landmark… a third hitting the Pentagon and a 4th flying around who knows where… was not going to set well with travelers. What does this mean? This means our jobs were in stake.
So all the way across the country… people’s lives were turned upside down. Gas prices rose. War talk ensued. Racism exploded. Our quite lives suddenly got loud and we were thrust into a battle for our freedoms, our country.
I remember calling my Mom on the way home. As I stopped to get gas I called and we talked. It was a weird conversation that amounted to us not really knowing what to say. I think I said something like…
Me: “Hey… guess you have been watching.”
Mom: “Yeah. It is crazy.”
Me: “I know. I just wanted to tell you I love you and I wish I could hug you and tell you in person.”
Mom: “I know – me too.”
I’m sure there was more to it, but that was the base of it all. That was really what I was calling for. Wanting my Mom to tell me that everything was going to be OK. 21 years old and still yearning for my Mother to take the hurt & pain away.
I remember calling several people and telling them basically the same thing. My life seemed so meaningless before. After it seemed as if I needed to live a bit harder. For those that got their lives stolen by some terrorists.
Hopefully – everyone else does the same.
We will never forget.
What do you remember? What is your story?
I remembered this morning what happened that morning on 9/11/01. I turned on the Today show before leaving for work like I always do and their lead story that morning was that Michael Jordon was coming out of retirement. I vividly remember saying “Must be a slow news day!” out loud. Wow, would those words ring so UNtrue just a short time later.
We didn’t have TV in our building at work then, so word filtered out slowly. By the time I really heard about it, a co-worker came in and said we had been attacked. It seemed to unreal. We tried the best we could to get online, which was overrun with so much traffic it moved as a snails pace. We turned on NPR on the radio to get some news. Just as we turned it on, I heard the words that both towers had fallen. WHAT??? No, this can’t be true. How is that possible.
I saw only still photographs online of the towers during the rest of the day. Everyone was hushed and in a state of shock at Johnny’s that day. I had been in email communication with Dave and my mother back in NY.
I didn’t see the actual footage of the attacks until I got home from work. Shocking, shocking, shocking. I feel so sad for those who lost loved ones that day having to view that footage every year. Must be heartbreaking. And we must never forgot the Pentagon and the flight in PA. They really take a back seat to the horror of NYC – but just as tragic and senseless.
I’ve been to the World Trade Center. Have gone up into the observation deck and have photos of that view. They now send chills up my spine when I see them. I hope the memorial in NYC to those lost is completed by the 10th anniversary.
I also recall that following Friday on the way home from work. People lit candles. They were on their porches…the ends of their driveways….very emotional. Then I saw a row of flags along a cematery I drive by. Brought me to tears.
God Bless America
@Heidi – Amen to that. Shala has a pic of the towers as well, when she visited. It does the same when we see it. Just sad. Thanks for sharing.
didn’t dawn on me that this was “the day”, until I went to write a check this morning. Gave me a sad case of the shivers. I remember the phone call from a friend to turn on the TV just about the time the second plane hit. I worked for Hilton hotels in the 80’s and had stayed in the Vista International hotel, which was located in one of the towers. Very sad to think of all that was lost.
I’m a day late, but my memory of that day is crystal.
I remember it was a beautiful, sunny day in Memphis. I was driving to work downtown (worked at a law firm on the 26th floor of the city’s tallest building). On the radio, the news reported that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. My first thought was, how said. I figured it was a small plane that made a grave error of judgment. This was my perception for about 30 minutes.
At the office, we were all going about our business, when our office manager, on the phone, said something like, “Another one?” And it clicked. I just knew it was something to do with the Trade Center. She got off the phone and we all gathered in the conference room around the tv there.
Needless to say, shock and horror were the main reactions. It was like I was outside of myself for a bit, watching the scene unfold.
By 11 (central time), the attorneys realized nothing was going to get done and sent us home. Schools were urging us to let our kids finish the day, which I opted to do. When they got home, I hugged them tight and we talked about what was going on. They were in 3rd and 5th grades. I didn’t spend a huge amount of time talking it over with them, but wanted to them understand that it was a big deal. On the other hand, I didn’t want to scare them. A delicate balance to strike when you are still in a state of shock and disbelief.
It was one of those pivotal days. We say “before 9/11” and “since 9/11,” much like “before the baby was born,” or “after I graduated college.”
I won’t forget. I can’t. But I did make an effort not to actively relive it this year. Seeing the footage year after year does nothing to heal the wounds. It just makes us numb. 🙁
I was working at Tiffany’s in NJ, about 40 miles away from NYC. My wife called me to tell me a small plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. I thought,, what an idiot the pilot was to have made a mistake like that, and then wondered if he had had a heart attack or something like that where he lost control of the plane. She called back a few minutes later to tell me it was not a small plane, but a 747and as she was on the phone as second one hit the other tower. She thought it was the end of the world.
I announced what was happening to the rest of the room (there were about 60 people in the room), and we all started to surf. The enormity of what had happened took some time to sink in. Our internet connection quickly became saturated and surfing became difficult. Most of us went upstairs to watch tv in a board room. Our cell phones became useless as we continually got the all circuits are busy messsage.
I could still email.
At about 11:00 I decided to go home about 1 hour away. The roads were pretty well empty, I think everyone was glued to their tv sets. Driving down deserted highways was a spooky experience.
We spent the day watching the events unfold on TV. It was horrible. I still run into people who have had friends who lost their lives in the twin towers, and they are still scarred and very emotional about it.
About a week later a friend of mine asked me to deliver something to the firemen to show support for them. So I went up to ground zero and dropped off his gift to them. I had to go through many layers of security to get there. I got through three checkpoints before being turned back. I then went a few blocks down adn tried again and made it through this time. The firehouse I went to was very close to the twin towers and was featured in the documentary on 9-11. The fire fighters were very appreciative and their firehouse was flooded with gifts, posters from school children, and cards from people from all over the world. It was very touching.
It was a tragic loss of innocent life and I often think about the injustice of it all. I am struck by the heroism and generosity demonstrated by ordinary people. Like you James, it makes me more appreciative of those closest to me in my life:)
@Mary – thanks for sharing your story with us and everyone else. We get what your saying about the “before 9/11” & “after “9/11” – it definitely is a defining moment.
@hillary – thanks for stopping by man! And thanks for sharing your story, as you were much closer to it than most of us. Seems to have had the same effect though – no matter the distance.