9/11/2001 – Where Were You?

The reason I blog is because through the “magic” of the Internet when you put something on-line it becomes a part of our permanent human history.  Through projects like Archive.org what you write is permanently saved.  So when any of us write an article or blog on-line it can be captured and reviewed later by us or much later by our posterity.  Want to see what the New York Times website looked like on September 17, 2001?  Here it is.

Writing a blog, like journals of the past, allow people to share their experiences with the future.  So on the eve of this historic day I want to ask every reader to share with us Where Were You on 9/11/01?  What do you remember about that day?  Please tell us where you were (City and State) so we can document your experience.

AND BTW anyone who puts up 9/11 Conspiracy Comments will have their comments deleted and your email forwarded to the Black Helicopter Squadron for immediate eradication.

My Story:  Vienna, VA

I had just come out of a meeting at work, a large financial institution, when the Manager of another department came up to us and said the World Trade Center has been bombed again.  Thinking it was a repeat of ’93, we went to our computers to see online how bad it was.  We could not get anywhere.  Every website we tried to go to was completely clogged with traffic and the site was showing internal error messages.  But eventually CNN came through with a picture of a burning tower. 

He we had CNN on in the break room  . . . we could just go there and see it.  As we walked in people were gather around the television as the reporters explained how a plane had crashed into the building.  My God how could that have happened?  Did it wonder off course?  It didn;t look like bad weather.  Then we saw the second plane slam into the building and the entire room gasped.  You could hear crying saying “my God”  “Oh no not another one.”  But it became clear in that moment that it was intenional.

As we watched we began to have people coming into the break room saying the Pentagon has been bombed, as CNN was reporting smoke from the area of the pentagon.  

My wife called to ask if I had heard that the Capital had been evacuated.  Her company had offices on the Hill and she was getting infomation from her network of branches.  We then started to hear people call out that State (the State Department) has been bombed and there is another plane inbound.

I’ll never forget my boss a retired Marine Major calling us together and saying that what we were experiencing was the fog of war and that information was likely to be inaccurate and incomplete.  But there was one piece of news that wasn;t wrong.  One of our employees had put her son on a plane that morning to go to a spelling bee with his teacher.  His plane hit the Pentagon.  When she heard the flight number, she collapsed on the spot.

Despite all of the other businesses in DC releasing their employees early, we did not.  We thought members might have a need to get money so we kept our doors open.  Besides the roads were so clogged with traffic that if would be hours getting home anyway.

Our building was situated between two CIA buildings and by the late morning the entire complex was surrounded by men with automatic weapons.

When I did drive home that evening, I remember just how empty the roads were and how silent the everything was.  No one was driving, all planes had been grounded so there was this awful emptiness left behind.  That night after watching all to wall coverage all evening I headed to bed . . . I knelt in my pitch black living room and prayed for the souls of New York’s Fireman and Police Officers.


7 Responses to “9/11/2001 – Where Were You?”

  1. 1 buddylee September 10, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I remember driving into work in Fairfax, Virginia. As I walked up to my building several people were standing outside and somebody said a plane hit the World Trade Centers (no real word that it had been a commerical jet liner or that it was intentional). I remember thinking, what an idiot how can somebody accidentally hit the world trade center in a plane. If it was only that simple….then the 2nd plane flew into the World Trade Center buildings.

    I remember trying to reach my wife via land line and cell phone, all of which were busy or stated “all circuits are busy now…” making communication via phone impossible for large stretches of the day. A large majority of our office went home, in order to be with their families. There was no way we could know what was going on or what to expect.

    My ride home that night was the most surreal experience in my life. Streaming up and down I-95 from the surrounding military bases in the DC metro area, were military vehicles driving into Washington DC. Most vehicles were military troop transports, sending troops into the Nations Capital to secure the Pentagon and other strategic buildings.

    The normal gridlock associated with DC Metro traffic was non-existant, instead you had very few non-essential vehicles on the road. Military and police vehicles out-numbered regular cars on the interstate, something I hope never to see again. I never thought in my lifetime I would see US Military vehicles driving at hi-speeds through the streets of America with a purpose and mission that was not a training exercise.

  2. 2 Toast September 11, 2008 at 12:03 am

    I should have been on I-395 going into Washington D.C. I was on a contract in down town Washington DC at the time. My schedule had me going in at 9am each day. I would hop on the HOV lane which went off HOV restrictions then – and zip into the city. I was managing a small development team with a government client. That morning however – instead of being on 395 right next to the Pentagon like normal – I had stayed a home for a bit to go through some email before driving into the city. I passed the Pentagon every single day around 9:30am. That morning I was sitting at my desk at home at 9:30. My phone rang. It was my director asking for my status. I was puzzled and told her. She told me to turn on my TV.

    The next few hours were a blur. We were calling all our employees to find out where they were. We had employees all over DC including the Pentagon. I got a hold of my team fairly early – I talked to them as they were walking through down town DC. They had been kicked out of the government office. My senior developer explained it like this – roughly paraphrasing: “A man with a gun came into our office and said you are all contractors and have to leave right now. I always listen to a man with a gun.” My team all got home safe after a day long haze of walking, traffic, and fear. I felt guilty for not being there to help. I sat watching the TV all day like many people.

    Cell phone service was sporadic as we all know. Calls were rarely getting in our out. I was trying to call my family like everyone else – but especially my mom and brother. My brother at the time was living 2 blocks from the World Trade Center in New York. My mom knew I was in DC and my brother was in NY. She could not reach either of us until nearly 10pm that night. It was long day for her – especially as my sister had confused which contract I was on and had told her that I was at the Pentagon at the time.

    I finally spoke to my brother around 7pm that night. He explained his day. That morning – he had just gotten back from dropping my nephew off at school. His wife was already at work. He was standing in his apartment looking out his window (he had a huge floor to ceiling window in the front of his apartment) when the first plane hit the WTC. He watched it. Then he turned and ran two buildings over to get his wife from her office. They proceeded to walk across the bridge and got my nephew. It was weeks before they could get back into their apartment. They stayed with friends farther north in the city. At the time I was speaking to him around 7pm – he said he was standing around with hundreds of others trying to help. Everyone wanted to do something but it was chaos. He compared the scene to one we had shared as kids – when we lived in Washington State and Mt. St. Helens had erupted. He said the ash was similar but just so much more. He was in a haze all day too. Both his work and his wife’s work we’re only a block farther from WTC – that’s why they lived there. He knew people in the WTC that day.

    It was all second hand for me – I sat watching TV, feeling guilty, and wanting to do something.

  3. 3 Jen Gallagher September 11, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Living in Indianapolis in 2001, I felt extremely far away from New York City. Still, to this day, I’ve only visited New York once, when I worked in the Finger Lakes at a little rich kids camp for a Summer.
    On the morning of 9-11-2001, I was working for Galyan’s Trading Company, then, a rising sporting goods company, now, gobbled up or perhaps caved in, to the vicegrip of big business, and bought out by Dick’s Sporting Goods. (Who, by the way, will NEVER BE GALYAN’S. Hard as they may try!) So, for whatever reason, I was running late that day, him-hawing around my newly built home. I rarely watched TV prior to going to work, but again, for whatever reason, I turned the TV on that morning. Just as I did, my mother called me and asked if I had seen what was happening. I stood in my living room, in disbelief. At that moment, I broke down in tears, just as I am now, wondering who would do such a thing. Thinking to myself, ‘Oh no, all those millions of people! WHAT THE F#$% IS GOING ON!?’ It was an unthinkable act and I was in complete shock. I slowly sat on the chair and watched and, as 9:03am struck the clock, I saw, LIVE, the other plane hit the 2nd tower. I just couldn’t fathom what was happening. I finished talking to my mother and called my significant other. We talked for a moment and I left out of the house for work. As soon as I arrived at work that day it felt different around the office. I headed to my boss’s cubicle and we soon found everyone hovered in our large conference room. IT had placed NBC on the big screen and everyone with a laptop was camped out in there tuning in to one of the worst days in US history. We ended up closing our stores in the DC/VA area that day, and then, closed the remainder of our stores across the country early. 9-11-2001 was one of the most uneasy days of my life thus far.
    We lived on the West side of Indy, within a mile of the airport. It was one of the weirdest things to look up in the sky that day and see NOTHING flying around. It was one of the most still days I’ve ever felt, like time had stopped and nothing was moving anywhere in the world. That day changed the US forever of course.
    I remember several days later driving to Cincinnati for a rugby match. That drive was very weird. There were very few people on I-65 that day. Signs were posted on the highway about the US being on a HIGH TERROR ALERT. That was scary in and of itself, as I had never seen something like that in my lifetime. It was a somber drive to Ohio that day and the entire weekend was completely weird with everyone not knowing how to feel or what to say. When the national anthem played prior to the rugby match everyone was crying and extremely emotional.
    9-11-2001 again, changed the face of the nation and my outlook on life. I had finally, completed my grieving period over being ‘fired’ from a job in 1999 (!!) and then, for months after September 11, I was scared to death. I finally had to talk to my doctor about the nightmares I was having about being killed by terrorists!! That day brought thoughts into my head that I had never dreamed I would encounter. Flying soon after September 11 was scary as well. While I didn’t fly immediately, I did have to fly at Thanksgiving and that was unusual as well. Military Police in the airport with M-16’s was something I hadn’t witnessed before. Flying to NY wasn’t exactly the most calming feeling in the world after what had happened months earlier.
    I guess, as a nation, we’ve somewhat moved on and tried to honor those fallen victims and heroes. It’s unfortunate that people teach children to hate and judge without knowing the who or why. I can only hope that my daughter doesn’t ever experience anything horrible in her lifetime…I’m sure that won’t happen, but I can have hope. I think that’s about all we can have.

  4. 4 Mom K. September 11, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I am no different than most all of you. I remember being on Rt. 66 in Fairfx Va.heading into a meeting for work. I had heard that a plane had hit the World Trade building, and like most thought it was a tragic mistake by a legitimate pilot. After the meeting had started someone came in and said that we needed to break up and get back to our respective health care facilities and prepare to receive injured. We routinely practiced disaster response. This was to be the first real disaster that I had to participate in during my 28yr history in nursing. Everyone moved into their roles as we prepared lists of patients who could be discharged if beds were needed.We coordinated what supplies might be needed. Teams were quickly formed to handled all the potential issues. We are located within a fairly close proximity to the Pentagon so it was resonable that we could receive either patients from there or from other hospitals closer to the Pentagon that needed room for victims. We got ready in record time and then just found ourselves waiting and watching tv in with the patients and visitors. It was the most powerful tv viewing we had ever witnessed. As it happened, nothing happened. There were no victims that reached our doors. A very few had reached closer sister hospitals. As in the New York area, too many perished. I was sad that we couldn’t do what we were trained to do. We continued to train for disasters afterward now with the knowledge that in the new world we find ourselves living in, it may just be needed one day. I pray that never happens, but I know that I would be proud to help. Like so many others, it was also probable the one of the first times that I experienced such a powerful feeling of patriotic pride in being an American. Seven years later, that feeling remains.

  5. 5 Stuart September 15, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    I was in my cube trying to look busy – someone arrived to work and said “i heard on the news a plane hit the World Trade Center”. My first thought was … is that in D.C.?

    After trying to connect to CNN, Washington Post, Yahoo, etc…I was finally able to connect and see the horror – I guess I always knew where the World Trade Center was located but never connected the dots on that day. Like most people – I had no idea we were under attack … until later that day!

    After the office closed, I spent the rest of the day glued to the TV set in total disbelief and sadness.

  6. 6 captainx3 October 16, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Fairfax, Va – My wife and I had arrived at the office that day (we worked together at the time). As we were going up in the elevator, a co-worker asked if we heard about the plane crashing into the World Trade Center. We had not, of course and proceeded to walk to our cubicles.

    Then we saw a few people huddled around a little TV so we decided to check it out….still not realizing what was going on and probably not taking it real serious. Personally, I figured it was just some horrible accident and people were using it as an excuse to not start their work day yet. Shortly thereafter, my ambivalence turned into shock, disbelief and, yes, fear.

    I wanted so bad to do something, but didn’t know what. So I stood there staring at that little TV like everyone else. Then reality hit. My wife was getting visibly upset as reports of commercial airliners from nearby airports were the unfortunate ones to crash. Why? Because her brother and his wife are both commercial pilots and were flying out of New York almost daily.

    We spent the next few hours making sure they were ok (they were, thanks to God) and then we headed home to watch the TV as our nation changed right before our eyes.

  1. 1 Where were you on 9/11? « KoFacts Trackback on September 10, 2008 at 11:36 pm

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