Nine-Eleven Anniversary

Thirteen years ago today, the unthinkable happened — terrorists attacked our country, killing thousands of innocent people, destroying national landmarks, and forever challenging our feelings of safety.

Nine-eleven (9/11/01) is one of those landmark events, much like the John F. Kennedy assassination, the first moon landing, the Challenger explosion. We all remember exactly where we were, who we were with, and what we were doing.

You do, too, don’t you?

For me, I had just arrived at our local mall where I was one of two web designers vying for a chance to design the mall’s website.

It was my first official presentation, to a group of people (not an individual), since hanging out my shingle three months previously.

I was nervous, reminding myself to speak slowly and hoping my scanty portfolio wouldn’t be held against me in light of the experienced designer I was up against.

Before I turned off my car’s engine, I heard a shocking report on the radio. Something about a plane flying into the World Trade Center in far-away New York City.

Momentarily, I forgot about my presentation. Forgot a brilliant sun was shining outside on a clear September morning in Central Illinois. Forgot I was a web designer.

I was a journalist again, hearing the victims’ screams, seeing the blazing inferno, feeling the pain of rescue personnel unable to save everyone and knowing families would have to be contacted with unthinkable news.

My presentation, of course, was a blur. Nobody was too interested in “mundane” activities. All of us, me especially, wanted to be home. In front of our TV sets, watching the story unfold.

Which we did, for days to follow.

Why does it take a tragedy for us to fall to our knees and pray for mercy? To recognize our smallness? To realize that we’re all interconnected on this tiny plot of a planet, and that when one hurts, we all do?

I’d love to hear your 9-11 stories in the comment section!

25 thoughts on “Nine-Eleven Anniversary

  1. I had just shown up at a fund raising meeting and found everyone in the kitchen watching the aftermath of the first plane crash. Two of my friends are flight attendants one for United and one for American so my immediate concern was for them. My mom had arrived the day before so I headed home (as did everyone else) nobody knew much at that point. When I heard they were evacuating downtown my first concern was canceling an electrician that was coming to fix my oven (that Joe was sure he could fix – for months) so I raced to cancel the electrician (talk about clueless). Joe picked Cole up from kindergarten on the way home. I hung our American flag and turned on the radio (we didn’t own a television for years). I’ve never seen any of the television coverage beyond the initial smoke from the first crash. It wasn’t until about a month later while looking out my large front window, waving goodbye to Cole and Joe as they left for school and work that I experience the magnitude of the loss of 911. And then I cried buckets. Before then I had mostly been an angry American that was ready to kick ass.

    • Having friends who were flight attendants must’ve really made the whole thing more personal, Katybeth. Odd how feelings in the aftermath seem so much stronger when you’d think otherwise. I think maybe the contrast of our “perfect” world — with its sunny Fall day and our families safe and nearby — and the destruction, death, and fear just a few hundred miles away is especially shocking. I can so identify with your feelings of anger, though. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. “We all remember exactly where we were, who we were with, and what we were doing.

    You do, too, don’t you?”

    Yes, I absolutely do, Debbie. I remember that day like it happened only months ago. What I recall most about that day was how ironically gorgeous the weather was – sunny, cool, and a perfect September day – yet, this tragedy was occurring. I remember watching it on TV and thinking, “How can this be happening?” I also remember walking the streets in Philadelphia that day and recalling how quiet it was. I heard no car horns, no sirens, no talking. There was just utter silence. And everything thing seemed to move in slow motion. It was surreal.

    About two years ago, I shared a post on my blog about 9/11 and how I had a delayed reaction. It took years for it finally sink in what had happened, and when it did, I went through tremendous anger and grief. I sat there in front of my computer screen watching video after video of what had transpired on that day and bawled my eyes out.

    I was living in NYC at the time the World Trade Center was completed, however, I had never gone to the top. Ironically, when I moved back east in 2001, I took a trip into NYC and went to the top with a friend of mine. That was in July of 2001. And less than two months later, 9/11 occurred.

    Thank you for sharing this post today, my friend. Lest we forget.


    • “Tremendous anger and grief.” That about sums it up perfectly, Ron. I think we all felt that way — and still do.

      While we logically “get” that peoples and nations sometimes disagree, we don’t understand the violence. It probably sounds naive, but I tend to think, Disagree if you want but don’t be disagreeable. And killing is SO disagreeable, especially of innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      How ironic that you went clear to the top, less than two months before the attacks! And just think of the people (like me) who now will never have that opportunity.

      Thanks for stopping by to remember, dear friend. Enjoy the rest of your week off!

  3. I was just waking up at around 6:30am pacific time, and turned on the Today Show as usual. What a shocker. I thought the world was coming to an end. My kids were with their dad. Numbly I got ready for work and made the drive in. When I got there, nobody felt like working. By noon they sent everyone home. One of my employees never recovered from that trauma of it unfolding and had to quit. I went home and cried the rest of the day. I was so glad that Katie and Matt stayed on the air. I found comfort in the familiar. Sigh. Truly, an American tragedy.

    • Thanks for sharing, Monica. Yes, it’s tragic when crises like this happen, but there’s something comforting in knowing just how many of us share the same emotions over it. My presentation lasted long enough that much of the actual event was over by the time I got back home — thus, they’d had plenty of time to wade through footage, do analysis, etc. Still, seeing those towers in flames was (and still is) something that stirs up so many emotions, and I can empathize with your former employee who had to quit afterward.

  4. You memorialized the day here beautifully, Debbie.

    I was driving to my job as an administrative assistant at my kids’ grade school when I heard the news on the radio. I was in disbelief at first. For the remainder of the day, it seemed that everything fell out of routine and every face looked shell-shocked.

    I can’t answer your question, but I wonder just the same why it often takes devastation for us to remember what is really important.

    • Thank you, Terri. I think all of us were shell-shocked. The idea that something that brutal could interrupt our peace and security was completely foreign to most of us, even those who lived through WWII like some of my relatives. I imagine there were lots of reaching-out phones calls that evening!

  5. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, yet in other ways, it’s like it just happened. It’s weird. When I found out, I was driving to work. After the first plane hit, the DJs were joking around, asking what kind of idiot couldn’t see a skyscraper in front of them. When the second one hit, they got serious – everyone was stunned, really.

    • Oh, wow, I’d forgotten how talkative most DJs are — by the time I tuned in, the reality was sinking in, and they were very serious. Listening to this unfold on the radio felt somehow surreal, though, and I had to actually get home, turn on the TV, and see it for myself before I was convinced it really had happened. Thanks for sharing, Janna — hope you’ve avoiding all those flood waters!

  6. I was on my way to work, and hadn’t yet turned off the tv. I suddenly became aware that they were talking about a fire in one of the Twin Towers, and I stopped to watch, because I had an aunt living on West 16th in the Village.

    I was watching when the second plane hit. I saw there for a while, watching over and over, listening to the commentary, not sure what to think. Finally, I decided there was nothing to do but go to work, and take a radio with me.

    I was down at Clear Lake when the two F-18s left Ellington field to head to clear air space and escort President Bush to wherever he decided to go. (At the time, we weren’t sure about where that would be, but clearly D.C. wasn’t a good choice.)
    Then, the closed air space and the waterways, and the rest of the day was absolutely silent. You don’t realize how much background noise there is until it’s gone. It was as though the whole world had come to a stop. Which, in a way, it had.

    Oh — my aunt. She had been out taking a walk. I placed a call to her, and somehow managed to get through. She just had come home, and hadn’t turned on the tv yet, but the first thing she asked me was, “What’s happening?” How ironic, that she lived in lower Manhattan, and yet hadn’t quite caught up with the news. She still was assuming it was a terrible accident.

    • I’m glad your aunt was okay, Linda. I didn’t know anybody living in NYC at the time, so it didn’t really hit home. However, I think all of us knew somebody who knew somebody, and certainly we all knew local firefighters and rescue personnel, so that brought it all home for us.

      Just seeing the pictures, even today, makes me shudder. Perhaps that’s why we call it “terror” — because it evokes such feelings of helplessness and confusion. And we don’t like feeling that way.

      I’d kind of forgotten about the eerie quiet when planes suddenly stopped flying and the general hum of routine activity was silenced. Good points — thank you!

  7. I remember an American friend came over to my home in Switzerland and shouted, “Turn on the TV, the world is ending.” We held hands and stared at the screen in shock and disbelieve as we watched the tragic events unfold. No words can express the sadness I felt that day for the victims and their families, for America and for mankind.

    • Absolutely, Pat. When thousands of souls are suddenly snuffed out, it feels like a war zone. I remember visiting Vicksburg many years ago, and I swear I could hear the muskets, see the smoke, and feel the pain of those injured (not to mention hearing their cries). It was most unnerving, and it’s been centuries since that war. I imagine the Nine-Eleven Memorial has a similar feeling. Isn’t it awful what man does to his fellow creatures??

  8. I was writing a poem or something and my husband called to ask if I was watching the news. When I turned it on…it was like HELL on earth. It was surreal. I shall NEVER forget. Always remember.

    That was the day the devil arrived in New York City.

    I don’t think he ever left.

    xx LOVE from me, Debbie

    • “The devil arrived in New York City.” Oh, Kim, how poetic that statement is! You, dear, have a way with words, you know, and we’re all enriched because of it — thank you!

  9. I was on the phone with a friend and I had the TV on. She didn’t watch TV but on that day she quickly turned it on. We hung up the phone and I watched in horror. Then I was very scared for my daughter who worked in NYC. We could not reach her for hours. Everything in NY was shut down. My husband wanted to drive out to get her but all roads were on lock down. We live on Long Island.

    My daughter along with all who worked in the city had to walk for hours to get out of the city. She said people were hysterical and running to get away. After hour of walking she was one of the few people able to get a bus and make it back home. We lost my sister’s godbrother who went back into the building to save people. He was an only child and his family was heart broken. He was honored by the mayor and governor.

    My husband and I received many phone calls from people who were questioning God. Churches were packed after the tragedy….but soon the shock wore off and life went on. I thank God for protecting our country for the past 13 years and I pray for protection for the USA……God bless America…please.

    • How blessed your family is that your daughter was safe, but oh, how tragic that your sister lost her godbrother. Losing a child, especially an only child, must have been simply awful — I can’t imagine such grief.

      You’re right, Tanya. I remember nearly every house flew an American Flag in the aftermath; people filled the churches; and 9-11 was just about the only conversation going. Things have changed, though. Seems as if more people are jaded, fewer Flags are flying, and ‘normalcy’ has returned. Except on the actual anniversary, of course, when once again, we unite as a peoples and remember all the sacrifices.

      Thanks for sharing your memories, and I pray daily for peace in our weary world!

  10. We do remember where we were. I remember what I was wearing because I was in a big yellow bathrobe, making breakfast when I saw it happen live on the morning news (the second plane to fly into the twin towers) and I never got out of that bathrobe. I, like most people, didn’t go to work and I spent a lot of the morning on the phone to my daughter who had just found out she was pregnant and wept for her unborn baby – fearful of such a world.

    • Thanks for sharing, Barb. I can totally empathize with your daughter’s fears. Domer was just a little guy, and as his mom, I couldn’t help wondering what kind of world we were bringing him into. I hope your daughter’s “baby” is growing up kind and loving — I imagine he or she is, and I take comfort in knowing future generations are in such capable hands!

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