Fifteen Years Already

Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us. ~Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Fifteen years ago today, the unimaginable happened — more than 3,000 people were killed in an unprecedented terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Can you believe it’s been fifteen years??

I was just three months into my transition from newspaper journalist to web designer when the world as we knew it changed.

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, was clear here in Central Illinois as I dressed for my first major sales presentation.

Our local shopping mall needed a redesign of its website and had invited me and another designer to make presentations to a committee.

Before leaving my office, I double-checked to make certain I had what I needed — business cards, an outline of points I wanted to make, etc. — and hopped in my car. The radio was on, but I wasn’t listening … preferring, I suppose, to mentally prepare for something that could change my life by jump-starting my new career.

As I pulled into the mall parking lot, the radio music was interrupted by an announcer haltingly hollering about a plane that had flown into the World Trade Center in New York City.

What? How was that possible?

The journalist in me wanted to stay in the car and listen, or get to a TV set … anything to learn “the rest of the story.” But time was nearing for my presentation, and I reluctantly went inside.

People were milling around, drinking coffee, talking about the attack. Nobody really wanted to hear web design presentations. Nobody wanted to give them either.

Yet we took comfort in each other’s presence, in the normalcy of a Central Illinois September day.

When the presentations were done and we dispersed, I — like millions worldwide — glued myself to TV, watching over and over as those planes exploded and the lives of people hundreds of miles away changed forever.

As we recall where we were on that day, it’s important to remember the sacrifices of the emergency personnel and other heroes from the original 9/11. Perhaps it’s also a good time to fly our Flag, to stand for our National Anthem, and to facilitate a resurgence of patriotism.

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?

29 thoughts on “Fifteen Years Already

  1. “Can you believe it’s been fifteen years??’

    No Debbie, I can’t because I can still remember that day as if it was only months ago. Last week (knowing that 9/11 was approaching), I watched several documentary videos and cried all over again. For me, I don’t think I’ll ever get over that horrendous tragedy, nor do I want to. In fact, anytime I go to NYC and take a walk down to the World Trade Center Memorial, it’s so incredibly emotional. Even after fifteen years.

    Yes, I remember that day so clearly. I had just moved back to Philadelphia and was having my morning cup of coffee, when a friend from Florida called and said, “Ron…turn on the News!”

    Thank you sharing this today, my friend. Love the quote from Oscar Wilde.


    • My son Domer has been to the World Trade Center Memorial and was quite impressed with it. Sadly, I have not, but it’s on my must-see list. I imagine if you listen closely, you can still hear the echoing screams of fear.

      Thank you, Ron, for sharing your thoughts and memories. Enjoy the rest of your week. xx

  2. Difficult to believe it is Fifteen years. My wife and I were volunteers for a major charity event in San Antonio. We arrived at the venue to begin the set-up activities. Everyone was clustered around the TVs. It soon became apparent the event needed to be cancelled. The rest of the day was spent winding down and communicating the event cancellation. Over 1000 guests were expected, and we managed to leave messages for most of them. The event took place a month later and became a memorable tribute to the victims and first responders. Although the benefit was for underprivileged kids, also it became a rededication to the spirit of democracy. Thanks for your post.

  3. I was getting ready for work, but hadn’t yet turned off the tv when it happened. Like so many, I sat transfixed for nearly an hour. Then, with nothing I could do, I went on to work. What was so strange about that day was the silence. Because of the grounding of all air traffic, AND water traffic, there wasn’t a plane or boat to be heard. Those few days were the most silent I’ve ever experienced here.

    One amazing sidenote: my Aunt T still was living in Manhattan at the time, on West 16th. Somehow, I managed to get through to her by phone. She had been out taking a walk when it happened. She knew “something” was going on, but hadn’t yet turned on the tv. So, my memories of that day are intertwined with her, too.

    • Linda, I’d forgotten the silence! We’re not exactly close to major airports here, but we do have planes overhead occasionally. Not that day, though. Somehow, I don’t recall missing the drone of engines.

      I don’t have relatives living in NYC and have only been there once, so the attack wasn’t something that affected me like it would have, had circumstances been different. Glad your aunt was safe!

      Thanks for sharing your memories — I find it so interesting that none of us “knew” each other back then, yet I feel such closeness with all of you now!!

  4. 15 years. Wow. Cole was at Kindergarten, Joe was at work, and my Mom (who had just flown in) was home getting ready for the day while I ran an errand. My first stop clued me into what had happened. I raced home, hung the American flag, and turned on the radio. We didn’t own a television but the radio kept us updated. They evacuated downtown. Joe went to pick up Cole. He was safe but the school was to close to downtown and we were too far away for comfort. I’ve never seen the video footage. I’ve never watched the buildings fall outside of my imagination. All my information came through the Chicago Tribune we still subscribed to and other print resources. The scope of what happened didn’t totally hit me for about 6 months when I was waving to Cole out our front window as he left for school with Joe. Something I did every single morning…and I started to sob realizing how many other families on September 11th had done something similar or perhaps they had a simple argument before they left for the day, or maybe they said what Cole had said to me a few days earlier in a fit of angry, “Well, today I won’t wave to you….” And that is when I resolved to never ever send my family out the door without a hug, kiss,wave and I love you.

    • Wow, things have really changed, haven’t they? When you mentioned that Cole was in kindergarten, it reminded me that Domer was in fifth grade. Having to interpret and explain something this mind-boggling to a little boy wasn’t easy, was it??

      I LOVE your resolve and applaud you for taking that stance! You’re right, of course — none of us knows what might happen in the future, and love is the best way to part from anyone.

      Thank you for sharing your memories — they really added to the impressions of that day!

  5. I was at work. Normal day until one of my employees popped her head into my office and said her daughter was on the phone talking about a plane and the twin towers. We didn’t have access to TV, no internet, no smart phones. So we were working with information our families were calling into us. I had one hysterical employee whose husband worked for the Pentagon and she ‘didn’t know where he was.’ I sent her home. Turns out he was in a bunker somewhere in California. Another employee’s mother worked in the twin towers, but had a dentist appointment that day so hadn’t gotten to the office yet. Bruce’s aunt had broken her hip the day before and was in a hospital bed in a women’s ward where two tvs ran the fall of the towers over and over and over…and she was trapped watching it. It seemed my job that day was to keep people calm and access what I could do in that objective. It was a very bad time.

    • Dawn, I think some just naturally gravitate toward keeping others calm in emergencies — and God bless them for it! While the world seemed to be spinning completely out of control, some people fell to their knees in prayer, others performed heroic acts of rescue, and still others — despite their own fears — tended to what had to be done.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories — 9/11 isn’t a day or time any of us can forget.

    • I imagine you were quite professorish even at that age! And I imagine your parents were awfully glad the trip was cancelled. Domer was ten, and it took a LOT of will-power for me not to race to his school and bring him home, where I knew he’d be safe.

      Thanks so much for sharing your memories, Professor. You’re right … it was an awful day.

    • You are sooo right, Kim — it did feel like the world was ending. I think we always assumed things like this couldn’t happen here. We all had our eyes opened to the contrary, and it forced us to grow up … fast.

      Thank you for sharing your memories — none of us can afford to forget!

  6. I was making school buses with my daycare kids and my friend called and told me to turn on the news…I was shocked and devastated, and in turn called my mother and told her and my dad to turn on the news. I don’t think any of us will ever forget.

    • Ah, Suzi, isn’t it strange how our day started out so normal and turned into such chaos? And isn’t it odd how 9/11 became one of those marker-days, where you know exactly what you were doing when you heard the news?

      Thank you for sharing your memories — they added a lot to this post!

  7. I can’t believe it has been fifteen years. I was getting ready to take my son to preschool. It was a beautiful day in Houston, Texas. When I turned on the TV, I thought the world was ending also…such feelings of shock and disbelief. It is a day that will remain in our memories…forever.

    • My son Domer was already at school when the news broke, and I felt awful not going there to “rescue” him! But I knew he was safe and, at 10, would be mortified at mommy coming to take him home early, ha!

      Thanks for sharing your memories — none of us can afford to forget that day and its aftermath.

  8. I had just awoken, here on the west coast, and turned on the TV both planes had already flown into the Towers. It was horrific. Reluctantly I went to work, even though I wanted to consue watching. But at work, nobody could concentrate and soon we were told to go home. My kids were in school all day and I was glued to the TV. I, like many, cried so much that day.

    • I’m not sure I could ever be comfortable living on the west coast for the very reason you mentioned, Monica. The news-hound in me wants to know stuff FIRST, and having to watch reruns doesn’t make me happy! Still, I imagine you were glad not to be in NYC when this attack occurred.

      Thank you for sharing your memories — I love how interesting every single story has been, and how different!

  9. I was working for a newspaper at the time and happened to be in the newsroom when it all kicked off. We watched as the most horrific scenes unfolded on the screens before us, unable to quite comprehend what we were seeing. We knew then that the world was changed forever.

    • Probably the VERY best place to be when news happens, Lucy! Certainly the place I wanted to be, right at the center of what was happening. But nothing in me wanted to be in NYC during that chaotic time. I’d have hated interviewing survivors, forcing them to recall such horror.

      Thanks for sharing your memories. It’s comforting to know others were weeping with us.

  10. 15 years? Wow. I certainly remember where I was that beautiful September morning, as well all do. It’s seared in our collective psyche. We had tickets booked to go to NYC on October 11, 2001, of course all planned before the tragic events on September 11. Should we still go? Would we be safe? What was the future? All the questions we were all asking. We went. We took our two sons – aged 14 and 9 at the time – knowing it would be a living historical trip for them (and for us). And it was a mix of seeing Broadway plays and the fact that life goes on and we are strong as Americans and wouldn’t be defeated or terrorized by terrorists, and grim, somber reality down near ground zero. The white ash and posters of lost loved ones were everywhere. The smell and silence were palpable. We’ll never forget.

    • I’m glad you persisted in your travel plans, Barb. Your boys surely needed to experience this historical moment — as you and your husband did — and see the resiliency of our country’s people.

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