We were home in our beds in Hawaii when H got a call from his office to turn on the TV. We were stunned, as everyone was. So very sad. My folks and brother were in Paris, supposed to return to Honolulu but were routed to Japan instead and they had to stay there several days until flights to Honolulu were resumed.
Me, too - iirc, leaving 8:00 am Thursday morning. I was supposed to fly into Logan (which was still closed), with a connection in Philly. I was supposed to be attending a wedding on the 22nd and had plans to visit with college friends for the week before, all over New England. Strangely, my flight was never cancelled, and after much debate decided it was important to not let fear win. So I went, having no idea how I was going to get to Boston from Philly.
On my flight I sat next to a soldier who had just finished his stint in Korea, and had been on a flight on his way home on the morning of 11th. On that flight with him was a high level general, so he knew what was happening when no one else on the plane did. The soldier was directed to guard the general because they didn’t know the extent of the terrorist plot. That flight was redirected to Hawaii. With no money in his pocket, the solider was taken in by total strangers until he could catch a flight home. He ended up on the flight that I boarded in SFO because it was the first out of Hawaii.
When we landed in Philly, it was mayhem. Planes and pilots and staff were not where they needed to be, and people were jockeying to hop on any plane they could that could get them anywhere close to their destination. I heard there was a flight going to Providence on the other side of the airport and managed to get on it. My college friends arranged for someone to take me in in Providence.
What blew me away during those days moving around New England was the cars with flags flying, the sense of deep shock and patriotism, and the kindness of strangers. That is what I think of now, when I need to remind myself of the unity we really are capable of.
Two of the people on the guest list for the wedding died in the towers. It was iffy if the wedding was going to happen, and the family decided that it was important to move forward with it. It was the best wedding I have ever been to, and probably ever will. The celebration of the goodness in the world and why life was worth living, and pure, unadulterated love was deeply needed by everyone there.
The remembrances of tsht day are as vivid to me as when JFK was shot.
I heard the news in my office, after a session. I had a dental appointment later. I called to cancel, and the receptionist did say come ASAP- his Dtr was in tower 2. He did my filling, almost against my better judgment, and refused to go home to his wife. I was there 5? 7? Hours, until his daughter called. Not only did she get out, but she led a group. So today, I sent a message to my retired dentist. His daughter is in NY, with a group of the survivors.
I was teaching third grade in Arlington, VA near the Pentagon. We pulled a tv cart into the hallway so the kids couldn’t see the news coverage. Throughout the morning, parents showed up at school to collect their kids. Waiting for the last few parents to show up was absolutely gut wrenching. We knew where they worked.
I was at home in Virginia, kids already dropped off at school. Getting ready for a dentist appointment and had the Today show on in the background. I couldn’t believe it . My sister was in a highrise office in downtown Pittsburgh and they evacuated because a potential next target was not known. Husband was in Atlantic City on business and walking along the oceanfront when he saw lots of FBI guys looking up at buildings.
A high school friend of my husband died on flight 11. A very popular guy. His classmates started a tournament, scholarship in his honor. His best friend posted on their high school class Facebook page today, saying going over to his mother’s house that night (who would have been 79 at the time) was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. My husband got tearful today thinking about all this, and that is not usual for him. Now me, I get tearful easily, and it was emotional hearing all the names today, including the name of husband’s friend. There are communities, families, workplaces, that lost many that day. I can’t even imagine .
So many close to the situation stories here.
I was home with my youngest who was 4 that day. Our home phone rang around 9 - my H heard what happened and told me to call my brother (who worked in NYC). Brother was working from home that day and stood on the rooftop of their Brooklyn home holding his 6 week old and watching the smoke from the city.
I remember taking my 4 year out to play - at some point I had to get away from the tv - o remember so clearly her being so carefree and unknowing running in the yard. Such a clear memory. I couldn’t wait for my other 2 to get gone from school. I just wanted them home.
I also remember being at my sons soccer game on a Saturday when they restarted flights. A plane came over the complex of fields - the first plane most of us had seen since 9/11. All the games stopped and everyone just looked up. It was eerie.
My husband worked in the trade center. That morning as he got out of the PATH station he saw cops running out and followed them out of the building. He saw flying debris and hightailed it out of there. He first walked East and passing medical workers outside Beekman Medical Center said you better get ready there is going to be a lot of need for medical assistance, but as mathmom said that turned out to not be true. He had a surreal day - watching flying debris and the buildings come down, walking all the way uptown to his other office north of times square, and eventually getting a train home to NJ. We lost two friends that day, one of which had taken NJ Transit with my husband, but squeezed onto a crowded PATH train my husband decided to let go.
I was at my daughter’s school volunteering in the library. There was lots of hubbub with staff coming in to get the AV cart with a TV so the administration could watch the news as it unfolded. However they were keeping the kids in the dark. At one point, I walked into the school office and the secretary was pulling the records of all kids who had parents that worked in NYC. She turned to me and said “where does your husband work” when I replied the Trade Center her face dropped. I remember I used the school phone to call home. Of the dozens of messages I had on my phone, the first was from my husband saying he was fine (I think he had used a pay phone to call me - not sure we both had cells back then.)
I left my daughter in school (many rushed to pull their kids out). By the time she got home that afternoon I was pretty sure that two people we knew had died. One was a dad of one of her friends. Telling my 7 year old daughter what had happened was the hardest thing I have ever done as a parent.
I get it. We carpooled with 4 others. The man told us how he escaped cuz he left the hotel for coffee. My son knew a dad who died and the kids who survived. My BFF had pushed for her husbands’ law firm to stay below the 11th floor. She had some paranoia. She believed in being able to climb steps. I suspect most of us knew people who died or whom were seriously affected by the episodes of this day.
Oh yes? Did I mention my friend who lived next door to some of the terrorists?
As I wrote elsewhere, I had just dropped my daughter off for her fourth day of Kindergarten in Chinatown, less than a mile from the towers. I was driving back to Brooklyn when the first plane hit, and I didn’t see it in my rear view mirror or even know about it until I went outside to move my car for alternate-side-of-the-street parking and neighbors were outside, talking. It was really hard figuring out how to get her home (no way I could drive back to Manhattan and the subways weren’t running) but a cousin who had just moved to Manhattan to attend law school walked down to pick her up, and a dear friend and neighbor brought her home on the subway which started running. She got home around 6 pm.
The next few months were really, really difficult in the city. My daughter’s school didn’t open for about 10 days, after other NYC public schools did, because it was so close to Ground Zero. And for months, every time it rained the smell of death from the pile reached northern Chinatown. I remember the yearning for everything to go back to “normal,” and when normalcy finally returned, it was definitely a new normal.
There are definitely analogies to the pandemic (and also huge differences of course). For a year and a half I have been thinking about the new normal we will live in and wondering what form it will take.
Oh one other story about that doctor I carpooled with. Like everyone she wanted to do something so when there was some sort of call
for people who spoke Farsi she called some number at some government agency to volunteer. Her husband said why did you do that you don’t have time for that with 3 kids under 5 and a medical practice. She said they probably wouldn’t even call back. He was like You speak Farsi, you have a scientific background ( went undergrad in Iran in Chemistry for a year so knew chemical terms in Farsi) and YOU ARE JEWISH (I.e, you don’t need the kind of vetting other native Farsi speakers need…your grandfather was a rabbi in Tehran which is why your family fled…You probably aren’t going to have a secret affinity for the Taliban )OF COURSE they will call you. They called within 48 hrs and asked how soon she could get to DC.
I was waking up in SF, kids still sleeping. Phone started ringing with family members from midwest, wanting to know where H was. Back in those days, he traveled extensively, and frankly, I just couldn’t remember which City he was in…but knew he was headed to WTC sometime that week. (20 years ago, cell phones & emails were not as prominent as today) Couldn’t get ahold of him for about 4 hours. Turns out he was in Atlanta, on way to NYC…and as airports were closed, he and two co-workers kept their rental car (luckily) and started the journey back to CA. He arrived at 10pm on our 17th wedding anniversary. Lots of tears. When he turned in rental car, he got the record for the car coming the furthest distance.
His office in WTC lost 180+ people. H had meetings scheduled in the South Tower on 9/12 & 13…
I really have enjoyed/appreciate all the stories.
My day was very ordinary. I was on my desktop computer catching up on emails and had the Today Show on in the background. Started watching the show with interest. I do not think I will ever forget Katie Couric and her almost deadpan delivery of the towers going down.
I remember how beautiful the day was. I remember in the days before having a feeling that something awful was going to happen. I don’t believe that I have any abilities but why did I feel this sense?
I remember the police being at the school for pickup. I remember my husband calling, they were locking things down at his work and to expect him late.
I remember how scared I was and how happy I was to see my kids and husband. How sad I was that wasn’t true for many.
I remember being glued to the TV for days. And I remember the president and the speech he gave a few days later at the WTC.
I remember knowing how everything was going to change. I remember my Muslim neighbors and what lovely people they were.
But for me, it was a very ordinary day
I was sitting in a meeting at my school. I can picture each person sitting in that room with me. We got the news very quickly because the admin was in our meeting and someone came to get her.
Many parents came to school to pick their kids up early. The only TV we had in the school was an old portable with rabbit ears…it was in the teachers room. We were asked to try to keep the day as normal as possible. We didn’t discuss this with our primary school students at all.
My parents were at Phoenix airport getting ready to board a flight home after a two week visit with relatives. Their flights were cancelled when airspace was closed. Luckily they had relatives to stay with. They were there an extra week, mostly due to rebooking issues. My dad tried to rent a car to drive back to the Midwest, but luckily there were none available by the time he tried.
As others have noted, the lack of airplanes flying above our home was notable.
I was thinking this morning how this moment 20 years ago when many of us had young children sort of put us in the spot I hear so many young could be parents or new parents say today when we have a pandemic and so much political unrest…”what will love be like for our kids?” - I don’t know that I felt that at the time though.
I too remember keeping the news off until all kids were in bed - then for weeks, I was glued to CNN in the evening always in disbelief.
Our experience was very different because we were in a very remote area in northern Montana without TV or near any place that sold daily newspapers after labor day. Our first child had died the month unexpectedly in August and so a few weeks after that we just took off and drove west to camp and hike. We were camping in a mostly empty campground but could hear a loud car radio sharing the news. Then a few hours later we went to a rural bar, which was the only place we thought of that would have a TV. What’s different from our experience is that we didn’t see the towers falling over and over again on TV and really only saw less than an hour or two of coverage total until we came back in late September. Came back the northern route through Canada and did have to spend more time crossing the border. There is only so much grief anyone can process at once and so our view of 9/11 has always been from more of a distance physically and emotionally.
I don’t watch TV news ever. But as one of the things that bothered me growing up is that I don’t remember Kennedy being shot (even though I remember cutting out pictures of the Kennedy children and putting them in a scrap book before the assassination.) So when the kids got home from school (the youngest was 10 and the oldest was 13) I said this is what happened today, and we watched it once on TV and then I turned the TV off and we didn’t look again. Neither kid’s school told them what had happened though they knew something weird was going on as many parents came and got their kids. I figured my kids were as safe there as anywhere.
I was 12. I was on student council and happened to be in the principals office. I saw and heard the news with the adults. I was told( forget) to return to class. When I walked into the classroom the teacher asked me what was wrong. That lovely teacher ran & got other teachers involved.
I have vivid memories of my sons dad calling me about the space shuttle burning up, and his son being in preschool most likely watching. I rushed over.
Similarly, I remember being with my college BF watching the Vietnam draft, with the numbers being called. And princess diana , and JFK jr, etc. and the Berlin Wall coming down, I wonder, what will be the vivid memories be for my children?
I live on the west coast, although I had been in NYC on vacation in July 2001 and of course visited the WTC. Went to the top floor observatory which had an open top deck you could go to; felt a bit strange to have just sky above and a chest-high plexiglass railing around the perimeter.
On 9/11 drove into work as usual. I don’t listen to the radio, I listen to books on tape to do something a bit more productive. So when I got to my desk I had no idea anything had happened. I had signed up for an email alert from the NY Times which promised to send an occasional email if something significant happened in the news. I opened my email and it was flooded with emails from the NYT. “Great” I remember thinking; they’re going to spam me with emails for every parking ticket in NYC. Then I started reading them…
Here are the towers in July 2001
What a surreal day. I was on business in France, and it was actually late afternoon there when everything happened. I had been out shopping and returned to my hotel room and flipped on the tv, just for some background noise while I relaxed before dinner. I turned it on just moments after the collapse of the first tower. I stood and watched in shock. My two coworkers who I had been traveling with eventually gathered in my room to watch, as well. I had grown up outside of NYC, in an area where so many of our friends and neighbors worked on Wall St. I had that sickening realization that my home county would be highly impacted, which of course turned out to be correct.
I ended up being stuck in France for five days longer than my original travel plans. I have never been so homesick in my life.