Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My September 11th

Today is Tuesday, September 11th, 2012.

If you haaaappen to be coming across this blog for the first time - you should know this is not normally a place for seriousness or introspection of any kind.  I am normally, as I often put it, a dancing bear.  Tune in any other day and you will be tuning into ludicrousness and general shenanigans.

But, today is not really for ludicrousness and shenanigans.  Today is a Tuesday, September 11th, much like it was 11 (Jebus I can't even believe it) years ago.

Since I have only had this blog for a few months, I've never told my September 11th story on here and in doing so I'm going to reveal a few things about myself that you might not know (look out ya'll, Stork is naked). But every year on this day, I watch/listen to other peoples 'where I was' stories because I'm fascinated, and I'm particularly fascinated this year because of my new bloggy universe.

I'm particularly interested in what it was like for people who were not on the east coast of the US when it happened.  If you were on the west coast of the US - did someone wake you up and tell you, or did you wake up and the whole world was on fire?  If you were in a different country, how was it perceived?  What was it like if you didn't know anyone personally in DC or NYC?

Two admissions before I get into my story.

One thing you may not know about me - I consider myself from D.C.  Fun fact for those unfamiliar - Washington D.C. itself is a teeny tiny spec of a diamond - if someone is driving you up the east coast and you take an inopportune 10 minute nap, you may miss it.  Most people who say they are from D.C. (as I do) actually live in Northern Virginia (NOVA) or southern Maryland.  I'm from Nova, but I always say I'm from D.C. - because I am.  I grew up a few miles away from the Pentagon (which again, even though they always call it D.C. is actually in Arlington, Virginia to prove my point).

The second thing to know about me, as with most people who were raised in D.C., one of my parents worked for the government.  My Dad had a very-important & odd position in the government, and for most of my life worked in a building that would most certainly be considered a 'target' place to work.  (If this peaks your curiosity, message me! I will spill in a one-on-one conversation happily).

On Tuesday, September 11th 2001, I was 19 years old.  My family still lived in Nova, and I was going to college a few hours away.

It had only been a few months since I had seen the world trade center in person.  My friends and I took a road trip (it's a five hour trip to NYC from DC - it was a fun over nighter I've done many times) and for maybe the second time in my life I stood in front of them.

Something to know if you were never lucky enough to see them in person - the pictures you see on TV, the holes you see the planes left in them, it doesn't do justice to how tall these buildings were.  I'm frightened of heights - and standing in the courtyard listening to muzak and staring up at them was enough to get my knees to shake.  I had been to the top of them many years before, but for some reason summer of 2001 I was too scared of the height thing to go to Windows on the World.

Anyhow.

I was in my dorm, planning on sleeping in because I didn't have a class until 11 something.  I heard our phone ring, and then my roommate, who we'll call Amy, screaming and hollering and asking me to wake up.  So I did.

Amy had a relative that worked in one of the towers, and her Mom called her because she was watching the Today Show and up came a picture of one of the towers with a giant, fiery hole in it.

So we watched our little TV.  I tried to tell Amy that I was sure her relative was fine, and that I was sure it was just like they were saying - probably a helicopter crash or a private plane, the fire would be out in no time.

In the back of my head I thought about the bomb from the 90s... And I kept thinking of how enormous those buildings were, and that even though it looked like a small hole (alarming, don't get me wrong) on TV, that in reality considering the size of those buildings, maybe I wasn't seeing it in the proper perspective and maybe it was something much, much bigger.  But Stork likes to keep positive.  So I of course kept that thought process to myself, and tried to shut my thoughts up altogether.

Then after maybe 5 minutes of watching, there appeared a silver object in the right corner of my screen getting closer.  I literally thought "what the fuck is that?" and then BOOM.  It slammed into the second building.

Amy screamed, I froze.  Amy's hands went to her face and she kept repeating "Oh my G-d" to herself.  I said nothing - I was in shock, and just thinking along in sync with the voices on television that were suddenly saying 'okay, this is on purpose'.

I sat on my bed, and watched the story unfold.  Amy went out into the now very loud hall and got people to turn on their TVs who weren't awake. One of my hippie guy friends came in and watched with me. Admittedly even with the horror unfolding on TV my thoughts turned to DC.  I asked him if he thought they were going to hit D.C. and he said "nah", but his eyes were lying.

I tried not to think about my Dad.  I tried not to think about the people who were above the floors that got hit.  When someone on the TV said "you can see large bits of debris falling from the building" and hippie friend said "that's not debris" I tried not to think about that, either.  At some point, Amy came back in and we all watched in silence - the only sounds I heard for a long time were the sounds of other people's TVs in my halls, playing different stations but all listening to the same story.

We sat like that, frozen, for who knows how long before Katie Couric cut to a picture of the Pentagon on fire.  That's when, where I was, everything changed.

People rushed into the hall.  RA's hurdled our entire dormitory into two groups - one, people who just wanted to watch the programming together, and two, people who had parents working in D.C.  I fell into the latter category.

My group was ushered into a different dormitory.  When I went outside, all I heard was the sound of fighter jets - that we went to school right next to - being launched into the air.  As we were walking people kept mentioning my Dad's building 'you know that's what they're going to hit next, you know that's what they're going to hit next'.

We went into a study hall (I'm not sure what it was I never went back again - I just remember a large room with tables and chairs) and everyone went to work on our cell phones.

If you were in the DC area at the time (and I want to say the same for NYC) more than likely, after a certain time your cell phone was useless.  So many people were trying to get ahold of loved ones that everything was jammed.  I tried calling my Dad several times, but I kept getting "your call cannot be completed.."

After an hour or so, my Mom got ahold of me.

She had been teaching a few minutes from the Pentagon, and when they heard a blast, the earth moved.  Being from CA her first instant fleeting thought was 'this must be an earthquake' before putting together the obvious.  They were put on lockdown.

She told me that she was fine, my sister was fine, and she was sure my Dad was fine - but I wanted to hear his voice.  Even though it's not where he worked, in my head it wasn't inconceivable that he would be at the Pentagon.

Most of our family was out here in CA - I had no idea if they even knew what was going on yet because it was so early.  When I called my Grandparents because my phone obviously worked a lot better than my Moms - they were clearly awake, clearly panicked, and had woken up to rumors that DC was being bombed.  I told them that Mom was ok, my sister was ok, and nobody could get ahold of my Dad but we were sure he was okay.

Turns out, he had chemotherapy that day and wasn't even in his office.  His work was about to get crazy, but he wasn't there that morning.  After my own family was sorted out, I thought about my high school sweetheart's Dad who worked in the Pentagon ( he once took us inside when we were younger for 'take your daughter to work day' because my Dad couldn't take me into his).  My Dad got ahold of him later that day, and he was fine as well.  Everyone I knew went to college in the DC area or in NYC.  Much of my day was spent trying to track everyone down - luckily no one I knew went to school anywhere near Battery Park.

Others were obviously not so lucky.  A girl in my dorm lost her Father who worked at the Pentagon, and two others lost people in NYC - my friend's cousin was an EMT, and a girl I didn't know had a brother who I want to say was a waiter.

The rest of the day was spent watching the TV in silence, and listening to our military's planes outside.

The 11th happened to fall on a stupid anniversary with my college boyfriend, and he thought it was a good idea to just get out for a bit, anyways.  We went to a restaurant in town where they wouldn't serve us because he was 'muslim'.  (He was muslim - in the sense that I am Catholic, which is to say ish at best.  And not that it matters, but he didn't look middle eastern at all - he looked like a mixed person, which he was, so I don't even know to this day how they put that together).  We didn't make a stink about it because horrible on top of horrible was too much to deal with, and we suddenly lost our appetites anyways.  They did write a story about it in the school paper though, a few weeks later.

In the weeks that passed I remember reading about a man who spent 3 days searching for his wife in the Pentagon wreckage without stopping to sleep.  I remember SNL coming back on and Lorne Michaels asking if it was okay to be funny, and mayor Giuliani saying "why start now?".  I can't remember if we were hearing them directly yet or just hearing about them - but I remember learning of the phone calls people made from the planes. I remember thinking how strange it was that all the fictitious TV shows that took place in NY or DC didn't acknowledge it at all.  I remember thinking about growing up close to Dulles airport, the millions of times I had taken a flight from there to L.A., and thinking the likelihood of me not having taken flight 77 at some point was pretty slim.  I remember being scared for my Dad in an entirely new and permanent way.


Even though you know me well enough by now to know that I try to keep things light and airy, every year I make sure to watch a special, read a story, do something to stare at it.  Others would think this is macabre and to remember people for the lives they led.  But I'm one of those people if there's a viewing before a funeral, I go to the viewing.  I need to see to believe, I need to face down the awful in order to accept it.

But tomorrow I'll go back to dancing bear.







51 comments:

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    1. Thought I'd throw it out there into the ether.. I'm always fascinated how different people perceived it.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I am in the midwest so my experience was not nearly the same as yours.

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  3. I'm from England (moved to the US a couple of years ago). I remember getting out of high school (I was 17) and taking a bus into the city. Some ladies on the bus were talking about the WTC, and I didn't know what was going on so I phoned my mom and she told me a plane had crashed into one of the towers. At that point, it was assumed to be a small plane and an accident. By the time I made it into the city, the news was streaming live from all the TVs in the electronics store and a ton of people were gathered around. It was obvious then that it was a terrorist attack, and it was a horrible realization.

    I didn't know anybody directly affected by 9/11, but it was an awful day that I will never forget. I'd visited the World Trade Center not long before the bombing in the 90s, and again in 98, and been up to the top. I couldn't imagine how horrific it was for those people trapped in there, and of course how terrible it was for their friends and families. I usually watch a documentary or two every year, because in all of that devastation there are stories of courage and hope.

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    1. Yes! Much better put. I watch them not only to stare at it but because there are stories where people actually helped each other (which gives me hope that in dark times no one cares about race/religion/gender for a few moments we were all just American.. Which was prevalent for awhile back in 2001, and seems few and far between, now).

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Big hugs for you.

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  5. Enjoyed reading your story. Here's mine. . . .

    I was in Tucson, Arizona, where I had just started law school (second career at age 30). I was just stepping out of the shower at 8:00 a.m. that Tuesday when my phone rang. It was a law school friend who asked if I'd turned on the television that morning (she knew I hadn't, as I rarely watched TV at all). She said "I think the U.S. is under attack."

    So I quickly flipped on one of the networks (ABC?) and saw the footage of the smoking towers. I was stunned, confused and absolutely horrified as I saw people jumping/falling from the towers.

    On a personal note, as word came in that the Pentagon had also been hit, I was worried about my sister, who had lived in NOVA for the past seven years and worked just blocks from the White House at the time. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I finally reached her by telephone and assured myself that she was OK. (I was also worried about a friend's husband who was traveling back east for business, but he was in Boston that day and was totally fine.) I also called both my parents and a few of my closest friends, even though I knew they would not have been directly affected.

    School was not cancelled (our Torts professor said he'd "held class after Kennedy was shot and will hold class today"), but the mood on campus was very somber and surreal. Most everyone was glued to the television footage being shown on two TVs the law school had set up in the common areas when not in class. And no one said much. I think we were all having a hard time just taking in what had happened.

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    1. I love reading other people's stories.. So curious as to how it was perceived by different people.

      Thankfully my professors cancelled classes - although I did have one persnickety theatre teacher who didn't send an email like everyone else, made us walk a mile in the middle of the afternoon to read a note on his door. (though I suppose I could've used the walk).

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  6. It's amazing how clearly we remember everything about that day....I have family in New York and the panic that went through me as I watched the second plane fly into the second tower is indescribable....It is a day we will never forget....thank you for sharing...

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    1. Total panic. Like no other. I just froze like a deer in headlights and didn't really feel the brunt of it until later.

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  7. I live on the west coast of Canada but remember that day so clearly. I was laying in bed, just woken up, listening to a country station on the radio (they were playing the Dixie Chicks, can't believe I remember that) when they stopped the song to announce that a second plane had hit the WTC. I remember laying there confused for a minute (I was still half asleep) and then all of a sudden bolted out of bed. My dad was in the hall bathroom brushing his teeth and looked at me strangely when I burst out of my bedroom. I told him "Planes have hit the World Trade Center, they think it is a terrorist attack" and we both ran down the hallway to the kitchen and turned on the TV. My mom and brother joined us a few seconds later and we just stood there totally in shock watching.

    It was one of my first days of nursing school that day and I remember everyone showing up to class looking worn out and like we had all aged many years overnight. I don't think we got a lot of work done that day as all we all wanted to do was go back to the TV. I remember after a few days I had to force myself to turn off the TV, it had been on basically non-stop since it happened. I needed to take a break from all the footage.

    I luckily did not know anyone personally who was in NYC or DC at the time. Last year we visited NYC and had a chance to go to the memorial site just after it opened. It is an absolutely beautiful memorial (I think, at least). We sat there for a long time, just trying to picture it as it would have been before and watching different people's reactions as they stood by the pools. I hope to go back one day when it is fully open and finished. I don't think anyone will ever forget where they were that day, no matter what country you lived in at the time.

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    1. I haven't been to the memorial! Definitely want to see it. I haven't been back to NY in... years & years. The last time I went they were still cleaning up. :/

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  8. Lovely Stork, I think it is the fact that you can place a post like this within your usual wonderfully humorous writing that makes your blog so very special. I was all the way over here in the UK, with no loved ones to worry about, and I remember the whole of that day in photographic detail.

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  9. I'm in western Canada. I've never been to NYC or DC. I didn't know anyone who was personally affected by the 9/11 attacks. But it still left a deep impact with me.

    I had the day off work that day, but I was up early because I had to babysit my niece, who would have been about 18 months old at the time. I never watch American morning television, but for some reason, I was watching the Today show that morning. I remember Matt Lauer mentioning something about a plane hitting the WTC and then they cut to a commercial (I think). When they came back, they were showing images of the burning building. I sat there, stunned, thinking (just like everyone else, I'm sure) that it must have been a small plane that had a terrible accident. And then suddenly another plane came zooming into the picture and hit the second tour. The bottom fell out of my stomach. What the hell was happening?

    I kept running back to the living room as I was getting ready to go to my brother's house, catching snippets of news here and there. When the news came that another plane had hit the Pentagon, I couldn't believe it. "Is it ever going to end?" I thought.

    By the time I reached my brother's house, one of the towers had fallen and the other followed shortly after. I was mesmerized and horrified. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Thankfully, I don't think my niece was old enough to comprehend any of it. Nevertheless, I tried not to watch too much of the coverage, in case it upset her. Once I got home, though, I watched and watched and watched. For the next three days, I watched. And still, I couldn't believe it had happened.

    Canadians like to make it known that we are very different from Americans. We occasionally like to poke fun at the US (as it does to us). But when it comes down to it, the US is like our sibling - our cooler, more confident twin. You hurt, we hurt. We were heartbroken for our neighbour. And we will never forget. I will never forget.

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    1. That's how I thought about it.. When planes hit the twin towers I thought how this was going to be the worst day in America that I would be alive to experience. Then when it hit the pentagon, I knew we were at war.

      That's how I think of Canada! Our calmer more rational twin. (I often think of Bub as the Canada to my US).

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    2. Hello fellow Western Canadian! I think that's a really good way to describe the difference between the two countries. Just like siblings, we sometimes wonder "What the heck are they thinking?" but in the end, love and support them.

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  10. I live in California, and the morning of 9/11 I woke up, turned on my computer, and then showered. Came back to my computer to see a screenful of AIM messages from friends on the east coast telling me to turn on my TV. I did, right around the time the first tower collapsed.

    I went into work (about 25 minutes away), and they ended up sending everyone home. My husband and I watched TV and talked with friends online all day.

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    1. I often wonder what it would be like just having woken up and have it had already happened (and boom, in a nano-second everything has changed) vs. watching it unfold.

      (Love the name, by the way)

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  11. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    I was a freshman in college and we actually had the day off classes because the new president of the university was being inducted - so we had a day of community service planned.

    My roommate got up a little before me and forgot to turn off her snooze button, so it woke me up while she was in the shower. She came running in to turn it off but I was starting to hear what the radio announcers were saying - something about President Bush being emergency flown to Texas. We went into our common space and turned on the TV to see what was going on. It wasn't on two or three minutes before we saw the second plane go in. We watched TV all day, the service event having been cancelled.

    Crazy how something 11 years ago can still be so vivid in my mind. Thanks for the outlet to remember!

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    1. It is crazy... Prior to 9/11 I always wondered how every adult could remember in exact detail what they were doing when Kennedy was shot, and naively thought I'd never have anything horrible to remember like that.

      But yeah - can't tell you what I had for dinner two nights ago, but I remember everything about that day.

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  12. Thank you for sharing. This is a beautiful post! I was a freshman in college in Florida (though I'm from the NW) and I remember that day so clearly. Even though I knew no one in the NE, I felt utter terror, especially because I was all alone without any family for comfort. I think that day will stay with all of us for the rest of the years of our lives.

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    1. Agreed. One of my friends said something that for whatever reason struck a chord from me - when we're old ladies, more than likely we'll be shuffling to our grandchildren's schools to tell them about a reality that existed pre-9/11, and about the actual day in a way that they'll never fully comprehend. Just like when I was in school there were people trying to explain Pearl Harbor, I suppose.

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  13. Thanks for sharing your story, Stork! I was a junior in college, getting ready for class (ballet that morning- dance major)when one of my roommates started yelling for us to come out to the living room, something just hit the TWC. So, there the three of us sat half-ready for class watching everything unfold on the Today Show. We saw the 2nd tower get hit and as we stared in disbelief, we decided we needed to get on campus. Be around people- make sure we weren't dreaming. My ballet teacher decided to hold class and at the time, we were all nervous, scared, stressed and dancing for a hour helped. My next class was dismissed and I gathered with friends in silence for the rest of the day as we watched and learned about the pentagon, flight 93 and witnessed the towers fall. My aunt and uncle were in Florida, getting ready to board a plane to come home to Ohio that morning. There were frantic answering machine messages letting me know they were safe and we were still checking on family in PA. Many family members live very close to Shanksville and it seemed like an eternity before we knew the exact location of the crash there. Seeing maps indicating how close to family that plane went down was frightening. I had the privilege to pay my respects a few years ago at the temporary Flight 93 memorial, and that was quite an experience.

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    1. That's what I was watching - the Today show. And every year they replay the scantily-edited show again, which is hard to watch.

      I have always wanted to go to that memorial! My only experience in PA was going to Carnegie Mellon for a brief moment in time before 9/11.

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  14. First and foremost, I have chills down my arms. This was the last thing I expected to read here today, and yet, one of the most powerful.

    How did I miss that you are from DC? We are from the other side of the bridge, but Washingtonians the same.

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    1. I usually just say "from the east coast" for some reason. But I am definitely a Fairfax County girl & Bub is from Montgomery County. I still get homesick for it all the time!

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  15. I was living in Tucson at the time, in my junior year at U of A. I also had class later that day, and was sleeping when my mom called and told me to turn on the tv. I think the second tower hit as I was just getting to my tv. My eyes were glued to the tv in utter shock. My mom told me my brother was flying up to the NY area to "escort" planes to ground. He was flying the F-14's, I was terrified. I couldn't get myself to go to my first class, but needed a break from the coverage and drove to my afternoon class. While we were waiting for the professor to come, (who only came to tell us there would be no learning today) one of my classmates stood there with tears in her eyes. She didn't want to go home, because she didn't know how she was going to tell her two girls their father (her ex) wasn't going to see them anymore. He was in one of the planes headed for L.A. It is amazing how crystal clear these memories and feelings are for everyone.

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    1. Good Lord! Can't imagine if my brother did something like that for a living.. Although since I was going to school right next to a place with fancy military planes (no idea what they're called) when they were launching into the air I felt such relief like "thank g-d, they're bringing in the badasses".

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  16. I live on the east coast, as you know, and wanted to comment really quick to tell you my story.

    I was in 12 grade Psychology class the morning the first plane hit. Our school went immediatly on lockdown because we were located very close to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) which was a worry for a terrorist attack. We were all glued to the TVs in every class and were all very scared. A lot of my classmates had family in NY and WA so I saw a lot of panic and crying as they made phone calls to their families. Atlanta has become a city filled with people from NY, including my husband.

    My cousin I have been very close with was a Marine at that time and mostly my thoughts were on him that day. I didn't know what it meant for him and that was what scared me more than anything. He later ended up in Iraq and luckily came home safely.

    Two years after 9/11/01 happened, I ended up teaching a little girl at my preschool who lost her dad in the WTC. The little girl was too young to know what happened but there were a lot of days her mom would come in crying. I still think about them every year at this time.

    My father-in-law told me he could see the smoke and fires from his work across the river in NJ. I'm so glad your father was fine and I am so glad you shared your story too.

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    1. Never even thought of the CDC as being a target, but that totally makes sense.

      I had a friend who joined the military out of high school and that was one of my later-thoughts that day... Just that he signed up during a somewhat 'peaceful' time and now boom, war. War in a day.

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  17. Thank you for sharing this. I like to hear other people's stories, too...such a touching, powerful post.

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    1. De nada.. I can't quite explain why other than to just commiserate, but I love hearing people's stories.

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  18. Very touching post, indeed. It brought tears my eyes. I still get quite emotional when I think of it. <3 xo

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  19. When I 9/11 happened, I was in the eighth grade-13 years old. I didn't see it until I got to school, but I remember being in my mom's car listening to NPR (like she always does, god love her) and hearing them talk about this horrific tragedy. I didn't have any concept of what the WTC was because I was a 13 year old from the south who wouldn't go to NYC for the first time for five years.

    Then I got to school and saw it on TV and realized the horror. It haunted me for my entire adolescence-not just the terror attacks themselves, but what came after. Growing up in a post 911 world was a test that I feel like I'm still failing sometimes.

    My husband is six years older than me. When 9/11 happened he was in college. He tried to complete, but just didn't have the desire to anymore. After a year or two he enlisted. He spent 9 months in Iraq (I sent him letters-I've been in love with him since the time I dated his brother when I was a freshman in high school and his brother was a senior, but that's another story for another day) and 3 months in the UAE. Every year on 9/11 I feel more emotional than I did the year before. Maybe because I'm older, maybe because of who my husband is and what he's done for me and our country, maybe because eleven years still isn't enough distance to put between a scared 13 year old girl and the scared 24 year old woman she's turned into.

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    1. Woah, big huge awe in the shadow of your husband's awesomeness. I can't imagine it. I feel like a fairly brave person but I don't feel like I have THAT in me. Amazing.

      13! Wow! I haven't heard many stories from when people were younger.. I often wonder what it would be like to have been a little younger when it happened.

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  20. I'm a west coast girl with west coast family & a stepmom that had lived in NY for some time. But when 9/11 happened, I had been living in Finland for 2 years. I had just gotten home from college that afternoon and turned on BBC news RIGHT after the first plane hit the tower. It took me a second to realize what was going on and then I immediately called my family in the US, as I knew they would be awake. My dad answered and wasn't prepared to hear from me that early in the morning, plus my saying "turn on the TV! by the way this is JustHeather, turn on the TV". As he told my stepmom to turn the TV on, I heard her scream.

    9/11 definitely got news coverage over here, but not in the same light nor in the same intensity.

    It was a very surreal day and quite a shock. I was very thankful that my family lived (lives) in a small town on the west coast as it really shouldn't be a target for anything terrorist (anymore). I am very thankful that no one close to me was hurt that day, but I'm sad for the many others who were.

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    1. That's amazing. I wonder how many people were actually woken up/told about it from people who were in other parts of the world (and therefor weren't just waking up).

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  21. Here from the Stirrup Queen's Friday roundup. I am also fascinated by other people's experiences that day. I live in the Toronto area, where we like to think of ourselves as the Canadian version of NYC ; ) -- and my dh & I work in one of the tallest office buildings -- him near the top -- so 9/11 hit a little too close to home for my liking. :( I wrote about it a few years back, here:

    http://theroadlesstravelledlb.blogspot.ca/2008/09/september-11-2001.html

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    1. Read it - loved it. This is the first year I'm learning about how it was for Canadians. (I love the blogosphere).

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  22. I am a West Coast native, from the Seattle area, and was two days into a week long business trip to Los Angeles on September 11th. I awoke that morning in my hotel room from crying from a dream in which a friend, who was a United Airlines pilot, had died in a plane crash. In hindsight, I'd probably heard something in my sleep when the clock radio next radio went off next to my bed. I turned the TV on after my shower, and by then the second plane had hit. I was stunned. The day was very difficult as more and more news came in. I have never felt so homesick and stuck. One of my colleagues was also in town on business and decided to rent a car and drive home to Seattle, the rest of his week cancelled. I e-mailed my brother, who works in tugboats near a Western WA Navy base, and he reported the destroyers and aircraft carrier leaving port, and fighter planes flying around periodically. It sounded like Armageddon everywhere, so much confusion and fear and pain. In the end, I was able to fly home only one day past my scheduled departure date, and was never so happy to be home with what was familiar, when nothing else about the world felt that way.

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    1. Can't imagine being a plane ride away from home when it happened. As it was I was just a few hours away and it was completely jarring and I wanted nothing to do with anything that didn't have to do with being in a room with all my loved ones.

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  23. I'm not someone who easily cries...but I found myself holding back my tears while reading this post. The events of 9/11 always have this affect on me. My story of what I was doing that day is rather dull compared to other stories. I was 22 years old and was sleeping in before starting my afternoon shift at my job. I remember my phone ringing early in the morning and being annoyed about being woken up. It was my mom, and in my grogginess, I remember her telling me something about the WTC in NY being attacked. I remember thinking something like 'big deal, let me go back to sleep. I can't believe you called me for that.' Obviously, the gravity of the situation was lost on my mid-west, naive, 22-year old self. I can't remember at what point I finally climbed out of bed and turned on the news, but I do remember I fell back asleep after my mom's phone call and took my time getting ready for work and took my time turning on the TV. But when I finally realized the severity of what was happening, I couldn't believe my eyes. And ears. A sadness overwhelmed me, just as it does to this day every time I hear or see or read something about 9/11. The rest of my day was a blur. I don't even remember going to work or what my coworkers' reactions were. But do I remember one of my roommates at the time slept in until early afternoon and how I contemplated waking him because I thought he shouldn't be sleeping so late with such horrible things happening. But I didn't wake him (mostly because I couldn't stand him and he probably would have insulted me for intruding on his sleep). And I remember not wanting to turn the television off to go to work. I desperately wanted to keep watching and listening.

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    1. Yeah, whenever I watch the specials every year there's that 20 minutes between when the first plane hit and the second one did which is almost the weirdest/worst part to watch.. Because in hindsight I'm thinking "you have 20 minutes before this becomes the worst day ever, and you realize how awful life is about to get".

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  24. I lived in Sydney, Australia at the time. I wasn't long in bed in that deep, deep sleep when I kept getting text messages from a friend in London saying things like 'I just can't believe it'. I messaged back that I had no idea what she was talking about; she messaged me back to turn on the TV. I messaged her back that it was after midnight. She said to trust her, turn on the TV. I did. Oh dear. My boyfriend was flying to the US the next day for work. I woke him up and told him his flight might not be going. I went to work, but we all just watched news online. (I developed an addition to online news that lasted for years, like I could control things by refreshing the screen.) It was my best friend's birthday and we were supposed to go out for drinks. We all went out, but everyone wound up going home without ordering. I didn't hear from my parents for a few weeks; they were visiting DC. A good friend of mine had just moved to DC and was bewildered; her office was told to go home and spend time with family and friends, and she had neither near by.

    People sometimes call this an 'attack on America'. It wasn't just Americans who died that day. This was an attack on more than that - on our global, 'western' culture. People were in shock on other continents, in other hemispheres.

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    1. Which is why I looooove hearing about how it was perceived elsewhere.

      Couldn't agree more - it was technically here but it feels like it was everywhere in 'Western' culture and that we just happen to be the big mascot for it to a lot of other cultures.

      (which is also why it drives me crazy when people say about this election, or the election in 2008 for that matter, that it doesn't matter to anyone other than Americans.. Yes, yes indeed it does).

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