We Remember

Where were you six years ago?

What were you doing when time seemed to stand still?

I remember it as clear as day, even though at the time, it felt like a horrible dream. Tuesday morning, September 11 2001 — I was sleeping over at my then boyfriend’s (now husband’s) place, a college party house that was the scene for many crazy get-togethers and good times. He had been up since dark morning, studying for a big test. His roommate was a night owl, and he’d been up all night and had heard before anyone else in the house did. The two roommates watched the early reports together, tried to wrap their minds around the unfolding scene.

I remember someone softly touching my leg to wake me up — way too early. I grumbled, then looked at my boyfriend’s shocked, scared face. He had turned on the little TV in our room. Smoke billowed from a gaping hole in a building. The reporters were tripping over themselves, narrating the awful scene. We watched people jump from the damaged tower, bodies as small as ants tumbling that horrific distance down. What? I couldn’t even grasp what I was watching. We were sitting in bed together when the second plane hit. That’s when the phone started ringing.

The first call was from our friend Jenny. She’s from Washington DC, so she was terrified for her family. She didn’t want to go to class. We told her to come over right away. That happened all morning — friends kept calling us, looking for somewhere to go, trying to assemble a collection of loved ones at a time when their families seemed so frighteningly distant. I changed clothes — couldn’t tear myself away from the news long enough to take a shower. The phone kept ringing. Throughout the morning friends came over and crowded into the tiny, dirty bedroom. At one point, I counted fifteen heads — people sat on the bed, on the ground, on the one chair there was in the room. We all stared intently at the TV. The only sounds were the television, snatches of bewildered conversation, occasional gasps, quiet weeping. Every now and then someone left the room to try calling family and friends in Washington and New York. Nobody could get through. Nobody knew what city would be hit next. I prayed. At that point, I hadn’t really PRAYED in years, unless it was a brief “God guide me” before a college test. But faith came flooding back in the shadow of my fears.

“Miami has no targets. We’re cool,” our friend Lino assured. We tried to think of where a potential local target could be, and we couldn’t think of one. But everyone was still too scared to leave. I don’t remember how the day ended — at some point, people trickled out of the room, went home to tend to their usual affairs, called the school to figure out if classes were taking place. I don’t remember the afternoon, but the morning is seared into my memory forever.

CNN’s running a viewer poll today — do you feel safer six years later? From the brief glance I just got, it appears the majority has answered no. Looking back on the assurances given in the days that followed 9/11, and the fact that Bin Laden dropped a new video to remind the world that he’s still around, hiding but not yet captured, it seems to me that our priorities shifted somewhere along the way. What say you?

Where were you six years ago, when time seemed to stand still?

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Comments

  1. I remember I was working at a temp job, it’s so vivid because at this job I had very little to do that I took the free time for all it was worth and moderated Hidden Beach’s message boards which I was moderator of at the time.

    It was there when I heard the news via the site and I was stunned it was like unbelievable. We’d left work early, and I remember just looking at the buildings in Philly which isn’t very far from NY and fearing what could happen, journeying to the subway and deciding the bus would be a better idea. Chatted with a woman at the bus stop, I believe she was from Trinidad, she asked if I were Jamacian or Hatian because I just didn’t remind her of these American girls. Wondered why that was and why we were even having such a convo in a “time like this”, yet it kinda eased things a bit.

    Got my kid, got home watched the news, remembered the coworker who trained me from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in NY (trained me at the philly location), wondered if she was in the building if she survived still don’t know to this day because that was at yet another Temp job I’d left shortly before this day. I remember being heart broken by the thought of that I remember crying over seeing the people jump to their death and I wondered how fam in NY was, did it hit any of them, a cousin lost her husband and eventually moved out of the city.

  2. I was working the overnight shift at Uhaul here in Phoenix, AZ. I worked in customer service at the time, and while I was on the phone with customers, people who worked first shift was coming in and there were small groups of people talking. It was around 6 am, and I was getting a lot of calls from New York about rental trucks, like where should they take them, and I didn’t have a clue of what was going on. A coworker told me what happened, that 2 planes hit the towers, and a plane crashed in DC. I got off and rode the bus home, but I wasn’t wearing headphones or anything to hear specifically what happened, and there wasn’t a lot of people on the bus. When I got home I watched the news and cried, I had never felt so alone in my life. It seemed kind of surreal like I was watching a movie. I felt bad for all of those people in New York that day, and I also felt vulnerable because the U.S had never been attacked like that before. All I could think of was now I knew how the citizens in other countries felt, that have received terrorist attacks. People were kind of scared here, because there are nuclear power plants located not too far from Phoenix. After 9/11, everytime I saw a plane, I found myself holding my breath until that plane was out of sight.

  3. to answer your second question bella, I believe that there is a conspiracy going on with the government that we know nothing about. I believe that the government knows where bin laden is “hiding”. I believe that the government and the media deliberately merged the war in Iraq and the hunt for bin laden. Troops were sent to look for bin laden, and then suddenly we’re in Iraq hunting down Saddam Hussein(spelling?). Then ALL the news talked about was Hussein and the war in Iraq. I believe that because the US funded bin laden years ago, that this was the deal. Bush wanted Hussein, because he was getting out of pocket, or he wanted control over that oil. He can’t just out of the blue send troops over there, too many US citizens would ask questions. So he makes a deal with bin laden. “Cause a distraction, I don’t want to know what it is but just do you.” Hence 9/11 happened. Let’s be real, Saddam was caught and hung for mass genocide and for the most part posessing “weapons of mass destruction”. But after he was executed, they didn’t find these “weapons of mass destruction”. IMO, if the government, and the media can make Saddam’s execution “valid”, then they can make us believe anything.
    However I support our troops. They are just doing what they are told to do and I have NOTHING but respect for them. I pray for them to come home safely.
    I got married, and moved to the other side of the US, and the bill collectors found me. How come Bin Laden is still “missing”.

  4. I was working in my office on 51st and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. I remember trying to go to the ladies room to put on my pantyhose and one phone call after another from family members telling us about the news. Some of us walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to light a candle from the steps of that church looking down 5th Ave you can see the burning towers. I remember seeing one of them with a gaping smoking hole and the other one already crashed into a billow of clouds and debris. I wrote more details of that day on my blog and 6 years later and I still get chills recalling the details. Some of my coworkers and I walked to Queens to meet one of the family members there to get a ride home.

  5. Bella

    I am a Harlemite and the consumate New Yorker; in fact I ride or die for the NYC. Sans aside; at the time I worked at New York University; about a mile (20 city blocks) away from ground zero. I was on my way to work; it was about 9:07 AM…I was 5 minutes late snatching breakfast at a local deli. A woman walked in terrified and said that an airplane just flew into the World Trade Center; I thought: this is one overdramatic crazy white woman.

    Turns out; she wasn’t so crazy.

    When I went upstairs to my desk job; the entire staff was watching the craziness unfold on TV. We just stared and stared at the Television as the buildings burned. Being the company’s receptionist I answered the phone and a professor that we all knew well screamed and panicked that her son worked on the Top Floor of Tower One. She tried to reach him by cell phone and couldn’t get a response. Then tower one crumbled like a house made out of straw and I was out of there. We knew that she would never see her son again. On Broadway I could see people running everywhere and traffic was at a stand still….I saw bloody faces and people screaming for their boyfriends, husbands wives and colleagues.

    I panicked trying to reach my boyfriend (now husband). He was in the Bronx at his mother’s house but I was so angry at him for not having a cell phone. I didn’t hear from him until that evening because the lines were down. The entire day seemed surreal and when we made it to our apartment we just held each other and glued our eyes to the television and watched people search for their loved ones. We even smoked a joint together to relax. The day was surreal, our heartsand minds went into shock and New Yorkers were a United Front…at least for a day.

    It was a day that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I used to shop with friends and classmates in the World Trade Center. This place was the heart of NYC and I’m deeply hurt that people have lost their lives so senselessly. I am ashamed that our government has bulit an unjust war on the backs of Americans who have lost their lives in vain due to America’s arrogance. May god bless the dead, and may truth come to light.

  6. I also remember what happened on that day 6 years ago (even though I can’t remember what I did 6 days ago!) That summer, I worked at the NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) in building #5. On some days, I had to walk over to building #2 to drop off work-related documents and then walk back to my building. I left that job in August to go off to school in AL. On that morning in September, I woke up with a headache, or rather a migraine. I knew something was wrong, but I just chalked it up to me having the headache. I went to class as usual, and after that I was walking through one of the campus’ main builidings that had TVs perched up that ususally ran CNN news coverage. This morning I decided to actually look up as I was passing to see what was showing. I stopped in my tracks to as I looked at what seemed to be the middle East under active war, but what was really my home city under seige! I saw people running in every direction, and my mind immediately ran on my sister who had recently had foot surgery, and who also worked in lower Manhattan, which is where Ground Zero is.
    I tried reaching her with no success. I just stood there glued to the TV as I watched in horror at what was happening to my city. Then I couldn’t believe my eyes when the plane went down in DC. I tried getting in touch with my dad. No luck! I remember having a very sick feeling in my stomach! Since I’m a Christian, I prayed and tried to remain calm and not to worry for the rest of the day. I eventually got in touch with my family in both states, and thank God my prayers were answered that none of my family members were hurt. May God continue to be with those affected by that tragic day!

  7. I was at a job interview in Fairfax, VA which is right next to Washington DC. I remember in the middle of the interview, the interviewer’s pager and mobile phone were going off wildly. When she opened the door, those sounds were heard all over the office. At the time all we knew was there had been some of sort plane crash in NY. I left the building trying to get home. While in the car, ALL music station interrupted to announce that a second plane had hit and it was possibly terrorism. Because traffic on the Beltway had come to a complete crawl, I was still on the road when the Pentagon was hit. I panicked then because I had friends and family including my brother in law who worked in DC. I tried to make calls but cell phone service was virtually jammed! What really brought it home for me was when I passed the Beltway exit to Washington and there were ARMED police standing there blocking the exit! I finally got home after what seemed like hours, got through to family, and like Bella mentioned people came over and we just stayed glued in front of the TV for what seemed like days watching the rest of the tragedy unfold. It was so eery outside that night because DC and surrounding MD and VA cities implemented a curfew so the highways were like a ghost town which anyone from DC Metro knows is never the case. The whole experience was absolutely surreal…it’s hard to believe 6 years have gone by.

  8. That morning I was in New York at my office on 41st and 1st Avenue; I got the call from my mom who was glued to the television at home. When she called me the first plane had hit the building and everybody thought “what the heck is wrong with this pilot”. Shortly after, while still on the phone with my mom, the second plane hit the building and that was when we knew. I immediately called my husband and could not get through, when I finally did he told me that a woman fainted in his arms when they saw the planes hit the building….he works downtown and had clear view of everything. My office was panic-stricken because our office is right next to the United Nations, so I closed the office immediately and I walked for what seemed like forever before I got to my husband’s office; the streets were filled with people….it was like a scene out of a movie. The entire city was crippled!…When we I got to him, we took the only train running; the L train to Canarsie, grabbed our children from school and sat like zombies in front of the T.V.(I am so emotional as I type this)…It’s like re-living it all over again. I feel so sad for the parents that lost children, the children that lost parents, the families that are not quite the same but are trying to make it through. I am ever so thankful to God that no one in my family was affected by the horrible tragedy…but somehow we are, aren’t we? I still can’t believe that so much time has gone by since it happend but our lives will never be the same, we will never feel the security that we once felt, we will always be looking over our shoulders for the next tragedy.

  9. 6 years ago, I was in my junior year of college. I remember hearing my suite mate saying a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Centers. I just thought it was a another horrible plan crash, but then I turned on my TV and at the very moment I watched the second plan crash into the second tower. I could not believe my eyes it was if I was watching a horrible movie. I remeber my suite mate and I saying we were being attacked by terrorists. Since we were unsure of what to do we got ready to go to our classes and on the way we heard that one of the towers had fallen. Everyone was at a lost for words at that point. Classes were cancelled once the college officials heard that a plane had turned around in the Cleveland airspace. At that point everyone either went to their dorms or to the student center to join in on the prayer vigil. I will continue to pray for those that were affected and lost friends and family on that tragic day.

  10. I was working at an office on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC. When the second plane hit the Towers the people in the office were trying to decide whether we should close the office. My son, who was two at the time, was in daycare. I called the center and asked if they were going to call parents to pick up and they said they hadn’t decided yet, but I told them that I was coming to get him. By the time the plane hit the Pentagon it was pandemonium. What would normally be a 20 or 30 minute drive took about 3 hours. I tried to remain calm and not give way to the speculations and questions about whether there were more targets. The thing that struck me about that day was that when I FINALLY got to my son’s daycare practically in tears from the angst and frustration I found the children who were still there (about 10 in all) sitting safe and sound and calmly watching a movie with the teachers and childcare providers who had stayed. I have never been more grateful or appreciative of these professionals in my life because I know they must have been just as worried and anxious to get to their loved ones but they had maintained a safe haven for our babies so that they had no sense of how much their world had changed in those moments.

  11. I walked into the gym (in L.A.) and everyone was staring the TVs. I was on the treadmill when the tower fell and I thought I woud pass out. I am a native NYer and couldn’t wrap my head around what I was seeing.

    I tried to call all my friends and family. So far so good, then I called one friend, just to check in. She was a stay at home mom and I knew her husband worked near Union Square, so I thought they would be fine. Her husband picked up the phone and said he can’t find his brother and I lost it. I knew he was dead, His brother worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. I later heard the whole story of that morning from my friend.

    I feel like since that day, everything has been kind of messed up.

  12. I remember being 13, watching the Towers fall from across the river, over in Queens. My heart broke that day for the city I love so much and it’s still broken. I hate when people ask me where I was, or if I saw them fall. It’s still painful; 9/11 has been drilled into my head and honestly, I don’t wanna hear it anymore.

  13. Oh this brings back such awful memories for me. When I was in college before I started working in makeup – I had a job as a receptionist in WTC 1 on the 31st floor at a Foreign Exchange firm. Many of the people that I worked with and was friends with died that day. I remember I was trying to no avail to get information on the computer…CNN’s website was jammed up. I kept flipping channels…I was stunned, horrified. I sat on my sofa and just cried for what seemed like forever. I pulled it together and raced over to the school to get my son. They had locked everything down because by then, the Pentagon had been hit. New York is like a second home to me…I spent much of my young makeup artist years there and It really broke my heart to see all of the madness unfold before my eyes. It is so comforting to see a new NYC emerge from all of this. I know they will never forget what happened that day – as none of us will. But it seems as though they have been through the fire and now are in a healing place. Thanks for bringing this up Bella. I think I needed it. xoxo Lianne

  14. I was in Surrey with our brother Clint & his family as Tate had only been born 2 days before. Jazz & I watched it on tv and then she ran to try & call one of her brothers who lived in NY – he worked in that area and I called Dominic/Clint in London and then we called Trinidad.

    It was scary and sad, especially seeing people leaping off buildings.

    We really do not know when our time on this earth will be up so we need to keep in regular contact with loved ones.

    May God and all higher beings keep us safe!

  15. brmhsangel1 says:

    I was a freshman in high school, It was my second class of the day, world geography. We had just started to take notes when one of the teachers from down the hall came to tell us that the World Trade Center had been hit. It didn’t really register with me how serious it really was. The whole class went across the hall to watch CNN on another teachers tv.

  16. I was getting off the bus on 5th avenue in NYC. My office was 2miles away from the WTC and I remember standing in the street staring @ the gaping holes in the buildings I’d been in and out of since I was a child.

    It was a bright beautiful Indian Summer day as I walked into my office. 2 hours later, we watched those magnificent buildings and the people in them crash down to Earth and it was the most awful thing I’ve ever seen up close and personal in my life.

    I’m crying as I write this message because after 6 years, I still can’t help but shed tears. It’s unavoidable. My heart broke for those who died and their families and my heart broke for my beloved NYC.

    It still saddens me all these years later. Rest in peace to all those who were lost and I will always Love NYC!

  17. I was running late for work in the city and had just stepped off of the train and went into the deli. The store owner ran outside and shouted look. Now we were in midtown but could see the smoke. I stayed in the deli and watched not really understanding what was going on. I ran into my office and went online and there it was, the second building getting hit. The entire office convened to the owners office to watch the news. It was surreal. I remembr the weather was beautiful, I remember going to donate blood and seeing dust and smut on people walking like zombies.. Jesus I will never forget the looks, the fear, and the weather. I also remember finally making it out of the city to my residential Bronx neighborhood and seeing people mowing their lawns and gardening and I wanted to scream. I wanted to shout and tell them what I saw and ask them how the hell they could garden. I made it home to my then 2 year old son and turned off the tv, took him outside and sat outside watching him play crying inside. My friend lost her fiance, i will never forget that day.

  18. I have been waiting for this day to end.

    Simply put, Due to a banking error that I had to immediately take care of, I was late for work.

    I worked right across the street, at the World Financial Center (aka WFC). I have told story too many times, and really do not want to get into details. But I will say this: I knew 4 people who died. Mind you, when the first set of attacks in ’93 went down, I had just left the Trade Center (WTC). I went back to work at WFC after a year and a half layoff, and I just quit working there 2 months ago. I kept having eerie feelings being in area, (along with health issues). I must have a hell of an intuition, cause last month the Dutche Bank Building burned AGAIN. (It should have been torn down 6 years ago!) To tell you the truth, I have never been on time to work since then. The “progress” of all the condominiums, new office buildings going up (all around the “renewal” area made me sick; I see it a greed, greed, greed. Thousand of people have health issues, and their putting up million dollar penthouses. I hung in as long as I could, but I had to leave, I WILL NEVER WORK LOWER MANHATTAN AREA AGAIN!!!

    Bless the all victims of WTC, Pentagon and United 93 (Pennsylvania). *bows head in silence*

  19. i was running on the midway plaisance in chicago – training for my first marathon. when i came in there was a message from my mom telling me that there was a rumor that some planes had hit some buildings in the new york but that it just sounded like to wasn’t true. i don’t think i reacted. i turned on npr where it was revealed that something terrible had happened but, you know, for a while it wasn’t at all clear what was going on. the journalists were describing what they had seen and trying to make sense of it. i kept moving through the day. i don’t have a tv. i had a hair appointment, so i rode my bike up there to check in and everyone was there. all tvs were on. and we just watched.

    i think that event more than any other ever made me feel the bubble of security and playfulness that shielded my life, as it burst. i dont’ feel safe. i feel alert, vulnerable, strong.

    but i’d rather have knowledge–be aware of the world, be cautious about my privileges and comforts than be safe, comfortable and innocent like a child.

  20. I was a junior in high school when the towers fell. I remember being late that day and when I walked into class all eyes were glued on the TV. The class was silent. My parents pulled me out of school that day and later that evening we crowded around the TV and wept. My family members who lived in the area were all safe but that didn’t lessen the pain. So many emotions flooded through me that day; terror, confusion, fear, desperation… it felt so surreal. So many people lost…

  21. I was on my way to work, catching the bus. I was in a rush and didn’t watch the news that morning, so I had no idea what an older lady on the bus was talking about when she said “It’s a shame. We can’t even be safe in this country any more.” And proceeded to talk about something involving planes and the World Trade Center. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
    When I walked into my office building, I saw people standing around, all fervently speaking to each other. I asked the security guard what was going on and that I heard something about planes. He told me about the WTC, the Pentagon, and a third plane that may have been hijacked.
    Our boss brought a TV out and kept it tuned to network news and we all had CNN.com up on our computers for any updates. I saw the second tower of the WTC fall live on TV–it was terrible knowing so many people were still inside. Over the next week, I was haunted by images of people jumping out of windows and the news playing the footage over and over again. I had some nightmares during that time. I remember being paranoid about opening mail (remember the anthrax scare?). I was in St. Louis, MO but I felt like a New Yorker that day.

  22. I had just taken over as Director – Corporate Communications BWIA and we had direct information fed to us as we buzzed around the crisis centre looking for our two aircraft that had left the ground just minutes before the first impact…we didn’t find them immediately and rumours were hard to seperate from fact…the second one hit while we were still looking for one of ours – they were between the ground communication and the next signal range…that was a long few minutes.

  23. I was in my apartment in the south suburbs of Chicago, finishing up my yoga tape and about to start work (I was working from home then). My father called from Ohio to tell me about the cruise he and my mother had just returned from (remember how hard it was to get back into the country those first few days afterwards?). Normally I would have turned my TV off after yoga but I kept it on and had it on mute while I listened to him.
    Then I saw a picture of a high-rise on fire and as I saw the distress on the anchors’ faces I asked my dad if he had his TV on. He didn’t, so he turned his on, and at about the time we’d figured out that a plane had hit one of the towers, we saw the second plane hit the other tower. Up until that point I’d thought it was a horrible accident, a terrific mistake…but when I saw the second tower get hit I knew immediately that we were under attack. And then shortly after that the Pentagon…my dad and I started flipping through news channels trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. Thankfully I was able to reach my NYC friend by that afternoon; she’d been in Midtown when it all went down. But for literally the next 36 hours I was glued to the TV. I only turned it off when I grew too physically ill to watch any more.
    Ironically, I was working as a contractor at United Airlines at the time, and once 9/11 happened, all non-critical contracts were canceled, including mine. So, um, Osama? Where’s my MONEY, motherf***er???

  24. In case anyone’s offended by my previous post…I don’t mean to offend. Of course this was a terrible tragedy that affected all of us deeply and profoundly. I was just mentioning one of the many ways it affected me (loss of income).

  25. Not trying to offend you but I think that the comment was uncalled for. You lost income, but people lost lives and family members. If I was you I would have ommitted that part because it was insensitive.

    But as for me, I remember that day clearly. I was 18, and was due to start college a week after the attacks. I live in Chicago and was working at Marshalls. I remember a couple of people talking about bombs and terrorism. But I thought they was talking about something oversees so ignorantly I blew it off. My mom actually called me at work and asked me if I heard about the attacks. Ironically 9/11 is mother’s birthday. She orginally said that they had bombed the buildings in New York and that they were on their way to chicago and LA, because thats what she heard before she actually had the correct news. I immediately was ready to leave work. The whole mall and all the businesses too around chicago so it took me 2 hours to get home where as it would usually take only 20 minutes. When I got home my mom, dad and I laid in the bed and watched CNN the whole day. I remember thinking oh my God…I don’t feel safe. I didnt want to start school because my college was downtown Chicago near the Sears Tower and I was thinking it was next. It broke my heart watching the city full of smoke and the fact that people actually had to go thru that. All I could do is imagine my city going thru that. May all the people who lost their lives on 9/11 rest in peace.

  26. Its always sad to think about that day. I hope we don’t have to go through that Again. let hope and pray!

  27. okay i know im sooo late on the comeup but 9/11 is actually around the corner now since its august now.

    but damn i know im hella young compared to some ppl but i was in fourth grade when it happened. now im gonna be a sophmore in high school. but yeah i remember my mom woke me up hecka early, like an hour earlier than i usually wake up. i keep thinking it was at 5 o clock but thats probally wrong but anyways she woke me n my sister up n we went downstairs and she had it on like CNN. i remember it didtnt even register in my mind what was actually happening. like when ppl were jumping out of the buildings me n my sister were laughing. now i feel so stupid and ignorant for doing that. but after watching that we didnt do nothing in school that day just watch CNN. i only actually hit me when i was in eighth grade and we had to watch a documentary on it and some kids were laughing or just didnt care. but i was crying, it actually made me feel patriotic, how much you truly care for this country despite all the corruption in it. sorry for writing so much or for offending any body. my heart goes out to the family and friends who lost anybody.

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