Friday, September 11, 2009

Where Were You?

Black Tuesday-Crash of the Stock Market October 29th , 1929

Pearl Harbor-December 7th , 1941

The day JFK was assassinated- November 22nd, 1963

Man first walked on the moon-June 20th 1969

The day the space shuttle blew up minutes following launch-January 28th , 1986

Every generation of Americans has experienced events that were so important, so traumatic, that almost all of us, young and old, can when remember them. These memories take us to specific moments and specific places where we were when we heard the news. Just mentioning the date or event evokes vivid memories.

It goes without saying, September 11, 2001 is one of those dates.

I remember…

It was the very first day, of their very first year of preschool for both of my kids. I was awakened by the ringing phone, it was my husband. I hear stress in his voice as he tells me, “Turn on the TV, two planes have crashed into the World Trade Center in New York!”

I can still picture the light in the living room as I rapidly descended the stairs and dashed towards the T.V.


There on the screen were the two burning buildings.

“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh Brian, how are they going to help all of those people?”

We talked over some of the rescue scenarios. I imagined people leaving the buildings and pictured firefighters walking up endless stairways. Prayer, I started praying for everyone involved.

I stood and stared at the screen for minutes, when suddenly I realized my alarm was going off upstairs. It was time to get the kids up.

Scout was 4 ½ and the princess was just shy of 3, they were so excited about their first day of school. I had always imagined that their first day of school would be traumatic for me…little did I know just how traumatic it would become.

“Mommy has to keep a warm and positive attitude so her preschoolers will remain calm and positive,” I kept reminding myself, “Don’t let them see you upset.”

It was torture, but I kept the TV off, I needed to preserve the innocence of these little children.

Soon another call came from Brian as he drove home from the fire station, “Julie, a plane just hit the Pentagon!”

The realization came upon me that evil was at work in our country. My mind started swirling. We are less than a mile from a military base, was it possible that the chaos of the morning could come to my own neighborhood? I dropped to my knees in prayer.

As we all know, the horror increased beyond belief. Call after call came from Brian as he drove towards his family. “South Tower collapsed…North Tower collapsed.”

My mind went to the scene…the people in the building…the firefighters. Did the people of the WTC get out alive? At the very least the firefighters would be dead. How many? Hundreds? I pictured the crushed fire trucks…

Be calm, be calm. Do not upset the kids.

Brian came home in time to get the kids off to their first day of school. We put on a happy face and ushered them into their classes. There was no joy in the moment and very little of the kind of anxiety I had pictured for that special day.

There was no time to talk with Brian, I was off to my first day of Bible Study Fellowship.

Rushing into the sanctuary, I found my friend. The music started and I felt the emotions of the morning starting to come to the surface.

The leader started talking about what was happening in our country and I lost it. I began sobbing. As I rushed out of the church, many eyes were on me…they were dry.

I don’t think that, at that moment, people on the west coast had begun to figure out that this would be one of the worst days of their lives…that this would be a day they would never forget.

If you are up to it, I am very interested to hear where you were on that fateful day…

September 11, 2001.


Tricia Nugen said...

I was on my way to LDR with a patient who called me that morning in Labor. I arrived with her just as the first tower was being struck. She was pushing at the time the second tower was hit. Every year after that until I changed jobs she always sent me a thank you. It was so strange watching a life come into the world as so many uncertainties were taking place. Thank you for sharing Julie!

Stephanie said...

I was in high school and supposed to be in government class instead of roaming the halls. A friend came in late and told me a plane had hit the twin towers. I ran back to class to tell the teacher he had to turn the TV on. To which he told me to sit down and stop interrupting, but I persisted and he finally did. It was just in time to see the second plane fly into the towers. I remember being horrified. I remember being scared. I remember watching people jump from the building and realizing how many people were going to die. Then the disaster at the pentagon. Too close to home (we lived in VA). We were also 10 minutes from a military base. I remember knowing that those moments changed our lives forever. And I was more right than I had ever believed. It is definitely a day that I will never forget. The images I will never forget. The stories...And finding out that we aren't invincible like we all thought we were.

Mighty M said...

I was at home getting ready for an early day at work. Right before I turned the news off a small blip came on about a small plane hitting the WTC. I didn't think too much of it and went to work. I think by the time I got there the world had exploded, it was shocking and horrifying to watch event unfold, mostly online. We did not get any work done that day and most of us left early. And I felt very strange about anyone who was just going about their work day normally.

Beth E. said...

I was at work at the church. My husband called to tell me the news. We began to receive numerous phone calls from people. There are no TV's where I work, so I went to the parsonage, next door, to watch on TV. We opened the doors of the church to the community. By noon, the sanctuary was full of people praying and crying out to God.

The memory of it all brings great pain to my heart. I cannot imagine what it's like for those who lost loved ones.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

I was at work with an exercise lab full of very anxious patients. We were passing out nitro like it was candy. Wow, what a day. We all maintained professional attitudes until we sent all the patients home, then we collapsed in a heap of tears, losing all professional demeanor and just being God's broken people.

April said...

We were living in Madison, AL. I had just hopped off the treadmill when the phone rang. It was Chris asking me if I was watching the news and I said, "No". He told me to turn it on immediately because he'd just heard something on the radio about an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center. So, I turned on the news and I just stood there in complete shock at what I was seeing. Tears rolled down my face as I listened and watched. The most tragic event I've ever witnessed. It's a day I will NEVER forget.

Foursons said...

So well written Julie. I just relived the day in your shoes.

I was at home 8 months pregnant with Jakob. My husband walked in the house and told me to turn the TV on. I watched the 2nd tower collapse in real time. Within the next couple of days I was terrified that I was bringing a baby into this world. I now have had 2 babies born while our country was at war and they have never known what it means to live during a peace time.

Morgan said...

This day is full of emotion for so many people.

Like you, I found out about the attack from a phone call from my husband. He told me to turn on the tv because a plane just crashed into the world trade center.

I remember watching it all play out, so very very very sad. And then I had to go to work. At a daycare. Where our directors allowed us to listen to the news report for a while, but then turned it off. So as I worked there with little children, I found myself sick inside, wondering what was happening now.

I remember the scared feeling inside as I we were all unsure whether the attacks were over, or whether there were more to come.

Then there was the gas gauging and people at work describing the outrageous prices to fill up and how many cars were lining up.

And that next day, when the whole sky was absent of airplanes, something that I had never witnessed my entire life before then.

As the daughter of a firefighter, and the future wife of one as well, hearing about all the lost firefighters and police made me feel sick.

Now, 8 years later, I find out that my 6 year old knows about 9-11. He can talk about it so calmly and tell me details about the event without emotion. For him, the meaning is simply a date and facts. For those of us that lived it, though, it will always be so much more than remembering a date. It will be the day that not only a tragedy occurred in our country, but also the date the United States of America was forever changed.

Valerie said...

Beautifully written, Julie.

I had just started teaching in a new school district. Earlier that morning, one of my 3rd graders told me, "Mrs. K, an airplane crashed into a really tall building in New York." I remember responding flippantly, "that's terrible, dear, now please get out your math workbook," clarely having no idea the magnitude behind the words she spoke.

My building principal was very strict about computer usage during direct instruction time; unless it was your "plan" time, you were not to be on the computer, so I had no idea what was going on in the world.

Suddenly, the principal came on the intercom, interrupting math class, instructing all teachers to check their email immediately as an urgernt email had been sent out from the superintendent.

What I read gave me chills; this was the "plane crash" that my 3RD GRADER had seen on television that morning. We were instructed to remain calm, not speak to the children about what was happening, and operate under a code red (a complete school lockdown, but without hunkering down under desks, in coatrooms, etc.). I returned to the math lesson at hand with shaking hands.

As time began to slow, we were again prompted to check our email. Savvy students began to inquire why we were being told to check our email; now a plane had hit the pentagon.

As the morning wore own and yet antoher plane crashed in the fields of Pennsylvania, parents began showing up to school to withdraw their children. While the majority of parents left their children in our care (local media advised that schools were actually one of the safer places to leave your children), I can't, for the life of me, remember anything past that morning's math class. I'm not sure what I taught that day, but I know that I did not speak of what was happening in our country. That was a discussion best left up to parents.

Was this how the teachers felt on Dec. 7th (Pearl Harbor Day)? Panicked, anxious, fearful? While not yet a mother, my maternal instincts immediately kicked in...I was responsible for these 18 little people in my care.

At dismissal, we were told to instruct students to go straight home; no dilly-dallying; no detours to a friend's house. I think this was when our students began to question what in the world was going on.

Little did they know their world (and ours) would never be the same.

E @ Scottsville said...

I was awakened by a phone call from my sister. "Erica, are you seeing this?" I had no clue what she was talking about, so I rushed to my TV in time to see the tower/or maybe both on fire. Then shortly thereafter the Pentagon was hit, and at that point, I ran and woke Jason who had worked all night, but I knew he wouldn't want to sleep through such an event. We homeschooled, so all of my kids were at home and we were all glued to the tv. I told them to sit with me and watch. I told them this would be a memory that would not be forgotten.

I remember we were signing final papers to close on our house that day, and we had to drive all the way to SanAntonio. I remember my eyes tracing the skies watching the planes that were still in the air, yet to be grounded. I remember the fear that was in me. I honestly believed that day that I would never look at the skies in the same way again, never get over that fear.

I remember it well.

Lesli said...

I was in Nursing school at the time and I was in a patients room when word was spreading about what was happening. We (the patient and I) turned the T.V on and continued to watch everything unfold. We actually saw the second plane crash into to the towers. It was a day I will never forget, our nursing instructor let us go home early because some of us had children in school and there were some parents who actually went and picked their kids up early.

My son was eight years old at the time and what really hit home was that he was actually in N.Y on vacation with his grandparents exactly one month before this happened. He actually ate at the top of the Trade Center. All I kept thinking was that could of been him...It was a sad day, and still is, I still am an emotional wreck watching anything that has to do with the 9-11.

Not to make light (at all) of the situation, I explained everything to my son and as everything progressed and they were looking for Bin Laden, my son said." Mom, I saw Bin Laden in New York when I was there", you did, where at? "He was driving a Taxi and had a towel wrapped around his head" at least children can still put a smile on your face when you don't feel like smiling!!

Jen said...

I was in nursing school and really didn't understand that whole thing. It wouldn't be until years later when the seriousness of that day would effect me.

AtYourCervix said...

I was a new RN in L&D. I was in a fetal monitoring class, off site from my hospital. Someone came in our room, and announced that a jumbo jet just crashed into one of the towers. The instructors tried to keep going with the lesson on fetal monitoring. The students, however, couldn't concentrate. We asked if we could stop, and go see a TV to find out what was going on. We all went and hovered around a TV that barely got the local channel (no cable!), so all we could see was fuzzy images of the planes hitting the towers. "Many casualties" was what they announced. "what does that mean?" we asked. It was such a state of denial. Yes, healthcare workers were in denial that people were dying before our very eyes.

I tried to call my aunt - she sometimes works in the Towers - couldn't get through to her. I was able to get through to my other aunt locally. She hadn't heard from her sister (my aunt who works at the Towers sometimes), nor had she heard from my other aunt in D.C. It was panic. All of us students in class called it a day, and left. I remember driving home, trying to get ahold of my (then) husband on the phone. He was working at another hospital. When I did get ahold of him, he acted like it was no big deal. (Insensitive jerk!). I drove home. The kids were sent home early from school. I watched in living color, with horror, as the crashes were replayed over and over on TV. My oldest daughter thought it was France that was bombing us....she was terrified. I ended up turning the TV off and sitting down with my kids (they were 11 and 9 yrs old) and talking to them about what was going on. They were worried that our house would be next. I tried to reassure them that the bad people weren't interested in bombing a small town like where we live, and we were safe. I contemplated packing them up in our minivan and hiding. But where could we hide?

For days afterward, I stared at the sky in amazement - we lived under a major flight path - NO PLANES. None. It was so eerie.

To this day, I still flashback on those planes, when I see planes in the sky. I cannot help it. I imagine them blowing up midair.

As for flying post 9/11? I've done it twice. Psychologically, I prepare to die on each flight. Always it my turn next?

Shanna said...

I was in my 8th grade history class. Such as sad day!

christy rose said...

I was home by myself. I had just put my kids in school. I homeschooled up until this time. Their school did not start until after Labor Day that year. So they had only been in school for one week. I did not even have the tv on. My husband called from work and told me to turn it on. So I did. I watched the second plane fly into the towers. It was awful. I had Bible Study that day. I went. Everyone was so serene, not really knowing what in the world was going on. I won't ever forget how everyone acted as we went out to lunch either.

Orah said...

Exactly what my post is about today...

Karlee said...

I was having a coffee and watching my 2 year old son play w/ his Thomas Trains. I had the morning news on, which I never did. I went to get more coffee and came back to see smoke billowing out of the tower. I thought, did my son change the channel, what movie is this? Then I heard Katie Couric's voice and I thought, oh my, this is real. What a terrible, frightening day. We will never forget.

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

I was sitting on the couch alone holding my 2 week old baby watching the morning news as usual. She was exactly 2 weeks old. I was at my parent's house, R had gone out of town. I remembered watching the 2nd tower get hit. I took me a bit to realize what was happening. I remember I was watching NBC w/ Katie & Matt.

Hug Firehubby & tell him thank you for what he does from me.

Rick said...

That is a day I will never forget. I stood in the day room of Fire Station 2 surrounded by my brothers. I have NEVER heard a fire station that quiet. The array of emotions was crazy. I was confused, shocked, pissed, and scared. I didn't know who or where was next. I didn't know whether to run, hide, fight or just sit down and cry. I think before the day had ended .... I had done all four.

-stephanie- said...

An awful day for sure that we will never forget.

I had off work that day and was just waking up, when my MIL called me and told me to turn the TV on. At first we thought it was just a terrible plane crash that happened. No talk about terrorists at all. I hung up with her and called my friend that I worked with. We watched it all unfold on TV together over the phone. Then we both saw the 2nd plane crash in to the 2nd tower, and heard of the other planes crashing. We were just shocked. Who knows how long we sat on the phone just watching the TV but saying nothing.
My husband was working out of state, so I finally got a hold of him. He was unable to get a flight back so he rented a car and drove back home. About a 12 hour drive.
We sat glued to the TV and just watched over and over, this horrible tragedy.
Our hearts just broke over all the senseless deaths and injuries. God bless America.

He & Me + 3 said...

I was at home with Actress. It is my Father's Birthday. Agent called to tell me about it I turned the TV on just in time to see the second plane hit. I knew this was not good. I clenched my belly, Model was inside & began to pray. I too was frightened. Shaken to the core. I sat glued to the TV the rest of the day.

blueviolet said...

I remember it was just another morning as I watched the Today show and then it unfolded right before my eyes. I watched all day long in disbelief and sorrow. I'll never forget any of it but I was never more proud to be an American.

Laura said...

I was a freshman in college. I remember that 9/11/2001 was a Tuesday, because it was the one day of the week that semester I didn't have an early morning class. Since I was able to sleep in that morning, I was just getting out of the shower when I heard CNN on in the dorm room next to mine. Wondering what was up, I turned on my TV as well, shortly after the second tower fell. I spent the rest of the day watching glued to CNN, freaking out and trying to explain what was going on to my Malaysian roommate.

Cheryl said...

I posted a post like this today, if you have a minute you could check it out. :) I read your blog OFTEN and I never comment. Thank you for having such great stuff to read!

Helene said...

I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I learned the space shuttle had exploded. I even remember where I was when I heard that Princess Diana was killed in a car accident.

On 9/11, I heard about it on the news as I was getting ready for work. I had to be at a meeting and I was carpooling with other co-workers and we listened to the radio but at some point we stopped so we could pray.

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grandma mac said...

I remember the morning, vividly...I woke my 17 year old and told him, get up, you have to watch, we have been attacked. Scott had already left for work, I feared for him, but not as much as I feared for our country at that moment. Bryan, jumped up...ok....slowly...he was 17....then all our lives changed...watching the images on the screen, so surreal, yet it was happening, moment to moment...thats how we live our lives now...moment to moment.....

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

I was at home~Ashley was only a few weeks old and my mom and grandmother were here visiting. Mark's cousin called us and told us what was going on and we turned on the tv. The first tower had been hit already and we sat in stunned silence as the rest of the horror unfolded before our eyes. Mark went on in to the office although no one there got anything done. Mom and Grandmother's flights were of course cancelled and they were with me an additional 5 days. I just remember holding my new baby wondering what kind of world we had brought her into.

Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing this.

I think this is our generation's Pearl Harbor... the shock of a generation as they are attacked on US soil.

For the first time ever, I simply stayed home without even calling in to work. I figured they knew what was up - and I had family friends on the block of the towers.

I sat in tears and shock watching the first, then the second tower go down on live television.

I watched as the reports streamed in about the Pentagon and about the field in Pennsylvania.

I wondered how much longer it would go on... how many more attacks were happening.

And I was never more proud of being an American. To watch firefighters rush to save lives, to see citizens opening their arms, to see heroes go to war to stop this from happening to another country.

I still have goosebumps...

Heart2Heart said...


Just wanted to stop by and say thank you so much for stopping by today for a visit and leaving me such a heartfelt comment. I came by to say thank you and to invite you back as part of my family to follow me as well.

That day I was working as a Training Supervisor for AT&T Wireless communications at our call center. Since our New Jersey office was closing we were handling the overflow of the calls. I will never forget the tears of sadness from our representatives who had to answer calls from our customers in NY who were trying to find their relatives and know if they were ok or not.

I didn't last through the day, we closed early because there wasn't much more we could do since most businesses were closing all around us. All I remember is driving home past Ontario airport and seeing it silent. No planes coming in or out.

Hope to see you soon! I'll be back for sure since now I am following you!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Lori said...

I'm a little late. My wireless was down and haven't been able to log on.

We were at home getting ready for work when I saw the news. Kyle was very young so he wasn't aware of what was happening, but my husband and I were in complete shock. Neither of us went to work that day, we stayed home and tried to make sense of it all. So many lives lost. My heart breaks to this day.