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Terabith

My cousin's remembrances from a couple days after September 11

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My cousin is a firefighter in New Jersey.  Actually, I think now he is a chief.  He and I disagree on a lot of things, but he really is a hero.  This is what he wrote three years ago about remembrances from a couple days after.

My sister Allison told me to write this down 15 years ago. I never did. Today this is what i remember. Forgive me for the length.

It started as an effort to help. Reports were that water,batteries, socks, and so many other items were needed at ground zero. It was the morning of 9/13/01, I thought the numbness was wearing off. A few of the Hillsdale fire dept guys decide to take a collection and load up a truck and drive the items into the city.

John Stepe Joshua Turi Tony Maalouf and myself loaded up and headed in.we threw our gear in the truck with hopes of being able to help but expecting to be turned away. As we headed down the Henry Hudson and eventually the west side highway, smoke still filling the downtown air in front of us, we reached a series of checkpoints. the positions were manned with a combination of NYPD, military and federal officers. At the first stop we identified what we were here for and that we were firefighters. they waved us through and said keep going.This continued through a few more checkpoints. Once we got to i think it was 14 st. there was a collection point for the items we brought down. We would not be able to drive any further, but they were loading rescue workers on a bus that was to bring us down to the site.

We parked Tony's truck and put our gear on. This usually outspoken group was quite reserved at the moment,yet still busting each others balls. We worked our way over to a bus being loaded, about a 10 minute ride not much conversation, just the creaks and noise from the bus and the bus drivers radio. There were a few other people on the bus with us, some looked fresh others not so much. We stop short of the site and are told to hop on a small boat, that will bring us around to the marina. Again the 12-15 or so people we are with move from one place to another. The four of us have loosened up a bit at this point and for those that know us there was the usual banter probably masking the nervous energy. I think Josh asked Tony if this was the boat he captained on fantasy island and i made a comment about how Tony and Johnny were umpa loompas and should start rowing like we were in Willie Wonka's chocolate factory.

Again about 5-10 minutes and we were docking in the marina, behind The world financial building I believe that is called north cove marina. As we were getting off it still seemed pretty normal, there was a lot of paper and debris on the ground, but the smoke wasn't bad and the buildings immediately surrounding us were not damaged. as we walked along the walk way over towards South End ave and West Street it all changed. Literally as we turned the corner we were met with a scene even Hollywood could not dream up. You've seen the photos, heard descriptions,but much like becoming a parent for the first time, until you experience it it is hard to comprehend. The magnitude of damage and destruction was incredibly hard to grasp even to this day. As someone who was familiar with that part of the city, it was unrecognizable; I could not get my bearings. There was a giant hole in the sky where two of the largest buildings ever built used to be.

The pile was large probably stood as high as 10-12 stories in some places, the twisted wreckage of steel and concrete was being tended to by what looked like an army of ants climbing on the pile. There were a thousand or more men and women working together, heavy equipment, cranes, loaders, etc..Where as 10 minutes ago we were on the quiet bus and boat, it was now so loud you could barely think. One of us asked a few FDNY guys where we should go and where to start, that we had fresh men and wanted to help. They were sitting sipping some water, looking exhausted one of them simply tipped his bottle towards the pile and said "there you go start digging". So we did, we took up a spot in a line of people passing buckets; full ones to the back to get dumped, empties back to the front to get filled. behind us bucket loaders were scooping up the piles being made and filling dump trucks and roll-offs with the materials to be taken to the landfills and sifted for remains.

About 30 minutes into this there was a announcement over a bullhorn for everyone to keep quiet. All the machines were shut down and this bustling noisy environment became as quiet as a church. probes and listening devices were being used to see if people were trapped in voids and maybe banging on the steel. After a few minutes an air horn blew and it was back to work the entire site picking up where it left off .

The day continued like this for several hours, at some point Josh sustained a pretty bad cut to his arm. He went to have it cleaned up and they wanted to send him to the hospital to get it stitched, he said no way tape it up and i'll deal with it later. We eventually moved to the north side of the site, through the world financial building. The atrium was a makeshift morgue with bodies and remains lined up with sheets covering them. By this point it looked as if the morale of most everyone you saw was waning or gone completely. Survivors were not being found, bodies were not being recovered.The remains of people that were being found were the result of severe trauma.

It was now late in the afternoon, we had somehow managed to get some respirators and some water. my throat was sore from the dust and smoke, it would stay that way for several days, My lungs felt like they were filled with insulation as it burned and itched to breath. This too lasted a while. we managed to get some time fighting a pocket of fire, picking at the rubble trying to peel away debris so water could be put on it. My memory wanes a little as the hours wore on. We looked for a place to rest for a short time. there was a building nearby whose windows had been blown out, we set up in a cubicle, i think it was a bank. I remember being near the pedestrian bridge as it was getting dark and everyone being pulled back because there was a fear of secondary collapse. At some point a FDNY chaplain walked up to me and put his hand on my shoulder, and looked in my eyes.this lasted about 10 seconds He didn't say anything just gave me a brief nod and moved on. We both knew there was nothing that could be said.

The four of us had an unrelenting need to go help when setting out that morning, by this time in the day we felt helpless, that no matter what we did it would not be enough. As the darkness grew a decision to leave was made. we had spent more than 12+ hours on the pile. We began the trek back to Tony's truck no boat this time, just a bus that took us to about 4th st. we would walk the rest of the way. the West side highway was lined with people holding signs, thanking us, and calling us hero's. After that experience I could never accept that term being used on me. This group of Timber,Turi, Maalouf and Bates, usually never being short of a comment or comeback didn't say a word the entire ride home.We went and had a meal together at Bourbon street, The manager, noticing something was off asked what was up with us.One of us told her where we had been, she made us a table in the closed section and fed us, she didn't ask for a dime. She thanked us and let us be.

On Saturday I had the opportunity to go back to ground zero as part of the NY Giants contingency. At the time I worked for the broadcast division of the team.We were there to document the team visiting and helping. It was to be a morale lifter for the people working at ground zero. A certain player that now spends his mornings on TV had some choice words for us; to the effect of our camera's and coverage were disrespectful. Little did he know. The scene had changed significantly in 48 hours, it was more organized, it was cleaner, a lot of work had been done, but the smell that permeated the air was strong, I saw the same things occur, the boat ride over was light and everyone's spirits were up.The ride back was anything but that.

Today is 9/11/16 15 yrs later.

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Thank your cousin for me. I cannot imagine what that must have been like. 

 

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Anyone want to share their memories of that day?  I was in Denver, working at a preschool, and we were all trying to find out what was going on while keeping the children from finding out.  I mostly remember a couple days afterwards, the kids painting towers and airplanes over and over.  

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Just now, Quill said:

Thank your cousin for me. I cannot imagine what that must have been like. 

 

Me either, honestly.  

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1 hour ago, Terabith said:

Anyone want to share their memories of that day?  I was in Denver, working at a preschool, and we were all trying to find out what was going on while keeping the children from finding out.  I mostly remember a couple days afterwards, the kids painting towers and airplanes over and over.  

I was getting ready to go to work in the Houston Med Center. A friend called and told me that a plane had hit the WTC. For whatever reason, in my head I pictured a small prop type plane. I couldn't fathom it would be anything else. Then I flipped on the TV and saw, within what felt like minutes, the second plane hit. It was horrifying. I remember lots of phone calls after that. They shut down our office building in the Med Center, We felt so far from it on one hand, but then there was all of this worry that Houston, with the petro chem industry would be a target, and that the Houston Med Center would be a target- so the powers that be shut it down, shut down downtown iirc. so work was cancelled (as far as office workers). I mean, the one thing I have never been able to convey to my oldest is that feeling that NO ONE knew what was going on. I mean, we really didn't, except that we were obviously under attack from the moment that second plane hit, became pretty clear. 

Of course then the other planes went down- and it was this slow motion day of horror, that happened so fast, but felt like the second were ticking by at one point. And no one knew if there would be more, or where, how or what. Then the planes stopped flying. I remember how vastly quiet it was when they shut down all of the air traffic. We lived in a suburb of Houston- between two airports, and there were ALWAYS planes overheard. Suddenly, it was dead silent. Except then for the fighter jets launching from a nearby Ellington Airfield. And you knew this wasn't for show. One after another..........we stood outside and watched. I remember seeing a what I think were Blackhawks, and how intimidating those things are when they fly over your house, and you see the guns...... but I was so GLAD they were there that day. It was the prettiest day too- crisp and cool and so clear. Unusual here in September. But I very much remember all of the fighter jets in the sky and nothing else. Just silence. it was really surreal. We sat glued to the TV for what felt like days. Our neighborhood had a candlelight vigil that night. I do remember that. And the flags coming out in full force on every corner. The rest of my memories are snippets. I have the look of GWB's face, reading that storybook and then being whispered to by Andy Card, and how his face shifted, ever emblazoned in my head. Watching the towers burn. Seeing the people jump. Then seeing the towers fall. And that memory, and feeling of over and over of not knowing what was going on and how much uncertainty there was.....not having a clue, and how helpless we all felt. And then how angry. And the footage, over and over and over again on the news. But not being able to turn it off- and just wanting answers, and hoping they would blow the people responsible off the face of the earth. 

I remember sleeping with the TV on for days. I was afraid to turn it off- not knowing what would happen next. And everyone was just.........numb. And that was all the way down here- I can't even imagine what it was like being in a closer proximity. Anyway, those are my jumbled, not important person memories. I can't believe it's been 18 years. Never forget. 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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1 hour ago, Terabith said:

Anyone want to share their memories of that day?  I was in Denver, working at a preschool, and we were all trying to find out what was going on while keeping the children from finding out.  I mostly remember a couple days afterwards, the kids painting towers and airplanes over and over.  

 

I was in LA.  It was not even 7am when the first tower was hit.  I watched the news until it was time to go to work.  None of us knew what to do, go to work, not go to work, it was very confusing.  All day in our shared office we kept the TV on.  I was working as a grant funded (thought the school district) counselor, so I didn't have to see kids all day.  

By the time I left work at 3pm, the streets in LA were lined with military with machine guns, sent to protect the city as we worried we would be a target.   Several friends reported their family members stranded due to planes being grounded.  

The military with guns gave me some PTSD and I had to talk my way through it to deal.  In Africa, when the military lined the streets with machine guns it was due to a coup, and it was not safe.  I had to tell myself this was America and it wasn't  like that, but I really had a difficult time driving past them (you don't dare do that in most of Africa!)

I was worried about my own kids, they were in daycare and I was worried they wouldn't be safe.  For days I worried.  

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24 minutes ago, DawnM said:

 

I was in LA.  It was not even 7am when the first tower was hit.  I watched the news until it was time to go to work.  None of us knew what to do, go to work, not go to work, it was very confusing.  All day in our shared office we kept the TV on.  I was working as a grant funded (thought the school district) counselor, so I didn't have to see kids all day.  

By the time I left work at 3pm, the streets in LA were lined with military with machine guns, sent to protect the city as we worried we would be a target.   Several friends reported their family members stranded due to planes being grounded.  

The military with guns gave me some PTSD and I had to talk my way through it to deal.  In Africa, when the military lined the streets with machine guns it was due to a coup, and it was not safe.  I had to tell myself this was America and it wasn't  like that, but I really had a difficult time driving past them (you don't dare do that in most of Africa!)

I was worried about my own kids, they were in daycare and I was worried they wouldn't be safe.  For days I worried.  

 

I was in Washington state, working for Boeing.

It was 5:46a and I was drowsily awake, listening to my favorite radio personality talk about what a boring day it was.

(KIrby Wilbur later said he would NEVER complain about a boring news day again).  Then the plane hit and, yes, the assumption at first was it was a smaller plane. The last time a plane had hit a building had been this many years ago.... and then the second plane hit and everyone knew it was not an accident. We were under attack. I jumped out of bed and ran to my TV to start recording (I had VHS tapes and a recorder on it) and called a friend to let him know to WAKE up America was under attack.

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Shared this on Facebook this morning.

The boys had gone to school, having just started at their new elementary the week before. I was puttering around the house, watching TV and attending to my one-year-old. I saw the news report of the first plane. Everyone was saddened and concerned but had no idea it was intentional. 

After the second plane hit, I felt I needed to get out of the house. I chose to take Mary to the library; I think I was seeking people to connect with, and felt that panic of maybe not being able to go anywhere for a while. Maybe I knew this was going to bring a change, a huge change, an irreversible change, to my life--to my country's life--to my world's life, and I just wanted one more moment of normal. "I'll just go to the library. I'll just get Mary a book." 
While I was there, the Pentagon was hit. I saw the report on the TV by the check out counter. I knew "normal" was gone, and I had to get home with Mary. We lived only 20 minutes from the Pentagon.

That day, I waited and wondered and prayed and cried. Honestly, I was afraid. We had just moved from Dallas to start a new life in Virginia, a life that seemed so full of promise and good things. I was worried and shocked, and thinking What have we done, coming here, so close to such terrible violence? Where have I brought my children? 

I watched the news all day, til I went to meet the boys; I remember them walking out of the woods from the bus stop near the church, and greeting them, knowing I would have to share terrible news in a way that wouldn't frighten my 9 and newly-12 year olds. 

9-11, for me, was less about Radical Islam, world conflict, or nationalism. It was a trauma on a grand scale, but for me, was about as personal as it gets, because I felt it as a mother, and just, as a person. It shook my sense of safety, safety I had not even thought about in Dallas, really. All of the sudden, I realized I had brought my children to a place that felt unsafe. 

The next year we had a sniper going around the DMV area, we had to call the police on an intruder at the rectory, and my kids reacted to the stress of moving to Virginia and feeling unsafe. All the lovely, big houses, great jobs, new furniture, good schools, and "opportunity" in the world can't make up for the destruction of one's basic sense of security. When those towers fell, that building crumbled, that plane exploded in Pennsylvania, something started in my family that we still deal with.There are tears in my eyes even as I write this. 

Trauma caused by hate-filled human action and misguided theology impacts us all, right down to the mom watching TV on an ordinary Tuesday in September.  As I honor this anniversary, I know there is healing to be had for all, but to remember and grieve is to open one's self to that healing. 

May God be with the world today.

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My two 8th graders brought home homework for ME this week. Their social studies teacher asked parents who were willing to write down their memories of what we were doing on that day and how we felt. The other request was for us to share anything that we think it's important for our children to know; hence, my final paragraph. Students who want to can read their parents' memories to the class, so I wrote it with middle school listeners in mind. What I wrote does not represent the totality of my feelings, because they were too great and complex to express, even now, so many years later.

 

September 11, 2001, was a bright, clear, beautiful fall day. I didn’t need to be at work at the library until after lunch, so I decided to spend the morning painting the decorative doors that separated my kitchen from the dining room. Just before 9 am, as I stood with a wet paintbrush in hand, my husband called me from work to tell me to turn on the TV, because one of the World Trade Center Towers had been hit by an airplane. When I turned to the Today Show, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer were positioned at their news desk, in front of a big window that looked out over the New York skyline. The Twin Towers were visible in the distance, and I could see plumes of smoke streaming from one of the towers. A few minutes later, as I watched in disbelief, I saw a second plane fly right into the other tower. It was hard to process what my eyes were seeing. The towers did not fall immediately, but smoke continued to billow out of both of them. Suddenly the world realized that America was under attack; this was not merely an unfortunate accident. It was 9:03 am.

I was horrified yet still in disbelief. How could this be happening? I put my paintbrush down and kept watching the new coverage. Just after 9:30, they announced that the Pentagon had also been hit by an airplane. At 10:00, I watched the first tower crumble in a huge explosion of dust and debris.  Just minutes later, they announced that a fourth plane had crashed, but instead of hitting a building, it had smashed into a field in Pennsylvania. It was one horror after another. It was impossible to believe that all of this destruction could be happening on such a beautiful, calm, otherwise normal day. Half an hour later, the second tower fell in another spectacular ashy explosion, while the entire world watched. In the space of an hour, the world had changed forever.

I think it’s important for young people today to know that in the days and weeks afterward, there was a deep grief and sadness across the entire country. Our lives had to go on, but we knew that over 2,000 innocent Americans had died. America was one family, grieving the loss together, and we all walked around in deep sadness. But our feelings were complicated. We also had anger toward those who had done this terrible act, and at the same time, we felt tearful admiration for the many heroes who sacrificed their own lives while rescuing others. For weeks, the attack was all that was discussed on the television and radio. We heard stories of loss and shared the sadness of family members who could not find missing loved ones. We watched the rescue efforts, as people combed through the giant pile of gray rubble that once was a towering symbol of American strength. Search-and-rescue dogs wore themselves to exhaustion on the disaster site. For days, we all hoped against hope that somehow someone could still be found alive in the midst of the destruction. When the magnitude of the loss was realized, all of America cried, and the world joined us in tears. We grieved the loss of strangers we had never known, but our hearts also swelled with pride and gratitude, as we learned of everyday people who had stepped up in heroic ways to save others. We learned that passengers on the Pennsylvania plane fought their hijackers and prevented the plane from crashing into another important building on that day. They gave up their lives to save people they had never met. In the midst of our country’s deep grief, stories like these shored up our belief that goodness and love toward one another could still be found in our hearts. The terrorist attacks were meant to tear our country apart, and they did leave gaping holes, but ultimately, they fortified America’s strength instead.

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2 hours ago, Terabith said:

Anyone want to share their memories of that day?  I was in Denver, working at a preschool, and we were all trying to find out what was going on while keeping the children from finding  out.  I mostly remember a couple days afterwards, the kids painting towers and airplanes over and over.  

Dh and I were in Nassau at the Atlantis resort.  We were working for a travel company at the time, so the trip was part vacation, part work/resort tour.  We had a couple groups from around the country.  We met for breakfast as a group at 8am and planned to take the resort tour with one of the resort management people after breakfast.  One pair of people coming from Georgia had missed their connection in NY and were getting on a plane that morning to meet us.  Turns out, they had left Newark around 8:30....about 10 minutes before United 93 took off.  

Anyway, we finish breakfast at the buffet and all head out on the tour.  We got through one of the buildings and were seeing the hotel rooms in one of the smaller buildings.  We were coming down the elevator and a lady staying at the resort was in the elevator with us and she was hysterical, freaking out.  By this time, it was already like 10am and she's yelling that "they're bombing us, they're bombing us!"  We are like "what are you talking about?!?!"  She said something like 'they hit the trade center and the white house, I don't know what's happening!"  So, we get off the elevator, tell the tour guide what she was saying and he's got no idea.  But, as we look around the lobby, you can see people are starting to find out, there were lines starting to form at the desk of people trying to call home, or call airlines, etc.  So, the tour guide goes off to ask what's going on.  

The part that always seems too crazy to believe, I always feel like people are thinking 'no, he didn't really say that.'  But DH confirms that he heard it too.  The tour guide comes back and says yes, it's true, they are gone.  Lets move over this way......"  And our group is like "WHAT?  What do you mean they are gone?!?"  And he says "Poof, they are gone.  The White House and the World Trade Center are gone.  We are working to get TVs out and more information for everyone.  In the mean time, lets continue on this way."

So, that's what we did, we continued with the tour.  We got finished around 10:30, and by that time, they had portable tvs out in all the lobbies and every place else they could stick them.  That was when we figured out that it was actually planes that had crashed and not bombs, and that it was the Pentagon and not the White House.  We actually finished just before the second tower collapsed.  

The other folks in our group arrived, I wanna say around 1, it was like just after lunch.  They said that they were not told what had happened until after they landed in Nassau.  We were supposed to return home on the 13th, I think it was the 15th that we were able to return.  Because we were on a company trip, the company told us to put every single expense on our room and the company would pay for it.  They wanted us to take all the spending money we had brought back with us so that if we got to the US and got stranded due to all the travel chaos, we had cash just in case.  Because it was a travel company, they were exploring all options, including at one point the possibility of getting on a cruise ship that was docked and taking that back to the US.  In the end, they were able to find us flights back, but one like 4 tickets at a time, there were like 20 of us total.  DH and I and another couple were the first group to fly back because we were the only two couples with kids.  DD23 was in Kindy at the time, she was staying with my mom and was a little freaked out, but not really.  I don't know how much she actually understood.  Once we got back to the US, our change over in Charlotte was pretty easy and we were home pretty quick.  It's funny, I am a bit of an anxious flyer, have taken Xanex in the past to get through a flight, but I don't remember being at all nervous on the way back.  

 

 

I also won't forget when that plane crashed in Queens that November.  I was at work in the call center when it happened, all the calls just stopped coming in and once we figured out why, all any of us could say was "another one."  It wasn't of course, it was mechanical and human error.  But it felt just as scary.

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I had dropped my 3 yo son off at morning preschool, and my 7 mo daughter was down for her morning nap. I had a few minutes of breathing time, so I was sitting on the couch when my mother called and told me about both planes hitting the wtc. I called my husband, who said it was awful and people were jumping from the top of the buildings. I went into psychological protection mode and decided not to watch any tv. I turned on npr and got all my info from that for several days, though I only listened when my son wasn’t around. My son’s preschool called and said that they were not mentioning anything to the younger classes and wouldn’t be later either. They left it to the parents to tell the pre-kindergarten kids that day, and then did a few age appropriate activities the following days. I was very grateful to them for not making it an issue for the youngest kids.

That evening we were eating dinner and suddenly heard a huge boom. We went outside but couldn’t see anything. We live about 20 min from an airbase and wondered briefly if it was under attack, but decided that was unlikely as there were other better targets, but we were still nervous. We learned later that it was a hotshot pilot going supersonic over our airspace. 

Other than listening to npr for a bit each day, I avoided the news and tried to keep things as normal as possible. I was sad about the world my children had come into, but I can’t say I was traumatized. I do remember when the trauma started to kick in - it was weeks later and I was putting old NYT and WSJ newspapers down as a layer under mulch. I couldn’t help seeing some of the human interest articles that told stories of victims and survivors, and I just sobbed and sobbed.

I look back at my response and think about how I consume news then versus now. I didn’t have time to absorb the details home with a baby and a toddler, and I didn’t want my kids exposed, so life was pretty normal for us. I learned the heart-breaking stories in bits and pieces over a long period of time and wasn’t getting slammed by them like a tsunami. Knowing myself now, I’d be glued 24/7 to whatever I could read about it (still hate tv), and I would be worse off psychologically. I get obsessed now over much less and feel the worse for it.

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I was home teaching my oldest kids, when a friend called to tell me what was going on.  I turned on our little kitchen TV, and just stood there in disbelief.  It took a long time for it to sink in.  I remember my favorite newscaster Peter Jennings giving the news report that day and breaking down crying.  

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I was at work, in an office building a bit away from downtown, around 18th Street or so. We had an amazing wall of windows overlooking the downtown and the Twin Towers. At some point I got a text or a message saying that something was happening with the Towers. I thought to myself, no way, I can see them! Then I looked up.

Just at that moment, the second plane hit the tower. It was surreal to watch. Somehow my brain supplied that it was there to help, but of course that was not the case. After that, my memories are in snippets. My coworker on the floor, crying hysterically. All the subways open, free of charge, all trains leaving the city. Everyone just walking away, away from downtown, in a daze. Some people covered in soot. Every once in a while we would all turn back and just look. The towers were still standing then. One of the towers collapsing, the top section sailing down, intact for a while, before breaking apart. Fighter jets in the sky, with a vague thought of I hope they are ours.

I don't remember exactly how I got home, but it was ok somehow. There was no work the next day. My husband and I went back a couple of days later as his company was helping set up a counseling center on Pier.. something, I don't remember. We had to get passes and went through a Federal command center or something like that. All the major agencies set up in one giant space, with telecom reps and all utilities. Very organized. Got spare phone batteries, all charged from the phone company.

Setting up computers in booths that were already set up with desks, chairs, and tissue boxes. A food area set up, piled up high with donations. That was incredible, that part. There were plates of home-made peanut butter sandwiches next to fancy catering boxes. You just took what you needed and went to work. Smoke. Lots of dark and then later white smoke.

Had a friend who worked in one of the financial center buildings. He was late to work and missed the attack. Should have been there. Have neighbors who did not come home. 

 

Edited by RosemaryAndThyme
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26 minutes ago, livetoread said:

I look back at my response and think about how I consume news then versus now. I didn’t have time to absorb the details home with a baby and a toddler, and I didn’t want my kids exposed, so life was pretty normal for us. I learned the heart-breaking stories in bits and pieces over a long period of time and wasn’t getting slammed by them like a tsunami. Knowing myself now, I’d be glued 24/7 to whatever I could read about it (still hate tv), and I would be worse off psychologically. I get obsessed now over much less and feel the worse for it.

This was me as well.  We were stationed at WPAFB in Ohio at the time.  I had a 4 year old, a 2 1/2 year old, and I was 28 weeks pregnant with #3.  We were supposed to meet my best friend that morning to go shopping for our 15th high school reunion that we were planning (my dad was also Air Force, so I graduated from high school here in Ohio as well). 

My mom called to tell me that a plane had hit the WTC, and I also assumed it was a small airplane--how sad! I promptly thought no more about it and went about my morning.  We never watched TV or anything, so that wasn't something that even occurred to me.  Then my friend called and told me husband didn't want her to go out shopping, which I thought was so weird and a complete overreaction.  Then my husband called and told me they had hit the Pentagon, the towers had come down, a plane crashed in PA, and the base here was closing, so he was coming home.  I couldn't even take it in, but my main focus was keeping things normal for my 2 little boys.  I still didn't turn on the TV because I knew there would be traumatic images, and I didn't want those seared in their little brains so early.  

When DH came home, and the boys were distracted, we did turn on the TV, so I saw for the first time the images.  I was glad I saw them afterward, and not in real time.  That must have been so horrifying.  Because of the boys, we still didn't just glue ourselves to the TV--life had to go on and we had to try to keep things somewhat normal, and I was glad we couldn't just focus on the horror and tragedy.

After a few days of quiet, I clearly remember hearing in the evening the sounds of all the C-17 cargo planes taking off from the base.  I knew they were heading off to prepare for the fight, and I was so proud of them.  I was supposed to have my 28 week glucose test a day or 2 after 9/11, but the base remained close for several days, and I had to postpone it.  When I finally could get back in, it took hours to get on the base.

The next year, 9/11/02, my dh had a TDY to DC. We stayed in a hotel, watched a lot of news specials after the kids went to bed, and I  really read all the papers and like someone else said, read all the personal stories.  I also watched a documentary about all the women who were pregnant on 9/11 and lost their husbands.  Unbeknownst to me, I was pregnant with #4, and I was a complete watering pot.  I cried so much during those days at the hotel!  Those kids who would never know their dads, and their brave moms, moved me so much.  I think because I had shielded myself so much during the days after 9/11, it hit me harder the one year anniversary that I ever expected, especially since I had all those early pregnancy hormones as well.

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7 minutes ago, AFwife Claire said:

After a few days of quiet, I clearly remember hearing in the evening the sounds of all the C-17 cargo planes taking off from the base. 

It's interesting that you mention this.  I have always lived near airports.  My dad is an aircraft mechanic though commercial/private.  Once we moved here by Wright-Patt, that sound, the C-17 taking off....it's unique.  Our location relative to the base isn't as close as I am used to regarding proximity to an airport....but occasionally, one of those C-17's comes over the house....it really doesn't sound like any commercial jet.   I can imagine in the wake of 9/11....that sound just becomes such a profound reminder.  It's one of those sounds that that....you feel it as much as you hear it.  

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I was in college.  My roommate and I skipped all our classes and watched television. Our college closed the next two days, as we had many students from the city who had family affected and needed to go home. while I didn’t have a car, her brother came and got us and took us home(we were from the same general area of New York State). He had just joined the volunteer fire department and was feeling it pretty deeply.  I transferred colleges and lost track of my roommate and her family, until I was 26 and became a paramedic. My partner at my new job turned out to be that roommate’s brother, and we talked a lot about our memories of 9/11 and that long car ride home.  A few months later, I married him. 🙂

My current workplace sent three ambulances to NYC in the early hours of the tragedy, when they were still requesting ambulances through FEMA because the assumption was there would be thousands of injured that needed rescuing and transport to a hospital. They stayed a week after the realization that there were no missing injured, and they helped with recovery instead.  Sadly two of the coworkers that went now have serious lung issues from their time at Ground Zero.

Edited by Medicmom2.0
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I was a fifteen year old homeschooled high school kid, sitting at my kitchen table with a couple of friends my mom was also tutoring. We didn't have TV, but I'll never forget my mom answering the phone and all the blood draining from her face as her friend told her to turn on the radio. My one friend's grandmother lived right down the road, so we went to her house to watch the news coverage. We came in just as the second tower fell. What I remember most clearly was that I thought she was watching a Bruce Willis movie. I thought it was so weird she was watching an action flick in the middle of the morning. I cried when I realized what it really was.

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My DH was active duty military and we were living in Falls Church, VA about 10 miles from the Pentagon. Our daughters were attending a Lutheran school in Arlington, VA, about 4 miles from the Pentagon. I had dropped them off at school and I was in my driveway washing my car, listening to the local news. As the news about a plane hitting one of the Towers, I kept washing my car, not quite sure what was happening. As the next plane hit, I new this was no longer an accident but I kept washing my car😳 Then they announced that a plane had hit the Pentagon and I started to hear the sirens going down highway 50, they just kept going and going. I thought for a moment, I should go get my daughters but they asked people to stay off the roads. I called the school and was told it was my decision to come or not. I didnt go and it’s a decision I still regret. A neighbor came over and asked me if I’d heard from DH. I said confidently, he doesn’t work at the Pentagon but the Navy Annex. Many people never heard of it so I would just say, he worked close to the Pentagon. As I drove to school to pick up our daughters, police were everywhere. I started crying for all that was lost, loved ones who would never get a chance to pick up their kids. I cried for my kids, their innocence shattered, life would never be the same. I went into school to get my kids and I could see both had been crying. My youngest said, “Why didn’t you come get us?” I tried to explain but it was no use. As we drove home, they asked about their Dad. I hadn’t heard from him yet but reassured them he was fine. DH finally checked in around 5pm but said he didn’t know when he would be home. Only later did he tell me that he was in the Pentagon for a meeting that morning. He walked back to the Navy Annex, walked inside, then the plane hit. He and several others rushed back to the Pentagon to help with stretchers but their were no bodies for them to carry😢Each year on 9-11, I can still hear my daughter’s voice, “Why didn’t you come and get us.” I remember the bravery of so many, the sacrifices, the lives of so many that were changed on that beautiful September morning.

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I was driving to work when the radio said a 2nd plane hit the towers.  Clearly this was not an accident.  I continued on to my workplace (a tall building in a big city roughly 450 miles west of NYC).  My boss's wife was in a plane at that time, location unknown.  We stood together in the break room watching the TV as the towers fell.

My friend with connections to the mayor called me to tell me about the 4th plane which had been hijacked and was headed our way.  They of course were not sure which building the plane was intended to hit ... but I was in one of the tallest buildings in the city.

We were told to go home, but my boss refused to leave without knowing where his wife was.  (Cell phones were not working, so he was trying on the land line.)  I didn't want to leave him there alone, as he had a very bad hip and walking down 27 floors might be too hard for him to do.  Finally he convinced me to leave and I did.

I had one housemate who was in NYC at the time, but she was able to let us know she was not near the WTC when the planes hit.  I called my mom after returning home - she lives about 60 miles away so calling was the only way to connect.

As much as it sounds bad to say this, it was sort of a bonding moment.  The whole US and much of the world were as one.  It is sad but in a way a hopeful reminder that we do all have things in common deep in the heart.  I only hope it doesn't take another horrific tragedy to bring us together again.

Edited by SKL
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DH and I had were celebrating our anniversary with the first trip away from our DS since they had been born (they were 7 and 9), and it was the first morning on the cruise ship 2000 miles away from our kids, and all the way across the country from the event. 

We heard snatches of odd comments around us at the breakfast tables about planes and buildings, and went back to our room to see the news. We turned it on right at the point of a major recap, with both towers having fallen, and over 300 firefighters killed, and that all planes were being grounded. DH was a firefighter at the time, in the midst of his 28-year career. We had to turn it off. It was so upsetting that so many of his fellow "brother and sister" firefighters had fallen while trying to help. It was also upsetting to be so far from our young kids, with no way of contacting them to know if they were doing okay (pre-cell phone), and no way of quickly getting back to them, even if we could have cut our trip short (planes were all grounded).

There are no words for how shocking the event was, and the pain of loss for all the families. And to have a slight connection to that pain, being the wife of an emergency worker.

About 15 years later, while waiting for a delayed flight, I chatted with a retired couple waiting for the same flight. The husband shared that his brother had been on the plane that was crashed into the second tower. It took almost 2 years before they finally received confirmation from identified remains that his brother had been on the flight. His story made me realize how huge the devastation was, and it again brought home to me what a permanent, life-changing event it was for everyone.

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I was getting ready for school when I heard the live broadcast break over the radio.  My mom was still asleep and stepdad was gone at work.  I couldn’t really believe it, but kept hoping everyone was going to make it out.  When the collapse happened I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The entire morning at school we spent pretty much glued to the tv coverage - I was a sophomore and remember my math class being pretty much a dull roar of everyone just trying to figure out why someone would do this.

Your cousin’s account is heart breaking but so important.  Thank you for sharing it with us.

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I was at home by myself that day doing some housework and preparing to go to an early lunch with my parents. It was a beautiful day and I started the day in a good mood. My mom called and told me to turn on the TV because something was happening. I watched as the news people speculated on what had happened with the first plane and then the second plane went into the second tower. It became obvious that this was not an accident. I watched in horror and shock, but when my parents showed up we went to lunch at an outlet mall as planned. Every store in the outlet, including the restaurant, had a TV on with employees gathered around watching the events. The waitress came up to us and told us to finish our meal because they were going to close the entire outlet mall. We hadn't really been interested in eating much anyway, so we left and drove home. It was eerie because the roads were almost empty. I wasn't sure if my kids would be sent home from school, whether I should pick them up, or whether the teachers knew what was happening. As soon as I got home, I turned on the TV. When I heard about the plane hitting the Pentagon, I called my sister who worked in DC. She said they had feared a plane hitting the White House, the city had been evacuated, and she was home safe. I watched TV for most of the day, but they showed the plane hitting the tower and the buildings falling over and over and I was becoming a bit traumatized by it and eventually had to turn off the TV. Later, we learned that a long time friend of my dh's family who is an AP photographer was in NYC on another assignment that day. She rushed out and took photos. Every year, it's a bit unnerving to see her name on some of the now famous photos that circulate. We watched CNN10 today and the story about September 11th brought me to tears as it does every year. I can't imagine how painful it is  for those who lost loved ones in the attack.

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