We all remember where we were when big events happen in our lives. For our parents, it is “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” For a while, for me, it was “Where were you when the challenger exploded?” and I’d say, very specifically, “I was in the library in our elementary school, just miles from NASA, watching the liftoff on TV. When the explosion happened, the teachers cried, we all got confused and scared and there were camera crews and people doing interviews within hours. We were told not to talk to anyone. I was in fifth grade. I was sad. I wasn’t sure why.”
If you ask anyone where they were when the trade towers were hit, they can tell you exactly what they were doing and how they found out. I was in a bus in Edinburgh, Scotland with my G’ma and my Mom. The bus driver came on the P.A. and said the towers were hit. I was confused. “Twin Towers? As in New York?” Being on the other side of the world, I felt confused and scared. “What’s going on? What is going to happen? Who? What? Where?” Even on the other side of the world, this struck my confidence and scared the shit out of me as a traveler. I didn’t know anyone in NY. But I cried as if I’d lost a dozen friends. I cried to God because he was ignoring us. I prayed with my G’ma, who lived through Perl Harbor, and told me stories of her own fears in a war so long ago. This was my first political lesson. It was a hard one to understand.
Since then we’ve gotten catty and diminishing. We’ve become demanding and angry and bitter at the family. We’re like the extended family members at a Thanksgiving dinner arguing over potatoes and gravy when the big picture is that we’re a family. We’ve shoved the cranberries on the table and been pissed because they’re not jellied when the truth is we’re having a lovely dinner, we’re together, and we’re thankful for our lives.
As a country we’ve gotten off track somewhere. We were attacked. It was a personal attack. It was not political. It was not religious. It was personal. It was against you. And you. And you. And me. If you are fortunate enough not to have lost someone on that day, and I am thankful a billion times over that I am, there are others who are not able to say the same thing. And for those family members of our country, we fight, we pull together, we hold their hand. We’ve all gotten up off the dust and cleaned our knees off but it doesn’t go away because we choose not to look. It’s there. It’s the big hole in the heart of our country that people stand over and fight about. And why do we fight with each other? Who is it we blame? Each other? Or them.
Let’s stand together and fight. Let’s hold the hands of those people who lost loved ones, of those who lost their confidence to fly, of those who lost the ability to trust. Let’s be there for each other because it’s what we do. Let’s get off our knees, brush off the dust, and be brave enough to look at the hole. But let’s not fight each other. Especially not today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that, or after that….
Be sure to go here in the memorial project (I was too late in joining) to remember those who lost their lives that day. And, let’s remember and not forget. Where were you then? And where are you now?
I didn’t forget. I remember. Do you?
I was in the car Im not sure where I was going maybe to get the kids from school or to the grocery store. I heard it on the radio and was floored. When I got home and switched on the television I was shocked at the images I saw. I will never forget them nor will I forget that day.
By Teena on 2006 09 11
I was at work and someone announced a plane hit the world trade center. I was confused because we (here in baltimore) much smaller building that is called the world trade center….but my confusion turned into fear the more I heard.
I will never forget!
By brandi on 2006 09 11
I was sitting in the computer science lab at school and my boyfriend at the time emailed me and asked me was I watching the news because they were bombing the WTC. I assumed someone went in the building with a bomb strapped to them and replied “Again? That place is dangerous.” Then he wrote back and said “A plane crashed INTO THE BUILDING.” I was very confused and assumed it was an accident until I went in the student lounge and saw everyone gathered around the TV watching the scariest and most disturbing thing I have ever seen. I will never forget that day. It was like the world stood still as we all watched in horror and confusion.
By jomama on 2006 09 11
I was driving in to work when the radio dj announced it and at first, it was an accident but they were saying, “how could a plane get so of course to hit the WTC?” By the time I got into my office and turned my computer on, the second one hit and I was so scared. We all went upstairs to a conference room to watch the rest and it was freaking unbelieveable to hear about the other two planes and then to see the towers fall. Unforgettable.
By Beckik on 2006 09 11
I was on my way to work. We all sat in the back room watching everything unfold on TV and I saw the second plane hit on live TV. It was so surreal. I remember crying - yelling out “What the hell is going on?” and wondering if this was the beginning of the end. My sister lived in DC and I frantically called her (her husband worked 2 blocks from the White House). She couldn’t get ahold of him and we talked briefly in serious and hushed tones about whether or not the country was on the brink of disaster.
Then I got mad. Really mad. And indignant. “They” had awoken the sleeping dragon. “They” didn’t know who they were fucking with. And “they” were going to pay. I wanted blood. I wanted to drop the bomb on their stupid, backwards country and turn it into a sheet of glass. I flew my flag and I held my head high as a proud American.
And I was proud. I was proud of the people who stood up and said “no more.” I was proud of the survivors, of the families of the victims; of the firefighters and policemen; of the average Joes that risked their lives (and some lost them) to help others.
But it is human nature for that feeling to fade. It’s like when people tell you to appreciate every single breath you take and every single day you are alive. I agree that is important, but if that is all you do all day you will forget to live and hope for the future. So, I do remember, but I don’t forget that there is no way to guarantee it won’t happen again and that it won’t be worse this time.
It’s a new world we live in. And we need to realize America is no longer the super power it once was. We are damaged and weak in places our enemies can exploit. I truly believe it’s time to examine how we can strengthen our own infrastructure instead of “liberating” those who have no interest in (or love of) our way of life. We’re not Christian missionaries here, we are a people drowning in our own pride. What we do now, in the face of the future and in spite of the past, is the most important decision that will be made in our lives.
That is how I remember.
By Katie Kat on 2006 09 11
I was having a meeting at my house that morning and despite the fact that I was supposed to be getting ready, I could not stop watching, in horror, the events unfolding so far away and the feeling of helplessness.
The fear was compounded by the fact that, having been a theatre major in college, literally dozens and dozens of my friends were all working in NYC, trying to make it acting but a great deal of whom were working on Wall Street to pay the bills. I spent two days trying to call and account for everyone who would have been at the WTC that day.
My best friend, an extremely fortunate victim of downsizing, was fired from her job THE DAY BEFORE or she would have been at the WTC when the first plane struck. A few other friends were able to escape with little more than a few minor injuries. Lucky and then some. I was deeply grateful to be a part of the 2996 project, as it has put the personal stories of the victims who perished to the forefront.
We must never forget.
Out of all of it, when my son, a small little five year old who had just started Kindergarten came home a few days after 9/11 and said, “mommy, I learned this at school today” and stood in the middle of our kitchen, put his little hand over his heart and began to proudly recite his newly memoried Pledge of Allegiance. I sobbed like a baby, realizing how lucky I was.
I will remember every detail of that day for the rest of my life.
By Sonia on 2006 09 11
great post, friend. i’ve been mulling around with an entry of my own but am coming up too shallow. sometimes a moment of silence is better than my own gaping piehole.
By texasbelle on 2006 09 11
I was at work. One of my co-workers had gone down to the coffeeshop to get a bagel or something and never came back. Another co-worker went to go look for him and came back in a hurry telling all of us to come down and watch the news because one of the twin towers had been attacked. As I was watching, it seemed like I was watching a movie…that something like that just couldn’t happen to us. It was such a surreal moment. The world stopped. We all watched the news for hours. I was glued to CNN for days. Then weeks later, some kid flew his plane into a building in downtown Tampa and it shook us up again because it was so close to home. (just blocks from where I worked) I too am so thankful that I didn’t know anyone personally that lived in NYC, but I do remember crying so many tears for the people that did lose someone.
By Marjorie on 2006 09 11
I was getting ready for work and had to hold it together for 25 4th graders all day. They had lots of questions that I couldn’t even begin to answer.
Thanks for the well-thought out post and above comments. I’ll remember.
By AmyM on 2006 09 11
Great Post Leslie! I was at home, I had worked late the night before and awoke just after the first plane hit. My mother called me on the phone and told me to turn on the TV. I couldn’t believe the images, and just sat there for hours, crying.
I still tear up whenever I watch coverage. I didn’t know anyone killed or injured in the attacks, but I have to say being a part of 2,996 has made this so much bigger for me.
By JakesGirl on 2006 09 11
I was asleep, recovering from jet lag from having flown in from England the day before (thank God, the day before!). My best friend called me and woke me up: “The World Trade Center is falling.”
My family didn’t have a TV, so I got dressed and went over to her house. I ate a bowl of cereal on her couch and we sat glued to the TV all morning.
It was so surreal.
I think the next day we went shopping at Target and everyone there was really subdued and we all kind of felt guilty for being out doing something “normal.” It was like that slighty off feeling you get when you laugh or are happy to see your relatives at a funeral.
By Laura on 2006 09 11
I was on my way to work and heard the news coverage on the radio. At first I thought it was some sort of sick joke or some fictional prank or something. Then I thought it was a small commuter type plane. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around an actual airplane being hijacked and flown into a skyscraper. I was pregnant with my first daughter and I had to stop and think what kind of crazy messed up world were we bringing a child into?
By Jamie on 2006 09 11
I remember where I was. I was driving in my car and they interuppted the radio. When they did that I really thought they were going to say a police officer had been killed. It’s wierd but they do that here in Baltimore.
When they said a plane flew into a tower I didn’t think much of until later. When they announced it was terriorist.
I just wanted to go home where I was safe and be next to my father who is a police officer. I mentally shut down and couldn’t believe there were such evil people.
Then the song came out by Alan Jackson “Where were you when the world stopped turning” I just listned to that song all the time just so I could greive.
A couple of months later I found out that I guy that was in my class in highschool died in the tower. Then it really hit home.
By Amanda on 2006 09 11
Your post is a beautiful memorial. I will never forget where I was or what I felt on that day. Who could possibly forget?
By Heather on 2006 09 11
I was on my way over to my sisters house in the wee morning for work( I was her nanny) and we heard it on the radio…we drove the rest of the way there shocked and confused…as soon as I walked in to her house, I went straight to her room and turned her tv on while waking her up as the second plane just hit..and we watched in silence and horror the rest of the day and weeks to follow…I will never forget. I wish our country wouldnt either..what happen to the sea of flags everyone had? You said it perfectly in your post.
By Bree on 2006 09 11
I was a new mom, my baby only seven weeks old. She spent the next several weeks staring up at the ticker streaming across the television screen. It was an awful moment for all of us.
Now I’m trying to focus on the family. And live by our founding fathers, One Nation. Under God. Indivisible. With liberty and justice for all.
God Bless America.
By Little Miss on 2006 09 11
being in australia, i was already in bed for the night. my housemate burst into my room, which she never would do normally, and said, “Afghanistan is bombing New York!” I was all sleepy and confused and got out of bed and stared at the screen for a while, but I didn’t really get it. it wasn’t until the next morning when we stared at the tv all morning, then all day at work, that i understood what had happened. i even remember the precise moment i heard bin laden’s name for the first time. sometimes it’s hard to remember not knowing it.
even though we were half a world away over here in australia, the events had a profound impact on people. people were shell-shocked, and work offered free counselling.
By J-Le on 2006 09 11
I was about to begin a software training at a company in Conn. We were real close to NY and many people there knew others who lived/worked there. We ended the session and gathered in their kitchen to watch the news. I couldn’t stand watching…I had to escape so I left and got in my car and drove for 3 hrs home to MA. I remember feeling vulnerable on the highway halfway expecting to see jets flying low over head. I couldn’t reach my husband because the cell towers were jammed. I got home and he arrived shortly after because they evacuated the Federal Building he worked in. We were relieved that our family was safe. Then my mom called to tell my my BIL’s mom, whom we had lunch with 2 days bebfore, had been on Flight 11. I dropped the phone and didn’t stop crying for a long. long. time.
Nicely written, great sentiment.
By Susie on 2006 09 11
Good grief, woman, could you have written that any better? Beautiful.
I was in New Zealand, a half a world away from everybody I knew except for a friend and her family, sound asleep when it started, in a daze for the next three weeks. I’d been supposed to fly home on the 15th, finally made it on October 5th, then roadtripped it the rest of the way back across the country to TN because I was *done* with flying for a while.
I don’t know. Something about getting on a plane for a 13 hour non-stop flight after going through four security checks and having the first image on the in-plane TV (turned on while we were on our second one-hour delay - this time on the tarmac) be of the planes crashing into the towers and bin Laden’s face just kinda turns you off of flying for, oh, I don’t know, forever.
By Seuss on 2006 09 11
Thanks, y’all. I love hearing where y’all were. What strikes me is how alike we all are in this. It really did bring everyone together in that we all have this common story.. where I was, what I thought and it’s all alike.
Seuss, I had to fly home from London (Laura I swear I just missed you!) on the 17th. I was scared shitess. I think I drank four vodkas just to stop thinking THAT plane was going to be another of “those”. I actually had sollace in the fact that by the time we got to the States, we’d have very little fuel left. Seriously. I told myself that. Whatever it took.
By Mrs. Flinger on 2006 09 11