(Closed) Where were you when 9/11 happened?

posted 8 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 32
Member
3885 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I was across the street from the Pentagon, taking a class in one of the big office buildings there. A few minutes earlier (my concept of time is weird on that day so it could have been 5 minutes or an hour, who knows) one of the other students had commented on a plane hitting the WTC, as he’d seen the headline on CNN.com. We all figured it was a small plane and had no real idea what was going on, and we went to focus on our class. 

That neighborhood is right on the flight path into National Airport (DCA). You get used to planes flying by after spending a little time there, and you get used to where the planes normally are.  So we all noticed when one plane was flying past the window, too low and too fast and not in a place where planes normally are. It wasn’t far outside the normal flight path, but it was still outside. And then it flew below the tree line, and seconds later we could hear the explosion and feel the building rumble a bit.

We evacuated, which was full of confusion, at least from our floor, because we were all strangers to the building and no one had ever briefed us on evacuation procedures. Our teacher was long gone by the time I got to the stairs. The stairs were jammed with people pushing and shoving their way down. No one knew what had happened other than the plane being in the Pentagon or at least on the Pentagon grounds.  Some people were talking about a fire in the building or an earthquake. I think we were about 12 stories up.

When I got outside, it was a really gorgeous day, about maybe 77*F and bright blue skies. I could smell the burning jet fuel, heavy in the air.  The sky above the Pentagon was black with smoke, really dark thick smoke, and I could see things flying around in the smoke cloud. It took me a few minutes to realize that the “things” were bits of clothing from people’s luggage.

There were constant sirens and what looked like a parade of ambulances and fire trucks. I remember seeing the truck from the Bethesda Search and Rescue Squad and wondering if my old friend Aaron would be working, as I’d not seen him in ages.  I sat under a tree because no one was in charge and people were already walking out of the city and into the suburbs. There were no cars on the big road between us and the Pentagon, just ambulances, fire trucks, and big groups of pedestrians.

I had originally planned to ride my motorcycle to class that day and was kicking myself inside, as I’d opted for the car, planning to stop by Home Depot on the way home and pick up some paint.  I knew it was kind of pointless to try to drive, but then got a page (remember pagers?) saying that the DC mayor had activated their IT disaster response team and I was expected to report to the Mayor’s Command Center.  When I finally arrived, 4 or 5 hours later, all the work had been done; they’d called in all the IT folks to help set up an emergency wireless network.  As I tried to make my way back to the car, I passed the Metro station, where a huge crowd was assembled, trying to get onto the trains.  There were Federal marshalls around, and someone noticed a Marshall’s holstered gun, then panicked, mistaking the Marshall for a gunman  or assassin.  People stampeded to get away and one lady tried to crawl under a parked car.  The Marshall tried to calm everyone down but the crowd scared me— too many panicked people in too small a space– so I just kept walking till I found my car.

Driving home was at a snail’s pace.  I would finally get close to one of the bridges back into the city, just to be told that bridge was closed.  Cars weren’t moving except for inches at a time. For a while, I was behind a line of school busses. The school busses at one point just drove down the median strip.  When I mentioned it to my brother, a shock trauma doctor, he explained that these were the “walking wounded”: folks with minor injuries like cuts and broken fingers, and that they’d be treated on the bus in the hospital parking lot instead of adding more people to the ER waiting rooms.

My roommate and I just watched the coverage in silence, pretty much around the clock for the rest of the day. I still had the stink of burning jet fuel all over me. 

The next day I drove down Route 110, past the Pentagon, which was still burning and still stinking of jet fuel. There were heavy tanks parked just beyond the tree line and I’m sure there was some heavy artillery.  Over the next few weeks we just got used to seeing the tanks on 110, and we joked about not being able to say certain words on that road, knowing we must surely be under surveilance, and we were only half-joking.  We got used to the fighter jets flying over, too.  Every 28 minutes or so, a jet would go over the house, shaking the windows. We live up by the Vice President’s house so we got a lot of flyover attention.  The dogs didn’t much like the jet noise so I had to time their walks perfectly, otherwise they’d get scared and want to drag me back to the house before the end of the walk.

There’s no trash cans on subway platforms any more, or in city parks, and the police cars in the District keep their light bars on all the time now. Apparently these are security methods learned by the Mayor on his post-9/11 trip to Israel. He visited specifically to learn how the Israeli police secure their cities when living under the constant threat of terrorism.  There are surely other, less visible measures in place, and I don’t think every one of those tanks ever left the Pentagon. But the trash cans really get me, because their absence is so subtle, and it makes me a little sad to think that we now live in a world where you can’t have a trash can in a public place, for fear of someone putting a bomb in it.

Post # 33
Member
2492 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I was at work. The radio station we were listening to hadn’t announced anything yet, but my Dad called to ask if I was alright. He was worried I had heard, and broke down (because I’m overly emotional, apparently)..

Post # 34
Member
2899 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

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@PinkPandaBear:  That is so chilling. For what it’s worth, I just looked through the list of folks who died that day and didn’t find anyone named Asif. Hopefully he managed to escape that morning, and is still alive and well out there. 

Post # 35
Member
1245 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

I was in the eleventh grade sitting in computer class. For some reason, my teacher turned the tv on and we saw all the news then!

Post # 37
Member
6036 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2019 - City, State

I was in my first period hour in my senior year of HS. I had first period open so a group of us who all had that period open used to sit in the lounge and just hang out til second period started. right before the period was about over a girl from our group walked in and was like “so I guess a plane crashed into a building in new york or something”  so of course we were all like wow that sucks…. we just though it twas an accident. then the bell rang and I remember seeing a teacher run out of a classroom and she was crying. it was a bit chaotic in the hall way for a minute and I made my way to my history classroom still pretty unaware of what was happening. When I walked in the history room, the tv was on and as I started to listen to what the reporter was saying the second plane hit. I remember asking “was that a replay?!” and someone just whispered “no that was another hit”. it was at that point I think that everyone really realized it wasn’t an accident and that more may be coming. They kept us in our second period classrooms all day that day and we just watched the news and talked a lot. Its insane thouh how clear the memories are from that day.

Post # 38
Member
928 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

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@KatieBklyn:  Thanks, that does make me feel better. I hope he was okay. It’s so strange how little details like that can follow you around you know? I’m glad to hear that you were safe 🙂

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@hotchildinthecity:  I saw that article too and it literally makes me sick. When they reopened the WTC PATH station I took the PATH train in from Hoboken and then walked to my office in Battery Park.

Before they put up the walls, you were literally able to look out of the PATH train up through the walls of Ground Zero. I would get really offended when tourists would approach me and ask if I could take pictures of them on the platform with the exposed supports in the background. It’s like, show a little respect. This is a literal graveyard.

Post # 40
Member
1088 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

I was a junior in highschool in my chemistry lab…they made an announcement to have all the student’s who thought they might have family near the WTC go down to the auditorium…my dad worked in the city but didn’t go in that day. I remember panicking because I couldn’t remember where his office was.

Post # 41
Member
6036 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2019 - City, State

I should also add that my mother iswas a cop for a government agency in downtown chicago about 4 blocks from the john hancock building. I remember there was all this speculation about if more planes were goin to hit in different cities and since the john hancock building is one of the major landmarks in downtown chicago I remember freaking out. I called my mom and she didnt answer for a good 2 hours. Finally I was able to talk to my grandmother who informed me that my mother had called in sick tha tmorning and was not in the city after all. I also worked close to that same area and was supposed to work that day in the afternoon. It was a starbucks. We NEVER closed. we were open every day pretty much minus maybe xmas day. They were closed that day though. I did have to go into work though a few days after that. The location I worked in was on the magnificent mile, which is always packed. So it was a very very busy location. during my shift there was like maybe 5 customers. It was completely dead in downtown chicago. so strange. there was some people who were there for work and whatnot but it was far from a normal amount of people.

Post # 42
Member
1812 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

I was at my job in a government office in Wales, a young, 20 year old.  The office was a big open plan, with a canteen area in the centre.  I was doing some filing, and needed to check some things on the company website, but everything was down.  Internet access was kaput.  I remember looking over to the canteen and noticing there was a lot of people in there, so I got excited and though “Cake!!!!” Birthdays, Retirements and Moving Ons were common and cake was a regular occurence.  Off I skipped to the canteen when I heard a howl.  My friend was by the door, and I asked her what was going on – she just pointed to the TV. It was at that point the 2nd plane hit the 2nd building. I can never describe that moment, the knot in my chest, the total confusion that flooded through my head. Terrorism was such a distant word to me, that I could not grasp.  Especially when it was so “close”.  OK it was in the US, but we worked alongside some companies that had their offices there, and it was only 12 months before a sub-department of our offices left the WTC.  One of the managers worked there for 3 years, and lost many friends and colleagues.

I had some friends that were travelling around USA at the time, and had called home the Saturday before to say they had booked to go up to the top of one of the towers first thing that morning, as they wanted to head off to a carnival that was happening later on somewhere else.  We persumed them to be dead.  That was a really difficult time.  We mourned them.  Their family mourned them.  They finally got in touch with their parents on Friday morning after queuing up at the British Embassy.  Because of the congestion on phonelines, they could not get through any sooner.  They had decided to change their plans and go up the towers the day before, so that they could stay close-by to the carnival that night.  The sheer elation and joy we all felt at having them back was at the far end of the spectrum from the devastation felt by so many others.

Post # 43
Member
2195 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2017

I was at my house, my older cousin (who was only 17) told me to come in the living room and be quiet. (I was 14), all the adults in our family had left and were at someone else house. She told me we were at war and they were bombing us.

Post # 44
Member
875 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I was in sixth grade, and I was getting ready for school. My  dad was watching the news, and I walk in to this big screen showing the twin towers. I didn’t understand, and it didn’t sink in. I went to school and they showed it again, and we talked about it. I finally got that it was real, and understood how horrifying it went. I saved all of the papers and everything about it so that I could show our kids. MY DH did the same thing. It was uneblievable and I will never forget it. 

Post # 45
Member
1359 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I had just walked into my dance classroom from the locker room (it was an arts highschool.) A girl who I didn’t like was excitedly clamoring about someone bombing us. I thought to myself, “What an idiot, there’s no way.” But then my dance teacher was crying, and so was one girl whose dad was in New York. (He was okay.) People were calling their families and friends on their cellphones and the teachers let them. Within a few minutes, the school announced that anyone whose parents wanted them to be at home could leave. My mom came to get me. On the way home I was all keyed up, wanting to talk about what was going on, but she was quiet and didn’t respond. When we got home we watched the news in silence. 

 

Post # 46
Member
524 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I was a sophomore in high school. That week was a big deal even before the planes hit. The President was scheduled to be in my city that day. So as we watched it all go down on the tv I remember some people were freaking out because the president was down the street from my highschool and that maybe they had a plane heading down here. They sent us all home early. When I got home my mom and dad were in the living room watching the news reports and calling family. We are native new yorkers and have some family who worked down there. Thankfully every one was safe. But my mom reminded me of something weird that I had said while visiting family that past july… I forget what road we were on but we were passing the skyline and I wondered outloud “wouldn’t it be weird if the the towers were no longer there.. the skyline would be unrecognisable to me.” That whole day was surreal for me and still is to this day.

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