#593 | Monday, December 31st 2001
I was at home sleeping when I was awoke by the sound of the reporters hollering on TV. I had fell asleep the night before watching the news about Gary Condit.
When I had woke up only the first plane had hit but I instantly knew that something was wrong. I started to look out all the windows to make sure we were not all being attacked. A few minutes later the second plane had hit and then the news of all air traffic being halted and then hearing about of the other 2 attacks. It all had happened so fast that it was all very hard to register. It just didnt sense.
It was very hard to believe something so tragic could happen.

Matthew Crimmins | 19 | Iowa

#429 | Monday, December 10th 2001
My wife, two children, and myself were at my wife's families abandoned cabin (shack) in the hills of West Virginia. Being from Iowa, it was unusual for us to be so near the East Coast, and ironically we were no more than 60 miles from the crash site in southern Pennsylvania.

The "shack" has electricity, but we rarely have the radio or television that we bring with us turned on. Reception is non-existent. We were beginning our return trip home, and decided to stop by Tygart Dam, 80 miles south of Pittsburgh. The place was deserted. I assumed that because it was off-season we missed our opportunity to visit the museum. That was when the Ranger from the State Park informed us that the park was closed due to terrorist threats, and that we needed to leave.

It was surreal – this very sane looking man, in a position of authority was telling us the World Trade Towers had been struck by airliners. I thought it was a joke… I laughed, and explained that we had been back in the mountains and hadn’t heard any news in several days. He told us all air traffic had been grounded. Not possible – never been done – COULDN’T be done!

Why would this man of authority be joking around like this? What was REALLY happening? Did he tell me the towers had COLLAPSED??? I MUST have misunderstood. I KNEW it was not possible! We turned on the radio, and as reality began to sink in, I could think of nothing but driving the 1,000 miles home to… safety? What did that mean – what does that mean anymore?

Not a day goes by in this mess when I don’t give thanks that I live in rural Iowa. I have many friends on the East Coast, and I often wish they would give up life in the fast lane and move to a “safer” location. It seems like the terrorist attacks happened years ago. Life has changed, and yet it goes on much the same.

Ray H. | 37 | Iowa

#362 | Saturday, December 8th 2001
I was taking 9 year old daughter to school when a colleague called on my cell phone. I thought he was returning my call in which I was asking him about the reliability of a certain contractor. All he said was “Are you watching TV?” I said no, I was in my truck. He explained that an airplane had flown into one of the Trade Center towers, and that another had just hit the second tower. I remarked to my daughter that those planes were likely loaded with people, that this was a bigger disaster than we could imagine at the moment. I told her that she would remember this moment for the rest of her life. I went to work painting a door for a lady. She had the TV on and we watched the towers collapse. Then word came of the Pentagon attack. It occurred to me that we were really under attack, and I wondered if we, as a nation, would have the stomach to pay back whoever was doing this. I still wonder. Thank God we have a president who is resolute. The people who did this, and all their friends and all their families, should be wiped off the face of the earth.
I knew it would no be long before the “Blame America First” crowd would pipe up. Those who say we brought this on ourselves. I guess, since they are so full of hatred for the country they live in that this is a natural response, maybe their way of regaining their equilibrium after such a shock (assuming the loss of life shocked them at all). Their negative letters and editorials started appearing in the papers before the bodies were cold. When people ask me how could these terrorists be so full of hatred, so indifferent to the suffering of innocent people, I tell them it’s not so hard to imagine. We can find the same hatred and indifference in the political left in this country, the ones who say we brought this day on ourselves.

Pat McGroin | 53 | Iowa

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