#2235 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I work for the corporate parent of a hospital system, in a small office building in a small Massachusetts city. I was coming back into my department’s suite from some busy little errand, and our secretary met me at the door to tell me a plane had crashed into the WTC. I assumed it was an accident, and was curious, but not worried. A few minutes later I heard someone say there was a TV on in Administration (we rarely use TVs here but there are a couple around the building). I went and looked at the one tower on fire, was horrified, but still thought it was just a fire.

A short time later I passed our secretary again, who is in the Air Civil Patrol. She was putting down the phone and told me tensely that a second plane had hit. Her patrol was getting organized. By that time about a dozen of my coworkers had gathered in a conference room watching a TV with some people from another department. I stood in the back and watched two anchors filling air time, basically saying nobody knew what was happening. There was a picture of the flaming towers behind them, which they couldn’t see, and they were talking via cell phone to a reporter who was stuck in a stairwell in one of the towers. I’ve always wondered about that guy. He was telling them exactly where he was and saying that his way both up and down was blocked, so could they get some help to him. He was very calm and in fact said that families of workers in the WTC shouldn’t worry because the evacuation was going smoothly and everybody was fine. I actually feel angry at the guy for saying that. He didn’t know the full picture: he was just making up something reassuring to say. It wasn’t news, and it wasn’t true. I guess he was just reassuring himself.

The call ended and the news anchors kept talking, apparently without seeing the image of the towers, because the side of one of the towers behind them suddenly blew out, and then the image was just smoke and dust, and we couldn’t see anything on the screen behind them, and they kept talking on and on. Finally someone must have alerted them that something had happened, because after a delay they said “something just happened, we don’t know what.” My coworker Hugh and I were the first people in the room to realize what had happened, and we both said at the same time, “That tower just collapsed.” I have regretted saying what I did next. I said, “Oh my God, it’s just like the end of the movie ‘Fight Club’, where all the buildings collapse.” It was such a trivial observation; I’m still embarrassed that I said it out loud.

There are two other little things I remember vividly from that morning. One was that my officious boss kept sticking her head into the conference room and stiffly telling us that we really should get back to work, while we all ignored her. I’ll bet she regrets that, like I regret my reaction when the first tower fell.

The other thing I remember was the people I immediately tried to contact. When I couldn’t stand to watch the TV images any more, I went back to my desk, searched out the e-mail address of my best friend in high school – a New Yorker whom I haven’t seen in 15 years – and send him a one-sentence e-mail: “tell me you’re OK”. Ten minutes later I got a brief reply: “shaken, not stirred.” Since then we’ve mended some fences over the internet but haven’t gotten together because I won’t go to NYC and he won’t leave. I sent the same e-mail to a friend who works in Chicago but whose home office is/was in WTC 2. It kept getting bounced back to me, and finally I got through to his wife. He was stuck in a Kansas airport, and his company’s server was in the basement of WTC 2, and he’d lost a number of his coworkers, but he was safe. It took him 3 days to drive home in a rental moving van with 5 other stranded travelers. We went to business school together and we both knew that we’d probably lost a number of our classmates. As it turned out, we only lost 3, plus there were 5 from my undergraduate college. I was surprised it was so few, but it didn’t relieve my grief for all those strangers who got killed so fantastically, so unexpectedly, so gruesomely.

On this first anniversary I sat in my office building’s stairwell and thought about that guy stuck in the stairwell, and all the people who didn’t get out of the stairwells in time, and all the people like me who were probably just doing some busy little errand when their lives ended so dramatically. Requiem eternam, dona eis domine.

Annie | 44 | Massachusetts

#2223 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was on my way to a Mothers of Preschoolers meeting on that beautiful morning. Normally, my 2 year old commanded control of the radio with her kiddie song CDs, but for whatever reason, that morning NPR commanded the airwaves with little resistance. It was amazing! As I was driving, I couldn't believe what I was hearing - a plane flying into the World Trade Center? As I finally arrived at my destination, I asked several people if they had heard the news. We proceeded to have a speaker share her wisdom as a home-schooling parent of 3 children. But about 1/2 hour into her presentation, our pastor interrupted, pulling a big-screen down from the ceiling and turned on the television. As a group of about 70 women stared opened jawed at the screen, we collectively watched the tower fall into a pile of rubble in front of our very eyes. Tears, gasps and sighs could be heard throughout the room as we felt the grief of the entire nation in that room. I was sitting next to a wife of an Air Force Reservist and she just said, "Oh my God..." My husband is also in the Air National Guard as a security forces officer and that day our lives changed forever. I managed to reach him at his day job and simply said, "I love you and call the base!" Since September 12, 2001, he has been working active-duty at our local airforce base and continuing to do his full-time job, equating to about 80-85 hours a week away from his family. Just one month ago, he was deployed overseas for a period of 3-months, which has not been confirmed, but we're praying that's all it is.
September 11, 2001 is a day this country will never forget and it is certainly a day that changed my life forever. I know in my heart that God works all things for good and from this tragic incident, He will also do the same. We pray unceasingly that God will use this tragedy to open the minds and hearts of unbelievers around the world and bring us together as one.

MaryBeth | 37 | Massachusetts

#2220 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was on my way to a Mothers of Preschoolers meeting on that beautiful morning. Normally, my 2 year old commanded control of the radio with her kiddie song CDs, but for whatever reason, that morning NPR commanded the airwaves with little resistance. It was amazing! As I was driving, I couldn't believe what I was hearing - a plane flying into the World Trade Center? As I finally arrived at my destination, I asked several people if they had heard the news. We proceeded to have a speaker share her wisdom as a home-schooling parent of 3 children. But about 1/2 hour into her presentation, our pastor interrupted, pulling a big-screen down from the ceiling and turned on the television. As a group of about 70 women stared opened jawed at the screen, we collectively watched the tower fall into a pile of rubble in front of our very eyes. Tears, gasps and sighs could be heard throughout the room as we felt the grief of the entire nation in that room. I was sitting next to a wife of an Air Force Reservist and she just said, "Oh my God..." My husband is also in the Air National Guard as a security forces officer and that day our lives changed forever. I managed to reach him at his day job and simply said, "I love you and call the base!" Since September 12, 2001, he has been working active-duty at our local airforce base and continuing to do his full-time job, equating to about 80-85 hours a week away from his family. Just one month ago, he was deployed overseas for a period of 3-months, which has not been confirmed, but we're praying that's all it is.
September 11, 2001 is a day this country will never forget and it is certainly a day that changed my life forever. I know in my heart that God works all things for good and from this tragic incident, He will also do the same. We pray unceasingly that God will use this tragedy to open the minds and hearts of unbelievers around the world and bring us together as one.

MaryBeth Reed | 37 | Massachusetts

#2171 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was in the hallway when someone said that the WTC had been bombed. Later, in algebra class, Mr. Beaushene said he had been watching the news and was going to clear up the rumors. He said that two planes had flown into the Twin Towers in New York, and that both towers had fallen. The next thing he told us was that we were still having the quiz that day. We were all completely shocked and many people wanted to leave or go to the nurse. At the end of the day, Dr. O'Malley came on the intercom and said that we would have school the next day, and everything would go on as usual, except after school activities.
Brendan Hurley | 16 | Massachusetts

#2161 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was in health class when attack happened. This kid in my class, Kevin, had just come from the nurse telling me that they had the radio on in there and it said that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon and ruined it, and planes crashed into the World Trade Center as well. I didn't believe him (because he's not the type of kid that tells the truth all the time), until my teacher Ms. Page came in to escort us back to homeroom, when she told our health teacher Ms. Zale that two planes hit each of the World Trade towers and the Pentagon. Then I thought that it was actually true and Kevin was telling the truth for once. Throughout the whole rest of the day we weren't allowed to talk about it, and I didn't like that because everyone was really curious and we had a right to know what happened. All afterschool activities were cancelled so I had to go strait home. My mom had been home sick all day, so she told me everything that happened and it was all over TV. I think it was very horrible for those people to do this, and it was very cowardly of them to do it. We will never forget!
Patricia | 14 | Massachusetts

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