#688 | Monday, January 28th 2002
I had just got home from the hospital the evening of the 10th and went to bed under heavy medication. I woke up around 9:30am to hear on the radio that the world trade center had been hit by a plane. Then only minutes later that a second plane had hit the WTC. And then another plane had hit the pentagon?

In my medicated state it took me hours of wondering if I was just in some dreamstate experiencing a nightmare to figure out that the nightmare was real. I will never forget the site of the people running from WTC as the first tower was collapsing. They were very lucky to have that chance to run for their life.

Michael Osborne | 23 | West Virginia

#497 | Tuesday, December 18th 2001
September 11,2001 I was setting here in my Living Room watching TV. My kids were safely at School or so I thought. The Today show was on. I was watch in Horror as the planes started chrashing into everything. (I live by an Airport.) I was crying, praying and wondering who on earth could do something like this to themselves or anyone else. I then called my husband (a truckdriver). Told him I loved him. I wanted to run to school as fast as I could and get my kids. Bring them home safe with me. Then I thought safe. All of the people that died on this aweful day thought they were safe too. So, I thought better of my instincts and left my teenage children at school. It was hard to do. But, now I see that was probably for the best as I didn't want to show them the fear that I now feel.
Shirley Johnson | 37 | West Virginia

#370 | Saturday, December 8th 2001
I remember it clearly. I was sitting in my 2nd block (or period) class, which just happened to be Government, when our principal came on over the intercom. "May I have your attention, please. As some of you may already have seen on TV, there have been major terrorist attacks against the United States in New York and Washington D.C. Teachers, we ask you turn on your TV's for all the latest information, and disregard all material for the day if you so wish." When we turned on our television, we saw the two towers on fire, smoke pouring out of them, the sky turning dark. I think you could have heard a mouse sneeze in that room. We were all chilled to the bones by what we were witnessing. I remember everyone saying the same thing: What's going on? Who did this? How could this happen?

Then the first tower fell. All questions stopped for at least two minutes, and we all stared open-mouthed at the screen of our TV as the tower fell, the cloud of smoke cleared. We all tried to understand what had just happened, and to understand how our lives had been changed forever. I remember seeing people crying who had family in New York, and I remember thinking that this was the worst thing that had happened to our country in my short 18 years of life. I knew we were all witnessing a tragic and historical moment in our nation, and never have I felt more united with my fellow students. Though a great blow had been struck against us, I could already see that we would not be broken or defeated, but rather be drawn together and united in a way that our country had not seen in 50 years. This was a moment in our history no American will ever forget.

Ryan Spaulding | 18 | West Virginia

#308 | Wednesday, December 5th 2001
Never the Same:

On Tuesday September 11, 2001 at 9:05am the excitement of seeing my parents was transformed as feelings of shock, confusion, anger, fear, sorrow, and astonishment, and distress instantaneously consumed my mind. A college freshman, sitting in the backseat of a beige van, I watched intently as my dad solemnly approached with an expression of horror masking his previous carefree attitude. He opened the door and silently turned on the radio, at that moment, it felt as if the blaring panic had paralyzed humanity. I listened to the multitude of shocked voices on the radio for the remainder of the drive home. That moment is permanently embedded in my mind. Thoughts of uncertainty about the condition of my friends and family raced through my head. My peaceful and perfect little world was permanently jarred. This cruel unjustifiable atrocity affected every American, for an instant, we were identical, each of us felt helpless and vulnerable because we had no control over the earth-shattering event that just occurred. When I returned to the dorm I turned the television on and watched the surreal scene of a cruel maniac crashing a commercial airliner filled with mothers, fathers, siblings, children, and beloved friends into Americas symbol of freedom and power. This horrifically vivid scene will replay in my mind for the remainder of my lifetime.

Sheena | 18 | West Virginia

#201 | Friday, October 12th 2001
I am a court reporter, who had left home at 8:45 that morning to drive an hour and a half to one of the county courthouses in my state. I had no idea about anything happening until an attorney arrived at the depositions, telling us what had occurred. Our depositions weren't concluded until 12:00 noon, which was the longest three hours of my life. Then I had the hour and a half drive home, only gaining details of what had occurred on the radio. Listening to the reports, I tried but just couldn't picture in my mind what they described over the radio. When I did finally get home, I immediately turned on CNN to finally see for myself what I was unable to picture in my mind for the last hour and a half. I could not leave my TV set for the next several hours.
For the first time in my life (and I'm 52 years old) when I went to bed that night, I didn't feel completely safe doing so. That sounds so minor, but, yet, so major, that I had been able to live 52 years and never know that feeling.
Then I realized the precious price my dad was willing to pay in WWII and my husband, in Vietnam. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what Americans like them have been willing to do over the years. And then I felt an enormous sense of determination to stand strong for this country and keep it strong, for the price has always been high, and Americans have always been willing to pay that price.
The terrorists think they've crippled us with total fear, but they will never fully realize who they've angered and the strength that's born in us. We come from generations and generations of brave souls and unless you have that blood running through your veins, you could never realize our strength, and the tragic mistake anyone ever makes by under-estimating Americans.

Judy K. Vealey | 52 | West Virginia

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