#1148 | Tuesday, April 2nd 2002
I live in Arlington, Virginia, less than one mile from the Pentagon. On September 11th, I was sitting at my desk in my home office/studio working on a new piece of artwork when I heard the sound of a very loud aircraft. Since we are not far from Reagan National Airport, at fist I just chalked it up to that and voiced my annoyance aloud for my work being disrupted. But as the sound of the plane grew loyder and louder, I thought to myself- that plane is in trouble. I jumped up from my chair as the screeching and whining of the engine got even louder and I looked out the window to the West just in time to see the belly of that aircraft and the tail section fly directly over my house at treetop height. It was utterly sickening to see, knowing that this plane was going to crash. The sound was so incredibly piercing and shrill- the engines were straining to keep the plane aloft. It is a sound I will never stop hearing- and I now imagine the screams of the innocent passengers were commingled with the sounds of the engines and I am haunted. I was unaware at this time that the World Trade center had been attacked so I thought this was "just" a troubled plane en route to the airport. I started to run toward my front door but the plane was going so fast at this point that it only took 4 or 5 seconds before I heard a tremendously loud crash and books on my shelves started tumbling to the floor.

I ran out into the street in terror and my neighbor across the street ran out of his house and we both knew that the plane had crashed. We saw a tall column of black smoke arising to the East- quite close, so we knew the plane had crashed somewhere very nearby. We ran into my house and turned on CNN, only to find out that the country was under attack by terrorists. We were horrified and feared for our lives. Soon after, we heard and saw entire squadrons of fighter jets flying over so low that the windows rattled and pictures fell from the walls. Sirens wailed and the streets became clogged with unmoving traffic. We were trapped in our neighborhood and we couldn't get away. We heard that another plane was on its way and was heading for the capitol and that it would be shot down if necessary. We feared that we would not be able to run away far enough or fast enough to save our lives if the plane came down in our small quiet neighborhood, a peaceful suburb of our nations' capitol. This day brought our entire neighborhood closer together in a time of crisis since we had to rely on each other as family.

Linda Plaisted | 34 | Virginia

#1137 | Sunday, March 31st 2002
i was at school just about to leave my 1st period class
Tom Charney | 13 | Virginia

#1136 | Saturday, March 30th 2002
Of course, like everyone else, the morning of September 11, 2001 was completely normal. I got up and dragged myself to school. While I sat in my first period english class, I wrote a letter to my friend, including the date and time that I wrote it, as I often do.

I wrote that letter at the exact same time that the first plane hit the WTC. I never sent it.

At that point, I still didn't know that anything was wrong. I went to my second period Acting class. When the towers collapsed, I was performing a skit, "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" for a class of first graders.

Acting class got out and we went to lunch. I went through the line, got my food, and sat down at my lunch table. In a few minutes, my other friends had joined me. I noticed that my friend Rob had a radio that he was holding to his ear. We asked him why he had a radio.

"Man...the World Trade Center is gone, man...it's gone."

We didn't believe him. We literally laughed at him. The WTC couldn't be gone. It was impossible. But Rob kept listening to his little radio, and we started to wonder if he was telling the truth.

I searched out another friend, Bethany. When I found her, she was searching for a television. I helped her look, but we never found one.

After lunch, I went to Broadcasting class. I walked in the room to find the television on, showing the footage of the towers collapsing. My teacher didn't say a word. We just sat for an hour and a half and watched the news. The same thing happened in my last class of the day, AP Biology.

When school let out, I ran to my car. I wanted to go home, I wanted to call my mom and just hear her voice. On the drive home, there was nothing on the radio but news. It was an absolutely gorgeous day...it only added to the sense of surrealism. How could it be so gorgeous and beautiful when something so terrible had happened?

The rest of the night my family crowded around the television. I went to bed knowing that the world around us had changed. I went to bed grieved that so many were dead...that so many loved ones were gone. I went to bed grateful that everyone I cared about was fine.

For the first time in my life, I was simply grateful to be alive.

Dana | 17 | Virginia

#1125 | Thursday, March 28th 2002
I was at work on that gloriously beautiful morning - I'll never forget how crisp the air was, no humidity, sun shining. The strong contrast between the weather and what was happening made it even more surreal. Had to move my car to keep from getting a ticket (simple, stupid problems of ordinary life). On the way down the elevator at the parking garage, another woman was riding with me and asked if I had heard what happened. When she told me, I thought "this can't possibly be true!" But when I got back to the office I couldn't find anyone until I went into my supervisor's office and everyone was huddled around a small TV. Then I knew. Then I watched with others in the safety of our central Virginia office as those magnificant structures collapsed before our eyes and our lives changed forever. There was the simultaneous news of the Pentagon and a missing plane. I couldn't cry, not then. Others were crying. I was too horrified to cry, but I've cried over every story I've heard since that date. A friend is raising his nephew (then 14) and it was amazing to me how unaffected he seemed. We all tried to tell him how this day has just changed his whole life. I think he believes it now. All of the people who were affected by this tragedy; families, stories of those who were lost, even those of people who didn't know anyone personally who died. I wasn't so lucky. A woman who attends my church lost her sister in the Towers. Such a weird set of events that led to her being there. A resident of Chicago who was a trainer, the New York trainings usually happened in Midtown (I believe). But there were so many people expected at this event that it was moved to the WTC. She was evidently setting up the training room when the towers were struck. I believe the meeting room was above the crash site. This past Sunday one of the prayers was written by our primary Sunday School Class and they mentioned asking for comfort for the victims of the World Trade Center. Even now, such a simple expression will make me teary.
Karen Schmidt | 43 | Virginia

#1098 | Saturday, March 23rd 2002
I was teaching my fifth grade class in Northern Virginia( within view of Dulles Airport. I was on my way to dropping them off at Music. I stopped by the office on my break and saw the office staff watching the TV. I watched as one of the Twin Towers was on fire(thinking what an awful accident) then out of nowhere the other plane hit. Next thing we know there were rumors of the Pentagon being hit. My class had no idea all morning, even when kids were getting checked out like crazy. It was a mass exodus. My class did not catch on until lunch and then they started to ask questions. That was the most difficult time I have had as a teacher. Because I was just as scared but was noit allowed to show it. Especially when we heard the f14s flying about 100yds directly above the building. The room shook everytime. Our Principal came down and talked to the 5th graders and explained that we are safe here. It was very emotional and for the next day or so it felt like house arrest since I live 3 miles from Dulles. I went out driving that evening and the roads were empty except military out and about.

That is the day I was tested as an American and a Teacher


Jeff Haynie | 26 | Virginia

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