#1062 | Monday, March 18th 2002
On September 11, 2001 at the time of the attack I was in class at Mary Baldwin College. I couldn't believe what happened when I turned on the television, it was simply horrific.
Nichole Foreman | 20 | Virginia

#1041 | Friday, March 15th 2002
I had just walked into study block at school (approx 10:42), and I saw a bunch of kids crowded around a tv. I asked the girl with pink hair who sits in front of me what was going on and she said that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Centers. At the time I must admit that I wasn't exactly sure what the WTC were......but watching I found out....where I live is right next to a big military base, so kids were getting passes to the phones to call their parents to see who was and wasn't being deployed (me included). Everyone was really scared and I think even one girl was crying. School ended shortly after, and I came home and watched the news all evening, before trying to go to bed.
Erin Guthrie | 17 | Virginia

#958 | Monday, March 11th 2002
By the time I woke up on 9/11, everything had already happened. What I saw on TV was a couple of hours in the past. It didn't make it any less immediate for me.

Due to my two jobs, I keep odd sleeping hours. I work at my bookstore from 12-6 or 4-9 and then I work at my computer until 1 am, sometimes later. So I rarely get out of bed before 10 am, usually 11.

I was supposed to work 12-6 on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I had my alarm set for 11, which would give me enough time to shower, check my e-mail, and grab something to eat.

I woke up at 10:48 am to my phone ringing. I rarely get phone calls during the day at home so I almost ignored it to let the voicemail come on. But something made me get up and stumble over to answer the phone. It was my mother and her first words to me, said in a shaking, disbelieving voice, were, "Terrible things are happening."

She was at the store with no television. Only the radio offered any information and the news was still sketchy and infrequent, too early for all the stations to have switched over to non-stop coverage. All she could tell me was that planes had hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and that there was a car explosion outside the State Department (a rumor that later on turned out to be untrue). A customer had just walked in and I overheard her telling my mother she had heard that another plane had crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania.

I took the phone into the living room and turned on the TV. Between my mother telling me what she was hearing on the radio and what the TV news was saying, I couldn't concentrate. I told my mother I'd find out what I could and call her back later.

I watched the news for about ten minutes, flipping frantically between NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN. I saw the footage of the second plane hitting. I saw the Pentagon surrounded by smoke. I saw first one tower, then the second, collapse into rubble and smoke. I still thought what I was seeing was live, that the planes had just hit and that I was watching the towers collapse live.

I called my mother back and managed to get out what I had seen before I started crying. The radio news was still spotty, so she didn't know about the towers. I learned that they had actually collapsed a little less than an hour and a half hour ago, not while I was watching. It didn't make a difference to me that it had already happened; it had happened, period.

The State Department rumor was laid to rest. Then speculations about the plane down in Pennsylvania started being passed around - where was it headed? was it part of the attack or just a "regular" crash that happened to occur at the worst time? Nobody knew anything. All the planes were being landed, sent to the closest airports around the country and in Canada. Rumors about more hijacked planes, possibly heading to Los Angeles, Chicago, DC again, were running rampant. The president was being whisked away to a secret, secure location. Nobody knew where the vice-president was. This was all on the news.

How could I not be scared when the newscasters were obviously panicked and utterly shaken?

I told my mother to close up the store for the day, that nobody would be out shopping and she should go home. She told me the customers who had come in the first time she called were still there, listening to the radio with her. She had to tell them she was closing up and call Andrew, our employee, to tell him to stay home. She hung up and promised to call me before she left to go home.

I continued to watch the news, unsurprised to see that almost every single channel had tapped into one or another of the national news feeds. And of the stations that weren't showing the news, they had ceased their programming entirely, putting up a notice explaining the events of the day and offering their prayers. It was surreal.

My mother called back and told me Andrew had called as soon as she had hung up, asking what to do. She told him to stay home, and she told me she was closing up and on her way home. I told her to call me as soon as she arrived.

Since the news was saying the same things over and over, repeatedly showing the footage of the plane hitting and the towers collapsing, I decided to check the internet and see if I could find out any more information. The situation was essentially the same, but I did take the time to e-mail friends I knew in New York and DC to ask them to check in. I also e-mailed friends I knew weren't anywhere near those two places, just because I felt a driving need to connect with people. Mailing lists were filled with posts asking for people to check in and let everyone know they were all right. Message boards were the same. I went to MBTV (now TWoP) and found a thread about the attacks with already over 1000 posts. I read the entire thing, desperately seeking information and connection. I smiled every time a name I knew posted to say they were okay. I cried when I heard accounts from New Yorkers who had witnessed everything. I never posted on that thread, but I silently offered my wishes and prayers to everyone.

By this time, my mother had gotten home, so I decided to go to her house since I didn't want to be alone anymore. On the drive, I noticed how shell-shocked and distracted the other drivers looked. I imagined I looked very much the same. I saw a group of people gathered around a car in a grocery store parking lot, most likely listening to the radio. Cars were already lining up at gas stations, and I felt lucky that I had just filled up the day before.

I arrived at my mother's house, where she informed me that my uncle, who works in a local government building, was essentially in lockdown. Many government buildings had been evacuated, but even more, especially local ones, had been directed to keep everyone there until given permission to leave. They were each allowed to make one brief phone call to someone to let them know they were safe.

My mother also reminded me that I had a cousin in the Army who worked at the Pentagon. She also said she knew many people from her days in the insurance business who worked in the WTC. The day, horrifying enough already, had become a personal tragedy for me and my family.

We watched the news throughout the day into the early evening. My uncle was eventually released and immediately came over. We talked about what was happening, the possible death toll, how it must have felt for those people on the planes, if this was just the beginning and if we'd wake up to more attacks the next day, how buildings with such structural integrity as the WTC could just collapse like they were made of cardboard, the gutwrenching horror of seeing people jump to their deaths, who was behind the attacks, whether the government had knowledge of these attacks beforehand, what really happened on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, how Bush would handle this, why something like this happened.

Why.

That was the biggest question. And on that day, nobody had any answers.

All throughout the afternoon and evening, the phone rang. Family members, friends, people we hadn't talked with in years. Everyone was calling everyone to reach out, connect, reassure each other that they were physically okay. Nobody was emotionally okay.

Finally, I decided to go home. My mother and I made the decision to close again the next day, saying it would be pointless to be open since nobody would be shopping. In truth, we weren't ready to deal with the mundane world of book sales, not yet.

Once home, I turned the TV on and got back on the computer. I sought out as many people as I could, wanting to just talk and connect. I breathed a huge sigh of relief every time I heard from someone I knew that was from NYC or DC, or even knew someone there. Not all the messages were good, however. Several acquaintances were still missing. Friends of friends hadn't been heard from. I stayed up until past 3 in the morning, just talking with friends and listening to the news and still trying to face the terrible reality of the day.

Sheer exhaustion sent me to bed, although I struggled against it. I didn't want to wake up to an irrevocably changed world. I didn't want to wake up to a gorgeous, sunny fall day and then have the memories of the previous day come crashing back. I didn't want to wake up and have my cousin and my friends still missing.

But most of all, I didn't want to go to sleep because I didn't want to not wake up. And on the night of 9/11, that was a very real, very frightening possibility.


Annie | 29 | Virginia

#897 | Monday, March 11th 2002
I'm a college student majoring in photography. I live in Herndon, Va about 2miles from Dulles airport and about 15miles or so outside DC. That month I began a study of clouds, sunrises, and sunsets. I woke up about 8am. The clouds were cast beautifully across the morning sun. Rather than turning on the tv I grabbed my camera and began shooting roll after roll of film. After every shot I noted my camera settings as well as the time I took the shot. The best shot was taken at 8:45am. The same time the first plane hit of which I had no knowledge of. At 9:15am my phone rang and it was my mother histerically telling me to turn on my tv. I turned my tv on, saw the film of NYC and fell to the floor crying as she told me the Pentagon was under attack as well. My father is an Air Force vetern and government contractor at the Pentagon. His office was a couple corridors down from where the plan crashed. In a matter of seconds the most frightening thoughts ran through my mind. All my mother could tell me is that she received a frantic phone call from my father saying "don't worry I'm out,I'll be okay and I love you." From that moment on we didn't know if he would remain to be okay. All we could do is watch the news. So much uncertainy was running through our minds. Every 15 minutes or so I tried to call my father's cell phone while my mom went to pick up my little brother and my fiancee tried to comfort me. Thankfully the next time I picked up the phone to call my mom at home to my surprise my dad was the one to answer the phone. I had never been so happy to hear my dad's voice. I couldn't describe how I felt at that moment. All I could do is thank god that he was alive and safe. Later that week he had told us how he felt and how he ran throgh a cloud of jet fuel just to get out. He still couldn't believe what had happened. . . no one could. But through all that horror of that day I was a able to capture something beautiful. I showed my family that photo I took at 8:45am. We couldn't believe that at the very second terror was struck in to the world that something so beautiful was present at that very moment. All I can say is thank you. I love you dad.
Kristin Dunn | 19 | Virginia

#825 | Wednesday, March 6th 2002
I think that september eleventh was good because it braught everyone together closer to god. I hope that it doesent happen again though because i do not want of my family members to get hurt. I was at home when it happend. I was sick. My grandma called me when it happend,she said have you been watching the news i said no so i turned on the t.v. and I saw it I started crying and thaught the world was going to end because it said in the bible that the world will end by one great world war and I hope it isn't in my time because i dont want to die i want to live my WHOLE life to be free.
Laura | 12 | Virginia

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