#406 | Sunday, December 9th 2001
A friend of mine and I were on vacation in Spain. It so happens that we were in route back home (Alexandria, VA) when this tragedy ocurred.

Three hours into our flight, the aircraft suddenly turned back without warning. Shortly after, the pilot gave us the news. It was an eary feeling. And of course it did not help that we were in the middle of an international flight.

When we arrived back into Madrid, the airline, Spanair, who deserves mentioning, took it upon themselves to get us transportation, bording and meals during this period, which happened to be for 4 days (the airlines are not responsible to provide any kind of accomodations as it was no fault of theirs), and got us back safely the following Saturday once they were allowed to fly back into the states. I've heard of other people who were on other airlines who had to look for themselves for all their needs.

While we were at the hotel, we got to see these horrendous events. It was a very mixed emotions of feelings. We cannot, and probably will never, understand how can human beings be so capable of such things.

These events was transmitted on many TV and radio channels in Spain, who were agreeing with us on the horror of it all. We even received in our hotel room a gift from the city of Madrid. It was a very nice photograph book and with it a letter giving us their support and best wishes for our safe return back home.

But September 11 is a day that I have always remembered as it is my father's birthday. So, from here on I will have two major events that I will always remember.

Now, we are back home. I go by the Pentagon every morning to go to work and my thoughts through the commotion of those first days were that we have come to realize how vulnerable we are, and how much of a sheltered life we have lived.

However, as we have seen, even through these perils, and even with all the problems and pains that this country goes through every day, we have overcomed these tragedies and our lives have resumed, if somewhat different from where we left off, but we are living, we are together, and we have demonstrated to the world that we are strong and can and will go on.

It is still extremely hard for those who did loose someone to this tragedy and I feel for them, and pray that God will give them strength, peace, and hope, to go on in life and celebrate the memories of their loved ones. Our bodies may, in time, leave this world, but our memories will always keep us here.

Alex Rodriguez | 39 | Virginia

#331 | Saturday, December 8th 2001
I was at school about a mile from the pentagon, we could hear the explosions from there. They announced their had been terrorist attacks on the PA system, but it was durting the change of classes and no one really listened. We got to our next class, then our teacher told us what happened, then there was a big explosion, it was a secondary explosion actually, and then there were some sonic booms due to fighter jets taking off. We sat in school for 5 hours watching the news... the national guard was outside.... our school was in lockdown... a day I'll never forget.
Jacob F. | 16 | Virginia

#300 | Wednesday, November 28th 2001
As a college student in Viginia, but a resident of NY, I was sound asleep when the first plane hit. I'd sent my boyfriend home from a wonderful vist here the day before through JFK airport, and was awakened by a phone call from him, screaming at me to turn on the tv. He is in the NYPD, his cousin is an EMT, his uncle is an FDNY fire captain, and his father and brother are police officers just above the Bronx. Needless to say, I was thrown headlong into the morning with phone calls and scary moments.
I watched in horror as the buildings shot flames towards the sky. Friends began to IM me, and only then did I realize that it was Tuesday, and my mother was in the WTC at a conference that morning, of all mornings. I spent the morning glued to the tv watching new developments, waiting for the next piece of news. Friends began to gather in my room, coming to offer words of hope, wanting to be consoled or to be kept current on the real news. The cable news channels were doing their best, but I was able to hear first hand what was going on in NY. About 11am, I finally got through on the phone to my father at his office. My mother had just been in touch with him - she'd been in the second building to be hit when the first plane went in. She felt the impact, and went downstairs against the instructions of the security, saying "forget it, I'm out of here," and went into the subway tunnel and went uptown to get out of NYC. She was underground when the plane hit the building she had just been in, and when she was able to look again at a tv, the building no longer stood. She had to evacuate Grand Central Station, but was then able to call my dad, and was let on to the last train headed north to the suburbs before they closed everything down.
We gathered together as a community here, many people having friends and family in NYC and in DC, and many people still waiting to hear from them. Everyone was looking for clear answers and no one could provide them. I sat in my room, unable to tear myself away from the news or my cell phone. My family finally all got home and they were all able to slowly get in touch with me and let me know that they were safe. I began to hear stories from my boyfriend and his family about bodies and horrible things that weren't being shown on tv. Seven members are gone from his uncle's firehouse. I've spent the last few weeks finding out about all the people who I didn't think of that day - friends of friends, family of friends...
We've lost so many. I know that God was busy that morning with so many new guardian angels. The innocent people we lost are so tragic, and the heroes, some of whom I was close friends with, died doing what they loved, what they lived for.
I want to go to sleep and wake up with the last 2 1/2 months a dream, to return to being innocent. It's not possible, and I'm not about to forget this scary time. I will never forget, never let those around me forget. Hug everyone you know, tell them you love them... in this time, and in any time, you never know when it will be the last time.

Lissy | 20 | Virginia

#281 | Saturday, November 24th 2001
That morning I was sleeping in, maybe awake maybe not, just having a lazy morning together with my boyfriend. My dog had died the day before, and I didn't have to get up and do anything until my class around 2. So I stayed in his arms until around 11ish (?) to take a shower and get lunch and get ready to go.

When I came back in my roommate had the TV on and she and her friend were sitting on the sofa watching it. I saw the footage of the Pentagon and heard a newscaster say that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon.

I thought "what are the odds that a plane would malfunction and crash down and hit the Pentagon?" It never entered my mind that someone might have driven a plane into the Pentagon on purpose.

I went into my room (maybe after taking the shower?) and noticed the little "Message" light flashing on my phone. So I called in to get my messages.

The message was from my dad, saying that America was under attack and that planes had crashed into the Pentagon and the WTC. I realized that the smoke I'd seen on my roomie's TV hadn't been some crazy accident.

I was far more scared of the Pentagon plane than the WTC, because my parents live in the DC area. Their message had assured me they were all right, but I was frightened for them. It took me a long time to realize the WTC was actually a greater disaster.

My boyfriend sent me a phone message soon after, telling me the same things as my dad's: that America was under attack, that I needed to turn on the TV.

The last thing I remember was watching the Taliban on the news, saying they send the US their condolences and that they didn't do it. I don't remember going to lunch; I think I went to class at 2, but can't remember it.

Classes were canceled at some point for that day (I think) and the day after. Emails flooded our inboxes. The school set up TVs to let us see the news as it happened.

Alexa | | Virginia

#257 | Saturday, November 17th 2001
Tragedy. Forcing myself to go to class, I pulled my eyes away from the television long enough to shower and get dressed. Not feeling like anything had REALLY happened, I forgot and smiled because it was such a beautiful day. As I walked down the street, the distinctive voice of Tom Brokaw reverberated in the air as the breaking news uncontrollably poured from the windows and the tears uncontrollably streamed down my face. I was here. At the University of Virginia. A native New Yorker, stuck in the college bubble. It suddenly struck me. It was real...it's horrible what Hollywood can do to the American mind. Effects so awesome that when it really happens...it's so hard to dissociate computer graphics from what is real. I thought of all of those people...those children. Standing on the pavement, the frezied voices of newscasters spinning their tales of tragedy stinging my ears, tears burning my eyes, the saltiness of it all assaulting my tongue--catching the back of my throat--I knelt down, feeling the roughness of the pavement beneath my knees, looking up at the carefree clouds floating against their friendly blue backdrop--clouds so dissimilar to those experienced by those helpless people, those brave firefighters, policemen and rescue workers. The words were simply lodged in the back of my throat. I had to get to class. What did it really matter? My head pounding, heart aching--lips only able to mouth what they had so wanted to scream..."Why?"
April Inyard | 20 | Virginia

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