#1381 | Friday, June 7th 2002
I was driving to work when the radio announced the news, it was 6 a.m. western standard time. At that time they weren't sure if it was an accident or not and I was trying to remember which buildings they were because five years ago I visited New York for the first time. I drive a special needs school bus for a living and I found it very difficult to keep it together for myself, my parents and children. Our School District was the only District not close school for the day. The kids that I drive are mostly 3-5 years old so they didn't understand what was going on. When the radio announced that there was a missing plane and it was supose to head to California, I was concerned about it coming here to our Fallon, Nevada traing Air Base. I called my husband on his cell phone to hear his voice. It was extremely hard to pick up my kids that day because the parents were crying and distraught about sending them to school. I reassured them that I would make sure if the school closes I'd bring them back home. That day I hugged all my parents and kids trying to despertly keep it together. It wasn't until later that night around 6pm that I saw it on the news what everybody else had already seen. The radio station describe it very well what was happening as it happened. I felt like I was watching a movie and I found myself glued to the news each night. I found out later I lost 14 fellow believers that day in or about the World Trade Center. How have I been affected? I am trying to show more compassion for people and not take things so personal; I'm trying to be a better Christian.
Colline | 34 | Nevada

#1336 | Tuesday, May 28th 2002
I was just about to drop my two-year-old son at daycare when I heard on the radio news that there had been reports of a plane hitting the WTC. It seemed remote to me, and I assumed it was a small plane. The radio anchors had video footage they were narrating, and I heard one of them gasp when she saw the second plane hit. I dropped my son off, mentioning to my day care provider that there was something confusing going on in NY, and got back in my car to head to work. As the news kept unfolding I felt sicker and sicker, and it got harder to drive. I finally got to my office and my coworkers looked shell-shocked. Our computer support staff helped us to find news sites that weren't jammed, and a few of us had radios on, too, tuned to different stations.

My husband called an hour later to say he was coming home from his consulting job. I asked why (I wasn't sure he'd heard the news), and he replied "Because the world is ending." I started to cry then, and I sobbed to him that I was so glad our son was too little to have to explain this to him.

I spent the day passing news (some of it exaggerated--there were so many rumours) back and forth to colleagues, reading some panicked and some reassuring emails and messages from message board friends in NY and DC, and calling home to find out what was on TV. My oddest thought all day was that I remembered that the local civil defense sirens were due to be tested that afternoon and I hoped they wouldn't go through with it, because I figured everyone would panic. As it happened, they didn't test them.

It was a surreal, awful day. It was hard to wrap my kind around what was happening. All I knew was that life would never be the same.

Karen | 34 | Michigan

#1245 | Thursday, May 2nd 2002
I was at work in Nutley, NJ when I heard of the attacks. My husband worked in tower 2 on the 78th floor. He called me and told me that a plane had hit tower 1 but not to worry because it wasnít his tower and they were fine. He had always said the buildings were a giant target but I never took him seriously. My girlfriend Debbie called me to tell me about the second plane. I had just told the 20 people who called after the first plane that he was ok and now that had all changed. I hung up with her and called my mom to see if she could tell what floor the plane had hit, if it hit high enough he could escape and would be safe, unfortunately there was no information available on the internet so I began to frantically call his cell phone, and pager. I did call the company but no one answered the phone for obvious reasons. In retrospect I have no idea why I would call there; I guess I just figured that it wouldnít be true if someone picked up. The second plane actually hit his floor. Forty five minutes later I got a call from my husband that he was ok and out of the building. He had left after the first plane hit, all the papers in the air told him that something was wrong and he needed to leave immediately. I donít know who was watching him but they made sure that he came home. The first time I saw the devastation was driving home from work that day. I live only 5 miles from NYC and have an almost constant view of the skyline. As I came over the Passaic River Bridge on RT 3 East the Empire State Building is directly in front of you and the Trade Center was to the right. You always knew where midtown was and downtown, they were like beacons, as I looked to the right I saw the buildings on fire. I knew they were on fire but the vision of the smoke pouring out of them was too much to bear. I broke down on the highway crying hysterically; thank god a truck driver saw me and waved me over to my exit safely. Without him I donít think that I would have even made it home. I live on a cliff all day there was a parade of people going to look at the spectacle. I didnít go until that night, I thought if I didnít go maybe they would be wrong on the news. My husband got home at 2:30 in the afternoon. I thank god everyday that he left when he did. The other four people that he was at work with that morning didnít make it out alive. We should never forget what happened on September 11th. It is easy to say just move on, but the pain and fear never end.

Cynthia | 34 | New Jersey

#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

#1094 | Friday, March 22nd 2002
This was written on September 12th for a friend's website. The numbers proved to be wrong, but it's what was being said at the time.

I was running late for work Tuesday, September 11. I was catching the very end of the CBS Early Show. In Birmingham, AL. They were coming out of a commercial when the first image popped up. Live on TV.

The upper floors of the first of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was on fire. There was speculation at that moment that maybe a small commuter or personal aircraft, maybe a helicopter lost control or accidentally hit the building. Then they switched angles to the street level. You could see from the shot the silhouette exact angle the plane penetrated the building. A big plane. I described it as the way a cat goes through a wall in a cartoon. Bryant Gumbel was speaking to a woman who was watching from the Chelsea area, when I watched the second plane, obviously a twin engine commercial style jet enter the second tower, and emerge as a fireball. Live on TV.

With a visceral stun, I realized, this was not an accident, and I just watched a hundred people die. Live on TV.

Almost immediately, these journalists, trained for years in dealing with live TV, unpredictable guests and technical difficulties, faltered. There was great caution not to call it a terrorist attack, but anyone who knew about the second plane had to believe that something was terribly wrong. A clear blue sky. A bright Summer morning. Live on TV.

I have worked in the media, radio specifically, and I know the journalistic instincts. It was about 9:20am at this point. There were no confirmations of anything, and reports coming in about Camp David, The State Dept, the White House and other buildings. All this while, not knowing if this was an ongoing threat, all of the network news services were in harm's way, most headquartered within just a couple of miles from the World Trade Center. Trying to report what they had while looking over their shoulder, and not panic the nation. Live on TV.

Then the pentagon was hit. Then the word of the other plane going down in Pennsylvania. Were there more? Some reported 4 more planes, no, 8 more, then 2. I cried when the first tower collapsed. I went numb when the second one fell. Live on TV.

24 hours later, my mind cannot wrap itself around the number of lives I fear may be lost. 200 firefighters and paramedics. 30 or more police officers. Civilians, who resisted the most natural urge to run away, and instead ran in to help. I'm thankful I was numb by the time they started showing people falling from the 80th floor. Plus anywhere up to 50,000 people who could have been in those buildings, the subway, the plazas, and the sidewalks of Manhattan trapped by tons of concrete and hit by metal and glass from above, covered in soot, dust, and strewn paper. Ambulances report rolling over bodies covered in the debris. And however how you may feel about the military, up to 800 dead at the Pentagon. These are not numbers. These are Humans. Husbands, Wives, Brothers, Sisters, Mothers, Fathers. Thousands of souls. It still almost doesn't seem real. When my wife's Grandmother died, that was real. When my Grandfather died, it hurt, but it was real. I keep waiting for Bruce Willis to deliver a line. Live on TV.

I get the feeling that retribution will be swift and decisive. My only hope is, that since America seems to have such bloodlust right now, (a snap poll last night shows that something like 90+% of Americans are willing to go to war over this) that we get it right. Calm, careful deliberations and investigations are necessary. Let's make sure we know exactly who did this, before these 90+% of Americans demand we bomb the hell out of whoever is found to be responsible. Live on TV.

John | 34 | Alabama

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