#1074 | Tuesday, March 19th 2002
When I found out about the 9/11 attacks I was just waking up for the morning to get ready to go to work. It was around 6:45am in Tempe, Arizona. I was watching the local news as I do each morning while I get ready for work. I quickly called my mother and my boyfriend to watch the tv. While watching the news at first I wasn't quite sure what was happening but I was very concerned for my family and also my step brother and his wife and 1 month old baby boy who lived in NY at that time. I will never forget 9/11. The day ill always remain in my heart.

Carrah Lynlee Skinner
Tempe, Arizona
Arizona State University senior in Special eucation Program/College of Education

Carrah Skinner | 22 | Arizona

#1051 | Sunday, March 17th 2002
I was getting ready for work, as usual. My husband had earphones on, as he usually listens to sports talk before work. Before we left home he informed me that the station reported there being an explosion at the Pentegon. I regret to say my only thoughts were "wow, that sucks." He turned off the earphones for our ride to work, and he dropped me off at my job before continuing to his.

Usually my fellow employees are wandering around the store getting things ready for opening. I found them all crowded in the break room, staring at the small TV that never gets good reception. That day it was getting good reception. They all had tears in thier eyes. And that's when I saw the clouds of smoke on the TV. That's when I learned what had happened. Even the jokesters and insensitive ones that worked with me were fighting the tears.

Minutes after I got there, a tower colapsed. A few of us left, not wanting to watch any longer.

Shortly before 8am one of my coworkers usually gets on the intercom and tells a witty joke. That day she said a prayer. All of us in the store stopped what we were doing, and bowed our heads.

We opened the doors for business, although hardly anyone came that day, and the ones that did were quiet, with tears in thier eyes. The whole day we took turns in the breakroom, watching the latest. Even customers would wander into our breakroom at the sound of the news station.

No one seemed to want to work. It was if our jobs were all of a sudden meaningless. I tried to find something to do, just to make that day go by faster, but nothing made it go away. It's a day I will never, ever forget.

Bonnie | 21 | Arizona

#995 | Wednesday, March 13th 2002
Like most people out west, I was sound asleep when the phone rang. A friend informed me that the WTC had been hit by a plane - I said you're crazy. I kept thinking this isn't funny, why would he say that? As we were talking the Pentagon was hit -- He just kept repeating "Turn on the TV, turn on the TV." I did and sat in disbelief for several minutes before I even thought to wake my husband. I was horrified. What we were seeing, there was no way to comprehend it!

I was certainly relieved that my sister, a flight attendant for American Airlines stationed in NY and living in Manhattan, had retired from the Airline that summer and moved permanently to live full time in LA. We have a couple of friends living in NJ, but they work in NJ, so we felt such gratitude that all of our loved ones should be safe.

Around noon (PST) we had a phone call from my mother-in-law informing us that my brother-in-law's fiancee had been in NY, staying at the Marriott at the WTC where she had a presentation scheduled that morning. My poor brother-in-law spent hours not knowing, unable to get ahold of her.

After the first plane hit, the Marriott personnel began evacuation of the hotel. As she was running for her life, the 2nd plane flew directly overhead and hit the 2nd tower. She kept running, nearly getting lost twice. Two different times she was stopped by passing New Yorkers and redirected away from the reckage. She was confused and disoriented by all the smoke and debris and people running. She linked arms with another woman and they ran together through Battery Park, and didn't stop until they reached water. They made it onto one of the last ferrys headed to Staten Island. There she met a nice man who let her come to his house with his wife and 2 college aged daughters. They took her in and kept her safe until she was able to leave the city the next day.

We are so thankful that we have all of our loved ones intact. I spent days crying, unable to believe that there are people out there so horrible that they would do this to innocent people. I didn't feel as angry about the Pentagon. Yes, I was angry, but you can understand the logic behind those madmen going after a military target. But why innocent people? They had to know we would go to war. Which makes it even scarier.

I'm not sure if we're safe any more, but I'm going on with my life. I will not let THEM paralize me with fear. We will all carry on and resume life, because to not do so lets THEM win and that would be yet another sin.

A week before the attack, our neighbor's daughter asked me What being an American means to me. She was doing a paper for social studies. The following is my response:

FREEDOM. Freedom is the first word that comes to mind. Freedom to do and experience things that others are not fortunate enough to even contemplate.

GRATITUDE. Everytime I read or hear about some of the attrocities that occur in other parts of the world (the Taliban in Afghantistan, Ethnic Cleansing of Albanians, the whole Israel-Palestine war), I am so grateful that I am an American.

KNOWLEDGE. I am confident that whatever we need, we can build it, we can create it, we will overcome it with knowledge and technology. We can do anything! We are Americans!

CARING. I know that there are horrible things that happen here that don't happen in other places, but I also know that those things are done by a few crazies and there are alot more caring driven people who want to help make things better, make things work.

As I sit back 6 months after the attack, I still feel so proud and grateful to be an American.

Debbie | 37 | Arizona

#871 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
My husband and I, along with friends from Florida, were staying in a villa at Sun Lakes, Az. ( An "active adult community") We were spending several days there to see how we would like living in an active retirement community.

On the first morning, our friend George got up to make the coffee and turned on the radio. He heard what he thought was another "Orson Wells" type story. The news person said that the audience should turn on the tv sets if they did not believe what she was reporting.

I got up as George was turning on the tv; just in time to see the second plane go into the second tower. I saw it but I could not believe it! We got our spouses up and spent the rest of the day in disbelief in front of the TV.

My husband and I had lived for eleven (11) years in southeast Asia and six (6) of those in a Muslim country. I would not doubt for a minute that these people are not capable of doing such as this; but for them to do it in America is something I would not have expected in a million years.

My prayers go out to all the victims, rescue workers and anyone involved. Especially to our President and our country's advisory personnel. They are doing a great job.

Brenda Gutekunst | 59 | Arizona

#865 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
Living in the western US, I was still asleep when it all started. My telephone rang about 6:45 and my boyfriend said to turn on the TV. I was still half-asleep and couldn't figure out why he would call me and tell me to turn on the TV. He finally told me that terrorists had flown airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I didn't believe him. And then I thought "World Trade Center. . . didn't that get bombed a while back?"

I did turn on the TV and saw the smoke and the chaos. We talked for a while, watching the pictures and listening to the reports. Then the first tower fell - I saw it start to go and then the huge cloud of smoke and debris. At first, I thought another plane had hit or something like that - wasn't really sure what had happened. Then I realized that the tower was gone and all I could think was that I hoped everyone had gotten out. Then a few minutes later, the second tower fell. This time I knew what had happened.

By that time it was about 7:30 and I had to start getting ready for work. Even though something truly horrible had happened, life goes on and I knew there would be work to do. And I'm much better off with something to do that sitting at home, alone, watching it all on TV. The commentators had started to bug me already with their theories about who had done it and why and being so sure it was terrorists. It was too early, in my opinion, to draw any conclusions beyond the obvious facts. So I hung up the phone, turned off the TV and started getting ready for work.

About 15 minutes later, the phone rang again. It was one of my best friends. Her brother-in-law is a pilot for Northwest and her sister had called in a panic. He was flying that morning and she thought he was in the northeast. He had called the night before and she hadn't asked where he was so she really didn't know. She had called his cell phone, but there was no answer and he hadn't contacted her. I don't think we knew for sure all the airlines that were involved, but the ones we'd heard about were not Northwest. We also didn't know about the crash in Pennsylvania yet, but that was about to come out. So we talked about that for a bit and decided that he was probably OK and was busy landing his plane and would be in touch.

That scared me - I had been pretty much OK until then. I felt like all my friends and family were not in any danger, though there were a few to check on, but knowing that there was somebody flying a plane up there who hadn't been heard from was a little unnerving. I got to work and someone had brought in a little TV set and we all gathered around. But there was no new news - just a lot of re-hashing of what little was known and a lot of speculation. More information did come out through the day and it became clear that terrorists had done this.

My friend's brother-in-law was fine. He had started in Dallas that morning and was flying to Detroit. He landed his plane in Indianapolis and was stuck there for several days. All he knew before he got to his motel room was that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center and he didn't quite believe that. When he got to the motel, turned on the TV and checked his cell phone messages, he realized what had happened and started calling everyone to say he was fine.

My boss is from New York and his nephew was in the Trade Center complex in one of the other buildings. He saw people jumping and his company lost people who were in the two towers for meetings. My boss' niece was stuck in traffic in Washington, DC for several hours - they just stopped traffic and made everyone stay in their cars. She was hysterical on the phone.

The father of another friend saw it all from the roof of his apartment building in New York. Other friends in the DC area were busy finding their friends and family and explaining what had happened to their elementary school students.

I decided that there was no reason to panic. It was very important to me to keep calm and calm others down. I know that we cannot live in a culture of fear. We have to go on living our lives, crass as that may sound. If we all hunker down in our basements and never go out, the terrorists win. We cannot let the bad guys win. My boyfriend and I had considered going to DC for an event in his family in mid-October, but we didn't go. I would have gone, but he refused to fly. It turned out that the anthrax situation started that weekend right near where we would have been so it was probably best that we stayed here. I did finally fly just after Christmas and it wasn't bad at all. I still don't think that security is what it should be, but it's better than it was. I'm also not convinced that increased security will solve all the problems.

I also have spend considerable time talking with people about fear of strangers. Some of these folks were afraid of 'strangers' before. Some of them certainly are now. I firmly believe that people are inherently good. I have known many Arab/Moslem people in my life and have no fear of them at all. I have trouble understanding some of the basis for the hatred of America. Some of it I see very clearly, but to have such hatred to do something this drastic is difficult to comprehend. But then, the first revenge killing for the attacks happened in my town the weekend after when a Sikh gas station owner was gunned down by a lunatic. That's equallly difficult to comprehend.

Violence is not the solution - it just causes more violence. Fear of others is not the solution. The solution is communication and understanding by all sides. I hope that people around the world will realize this and work for peace. I'm not saying that we shouldn't fight back - there is definitely a time and a place for fighting. But it needs to be rational and based on evidence and fact, not on emotion and for revenge.

I've been pleased with President Bush's response, for the most part. Six months later, I'm a little concerned as to where we go from here. I don't think that terrorism can be wiped out, much as I hate to admit that. So I wonder what happens next. We shall see.

I also worry that we as a nation do not seem to be concerned about what we may have done to create the feelings in the rest of the world that caused the attacks. We seem to have no clue that our policies and actions can have tremendous repercussions years after the fact. I hope that we will learn about the rest of the world and try to understand why others feel the way they do - and also why we do the things we do. We can only gain from that knowledge!

Ellen | 41 | Arizona

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