#2114 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was in Europe on vacation; my last day in Prague when it happened. I didn't hear about it until I was on a train to Vienna. The Austrian border guard came by and after stamping our passports, he said "So you are Americans...". After we affirmed that, he asked "Did you hear the news?".

"Did you hear the news?"

Oooohhhh boy. Were we in for a revelation.

After saying "no", he proceeded to tell us about the terrorist attacks. He didn't speak English very well so it was hard to get the full good story.

Later on, the border guard came back with a German language newspaper with pictures. While I do not speak German to any significant degree, I was able to pick out tidbits like "Boeing 767". Wow. For someone who is used to having virtually immediate access to a TV or the Internet, to have to wait a few hours to get the news was a very unnerving and anxious experience.

A few hours later, we arrived in Vienna and after we got a taxi to our hostel (ironically called "Believe it or not"), we set out for an internet cafe, which seem to be somewhat less common in Vienna when compared with other European cities. We ended up finding a conventional bar that happened to have a computer and a modem. After spending a bit of time getting the machine to work with the help of the bartender, we sat down and read in horror all of the news, and comiserated with the bartender. I'm normally very desensitized, but I was in shock. In the process of all this, I downed two beers and three vodka shots. Then, we went back to the room, all called home to check in, and got some sleep.

Nathaniel Woods | 25 | Massachusetts

#2054 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I am a police officer, and on the morning of September 11th I had gotten off shift at 0700. I had some paperwork and administrative duties to attend to, so by around 0830 I was ready to leave. As I was leaving I decided to stop by and see another friend of mine who was working a road detail. We chatted and after about an hour, one of the bicycle patrol officers rode up to us and told us to turn on the radio. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, both towers of the World Trade Center had been hit. I immediately left and headed home. While on the way home I called my wife and found out that she and our daughter were at her grandmothers house. I told her to stay put and continued on my way home. I listened as the Pentagon got hit, the reports of a plane crash in Pennsylvania, and then the towers crashing. I remember driving on the highway and looking over at another motorist, I remember seeing her crying as she was probably listining to the news reports also. When I got home, all I could do was watch in horror as the scenes were replayed, over and over. I will never forget this day and the surreal feeling. What started out as a heavenly day turned into hell. Never in my wildest dreams would have I imagined that I would have seen fighter planes patrolling the skies of this great nation. God bless all my brothers and sisters in uniform, all the Medics and EMT's, all the firefighters, and the soldiers on the front lines. And god bless all of the Americans on this day of reflection. Someday we may be able to say that this day was the beggining of the end of terror.

My name is not important, what is important is that I am a proud American.

AMERICAN | 29 | Massachusetts

#1978 | Tuesday, September 10th 2002
On September 11th 2001, I was in the Hospital giving birth to my third child. Samuel, he is the light of my life. It was one of the greatest days of my life, but one of the saddest also, for as I held my new son I realized at that very moment some mother some where would never be able to hold there son ever again. My daughter who was 10 at the time was very confused and did not know how to act around people because she was happy to have her new little brother but sad because so many people died. And a mom some where lost there son that day. My mother in law said to her there is a old saying that goes when a baby cries someone will die, so you know that Samuel has the heart and soul of a thousand hero's. I say he has the heart and soul of AMERICA, they may have knocked us down but like he did that morning we came back kicking and screaming. See the Doctor did not quite make it in the room that morning, he was already all the way out by the time the Dr., nurse, and my Husband made it back in the room. It was just him, and me so you see if one little baby can come in this world kicking and screaming all by himself, imagine what a whole nation can do together. So to all hero's of 9-11 We Thank You, For now my son is 1 years old now and can be proud to be an American, and even though he was born on that tragic day he can say he has the heart and soul of a thousand hero's. Cause we came back kicking and screaming. It also taught me to appreciate every precious moment I have with him and my Family.

Thank you again so very much America !

Shawnda St.Laurent | 30 | Massachusetts

#1944 | Tuesday, September 10th 2002
September 11 in Boston dawned a beautiful day. It was a wonderful late summer day as I headed to work that morning. I thought to myself what a great day it would be to have off. As I walked down Boylston Street to work, I looked up and saw a jet flying out of Logan Airport, flying low over South Boston and the South End. I wonder now if I caught a glimpse of American Airlines flight 11 or United Airlines flight 175 on its way to its doom.
After sitting at my desk for 45 minutes, I got up to use the mens room. While I was there, I heard someone mention to someone else, rather non-chalantly, that he heard a report that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York. At the time, I thought, as I am sure everyone else who first heard it, that perhaps it was a small Cessna. I remember that a WWII bomber had once flown into the Empire State Building in 1945.
As I walked back to my desk, I noticed a large group of people gathered around the plasma television on our floor. I walked over and realized the magnitude of what happened. There was a gaping hole in the North Tower with smoke and flame billowing out of it. We had no sound on the television, so we couldn’t hear what was happening…just look and wonder among ourselves. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion. One person in our group said, “I think I just saw another plane hit the other tower.” From the angle we were watching on television, unless you looked quick, none of us, except this one person, saw the second plane. I remember saying, “No way…it has to be jet fuel from the first plane or some secondary explosion in the North Tower.” Moments later someone who was listening on a radio confirmed that indeed it was a second jet that had hit the South Tower. And at that moment, I am sure everyone in that room instantly knew that this was a deliberate act of terrorism!
Since there was no sound available on the television, everyone who had a radio in the office turned them on. We got much more information from them than from what we could see on television. I immediately called my girlfriend at work. Shoot!…she was in a meeting all morning. I left her a message to call me IMMEDIATELY. I also left her an email to call me ASAP! I then called my parents; it was about 9:15 now. My father answered and I told him to turn on the television….NOW! He started to make inquiries but I told him to turn on the TV…..all his questions were answered by the sight he saw. We spoke a bit about what was happening and I told him what I knew so far, I told him I would call later and hung up.
I went back to the plasma television and watched a little more, thinking to myself, “Those poor people in those buildings….God help them.” It may sound strange now but I actually tried to concentrate on getting some work down, but it was difficult. Radios all over the office kept an up to the second account of what was happening,
The reports on the radio started coming in minute after minute….all NYC airports shut down, all bridges and tunnels into NYC closed. An underlying sense of panic started sweeping the office. If it happened there, what is there to prevent it from happening here in Boston. I don’t think anyone even thought about work the rest of that morning, everyone just wanted to know what the HECK was going on.
Of course, all sorts of reports started coming in … an explosion at the State Department, a car bomb on Washington Mall, the White House and the Capitol being evacuated. Some was true and of course as we found out later some were false, but it simply added to the growing sense of panic at the office. A kind of mass hysteria started sweeping the office as any bit of news was twisted from the actual facts. Someone started saying that the MBTA and commuter rails had shut down. I called the ‘T” and discovered this was not true. I had to literally stand on my desk and announce that the T was running and even tell one man to stop saying the T was shut down and not spread that kind of information. But that is the kind of panic that was beginning to take hold. And if it was happening here in this office…..what was going on in the rest of the country?…in New York?
Then reports came in that the Pentagon had been hit by American Airlines flight 77….and pandemonium set in. People to my left and right were wondering what to do next. Do we get the heck out of here before a plane hits our building? Maybe It’s over? How do you know? There could be dozens of hijacked planes out there. I’m a pretty levelheaded guy, but I just remembering thinking, “What the HELL is going on?” It was difficult not to panic, to give into the fear. Some people were distraught, others outwardly calm, but I’m sure everyone had the same thought…..Whats next?!
While we were all thinking what to do next, we continued to monitor the radio and television. Nothing but bad news rolled in as our trepidation grew with each report. All flights in the U.S have been grounded…all incoming flights to the U.S diverted to Canada….the South Tower has collapsed…another airplane has crashed in Pennsylvania (United Airlines flight 93)…people fleeing Manhattan and Washington…the North Tower collapses….you can understand why people were in a PANIC…everywhere in the US. Personally, I thought we are at war…that moment! Where would the next attack come from? Airplane? Car Bomb? The imagination ran wild.
Shortly after the North Tower collapsed, my girlfriend called and said 2 words, “Whats happening?!” She had just had her meeting cancelled by an officer of her company who told them the WTC buildings had been hit…and of course they had a thousand questions. I told her all I knew and she relayed the information to her co-workers. I told her that we may be evacuating our building soon and I wanted her to leave and go home with me as well. The stock market had shut down , so no work would be completed that day. We agreed that we would both leave and I told her to meet me at Back Bay Station. Although I advised her against it, she thought it would be best to walk over to Copley Square (a little over a mile).
We finally did get the notice to leave the building at about 11:00 AM. From what I could hear on the radio, everyone was trying to get out of Dodge. I tried calling my parents again and there was a noticeable delay on the phone before I could get a line. Obviously, everyone in America who had a phone was using it that day. And the Internet?….Forget it!…I couldn’t even log on the volume was so high! I got through to my parents and told them we were heading home. From what they heard on television, most of Boston was being evacuated. I told them I would call as soon as we got home.
Since I knew it would take about my girlfriend a good 20 minutes to reach me, I meandered about trying to figure out what was the best course of action. Obviously, the commuter rail would be the fastest way home. But then I began to think, what if some terrorist with a bomb decides to blow himself up on the train or the platform. That’s when I really began to become tense. That this could happen anywhere, at anytime.
I went out to Copley Square at 11:30 and immediately noticed how quiet it was. Of course, no planes were flying out of Logan, but I noticed a definite pall in the air. No loud voices, no honking horns that you would normally hear in Copley Square. It was as if everyone was observing an extended moment of silence to those who had fallen. My girlfriend showed up and we hugged and headed for the train station. I didn’t tell her my worries (until after we got home), no sense panicking her. As we walked to the train, I told her everything I had heard and knew. She is pretty emotional and was getting upset by what I told her so I changed the subject. Luckily for us when we got to Back Bay Station, they had added extra trains, so we were able to leave immediately. It was a quiet ride home, with people speaking in hushed tones.
Once, we got home, we watched the continuous coverage of the disaster. My girlfriend at times cried as she watched, I think I was too stunned to feel anything. We both called our respective parents to let them know we had made it home alright. At about 6:30, my girlfriend received a HUGE shock. Her best friend’s brother in law had been on Flight 11. Now, the tragedy really hit home. I later received a call from my boss to tell me not to come into work the next day, as the stock market would be closed. We talked about the day’s events for a while and expected to be back to work the following day. I watched the news until early in the morning, maybe hoping I would wake up from this national nightmare. My girlfriend expressed hope that maybe some survivors would be found in the WTC. I grimly replied that no one would be found alive in that carnage. But the day’s events really didn’t hit me until they started reporting that scores of firefighters had perished that day. The enormity of what had happened September 11 now set in. This was no nightmare or horror movie, this was very real.
But for me, as I write this nearly one year later (September 7, 2002), it is a beautiful day outside. I couldn’t help noticing how much it reminded me of September 11. And I can’t help thinking, that until the day I die, whenever there is another beautiful day, I’ll stop and think to myself…”This is just like September 11…"

R McDonnell | 38 | Massachusetts

#1914 | Tuesday, September 10th 2002
I was at work, walking by a co-workers office and saw that he was watching a small hand held tv. We were able to get the local news station on the tv in our main conference room. To say that we were shocked, confused and horrified would be an understatement. Never in my wildest imagination would I ever consider anything like this happening. Two of the flights originated here in Boston, I work in the area of our Federal Courthouse, and Armed Forces building and was evacuated along with most of the city. The look of horror and sadness on each and every face I saw that day and the many days to come is something I will never forget. My heart goes out to each and every person directly and indirectly touched by this new kind of evil in our world. Hug you children, share your love, be happy, be safe. As we approach the one-year anniversary on this National Tragedy, please say a prayer for the souls of all those lost that day. I know I will.
Jill | 30 | Massachusetts

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