#940 | Monday, March 11th 2002
I heard the news from a crazy homeless man but I didn't believe him.

I was running late for work, again, the day of 9/11. I had been underground on the Metro when the WTC was hit. And I heard the the rumble and crash when the Pentagon got hit, but I had not yet heard the news of any of the attacks and really didn't think much of it. I work at the US Department of Commerce in DC, 2 blocks from the White House. It wasn't until I got to my building when my crazy homeless friend says "They World Trade Center is on fire." With this story, as with others he tells, I dismissed it and went on up stairs.

When I got there, I had an email message stating that "the New York Regional Office has been closed due to a bomb at the World Trade Center." At which point, my supervisor comes and says "they just hit the Pentagon." It then clicked what I had just heard on my walk to my building. I ran to the other side of the DOC that has a view of the Pentagon, and sure enough, it was on fire. And then I left the building. Still not knowing what was going on.

When I get out of my building at 14th and Pennsylvania, I look up, and hovering above the White House is a big, unmarked, low-flying, white jumbo jet. It is odd to see a jet flying right overhead in DC, but I later found out that it was a flying tactical command center protecting the White House.

Anyway, I got the full news coverage at the bar and decided that I needed to get back to Virginia. Fearful of further attacks to DC, I decided that I could not get back on the Metro. I had to walk. And the closest way out of DC and home was the Memorial Bridge which gave me a close look at the burning Pentagon. As I crossed the Mall, I was detoured around the Washington Monument. Then I heard the sound of more explosions nearby. These turned out to be the sonic booms of in-coming jets fighters.... regardless, when I heard them I screamed at them in the middle of the Mall, "Would you stop f**king bombing us!!!"

Kevin Matthews | 27 | District of Columbia

#933 | Monday, March 11th 2002
I was getting ready for work when our phone rang just around 8 a.m. (CST). My sister came into my room and said it was our mom on the phone at that the WTC had been hit by an airplane. She had the TV on in her room. She was on her way out the door, and I went into her room and watched TV for a few minutes. I couldn't believe it, and it sounded like it was an accident, a smaller plane at first.

I left and finished getting ready and went to work. On my bus, two women that got on a few stops after mine were talking about it and I heard one say that two planes had hit the WTC and that it was a terrorist attack. I was shocked and once I got off the bus and started walking to work, I called my boyfriend who was on his way to a job interview in the suburbs. I asked him if he had heard and he confirmed what the two women said and told me to be careful, since I work a few blocks from the John Hancock building in Chicago.
He said he was still going out to his interview, since he was halfway there.

I got to my building and took the elevator up to my floor. Another woman who works near our department was coming from the stairwell and turned around when she saw me. She asked me if I had heard the news, and I said "Yes, about the WTC being hit". She then said, "No, the Pentagon has been hit too!" I was so stunned as I walked down the hall in disbelief. I passed by our director's office, and she asked me if I knew what had happened, and I told her that the Pentagon just got hit as well. She didn't believe me and said, "No, I think you have it mixed up with the WTC". Well, she found out soon enough that it did get hit.

A few people had radios and we were trying to listen to what was going on. I kept on trying to access the news sites on my PC, but they were too busy. A coworker then told us that the towers were collapsing, at which point I had a hard time trying to stay composed. I kept thinking about a business trip I took to NYC the year before, and walking past the WTC towers - they were so big and tall it seemed impossible to believe they were gone.

Our director gathered our department soon after and told us that we could go home for the day. I decided to walk home, since I'm about 2 1/2 miles away and noticed several other people on Michigan Avenue leaving the buildings.

I walked through Lincoln Park, and it was strange because there were other professionals like myself walking through the park in our business clothes and briefcases at 10 a.m. in the morning going out of the downtown area. The buses were packed going to the north side of town, full of people going home. I thought of the Sears Tower, and the Hancock Building, wondering if they were targets. I also thought of my dad, who was on a business trip in Florida, and how and when he would get home to my mom and other sister in Iowa (he ended up renting a car and driving with a co-worker).

I was so glad to see my sister when I got home, my brother and my sister's boyfriend came over. We called my mom and other family and sat and watched the news, and there were false reports circulating around Chicago that a fifth hijacked airplane was headed for the city. The mayor got on the TV and denied that and stated the city was in crisis communications mode. My boyfriend came over a few hours later and said that he still had the interview, but that people were watching the news and the expressways were empty. We stood outside and noticed how quiet it was, except for the sound of military jets high up patrolling the skies.

Alexis | 27 | Illinois

#882 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
I was at work in Chicago; I had started my new job as an attorney only a week earlier. I heard a rumbling outside my office about a plane hitting a building. I tried to load an internet website but couldn't. Cursing what I thought was our firm's bad internet connection, I went to work. Soon later, I heard a gasp outside, and went to a nearby partner's office who had a small TV. It was there I watched the replay of the second plane hitting Tower 2. And there I saw Tower 2 collapse.

Soon after, I left work and went home, trying to call my family along the way. I finally was able to reach everyone in my immediate family, while watching the news on TV. I finally got to talk to my sister and it was then I broke down. I work on the 33rd floor of a 40 story building owned by a local media corporation. What if they had come to Chicago? What if they had hit my building? I couldn't stop crying for a good 20 minutes.

Our lives are changed, but we here in America are realizing how lucky we are to be Americans -- especially those of us in the younger generation who mumbled through the Pledge of Allegiance in school, and never quite realized how lucky we were. It's brought us closer to our family and friends, and taught us more about the world, and the violence around the world. We've learned to treasure our allies who stand for democracy in the world, and stand strong even in the face of their own terrorists and suicide bombers. And we've become stronger as a country.

G-d bless the USA.

Michael Massing | 27 | Illinois

#878 | Sunday, March 10th 2002
I live in Northern California. I had just woken up and was getting ready for work when a friend called and told me to turn on CNN. At that point, it was not clear that America was under attack. It seemed that a horrible accident had occurred. Once the second plane hit, it became evident that this was not an accident, but a horrible, evil attack. My carpool and I rode to work listening to the radio as the day’s events unfolded. I remember how silent our normally talkative group was. I think we were all in shock. My thoughts were occupied thinking of all of the family and friends that I had in both New York and DC, one of whom was in WTC building two. It was several hours later that I was finally able to get the assurance that fortunately everyone that I knew was safe. For the weeks that followed this event, I remember watching the news almost non-stop. Regular activities either ceased or were done “blindly” while my thoughts were else where. Questions were running through my mind. Who did this? Why did this happen? Will they find survivors? As some of these questions were answered over the following weeks, my sadness and anger deepened. This was the first time anything of this horrific magnitude has happened in during my lifetime. It will forever change me and my outlook on life. My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to everyone affected by this horrible event.
Ann Pavey | 27 | California

#833 | Friday, March 8th 2002
I lived and worked in Hollywood California at the time. The first thing I noticed was there were no helocopters overhead. I never thought I would find the buzz of the media comforting.

On September 12 I worked on a television show that filmed near LAX. When a single airplane flew overhead I realised I had never been so worried in my entire life. Needless to say we never had to stop for another airplane that day.

Kim | 27 | California

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