#830 | Thursday, March 7th 2002
I was in a diner here in Orlando eating breakfast with my mother, father, and 2 year old while my husband was out of town. I was 8 months pregnant and having contractions that were maybe an hour apart. No big deal. All of a sudden, the restaurant quieted down bc someone walked in and said that two twin engine cesnas had crashed into the WTC. We blew it off, and headed to the car. John Boy and Billy were talking about it on the radio and announced that they thought it was a terror activity. We got home in time to watch the towers fall. Emma was born 4 days later, after stress induced contractions.
Heather Schaeffer | 27 | Florida

#801 | Friday, March 1st 2002
It was the begining of a week's worth of vacation for me. I was wide awake and had been all night as I was working on a redesign for a website. The TV was off and the sun was just starting to creep through the blinds of my Florida apartment. Exhausted and frustrated with my web work I clicked off my computer and turned on the television, figuring I'd have a quick cigarette and a look at the perky morning news stations before finally going to sleep. The channel was set to NBC for no reason, the Morning Show with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. There was a very interesting interview with a man who had written a book on Howard Hughes being broadcasted, stubbing out my spent cigarette I lit another one as I was actually engrossed in this man's tales. Suddenly the camera panned away from the entertaining author to a somewhat shocked looking Lauer who interrupted for 'breaking news' only to speed away immediately for commercial breaks as they lost their camera connection to the 'breaking news'. Curiously I din't automatically go to CNN or MSNBC, I flipped up a few channels to Good Morning America. There we had Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer and a camera angle to the WTC, one tower was burning and debris was litering the air. There was talk of a small plane hitting the building, but even I in my ignorance of the *size* of the building knew it had to be something larger. I knew it was a passenger jet. I still wasn't sure what happened, as most of us weren't. My first instinct was to call my mom, which I did, waking her from her sleep. My first question was...'Where's dad?'. I knew he was meant to be flying off somewhere for business and often leaves from the New York for Egypt(at this point we didn't know where the planes had taken off from), luckily he was in Atlanta and had arrived there late the night before. So for the next few minutes me and my mother watched the burning tower and swarming helicopters on the television, commenting ocassionally until the second plane hit. 'Another plane just hit the other tower' my mother shouted across the phone line. 'No way.' I said, 'It must be footage from the first plane hitting'. We all sooned learned the truth. A strange numbing feeling, not quite panic, enveloped me and I hung up the phone. I figured I wouldn't be sleeping anytime soon and was down to my last few cigarettes. I got in my car and traveled the short trek across the street to the store taking in the morning commute of people heading to work. Did they know? I wondered.

Inside the store a tiny black and white TV was playing, the clerk was crying, saying she knew people who worked there, knew people who had died in Oklahoma. Emotions were begining to show and even change on the few customers in the store. 'It's terrorism.' Someone said quietly. 'It's gotta' be terrorism.' Someone said angrily, louder. I said nothing and left with my cigarettes and looked again at the packed highway, 'Do they know?'

A few minutes later I opened the door of my apartment, the news station still blaring on my TV and the image I encountered was far more frightening than even seeing the tower hit on live television. It was the image of a smoke filled Washington DC. The Pentagon was burning. The Pentagon. Then all the various rumors of bombs began leaking to to the press and the camera showed Bush on television here in Florida and as awful as it sounds I was hoping he'd hurry up and leave the state, like his presence was a target.

Then there was panic, here for me, in the relative safety of my surburban Orlando home, because there was The Kennedy Space Center and Lockheed-Martin, Andrews Air Force Base, Disney World...

With in an hour after the first attack I was showered and heading down a nearly deserted highway my eyes constantly taking in the sky for the shadow of aircraft, the FAA had already grounded the planes. My car couldn't drive fast enough and when I passed other vehicles I still wondered, 'Did they know? Why are they driving so slowly?'

Finally I reached my mothers house and for whatever reason felt safe by the fact that I was with people. We watched the news stations, and we watched the towers fall. The towers falling didn't really seem to affect me, I was fed on adrenalin and it was just numbing. I remember distracted conversations, my mother telling my father, who was staying in a hotel at Atlanta's Hartfield airport(one of the busiest airports in the country)to find a car and get out of there, to come home.

Over and over again the towers fell, then 7 world trade center plummeted to the ground. Bush was on TV from underground bunkers and the dust people were everywhere on every screen, looking distracted, ghostly, not at all real.

Sleep still alluded me and I left the confines of my mothers house for a few hours only to return to the images of fighting in Afghanistan, which everyone wrongly assumed was an attack launched by the US. I had heard about Mossood(sp?)assasination a few days before, how little I knew then that the Taliban or Afghanistan would invade my life.

Eventually the night ended, and I still didn't sleep. I watched the towers fall some more. I remembered watching Behind The Veil a few days before, it was media images and newsclips and when the sun crept through the blinds I finally fell to sleep.

Six months later and I still think about 9/11 every single day.

lanie | 26 | Florida

#746 | Saturday, February 9th 2002
We had just finished taking notes in Coach Allan's American Government class, when his phone rang, after he took the call he said that we were going to watch the news, because there was histoy in the making. When we heard about the planes we were all pretty suprised. Most of us watched the tv all day in our classes, the only time I wasn't watching was at lunch and switching between classes, and of course when Mrs. Allard wouldn't let us watch it. I even remember running back to English from the Guidance office after I was finished switching classes because on my way back I heard that one of the twin towers had just fallen. Most of my friends and I were nervous for the rest of the day, even when one of the maintenence crew was mowing outside our view a few people took cover, thinking it was a plane. I have become more of a patriot since then, I have a flag sticker on my truck's back window, and a front licence plate with an eagle and teh flag. I have also donated money to our local fire department.
Dani Ritigliano | 18 | Florida

#736 | Thursday, February 7th 2002
I had just woken up with my 2 1/2 month old son and we were walking into the kitchen to get his bottle ready. I heard a message from my husband on the answering machine saying an airplane had hit one of the twin towers in NY. "Oh great," I thought "Another reason to be afraid to fly, another airplane tragedy. . ." I did not even turn on the tv because I felt it was best not to see something so tragic and get all upset. Well, after I fed my son his bottle, I changed my mind and turned on CNN. At that point, both planes had hit and the buildings were burning badly. Plus news that the Pentagon had been hit was out. Knowing this was a lot more serious than a regular airline tragedy, I sat, with my son playing in front of me, and watched the events unfold. I sat stunned as the buildings collapsed. My son played unknowing on as these horrible events unfolded. I could not tear away from the TV. Usually my son and I spent the day going back and forth between the nursery, walks, and the family room, but that day we spent the entire day in front of the tv in the family room.
Jeri | 35 | Florida

#628 | Sunday, January 13th 2002
I was walking to class when I heard the radio was louder than usual at the hotdog stand. I heard the anouncer make a remark about tighter security, and I asked the man who ran the hotdog stand what had happened. He said, "Two planes crashed into the WTC, and one into the pentagon, and in Pennsylvania."

At first I couldn't believe it. I felt numb. Classes were canceled, and I walked outside back to that hotdog stand and just stood there for over half an hour listening to the news with a group of students. There was absolute quiet.

I felt angry and numb, and sad all at the same time. It was one of those days where I just had to talk to some one. I watched the news for hours that day, and just cried for our country, and for all those who were lost, and for how our freedom had been threatened.

The events of September 11 have helped me become stronger in my beliefs, and has helped me put life into perspective. I remember thinking as I walked home how short life is, and how I wanted to live it, and not take anything forgranted.

God bless America.

T.C. | 23 | Florida

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