#1170 | Tuesday, April 9th 2002
The night before I had stayed out late, even though I had an 8 o’clock class. My friend Jamielah and I would walk to our 8 o’clock classes together, so when she called me at 7:45, I thought she was merely going to ask if we were meeting to walk to class.
Her first question was the expected, “are you going to class?” I grumbled a “no” –I was still asleep and really did not feel like tackling Geology for an hour and fifteen minutes when I could be sleeping instead. As I was about to hang up- (college students are not expected to have phone conversations at 8a.m.) she said, “oh by the way, are you watching the news?” “What? No, why would I be watching the news?” I asked. After all, she was the one that was waking me up. Why on the earth would I be watching when I was sleeping?
“Well because the World Trade Center has been hit by two airplanes, it is all over the news,” She said, with an urgent tone, and with that- changing my life forever.
“WHAT?!?!?” I yelled, not caring that my friend’s hearing might be affected in the process.
“Yeah, turn on the news. It’s all over.”
We hung up, and I ran out into the living room. As I turned on TV. my worst fears turned into a reality. I saw two smoldering buildings, and heard reports other airplanes might be involved. One had just hit the pentagon. My sister works for the Agricultural department in D.C., and the past April had had my first niece, Amariah. My thoughts immediately turned to them. I had only met my niece for the first time in June, and like many of my friends said, when I saw her, I knew that I would give up my life for her in a second. I thought of how innocent she was---and how if they were harmed—I couldn’t think.
I immediately called my sister and my brother in-laws house in Virginia. No answer. My brother in laws voice on the answering machine only made me start to cry. I do not remember exactly what I left that day on their answering machine. Only that I was trying to sound as little worried as possible. I think I said something like, “Hi, this is Nancy, I am just checking to see if you are okay.” Smile, hang up the phone. My smile fell as I started to cry.
I called my friend Dave, who was asleep as well. Dave is in the ROTC on campus, and when I told him, he immediately became alert and ready. A solider, is always ready. He immediately invited me over to his apartment. I threw on some sweats and grabbed my portable cd player with a radio on it. The 5-minute walk over to his apartment was long, and as I listened as more and more news reports came on, I could not help the tears falling down my face.
I remember when I was walking, looking at all the cars passing by. Everyone was just finding out. Everyone’s lives were being changed, and somewhere, far from where I was, people were dying. By the time I got to Dave’s, they estimated 10,000 would be dead. I went into shock.
We didn’t say much, just kind of watched the news in silence. I remember him holding my hand, which is all we could really do. I didn’t know if my sister was all right. For all I knew, she could be dead, and my family had not called me. I couldn’t feel, I just felt static. In shock. I could not believe this was happening. I am a Political Science major, so I was already aware of the political structure. I already knew who Bin Ladin was- at 9 a.m. pacific the news was already starting to point to him. I knew he had organzed terrorist attacks before against some embassies, and an aircraft carrier. I knew all of this, yet it just made me feel even more worried. Would Americans be held responsible for what our politicians had done?
Two hours later, classes were canceled. Gray Davis, the governor had ordered all agencies shut down. Stores, malls, everything was shut down. By 1 p.m., no one was on the street, and the FAA had long ago grounded all airplanes. Dave and I decided to take a drive- with the radio off into the mountains. We drove silently, and I tried to forget what was happening, but it didn’t happen. We ended up turning on the radio, and repeating ourselves about how we felt.
I was in training for my first marathon at the time, and I had to do a 4-mile run that day. I had to- I could not not do it. Dave went along with me, and I remember looking up into the sky to see nothing. I remember telling Dave, “You know, if we saw an airplane in the sky right now, we would have to run.” He agreed and we again, were in silence as we ran. No one was out, and the police were on full force. I remember running near my college campus and the police following us, I do not think out of concern that we were a threat, but to make sure we were okay. They never asked what we were doing, but were merely a presence over the area.
Then, planes started guarding us. We have an airbase near by, and they were doing patrols. That was a scary sound- to hear these big fighter jets overhead, and then to realize that they were literally protecting us, it is scary.
My sister ended up being okay; they were all taken to shelters. Amariah, my beloved niece, was safe. And my family, we all were safe, and in close contact. The next day, as classes resumed, we all talked about it. Things started to become different. People were communicating in a way I had never seen before. Different ethnic groups were coming together, there were people praying, and hugging. I saw a lot of hugs around campus the next few days. I think we all needed to feel close to each other. We all needed to be touched, to be held. I was no exception. I think I hugged all of my friends every time I saw them, and told them I loved them.
A few weeks later, at a 30k race (18.1 miles) before the race officially started, a woman sang the national anthem. My mother described it to me later (I was too busy being nervous about the race) and told me it was the most amazing thing. When she first started singing, racers were talking, getting ready. Then she said it slowly became silent, and the singers voice rang out to all of us- to all of our hearts. For a second, I looked around- at my mom watching me start, and at all of us runners. I remember thinking that I was so glad I was an American, that I had a right to run 18.1 miles, and that I was free.
I ran those 18.1 miles with all of my heart; I ran it for all of the Afgani women that can’t run. I ran it in celebration of simply having the freedom to do so.
At the marathon, two in a half months later, the same thing happened. We all thanked each other, and ourselves for running, for being able to run.
And now, seven months after it has happened, I still get chocked up writing this. There are days that are hard still, that I cry. And there are other days, when I do not think about September 11th at all.
A few days after the attack I remember crying on the phone with my mom. A few days later, I received an unexpected card in the mail from her, which read,
“I hope you will find comfort in knowing how much you are loved.”
And I do, each and every day. John Lennon was right, love really is the answer.
September 11th will always be what it was- but I will be able to tell my children and grandchildren that out of such terror and sadness, came hope, and love. Americans really can join together, and we do.
United we Stand, today, and forever.

Nancy Mello | 20 | California

#1169 | Tuesday, April 9th 2002
I was showering for school when my mom banged on the door for me to see what had happen on television. I got on the internet, and the word was out that it was a terrorist attack by Osama Bin Laden.
Carlos | 20 | California

#1144 | Monday, April 1st 2002
I was at home sleeping in my bed when I was awoken by a phone call from my girl friend. She told me there was a terriable accident. I got up, turned on the T.V. and watched the horriable events unfold.

R.M.A. | 20 | California

#1127 | Thursday, March 28th 2002
I am a firefighter that was called to our local airport for standby on 9-11-01. I have never been so scared in my life. I thought it was te end. As I was leaving my house as the pager was just about to go off...I heard the fire and ems getting dispatched for an aircraft down in shanksville. As i entered the firehall and heard all the radio traffic...i thought to myself...What the hell am i doing here? I should be home with my family! My day ended about 7 oclock.I left the hall and went straight home, still trying to put the puzzle together and realize what just happened. All of my crew on the engine will never forget 9-11 and those who lost there lives.
Jason | 20 | Pennsylvania

#1102 | Sunday, March 24th 2002
I was asleep the morning of September 11th, 2001. I worked very late the night before and was exausted.
I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing at about 1:00pm. It was my mother , calling to see how I was dealing with the news.
"Have you been watching the news?"
" No, well, I glimpsed something earlier about a plane hitting the pentagon and that they were evacuating the pentagon and White House, but I didn't see the sense in it. I mean it was just an accident, right? The president shouldn't be in any danger."
"Sweetheart," my mother says tearfully. " The World Trade Center is gone. Two planes crashed into both the north and south towers this morning. Not long after that, both towers collapsed. Another plane hit the pentagon, and theres another down in a field in Pennsylvaina"
I was thunderstruck. No, thats not the right word. I felt a lot of things. I don't think I have to explain them; I'm sure everyone felt the same mixture of fear, rage, sorrow, and fierce pride that awful morning. I just remember watching the news and seeing the footage of the second plane hit the tower, over and over again, and the footage of the buildings collapsing. It was heart-wrenching. I was so sad, I couldn't even cry at first, and that was the worst feeling.
I wanted to stop watching the news, to turn away from the horror, the sorrow and the fearful loss of life. But I wouldn't let myself. I kept telling myself to keep looking, and see what happened while my selfish ass was still in bed. I felt like I had betrayed all those people; felt like I had ignored them because I didn't feel like getting up. Also I couldn't turn my back to the tv, I really would be turning my back on the thousands of people who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.

Amanda | 20 | Florida

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