#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

#744 | Friday, February 8th 2002
I was at work....It was a normal day, in Pennsylvania....sunny...kids in school, blissful ignorance. How feeble that all seems, even now....more than 4 months later. I run a sales route, and I was driving to a stop of mine when the DJ's of my local radio station cut in. "A plane has hit one of the WTC Towers" Oh my God...I thought that was absolutely horrific. And....I also thought it was horribly tragic, a mistake, pilot error of an unspeakable kind. I listened, tears welling, of the fire and smoke billowing. It was a sad day, even at that point. I was reminded of the attack in '93, and thought the firemen would take good care of the situation. Minutes later, the next plane. I stopped, pulled over to the side of the road, purely shaken. WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON??? Terrified, I realized my surroundings...I was near out local airport. It may seem a bit foolish now, but let me tell you, at that time, I almost peed myself and sped away to what I thought of as a "safer location". I kept on with the next 2 hours of my job, breathlessly listening for the next report. I called my sitter and told her to get my kids out of school. I wanted them all in one place so if I had to get them in a hurry, I could. I raced home, called my husband on the cell phone....told him to come home NOW. He was out front. We held each other, we hugged....God help us, we prayed. Shaken, we turned on the TV. After seeing the utter devastation, we asked our kids to "amuse themselves". They went upstairs, and we watched CNN for what seemed like hours.

It was unbelievable. It still is. My whole soul goes out to those who lost. My prayers, my blood, my money.......it doesnt seem like enough. God bless America. We will not allow this to be forgotten. And I am one of those rare people who think the WTC should never be rebuilt....no matter how economically stressed NYC is, no matter how short of office space ....it is hallowed, sacred ground. It is a burial site of hundreds that have burned to nothing. I cannot see any structure being fit to replace those grand and solemn structures.

God bless.

Sunshine Mohr | 26 | Pennsylvania

#730 | Monday, February 4th 2002
I was at work, in a daycare, teaching a class of ten 4 year old children. I had heard in passing about a plane crashing into the WTC but didn't think anything of it. It was just an accident, so I thought . I received a phone call from my mom at about 10:00, telling me to turn on the news. I was terrified. Afterall, my brother lives in NY. I tried calling him, but couldn't get through. Finally, after 30 minutes, I got through. I started to cry when I heard his voice. The children knew that something was wron, they could feel the tenseness in the air. They kept asking what happened, why were we watching the news. Then one child asked about the plane they saw crash on the TV, so I knew it was time to turn it off. I just wanted to go home to be with my family, but I had these innocent children depending on what little strength I had left.
Denise | 26 | Pennsylvania

#711 | Friday, February 1st 2002
September 11,2001 was my son's first day of school. My mother,mother-in-law and myself had just dropped my son off at the school.We were very exited because this was his first day ever of pre-school. The time was 8:53am when we heard the announcer on the radio station KYW in Philadelphia say that a plane had crashed into the tower of the WTC. We looked at each other and said , "What was that pilot thinking?"We rushed home.I turned on CNN and called my father at work to see if he knew what had happened. I feel people around the world who had heard that the first plane had crashed thought it was just a terrible mistake by an airline.While i was on the phone with my father he was simultaneously watching CNN with my mother and I. We all screamed "Another plane just crashed into the other WTC" Right away we knew terrorists or another country was to blame. We even thought some psycho militia group may have done this.In the mean time my husband was asleep upstairs, he works nights and was dead to the world after a very long shift.I started crying. I was also 7 months pregnant at the time so I was emotional anyway. All I kept saying was that I wanted to get my son from school.I was thinking about what my new baby's life would be like, or even if we would have a life. We were just waiting for something else to happen. Sure enough the reports came in that the Pentagon was on fire. Then there was the story of a plane crashing into Shanksville,Pennsylvania. This was so eerie because my family owns houses in the mountains not 20 miles from there.With this I woke up my husband,still in tears I told him what was going on. We all began to watch CNN. The first tower fell. Then the second.After seeing people jumping,people running for their lives,the distruction in NYC,i wanted to hold my son and tell him everything was going to be ok. How could I tell him everything was going to be ok if I didn't believe that it was going to be alright? For weeks after the attacks I kept hearing the voices of news reporters in my head. It's very rare to see such emotions coming from objective sources. I still here the voice of one reporter from tv "The World Trade Center is no more." To me those were the last words of every person who died and are still missing today.
Danielle Arrera | 26 | United States

#699 | Wednesday, January 30th 2002
I was sleeping in when my fiancée called and told me to turn on the TV. She had heard about the first plane crash at work and at the time nobody knew what was going on. I turned on the TV and was amazed by what I saw. Sitting there, talking with my fiancée on the phone, watching the burning building, then seeing the second plane. The fireball took my breath away. I've always wondered what it meant when people had said they were at a loss for words and I finally knew. All I could say was, "Oh my God," over and over and over again.

The news had come about the Pentagon plane crash. Early reports said it was the Old Executive building, next door to the White House, and fear had set in. Living just hours from DC, I couldn't help but feel the fear of what was happening.

And there I was, watching the TV again, talking with my fiancée again, when I told her, "They have a close-up of one of the corners of the building and it literally looks like lava flowing out of the side." I didn't realize it then that the molten lava I was seeing was the supports of the World Trade Center towers melting away under the extreme heat. My fiancée asked, "Lava?" and before I could tell her yes, I saw the top part of the crack angling over. Once again, I was reduced to, "Oh my God." I watched the tower crumble to the ground with my eyes and mouth wide open. It was like something out of a bad movie. The smoke rising and rolling between the buildings was unbelievable. We both knew that it was only a matter of moments before the other tower went and we were unfortunately right.

The skyline looked naked. It looked fake. Like someone took a picture and just erased the buildings to see what it would look like. But it was real. The devastation was real. The Pentagon was left a broken rectangle wondering where its other side was. It was sad. It was devastating. It was a shot straight to the heart and it hurt. Bad.

Then the stories began. The people who helped others get out with no regard for their own lives. The people they managed to pull from the rubble. The firefighters and policemen going into the devastation when others were running away to safety. The firefighters who wouldn't leave a woman alone in the building and managed to survive in the stairwell. The Bible on the chair at the Pentagon. The heroes became evident. "The strong shall survive" and they will forever survive in our memories. Pro sports stars became little children again, realizing that they played a game and that the real heroes were the men and women who risked their lives everyday to save others. We honored those who had long been forgotten and taken for granted. We started waving at the policeman and the firefighter again. NYPD and FDNY became etched in our memory as two sets of four letters that both became the definition of the word hero.

We honor our heroes and we fight to protect our freedom so that those who died will not have done so in vain. Those who brought this destruction to our country did not win. They destroyed our towers and took so many of our loved ones from us, but they made us stronger. They brought us closer together. We once again became a country of one. We once again rose as Americans. We are Americans and we stand together for the freedom we love and cherish.

Fred Telegdy | 26 | Virginia

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