#1677 | Thursday, September 5th 2002
I WAS GETTING READY FOR WORK WHILE THE
MORNING NEWS WAS ON MY TELEVISION JUST LIKE EVERY SINGLE MORNING. THEN SUDDENLY A BREAKING NEWS FLASHED ON TV SHOWING ONE OF THE TWIN TOWERS WAS ON FIRE. I SAT, LISTENED, AND WATCHED INTENSELY AND DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO THINK AND SAY. MY DAUGHTER CHRISTIE WAS HOME THAT DAY, BECAUSE SHE HADN'T GONE TO SCHOOL BECAUSE SHE WAS SICK. MY HUSBAND, RANDY, ALREADY LEFT FOR WORK. MY OTHER DAUGHTER, MARIE, WAS IN COLLEGE IN VERMONT, AND MY OTHER DAUGHTER, MARILYN, WAS IN NJ WITH HER 2YR OLD SON, ZACH, WHILE HER HUSBAND ROLLIE IS IN THE U.S. NAVY WAS AWAY(SHIP) SOMEWHERE IN THE ATLANTIC SEA. SO I SAT THERE AND WATCHED THE TERRIFYING PICTURES AS IT UNFOLDED. I WATCHED THE SECOND PLANE HIT THE OTHER TOWER. AND I THOUGHT I WAS JUST WATCHING A MOVIE SCENE, I CALLED MY DAUGHTER TO COME OUT IN THE LIVING ROOM AND WATCH WHAT'S GOING ON, I WAS PRACTICALLY YELLING BUT SHE WAS SO SICK TO GET UP FROM HER BED. I DIDN'T WANT TO GO TO WORK THAT MORNING BUT I HAD TO.
ON MY WAY TO WORK, I HAD MY CAR RADIO ON
AND HEARD THAT A PLANE CRASHED IN THE PENTAGON SHORTLY . THEN WHEN I REACHED MY WORK (WAL-MART)ANOTHER PLANE HAD CRASHED IN PENNSYLVANIA SEVERAL MINUTES
AFTERWARDS. ALL THE TV'S WERE ON AT THE STORE THAT MORNING SHOWING THE AFTERMATHS, I BOUGHT A SMALL RADIO SO WE COULD LISTEN WITH MY CO-ASSOCIATES AND SO WITH OUR CUSTOMERS. EVERYBODY WAS IN SHOCKED, CRYING, TERRIFIED AND DISBELIEF. I COULDN'T FUNCTION THAT DAY, NUMBED NOT JUST ME BUT JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY. I DIDN'T KNOW HOW I GOT THROUGH THAT DAY. THE WHOLE STORE WAS SOMBER.






LUZ PELKEY | 45 | Connecticut

#1484 | Wednesday, July 17th 2002
I was at work preparing to teach a prenatal exercise class. It was the first day of a new class session, and I was looking forward to meeting my new students.

A co-worker approached me and said that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers. I didn't believe him. My immediate thought was of an amateur pilot losing his or her way, an accident. As I walked from the pool area to the front office of our facility,another co-worker approached me and said that two planes had hit the World Trade Center buildings. I remember thinking of the kid's game we used to play called "gossip." One person whispered a message, and the message would be repeated down the line of kids with the last in line repeating what they heard. The end result was never the same as the beginning message.

Walking through the club almost everyone I met either asked if I had heard the news, or gave me another piece of information. I started to feel a little afraid because each bit of news made me realize we were dealing with something more than pilot error. Although my husband's office is located in midtown Manhattan, I decided to call him. I was unsuccessful reaching him on his cell phone.
To my great relief he answered his office phone immediately. He said they had no cell service, no television, and could only receive incoming calls on their land line phones. His office was gathering information via the radio, and from whatever people were telling them via phone. I asked him to come home, but he said he felt he should stay put until they had a better idea of what was happening. This was at around 9:50 a.m. I had no choice but to teach my class. Only one student showed up. It was the longest hour of my life.

At the close of instruction at 11:00 a.m., I phoned home to check my answering machine. There were messages from our relatives in Califorina, and a heart-breaking message from our twelve year old son calling from school to inquire about his dad. I couldn't get through to the school via phone, so I raced across town to see him. There was almost no traffic, and my foreboding grew. The school hallways were eerily silent, and the hall in front of the administration office was filled with parents waiting to check their kids out for the day. A police officer was onsite with our school's social worker to calm frayed nerves.

I stood in the hallway waiting for my son to arrive from class. He had been summoned by the social worker, and it occurred to me that he might think something terrible had happened. The minute I saw him walk out of the classroom, I started doing jumping jacks in the middle of the school hallway to let him know that the news was GOOD. He said, with more than a little false bravado, " I knew Dad was okay. I know I sounded kind of scared on the answering machine,
but I really wasn't." I replied, "You are much braver than I am because I was scared to tears!" He wanted to come home, but I told him it was better to stay at school and try to keep a routine. I did not tell him that I preferred that he not observe me freaking out the rest of the day until his father returned home. It is an hour drive from
NYC, and there are many waterway bridges to cross on the route. We had no idea of what, if anything, to expect next.

I spent the rest of the day phoning relatives, and keeping them up-to-date as to my husband's progress home. I was glued to CNN. My husband drove home with two other co-workers who live in the area. He arrived at 4:30 p.m. Television service had been knocked out in the city almost immediately, and he had not seen any images of the disaster. I observed him watch the seemingly endless film loop of the planes hitting the Towers, the collapse of the Towers, the reactions of the people in the immediate area, and worst of all, the footage of the people trapped in the buildings jumping from the windows as their last resort. My kind, strong, brave husband sank lower and lower into our couch and cried
soundless tears. I cried with him,not only for the innocent victims, but because I knew I was one of the lucky ones. My loved one returned home safely from the city that day. Grief and joy are an incongruous mix, and it was a mix we sadly became all too familiar with in the following weeks.

Suzanne | 45 | Connecticut

#1398 | Saturday, June 15th 2002
I was wondering why passersby were eyeing me strangely. Here I was hauling my luggage through downtown Salt Lake City, Utah on the morning of September 11th. I woke up early that day, about to train a class of Social Security employees on the secrets of successful PowerPoint presentations; however, my first cab driver dropped me off at the former Social Security office, the wrong location! I had incredible trouble making a cell phone call. All I needed to do was call another cab!

Finally, I hailed one down. Ironically, the cab driver said, eyeing all my luggage and computer equipment, "I hope you don't think you're going to the airport because the airport is closed." "That's odd," I thought. "Why is the airport closed?"
Saying nothing outloud, I asked to be taken to the Social Security Office. We drove in silence for about 5 minutes until he broke it. "You do know what's happened, miss, don't you?"

When the cab driver unfolded the story of the attack on the World Trade Centers, I thought it was the end of the world. An SSA employee met me at the corner and helped the cabbie and I unload. He then told me of the attack on the Pentagon. I felt as if my heart had been ripped out and my body began to sway. My brother, a Verizon employee, worked as a telephone installer in the Pentagon.

We proceeded to the classroom where I methodically went through the motions of setting up my equipment and distributing handouts to my trainees. I could not stop thinking about my brother. They could not stop thinking about the attacks. I taught the course for about an hour until it was announced that all government buildings were closed.

I had no hotel room. I had no plane ticket. My original itinerary was to teach in Salt Lake City and fly to Denver to teach the employees there. My hotel room was waiting in Denver but I had no way to get there.

I was a stranded traveler. Would I ever get home to my husband and children?

I ended up being stranded for 6 days in Salt Lake City. I was able to get another hotel room but with much difficulty. I became very suspicious of some Iranians staying at my hotel, who were smiling and happy. It appeared to me they were "setting up shop" for the Olympics. As we set in separate chairs in the lobby, they whispered together, until spotting the government emblem on my computer bag. They stopped talking and abruptly left. I reported their actions to the FBI upon my return to Maryland. (I will never know if an attack was planned for the Olympics but if so, my sole intention was to thwart it!)

I stayed glued to the television for those 6 days. I cried. I prayed for my brother. It was later that I found out my brother had not worked in the Pentagon for over a year. His detail had ended and he had been on vacation at the Ocean on September 11th, unknown to us. (My other siblings also erroneously believed that he was still working at the Pentagon.) However, the Verizon employee who replaced my brother in his previous position perished.

I didn't realize how much my teenagers cared about me. Since I travel often and rather sporadically, they had no idea which city I was in. When they learned from their father where I was, they phoned me at 2 o'clock in the morning in a panic. They just wanted to talk about the attacks and make sure that I was safe.

September 11th remains a nightmare to me. I cannot begin to imagine the anguish of a child who will never see her mother walk through the door again, or a wife who expects to hear her husband's key in the lock.

Life as we knew it will never be the same. Today, I make sure I say "I love you" to everyone I care about.

Connee Sheckler | 45 | Maryland

#1333 | Tuesday, May 28th 2002
I was running late for work that morning and was waiting on the Long Island Rail Road platform in Valley Stream. Shortly before 9:00 a friend from Daytona Beach called my cell phone. She asked me if I was aware that something had struck the WTC. As we spoke and speculated she screamed into the phone that the other building had now been hit. A fellow passenger on his cell phone turned to me and said it was being called a terrorist attack. A young woman nearby fell to her knees crying into her phone that someone dear worked at the WTC and there was no answer at his desk.

The train pulled in and foolishly we all boarded. Thinking back I suspect none of us could believe we were heading toward a city under attack.

Other passengers were listening to news reports on walkmen, people were franctically trying to call loved ones. By now the cells were jammed. I tried to reach my childrens schools and my former wife. As we came closer to NYC we could see the burning towers from Long Island City, Queens. Remarkably our train was permitted to continue on to Penn Station.

By the time we arrived, Penn Station was being closed down. All rail and subway lines were being closed. The streets were jammed with people on cell phones, staring south down 7th Avenue. I walked north toward my office, looking back often at the smoke rising and spreading above lower Manhattan. When I reached Times Square thousands were watching the news on the jumbo tv screen. I continued east toward Park Avenue and heard screaming from behind me. Those still watching in Times Square were reacting to the collapse of the south tower.

At work we monitored the days events as they unfolded. We shared information on routes home. Many started out to walk over the 59th Street bridge into Queens. I finally reached my former wife who assured me the kids schools were locked down and they were safe. My brother and his wife work within blocks of the Trade Center. I reached their cell mid afternoon. They were in their car well north of the city, intending to cross the Tappanzee Bridge and then south into New Jersey. I heard the LIRR was running sporadically. I left the office around 4:30. It was horrifying to see the streets of my great city abandoned, still and oh so quiet. A train to Valley Stream was boarding as I arrived and left shortly thereafter. Remarkably I was home fairly quickly. I spoke with my children, my mother, a friend in Minneapolis called.

Typing this today, almost 9 months later, I feel chest tightening sadness.




Joe | 45 | New York

#1289 | Friday, May 17th 2002
I must have one of the only people in the world who didn't know anything about it as it happened. I live in the UK and was watching sky movies, between 12 noon here and 5 pm which would have been, 7am and 12noon in NY.
A friend came round at 5pm and said how tragic it was about the towers and we said what towers? He told us that the twin towers had gone and that was when we put the news on and saw what had happened.
It was horrendous and unbelievable, all those people and the buildings, the lives destroyed. I don't think we turned the news off for two days, watching events as they happened. Then we watched for the following days and weeks after. My heart goes out to the families that lost their lives in this and to the ones that are left.

Atara Fehr | 45 | United Kingdom

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