#354 | Saturday, December 8th 2001
I was awakened by my father after the first plane had flown into the tower - on the west coast, it was a bit too early for me to be up. Knowing that I'm glued to the news after major stories, he knew that this was something that I needed to see in real time, rather than a quick wrap-up later that day. I sat there with my parents before they left for work in horror as the second plane flew into the Trade Centers and as we woke my brother, we all sat as a family watching the buildings implode on themselves. My mother was scheduled on a flight to San Francisco later that day, which she still planned on taking, had all flights not been cancelled. My father went into work, but got little done as everyone watched the story unfold on TV. My brother and I sat at home and watched TV for hours on end.

A rude awakening September 11th as I was planning for my birthday 3 days later, and a day no one will ever forget.

Blake Kunisch | 22 | California

#344 | Saturday, December 8th 2001
I was asleep when the planes hit. My father woke me up around 9:30, with nothing more than "Two planes hit the world trade center - terrorist attack". I couldn't believe it in my semisomnulent state - and unfortunately, my father didn't make it sound like it was a big deal - in fact, I'd say that he didn't think it was a big deal. I have alot of issues with my father.
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Anyway, I turned on the TV, and saw the towers burning. I was shocked. Stunned. I turned to my computer, and IMed a couple of friends, telling them to turn on the TV. Most of them were already watching.
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It was around 10:00 that my father insisted I go to school. Were my mother home, I'm sure she would have disagreed, as I did, but we had just gotton into a number of fights, and didn't know what to do. So I showered, drove to school listening to the news station. They kept getting worse and worse. I heard about the car bomb at the state department - the fourth plane, and people calling in, saying that the towers were down, or half down, or something. By the time I got to school, where I normally saw the towers in the distance, there was nothing there but a big, dense cloud of debris.
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I parked on the roof of my school's parking deck. Other college students my age gathered to look at the scene - they hadn't heard what happened. One student said that "it looked like Manhattan was on fire". Another said "Holy shit, is that a nuke? Did they just nuke Manhattan?" I was the unfortunate guy to have to tell them of what happened...
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We worried about which way the wind would shift. Newark isn't that far from Manhattan, after all. When we got down to street level, a professor told me that class was cancelled on both the NJIT and the Rutgers campuses. I talked to a woman who was desperately trying to get word of her father who worked in the WTC. She said that he called her from the lobby but hadn't heard from him since the towers collapsed. I don't know what happened to him or her - I assume he got out.
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Another person remarked how a field trip to the World Trade Center was scheduled for his entire class for September 12, 2001 - a trip that will never be made for a long time.
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I called home using a payphone, calling my father, telling him that I was alright. He didn't seem to care. And that I was coming home. I ended up driving 2 hours that day for no reason - classes were cancelled, as I figured they would be.
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I stopped by at my local gaming store on the way home, where they had a TV. I saw for the first time the collapse of the towers... the great dust cloud... it was... it made me sicken. Brian Gatens, the 16 year old kid who worked at the store, came by and hung an American flag in the window. I helped him, I was taller.
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I drove home, hugged my Mom, who was worried about some sort of race riot in Newark considering the high percentage of Muslim students we had...
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I then stayed glued to the news.

Brian R. Boyko | 22 | New Jersey

#313 | Friday, December 7th 2001
I am English and was travelling around the US with my girlfriend at the time, having just left Univeristy aged 21. We were on an Amtrak train from Houston to LA and an announcment came over the train informing us that "because of events on the east coast" the train would have to be stopped and every item of luggage matched to a passenger. The announcer added that he had no reason to beleive that the train was under any threat. My initial thought was that a bomb had gone off on a train on the east coast. We stopped in western Texas and the process began, after identifying our luggage I heard a woman with a walkman relaying information to people further down the carriage. I couldn't hear her properly but I heard the phrases "both the World Trade Center towers are gone", "they say 7,000 could be dead" and "they are asking citizens to give blood." I simply did not belive my ears about the WTC especially because less than 2 weeks earlier me and my girlfriend had visited the WTC observatory and were amazed by the height of it. To think it was not there anymore was impossible. I thought what could kill 7000 people in New York and thought an earthquake initially but then realised that quakes like that do not happen in New York. The eerie silence of the people who could here her worried me. After a few minutes I walked into the carriage behind to see if they knew what had happened. As long as I live I will never forget that scene: every single person had their heads bowed in prayer. As I entered a man looked up at me ( blue baseball cap, middle age) and I asked if anybody knew exactly what had happened. He told me that "both the WTC towers have been bombed and have collapsed." I was so scared at that point. He then said "The Pentagon is on fire and the President is in an underground bunker. And warships have been sent to New York" For a few seconds I honestly beleived the 3rd World War had begun. My heart started beating so fast and my mouth went dry. I stammered out the question "was it terrorists?" and he said yes. A woman who was near me was crying and saying that she had just boarded the plane and had seen the video footage of it and how terrible it was. I was shocked it was on tape. No one mentioned it was planes. I stood there shocked and the man offered to lend me his walkman to listen to the news (typical American friendliness), I said it was ok my girlfriend had one and went back to her. I physically could not tell her for about a minute - it was so strange. I eventually told her and we sat listening to the news through Texas and later New Mexico and Arizona. The whole train was in total silence for the rest of the journey (another 18 hours). It was terrible, all the flags we saw were at half mast. Five days later we went back to New York by plane from San Francisco. We saw a plume of smoke as high as the WTC was and when the wind blew uptown (we stayed on 30th street) could smell the smoke. Horrible.
Sam Smedley | 22 | United Kingdom

#298 | Wednesday, November 28th 2001
At work, in New Jersey, about five miles from where the towers are. We had heard from our techs who were down there when it happened, luckily for them they had seen enough after the first crash and headed back into the holland as quick as possible. The first picture in my head was of a small plane, some sort of amateur mess-up. Our TV at work was bunk, we had no cable and all the channels were out after the initial attack. My internet connection was all jammed up. When we heard of the second plane over the radio I didn't know how to react. I went outside to see if i could see the smoke, i could but that was about all i could see. I'll probably never feel like that again. This emotional place where i wanted to do whatever i could but the realization at the same time that there was nothing i could do. Everyone left work by 10am. I drove up to carlstadt where i could get a clear view of the skyline....it was just smoke. It was the most beatiful day of the year too. The kind of day that happens maybe 10 days out of the year here. Crystal clear, no humidity, so blue. I thought about all my friends that live downtown and if they were okay. I thought about my grandmother who lives on 23rd st. I thought about what the skyline would look like after the smoke cleared. I turned off the tv after a while and went back out for a drive, all this nervous energy had built up. I thought about the reaction, radio personalities were already asking for the heads to roll. I thought about the changes that were on the way. How this could be a positive thing, making people more spiritual and less hateful, resentful, just more open....anger is a reaction but how can we reconcile what happened with anger?

Later on that night i went to a friends house to just sit and talk about what happened and hear about their stories and thoughts. It felt good to just let loose some steam with people my age. (22)

Three months later, it seems that its just business as usual in america, which is the real tragedy to me. There is such an opportunity to change the way
we live because of this loss. The media is confusing us and sending smoke screens to people. The frivolous things that were so abundent before 9.11 are creeping their way back into the conscious of america. I don't have the answers but a spiritual awakening seems in order. a change of approach seems right somehow.

Someday we'll all be free

that kid chris | 22 | New Jersey

#283 | Saturday, November 24th 2001
I live in Australia so for us it happened late at night. Ironically, I was watching The West Wing and during the last add break (around 11.20pm) the news had mentioned a plane had crashed into the WTC. My flatmates and I were confused as this seemed rediculous. We watched the rest of the show and then the news came on.

We saw the footage of the second plane hitting the WTC and our jaws dropped and an amazing silence fell over all of us as we watched. After about 5 minutes we were all grabbing our phones and dialing our parents, family and friends. We didn't call because we thought they were in danger as we live thousands of miles away from the tradgedy; we called because in times of such a tradgedy, you want to be with the ones you love.

Then the tower collapsed, I think I stopped breathing for a minute. Stunned silence. Pictures of The Pentagon flowed through and security alerts at the White House made us all on edge. After the other tower collapsed, the absolute devestation was evident. There was still a plane missing and it was 3am before I felt I could go to bed. I spent the night tossing and turning with very little sleep.

The next day at work my web browser was firmly planted on cnn.com to see what was happening.

What an utter tradgedy to rip through this great nation and world. My heart goes out to all Americans. God bless.

Michael Lynch | 22 | Australia

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