#545 | Thursday, December 20th 2001
Iwas just getting up with my kids when my husband called and said to put the TV on. When I turned it on I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought oh my god what a tragedy. How could an airplane crash into a building...thinking of all the poor people in the plane and in the building. Just as I thought to myself what a horrible accident... another plane comes crashing into the building next to it. I sat glued to the TV with tears running down my face and alot of fear. I was so scared! My sister called me... Then I called my mom who is 81... Then I called my brothers and sister in laws. My sister in law who works at xerox didn't know a thing. When I called she put the radio on and then told everyone... they somehow got a TV. We kept calling back and forth crying and exchanging thoughts of what happened. When the second plane hit we knew it was an act of terror. When the plane hit the pentagon I really started to panic... How could this possibly be happening, especially to the pentagon. Somewhere that is supposed to be such a protected area. Then another plane down... this one close to home. I started to panic and fear how many more will there be! Is this the start of a war. While all this was going on my whole family keeping in contact with one another. My brother dropped my mother off to my house before he had to go to work... My mother so upset and crying we were all worried about her. My sister came home... to my house. My husband who works in downtown Pittsburgh came home. My sister in law who works by the airport at Xerox is sent home. Her office closed because of being so close to the airport. All airports closed. I stayed glued to the TV flipping channels for days. So sad...what a black day! I wanted to do something so I found a website that gave directions on how to make these angels to send to the people who lost loved ones. They were going to have a special service in New York and give them to the people. If I could of gone to New York.. The Pentagon... or even to the site by me in Pennsylvania and done something... anything to help I would of. All of the firemen.. paramedics.. and police.. God bless them all. Sept 11, 2001 made me a different person... made me cherish life so much more... from that day on I have expressed my love so much more for everyone. My children were shown alot of love before but so much more and told how much I love them and my husband the same. My Mom...Sister...and Brothers...Sister in Laws... Nieces and Nephews...Friends...everyone now says I love you more often. When we are on the phone before we hang up we now say bye talk to you tomorrow... I love you!
JLB | 39 | Pennsylvania

#520 | Tuesday, December 18th 2001
The morning of September 11th, 2001 began much like any other Tuesday morning for me. As a Catholic school teacher, I started the day wondering, "How are my students today?" "Are we having any assemblies that I forgot about?" "Will the kids like the lesson I've planned?" Normal Tuesday morning musings for me.
Little did I know what was happening that very morning. A bit more than halfway through my first English class of the day, my 8th grade students were happily involved in a group project that was going quite well. It seemed to be a good day.

That's when the PA system came on, and we all listened quietly as the principal delivered a confusing message about two plane crashes and the World Trade Center and asked us to say a prayer for the victims. Thinking nothing more than, "How sad, two plane crashes in one day," and "What's the World Trade Center got to do with that?" My students and I said a heartfelt prayer and then continued working.

Then the parents began to show up. I wondered what could have happened, realizing now that a hallway full of parents didn't show up to pull their kids out of school for no good reason. Then a copier repairman asked me if I'd heard the news. I said no, I hadn't; I'd been teaching all morning. That's when he filled me in on what had been happening that morning: four planes had been hijacked; two had crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City; one had gone down into the Pentagon.

No wonder the principal had chosen to leave out some of that information in her address over the PA system. In a K-8 school, maybe the older students would understand, but the younger ones, if they even knew what the word "hijack" meant, would be terrified. The way I now was.

The announcement came around 11:00: Those students who went home for lunch were to stay there. The rest would be dismissed at noon.

The inevitable questions followed: "Why?" "What happened?" "Is this about those planes?" "Are we at war?" "Is this going to happen again?" I had no answers to give them then. I still don't have all the answers.

It was a surreal car ride home. Even the traffic, though heavy, was eerily quiet. No honking, no revving of engines, no big rush. Just an odd sort of uneasy peace as everyone drove home on that bright sunny September day, tuned in to KYW and any other stations that were broadcasting the news. I listened as an alarmed-sounding newscaster described scenes of utter devastation in New York City. Even though I hadn't seen a thing yet, the simple description of the chaos and the unnerved sound of the newscaster's voice brought tears to my eyes.

It was close to 1:00 by the time I got home and dropped my schoolbag on the kitchen floor. I asked my father and brother if they'd heard anything about what happened. Of course they had; even as the words left my lips I knew that it was a stupid question. The whole nation now knew what had happened here on the East Coast. Most of the world probably knew by now. I looked at the television screen as a news station cut to a view of New York City's skyline and only one thought flashed through my mind, silencing all of the others: "Where are the Twin Towers?"

The Twin Towers, of course, were gone by that time, as was a good portion of the Pentagon, in the worst terrorist attack our country has ever seen. Since then, I've watched helplessly as families wandered the streets of New York, begging anyone who knew the whereabouts of their loved ones to please call them. I've watched police officers and firefighters cry as they look at the mountains of rubble before them, knowing that thousands of innocent people had lost their lives in those buildings.

But I've watched America unite like never before. I've watched Congress stand together to sing "God Bless America." I've watched blood donors line up for hours to give. I've seen more American flags flying at homes, businesses, and schools than ever before.

And I think we've all realized something. We're a bit less quick to honk our horns if the person in front of us drives a little too slowly. We're more likely to look people in the eye when we talk to them. We finish projects we've been putting off for months. We say "I love you" a little more often.

Maybe that's all we really need to be happy. A little bit more tolerance. A little bit more patience. A little bit more love. The realization that we need to stop looking for something that could be right under our noses.

So that's the thought I leave you with now. Try to do something nice for someone today. Call a family member, reconcile with an old friend, tell someone how much they mean to you, because the sad fact of the matter is we don't know when it'll be too late to do the things we keep putting off until "tomorrow".

God Bless America.
God bless the victims and their families. May they find comfort in the fact that our thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of them.

Freda | 23 | Pennsylvania

#485 | Sunday, December 16th 2001
I am the mom of 2 teenagers and an almost 7 year old in first grade. Normally, after watching the little one get onto the schoolbus, I go online to read my mail and check in at Arlo Guthrie's (www.arlo.net) website. It's rare that I watch TV, especially in the morning.

College was still on summer break on September 11 and I was antsy. Not feeling satisfied at the computer, I put the TV on, hoping to tune in to some new home decor show on Discovery.

My TV automatically turns on NBC (channel 3) and I heard the word "debris". Thinking it referred to a hurricane in the Carribean, I changed the channel. Then, for some reason unknown to me, I quickly switched back to NBC. That's when I heard about the first plane crash. I guess my mind was trying to protect me, because I immediately thought of "accident". But when the 2nd plane hit, I thought to myself, "we're at war." My next impulse was to shake my head, "don't be so dramatic" I told myself.

Glued to the TV, I finally remembered that I had to call a tow-truck for one of my cars, but I really didn't want to have to leave the house. It needed the battery charged and I knew I'd have to drive it for a few miles without the radio being on. So... there I sat.

Finally, I got the car started, drove it and raced back home. So what if the battery dies? Somehow, having a running car no longer mattered much.

I called the High School to see if my 2 older kids were ok, did they want/need to come home? They could, I told the school secretary. She assured me that most of the teachers had dispensed with their lesson plans and that they had the TVs on in almost every classroom. At least my teens would be seeing this first-hand. They had extra counselors on duty.

Next I called the Elementary school. I was told that they had decided not to show the images on TV to the younger kids, but that they would be told of the events before boarding the busses to come home later that day.

The rest of the day, I was on the telephone with my husband, every few minutes to let him know the latest happenings. By the time the first tower fell, I was beside myself and wanted someone to come home. Thank goodness, all state offices closed early (he works for the state) and he came home shortly after the 2nd tower fell.

Fall term at my college began a week later and we had a memorial service. Every day, when I am outside on campus, I feel drawn to looking up at the American flag. We have held several special events at school now having to do with the events on September 11 and each time I feel a little bit closer to how I felt before this happened. I am feeling almost "normal" again... less anxiety than I had in the first month after the attacks.

Having an 18-year-old son doesn't do much to help relieve the anxiety, but now that's it's almost Christmas and enough time has passed, I see so much progress being made in Afghanistan that I'm not as worried about my son as I was before.

For all the evil that has been done, I really feel blessed to live in a country where adversity brings people together. We showed our true colors on that day. I am more tolerant than I had been in the past, especially with all the foreign students at my college. I have more patience with them as I work to help them learn computer applications and struggle with term papers.

My youngest's birthday was last week. He decided instead of having a licensed cartoon character birthday theme to have an American Flag party! He drew pictures and we made a "pin the stars on the flag" game, bought a patriotic songs for kids CD and even a large American Flag birthday cake! We had red, white and blue table settings and decorated with red, white and blue crepe paper streamers.

Seeing the changes in so many attitudes around here makes me believe that there is much hope for the future of America.

Terrie Winson | 47 | Pennsylvania

#435 | Monday, December 10th 2001
I was at my office in Cannonsburg, PA. Just south of Pittsburgh. My manager came out of his office and said to look at CNN to see some plane had hit one of the towers. We marveled at the picture and wondered how that accident occurred. Later we were told the second hit and more and more unfolded. No work was basically done that day. I spent the day on newsgroups(since the news sites were unresponsive) and on the phone getting updates. I downloaded multiple videos and announced updates to people huddled around my cube.
David Foose | 25 | Pennsylvania

#428 | Monday, December 10th 2001
I was at work in Harrisburg, PA on the morning of September 11, 2001. Around 9:50 or so a co-worker stopped by my office to say that a plane flew into the World Trade Center. We immediately thought it was just an accident. Only a few minutes later, he came back and said that a second plane had flown into the Trade Center. Right away, the accident idea was dismissed. I flipped on the radio to try to learn more. The newscasters only had sketchy information. I kept listening and visited a few Internet news sites trying to learn more when another co-worker told me they had cable TV hooked up on one of the conference rooms. I went up to watch what was going on. About a dozen co-workers and I were watching CNN, we couldn't believe what was happening. We saw the first Trade Center building collapse, and we all gasped. I said alound, astounded, "Do you know how many people just died?". We were glued to the TV, and what seemed to be only a few minutes later the second building collapsed just like the first. We also heard of the Pentagon being hit, and of a 4th plane going down in western PA. For about an hour and a half we just watched the news... we couldn't tear ourselves away. More people kept piling into the conference room. Finally, the Executive Director stopped in and said the office was closing for the remainder of the day. We all went home. I spent the rest of the afternoon in front of the TV watching CNN, wondering whether any more planes were going to target America. What was happening was just unbelievable.

--Doug Good
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Doug Good | 30 | Pennsylvania

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