#1502 | Saturday, July 27th, 2002
I go to a high school where news travels like wildfire. I was in the hallway at school and heard that we were "going to war" and that the World Trade Center towers had been hit and so had the Pentagon. I just thought it was something that had been taken out of proportion. The rest of the day we spent watching TV. I don't think any of my classes did anything academic the whole day. I was a senior, and I had a study hall where I could leave school. My friend and I were driving down the hallway and saw an airplane circling downtown Des Moines. We were really upset thinking something might be happening close to home, but thank God, nothing did. I'll never forget that day!
Jen | 18 | Iowa

#1503 | Saturday, July 27th, 2002
I had a freelance sound engineering gig, offering sound support to a group of Columbia film students and various performing artists on September 11th. We were scheduled to shoot at PSNBC, a performing arts space, art studio, and coffee shop located in SOHO. At around 8:40 AM on Sept 11th, I was waiting for the E train on the A-C-E downtown platform. The E train is a line specifically created to shuttle people from uptown to a stop directly under the WTC. My stop, I knew, would be a couple stops before there, at Spring St, about 20 blocks from the Towers. My train arrived around 8:48AM. I boarded and sat down, still partially asleep. The train ride proceeded without incident, despite the fact that one tower had already been impacted on a subway line directly above the same tracks I was riding.

I arrived at Spring St at around 8:58AM and exited the subway station. When I got to the street surface, I noticed a group of people staring south. I was looking to see what they were staring at, then noticed as I got closer to them that they were staring at the Towers, one of which was sporting a huge flaming gaping hole in it. I asked the witnesses what happened, and they responded that "a small plane slammed into the towers and set them on fire." I was thinking that the small plane they were referring to must have been a private tour company that offers biplane tours of the Manhattan skyline. When I made this erroneous connection, I became angry, as I'd seen both helicopters and small planes fly perilously close to many skyscrapers in Manhattan many times. I offered up my gesture of annoyance and kept walking to the studio, thinking to myself that this was just another day in Manhattan. After all, living in Manhattan you would see similar sights daily. No matter how horrible a tower of the WTC being on fire might be, it's not enough to stop short a workday.

I arrived to the studio and went inside. None of the production crew or talent had arrived. I went back outside to gawk some more, like dozens of people were doing. There's a Sunoco station across the street from the studio, thru the park. I walked over to stand with the rest of the crowd. Then it happened.

Around 9:03AM, we all watched in horror as we saw another set of flames emerge, this time from the second tower. From our perspective of being north and facing south, the second plane which was flying north and slammed into the second tower, sending a fireball ripping thru the tower and emerging out of the north side, directed toward us. Witnesses began to scream and everyone was in a state of shock. I reached for my cell phone to call my girlfriend at our apartment, but my cell phone was dead with an untold number of voicemails stuck in it.

I headed back into PSNBC to look for my coworkers. Still no one had arrived, and I began to worry about their safety, as they were converging on the studio from all over the 5 borough area. I sat down and listened to NBC news (as PSNBC was affiliated with them), as report after report rolled in about all that was happening. New Yorkers began filtering into the cafe, ordering drinks and just sitting down in a state of shock. One of the actors arrived in a clear state of shock and sat with me. As we listened to the news, a businesswoman came in and sat down, visibly shaking. She pulled out her cell phone and tried to make a call, but her hands were shaking so much she dropped her phone. She unwrapped into a ball of tears; I assumed she knew someone in the towers or in the vicinity of Wall St. We went back outside for a bit to look some more, as if to reaffirm in our conscious that this was indeed happening. My cell phone was still dead. There was a long line of people standing at a payphone. We did this a number of times between the time of impact and collapse.

While we were inside, NBC radio announced that one of the towers was collapsing. Incredulous, we dashed out into the street to watch, but by the time we got out there, all we saw was an enormous mushroom cloud of smoke and destruction. My coworked just collapsed into tears, just thinking about how many people had just died. I felt as if thousands of souls had just smashed themselves thru my body. I watched in horror, waiting for the smoke to clear, just so I could see how much was remaining. It seemed like forever for the smoke to clear, and as it got clearer and clearer, I became increasingly shocked to see that there was NOTHING visible left. No support beams, no infrastructure, nothing. I decided I was going to wait in line at that payphone and put myself in contact with a number of people probably waiting to hear from me, starting with my girlfriend.

It took me another 20 mintues before I could get my hands on some change and get my turn at the phone. I called her , she was immediately relieved to hear my voice. I told her that I was ok and that I was going to wait for the director to arrive before I left, because I couldn't just disappear without letting people know. She told me that my mom and sister had already called our apartment looking for me. I told her that I was leaving as soon as possible, and to let everyone know I was ok. I hung up the phone and went back to the studio. We listened to more and more news, waiting for others to arrive.

Around half past 10, the director arrived. We all just sort of stood around; I watched them smoke cigarettes (as I had just quit 2 weeks prior, lucky me!) and fret for a bit before they decided officially that we were cancelling the shoot. Dave, the director and cameraman, did some filming before we left.

No public transportation was functioning at this point, not that I wanted to be crammed into a bus or subway car in this state of chaos. It appeared as though I was walking home, at least 3 miles. As I walked home, I saw more of the same chaos...people covered in soot, people crying, cars cops and medical vehicles travelling the wrong way down one-way streets. I found myself walking past St. Vincent's Trauma Center, the closest trauma center to the WTC, and discovered more chaos. I had to stop and get some water, to call my gf and let her know I was walking home. More lines at payphones, more people just littering the street in disbelief.

The rest of the walk home was truly bizarre. Commonly disregarding New Yorkers were greeting each other and saying hello, actually looking into each others eyes as if to search for humanity any chance they could. I walked alongside a Latino riding his bike and told him to be wary of his tap water getting tainted with biological agents. There's no telling what's coming next, I thought. After all, if the WTC could have planes slamming into it and collapse, nothing would surprise me.

It took me well over an hour to get home. After walking several miles and up 5 flights of stairs, I embraced m girlfriend tightly and sat down in front of the TV so that I could finally see what everyone else in America saw. The impact, the collapse...I had dozens of e-mails already waiting for me, people all over wondering if I was alright. I had many phone calls to make. I had to proceed in changing my entire perspective on everything...

Welcome to the brave new world.
Mark A. DeCheser | 28 | New York

#1504 | Monday, July 29th, 2002
I awoke around 1 or 2 in the afternoon on September 11th. I had called in sick to work around 8:30 that morning and did not know of anything about to happen. When I was awake briefly that morning, I had thought to myself that this was to be an odd day. I did not know why I got that feeling but I did and I did not feel right. I thought it was from being sick, so I went back to bed. When I woke up that afternoon I listened to the answering machine and heard my brother frantically telling me to wake up and call him and to turn on the news. Well, not thinking too much of it I opened a webpage on my computer and saw the latest headlines. Something about the World Trade Center collapsing. I could not believe it so I turned around in my chair and turned on the TV to CNN and as soon as I turned it on, I saw that frightening video of the second plane crashing into the second tower. It made me shiver, and made me think of who would do such an evil thing. I quickly called my brother and talked to him about it, and then I realized that my friend was in New York at the time in college right in Manhattan. I did not get in touch with him for days when he finally got to come home. Fortunately he was not in the immediate area of the crashes and was safe. He told me he was able to watch the towers fall from his apartment building's roof. Still, those images of fire, and people falling to their death scare me and make me realize how messed up and chaotic this world is. I used to think that this country was safe, but after those incidents and incidents such as the Daniel Pearl case, make me reassess that thought. We are not Americans anymore, we are global citizens. When people wake up, which I hope happens before we are all dead, and realize that we do not need this violence anymore, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the military presence of our troops in Afgahnistan, the rivalry of India and Pakistan, and the oppression in places like China, Bosnia, and Korea, then the world will be safe again for ALL people. Peace, and love to all....
Robert M. | 20 | Virginia

#1505 | Monday, July 29th, 2002
I woke up at about 3pm CET that afternoon, and only a few minutes later the news about a plane crashing into the WTC came on. At first I thought it was an accident, but when the second plane crashed I realized this actually was an attack. My boyfriend picked me up shortly after that, and we went to his house where we continued watching the news all day and night, discussing who might be behind the actions.
Linda K | 23 | Norway

#1506 | Monday, July 29th, 2002
I was only three days into my senior year when one of the teachers came rushing in the room and told the class what happened. We were all in shock and couldn’t believe what we had just heard. New York City was attacked? Everyone remembers the bomb that was triggered in one of the buildings in New York but we couldn’t imagine the Twin Towers being struck by planes. I live in Upstate New York, near Albany, so the attack kind of hit close to home. I have only been to NYC once when I was younger and I remember what a great place it was, with all the tall skyscrapers and the shopping. All day during school there was talk of the attack but teachers did their best to keep our minds on schoolwork. Some kids were crying because they knew people that worked in the towers and others were crying because they were afraid of their safety and for America in general.

I always thought of our country being the most powerful in the world. It’s a tragedy that it took a devastating attack to bring our nation closer together. Its amazing to see the whole nation, no matter what religion or ethnic background, pull together; putting flags up all over everything, setting up memorials for the victims and their families even if they didn’t know any personally, being nicer to people and just showing pride in that they live in such a great country. We are so lucky to have the freedom that we do and should never take it for granted. My senior year will forever be imbedded in my mind because of this event. I will look back and remember watching the many news broadcasts replaying the horrible images over and over. I will remember how I cried for the people that had died, the helpless and the heros. I will remember how we had such dedicated firemen doing everything they could to reach people that were hopeful survivors and working long and grueling hours and not caring. God Bless them all.

I am grateful that none of my loved ones or friends were at the scene of the attacks. I pray for the families that have lost family members and/or friends in the attacks. May our nation stick together and show our pride can’t be destroyed in times of hardship. GOD BLESS AMERICA.
Danielle | 18 | New York

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