#1678 | Friday, September 6th, 2002
I remember so clearly where I was. I was on Holiday in New York City with my parents. They had arrived from Australia 2 days earlier. It was supposed to have been the holiday of a lifetime for both of them, especially my father who had wanted to see the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium for at least as long as I can remember. When we woke up on that Tuesday morning, we were so excited because we were going to have a full day of sight seeing before going to see the Yankees that night. We went to breakfast. It was a beautiful day. We walked out from breakfast at 8.45am and were on our way to the Subway to head down town to see the world famous Twin Towers. It was then we were told that a plane had crashed into the side of a building. At that point, we had no idea which building. Someone had pulled over to the side of the road on Broadway and had their radio on which was the first point we realised it was one of the towers. We looked downtown and just saw black smoke billowing skywards.

There was no way it could be real. It had to have been an accident. We went into Macy's to see if there was any more information.....then it happened. The second tower. Everyone around us at that point in time just stopped and looked at each other. We were under attack and had no idea what the hell was happening. Myself and my parents decided we would be better off getting out of everyone's way and going back to our hotel. When we walked out back onto Broadway, the single most sorowful sight I am every likely to witness was in front of me. 100's of people crying, trying to call loved ones on cell phones, pay phones. We went back to the hotel and turned on the television. We had the window open and I had to close it when i realised that what I could smell was burning buildings. We watched on television as the first tower came down......and I could hear the rumble outside. It was the most sureal and terrifying moment of my short life......and then the second tower came down.

We had no idea what to do. We stayed in the hotel for a few hours, pretty much speachless and glued to the television. We eventually went outside and the streets were desserted. Everything was closed. The only noise came from the emergency vehicles flying down Broadway toward Ground Zero.

The next day, we awoke again to another beautiful day, yet the world was a completely different place. There was a huge sense of unease because personally, I still didn't know what was going to happen next.

That night, we had just walked around for a while, when we came across the fire house on W31st street. What I saw, changed my life. Fire trucks that were covered in soot and ash, with pictures of fallen firefighters and flowers all over it. The top of the truck was almost caved in. How they got it back there I'll never know. Then on the side of the street, a lone fireman was sitting, just staring at the sidewalk. I could not even begin to fathom what he had seen or encountered at Ground Zero.

We walked back to our hotel after we had dinner and a a few drinks. I went to go to a store on 5th avenue with my mum when we saw that they had the Empire State Building area taped off. Our hotel was right by it. They said it was just a precautionary method because it was an obvious target. We went back to the hotel and decided to err on the side of caution. We packed a few essential things like wallets, a change of clothes and passports. We didn't expect anything to happen but we thought it better to be prepared. That night, I had so much trouble getting to sleep. I was terrified. It turns out, I had every reason to be scared. Not 5 minutes after thinking this, the emergency system in our hotel was sounded and we had to evacuate the building immediately. I have never changed clothes so fast in my life! We were on the top floor of our hotel and, even though it was only 9 stories, the staircase was spiralled so it was very difficult to know exactly what floor we were on. At one point, I lost sight of both my parents. I was screaming out to them and they were telling me to keep going but there was no way I was leaving without them. People kept streaming by me but it seemed like forever before I saw my parents again.

When we got to the foyer, we all poured out onto the street, where there were police officers and firefighters telling us to keep running and head downtown. We had heard that there was a package in the Empire State Building. At the time we were running down the stairs, all I could think about was those people trying to escape out of the towers. They had no idea what was about to happen and unfortunately, I got a taste of that. We were lucky though. The Empire State Building didn't blow up. It was a false alarm.

Standing out on the street, I thought I could smell something burning nearby. What I was smelling was the World Trade Centre. The wind had changed direction and was blowing the smoke uptown. That is the one thing that is so unbelievably difficult to get out of my senses.

My parents never did get to see that baseball game. It didn't matter. Nothing else mattered. But when they got on their flight 4 days after the attacks, I was so scared. They were flying to Vancouver and I didn't rest until they called me to tell me they were ok. I was still in New York because unlike my parents, I couldn't get on my flight home for a week.

What I saw and experienced during that week will stay with me forever. The amazing generosity of the people in New York touched me. I had people be so kind to me. I was a foreigner and alone at that point. They took me in and looked after me. I remember the day before I was due to fly back home. I hadn't really eaten for about 2 days because the thought of eating just made me want to be sick. Needless to say, I was a little confused. I found myself back at that firehouse on W31st street. I asked one of the firemen who I could give money to. I couldn't give blood or anything like that so giving money was my only option. It was then that I just broke down in tears. These 2 firemen just hugged me, got me a drink and took me into their station. They asked me how long it had been since I'd eaten and then they proceeded to bring out a mountain of food that had been given to them.

I remember I felt like such an idiot and a burden. Here were these amazing men, who'd been witness to the most horrific of circumstances and lost some of their own brothers in the attacks, yet, they were talking to me, asking me about where I came from what I did for a living etc....and they still had a sense of humour! I told them how stupid I felt and that they had bigger things to be worried about than some tourist who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They told me the only stupid thing about it was me thinking it was stupid!

I arrived home with mixed emotions. It was like re-entering a completely different universe.

I've been back to New York since then. I lived in the US for 6 months and went back to New York on several occassions. That is a city with amazing guts and courage and conviction. They will not lie down. The world can learn a thing or two from New Yorkers. I read somewhere that a New Yorker had made the comment "We're New Yorkers. We don't know how to be victims". I can't think of a better way to put it.

I love you New York. You've changed my life forever and there will always be part of me with you.

I know this is long but, this is the first time I've sat down to write about it. Thanks to all of you who took the time to read it.
Trina | 27 | Australia

#1679 | Friday, September 6th, 2002
O 9-11-01 I was in the waiting room of a hospital waiting for word about my sons progress when I noticed the events of 9-11 unfolding before my eyes on the television screen. My wife and I were shocked when we saw the footage of the first plane striking the tower. When we saw the second one hit we knew it wasn't an accident. We were totally shocked to think that someone could do something like this. It was hard to pull away from the television to do anything because I just couldn't believe it was happening. My prayer then and now go out to all the families of the victims of 9-11. God Bless them all and God Bless american as we lead the fight against terrorism.
Daniel T. Draper | 47 | Kentucky

#1680 | Friday, September 6th, 2002
I'm not an American, I don't live in America and (think Kyoto here), I don't always agree with the stance America takes. However, on that fateful day last September, now almost a year ago yet still indelibly etched into my memory, I felt about as American as I ever will. Along with hundreds of millions of others I reeled in the horror of what these brutal monsters had perpetrated. I still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the news: I was sitting at my desk editing a piece of magazine. Like most people, I was doing something very unremarkable, but the point is, like most people, I remember exactly what it was, down to the smallest detail – I still have a vivid picture of what was going on around me and I can still replay the scene in my mind.
The memories of the rest of that evening (it was late afternoon for us here in the Netherlands when the news broke) will also stay with me for a long time to come. The long drive home with the BBC World Service a constant reminder that all this really had happened. I remember looking at other drivers – most of them grim-faced, staring ahead, ostensibly absorbed in the rush-hour traffic – and wondering whether the same things were also going through their minds. And greeting my wife when she returned from a fun day out with our son and our neighbors’ two young daughters, blissfully unaware that horrific events had taken place that day. Then the emotion that was released when I shared with her and the girls’ mother the realization that so many had perished and the sheer incomprehension that people could contemplate doing such a thing to so many other, innocent people. Of course, being so far away none of us knew any of these people. We had no personal reason to grieve; but we did all the same.
Disgust was another emotion. Disgust and shame that misguided young Moslem youths, here on the streets of Holland, could openly celebrate the loss of life they had been indoctrinated to believe was at odds with their own. But of course living in a free country, like Holland and the US, misguided as these individuals were, they had every right to do as they did.
Yes, I remember where I was and what I was doing when the tragic events of 9/11 first began to unfold. Mine is a quite unremarkable account of how it affected me and my immediate environment and as such it’s insignificant. But multiply my account by hundreds of millions of similar ones and perhaps it’s not quite so insignificant after all.

John Widen | 51 | Netherlands

#1681 | Friday, September 6th, 2002
I live i swe and when i heard about the crash i just got crasy....WE ALL CARE ABOUT USA...!!
Andreas | 16 | Sweden

#1682 | Friday, September 6th, 2002
I was talking to my mother on the phone at the time of the first impact. She was in Boston having arrived there on an American Airlines flight just the day before, I was calling from my home in London. My father was on a business trip to the Middle East.
I could hear the television in the background and heard the announcement that a plane had flown into one of the Towers. I switched on my televion and for the next 5 hours sat transfixed to BBC News 24 as all the horrors unfolded before my eyes. I'll never forget that day and every September 11th will have my own private minutes silence in constant rememberance to those innocent people who died - I hope they are in a better place. x
Taz Khader | 23 | United Kingdom

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