#341 | Saturday, December 8th, 2001
I'm an American living and working in Korea as an English teacher. Been here for 5 years. Love it, but miss home.

That night (time difference, remember?), after a long day, I was at my Korean friend's house studying (actually keeping the 2 boys from watching TV. In Korea, the kids rarely play, only study.) I had just finished studying with the youngest, who is in the fifth grade.

I was out on the balcony having a cigarette, as they can't deal with the smell of cigarette smoke. About half -way through my smoke, I hear the Korean equivalent of Holy S - - -, and the oldest boy, a seventh grader, runs out on the balcony and says, "Mark! Big boom, many, many! New York City! Washington D. She! Octagon Army place! Very, very bad! And house your Mom live Pittsburgh near , I think! Die many people! Very, very, sorry Mark!"

I had no idea what he was talking about and told him so, so he literally dragged me into the living room, where the TV was on.

At first, I was going to yell at them for watching TV (their parents are very strict), then I saw the screen that had the first World Trade Center building on fire. My mouth dropped open and I sat down on the floor. Hard.

The youngest crawled onto my lap and gave me a hug and kept saying "Very, very sorry, Mark! Very many sorry!"

The older one asked if he could turn to KBS, the Korean channel, so he could understand what was happening. I said yes. Identical picture on all channels, actually.

So, we watched the Korean channel as the second plane hit, through the collapses, the whole terrible scene as it happened.

The boys' neighbors knew that I was there and they know that I am a mi guk sa ram (American) and began coming to the house to say basically the same thing: Very sorry and America good! Korea support!

After the boy's parents came home, they basically said the same thing as the neighbors and the boys and insisted that I call my house and see if everything was OK. I knew from looking at the maps on KBS that the Pennsylvania crash occurred well outside of Pittsburgh and that my parents were OK.

But, I didn't know that I had 2 cousins who were involved: One worked at the World Trade Center, and another at the Pentagon.

When my friends heard this, again came the hugs and the I'm sorry's. The fifth grader wouldn't leave my side; I had to sleep there that night.

Turns out that the one who worked at the Pentagon was fine. The one who worked at the World Trade Center was missing. She was recently declared dead.

So, at least one thing is certain: Korea is with America! At least the residents of my friend's Apartment building are!
Mark | 45 | Korea, Republic of

#342 | Saturday, December 8th, 2001
The morning of September 11th, I was home with my little girl. Living on the 13th floor in a building just 6 blocks north of the tragic events. I had just taken Jay-Jay the Jet Plane down from the shelf, as his show was on and I was making him fly around the room for the baby. When the first plane passed my window, it sounded like a missle flying by. The sound was so intense, it shook everything in the apartment..even the coffee shook out of my cup. Our eyes widened, as even a two-year-old can understand that what just happened was not quite right. I immediately ran to my kitchen window, just as the first explosion took place. Fear ran through my blood, and I immediately knew we were under attack. Thinking, that was it, I grabbed my digital camera because I could not believe my eyes. After a few shots, I went for the Camcorder because this was a most unbelieveable thing I was seeing. About 3 minutes into me recording the event that took place, another explosion happened and the force of it hit me right in the face and pushed my camera away from view. The heat was like opening a broiling ovens door and I am 6 blocks away! I turned around and saw the baby standing there watching me, watching this, and I finally came to my senses. I started to break down a bit so I ran and put on the news to see what exactly was going on...two planes hit the WTC!! To this day, saying those 5 words sends a flood of emotions through me. The symbol of our powerful city burning was a very scary sight... I tried calling people to talk to...I called my son's school. I told them in a very calm manner that I didn't know if the school bus was going to be able to bring him home because of what was unfolding, and that I would wait it out and call them back. Obviously, I wasn't thinking straight. Once I reached my husband he told me to grab the baby and get out of the building! I ran out of the house to find hundreds and hundreds of people standing around staring up in disbelief. I had the baby in my arms, nothing else. A police woman came up to me, of all the people out there, and she told me "Go as far uptown as you can, this is not over" She was definitely one of God's messengers. As I started heading uptown, I was warning others to start moving because this wasn't over, some starting going north, others were attracted to it like fireflys to the light. I got so far as Canal Street and I couldn't walk anymore. My back was starting to hurt, and my arms were tired from holding the baby, but I wouldn't let her go. In a desperate attempt to reach my son all the way on the upper east side, I started begging people driving in their cars to please give me a ride uptown. I was actually refused a number of times before one good samaritan could see my plight and let me share his cabride with him. He said as long as I didn't mind him smoking, I could share the ride. He,too, was headed uptown to pick up his kids from a yeshiva. I believe his name was Jeff, the kindest man and I hope he receives ten times the kindness he gave me that day. As we rode, his hands trembled, and it took him several tries to light his cigarettes. As we rode we could hear the live updates taking place "...ladies and gentlemen...the twin towers are...no more" I was devastated. How in the world could this be happening? Why was this happening? I knew immediately in my heart from the very beginning that we were being attacked and who was responsible for it. I said so on my video tape, so I guess I wasn't so surprised that were actually being attacked, just surprised at the enormity of the attacks. When he reached his destination, he turned to me and gave me $20 to pay for the cab. That act of kindness in such a time is the most unforgettable moment of this all. A glimmer of good in a mass of horror. I finally reached uptown, and discharged my son from school. My son was confused about why I was taking him out of school...I told him I just wanted to have a special lunch with him at Mickey D's. Meanwhile, I could see the billows of thick, dark smoke rising from downtown. Uptown felt like a different world, safe. People were oblivious to the tragic events taking place, the massive deaths that occured just downtown. Miraculously, I received a cell phone call. My girlfriend was wondering what was happening, as she was worried about her husband who worked downtown. She said the last she heard from him was that he had to run as the towers came crumbling down. Knowing I had calling capabilities, I called my husbands cell phone. He happened to be on his mothers home phone in Brooklyn talking to his mother who happened to be just across town from where I was! I hailed a cab and picked her up and we asked the cab to get us out of Manhattan. He didn't think it was possible, but I told him to go ahead and try. He was able to get us into Queens, where we met my husband who drove us to my mother-in-laws, where we stood for a month. The very next day though, I needed to go back in to see what happened, was my home ok? I took a train into the Lower East Side and walked over. And the closer I got, the whiter the ground got, the more littered with various personal effects it got, the more grave it got. I started crying, then sobbing. Thoughts of all my neighbors, known and unknown, who were affected by this, especially those working in the building, the fear they must have felt, those clinging to the windows saying their prayers, those who thought they were going to make it out as they calmly went down the stairwell, those families at home with the babies left with nannies, the loss was too great for me to handle. I had to pass army personnel, I felt so small walking passed these towering men. But I also felt so damned proud to be American--always have been--but even more so then. When I reached my building there was no electricity, and I didn't carry a flashlight. I had to find my way thru the pitch dark of the windowless stairwells to find my apartment. At one point I forgot where I was, I lost count and I became so frightened. I started crying and then I started feeling my way around, feeling the shape of and hearing the sounds of various doorbells...until I finally reached mine. I fumbled with the keys, and when I opened the door and the flood of light hit me, I finally felt like everything was going to be okay again, in time....since the event, it is my experience that we, as New Yorkers have changed, we now reach out to each other more comfortably, share a passing smile...and I have experienced the goodness of Americans as a whole, with all of the volunteer workers that came forward. Amazing. GOD BLESS AMERICA! I AM SO VERY PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!!!!!!
Angela | 35 | New York

#343 | Saturday, December 8th, 2001
I was at work in beverly hills,ca. My partner was jim webster and we are ironworkers. the first information was simply that an airplane had hit a skyscraper in new york. this was about six a.m. our time. then we learned of the second plane and we were numb. it was unbelieveable that people are capable of doing things like this. this is not the end of this type of behavior un fortunately. we are going to suffer people killing people for as long as misguided stupid extremist ideas rule peoples thoughts. this is true of every religion and every human group. I just wish there was someway to make people see how wasteful it is to be full of hate.
Wendell Garnto | 45 | 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

#345 | Saturday, December 8th, 2001
I was in bed in Rodeo, California. My friend called me and asked me if I had heard the news. I was still sleepy and asked him what the hell he was talking about. When he told me planes had hit the WTC and Pentagon, I immediately got up and turned on the television. After that I called some close friends to talk about what had happend, while staying glued to the television.
Blake Mengotto | 30 | California

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