#396 | Saturday, December 8th, 2001
My lover woke me up on his way to work.
"There's been an attack on the World Trade Center," he said, "and a plane has crashed into the Pentagon."
I was sleepy, but took it all in immediately.
"If anything happens, " I said, squeezing his hand, "we meet back here."
"We meet here," he confirmed, and then we kissed, said we loved each other, and he was off to work.
Tears would come later, but our quietness that morning, our ability to take the blow and focus on the a practical plan, reminded me that after 13 years, I am still with the right man.
M.C. | 40 | California

#397 | Saturday, December 8th, 2001
I was sound asleep, when the phone rang. My neighbor (who is British but has lived here for almost 20 years) was screaming hysterically at me to "turn on the telly, we're going to war." She hung up. I crawled out of bed, found the remote, then turned on the TV. With the exception of walking the dogs several times a day, I didn't move from the TV for the next three days. I also had my system up and running, with the Emergency Network page on, so that I would get notification of things as fast as the information was released. I spoke via email, to family and friends all over the world; all were as horrified as I was here, as we all were.

It was devastating to watch the events unfold, and I sat for hours with tears running down my face. Watching the World Trade Center towers collapse was a nightmare beyond belief. Seeing the devastation at the Pentagon was horrifying. The plane down in Pennsylvania was mind-numbing, even moreso when the news came out that the passengers were instrumental in bringing the plane down to prevent yet another attack. The heroics of all involved were frightening and yet amazing; the loss of life was staggering.

There are times yet today, that I still don't believe that it has happened. And yet, I know it has, that things have changed forever, and that life does go on. Things will never be the same again, but I also know that we are a strong people, that we make a strong nation, and that justice will eventually prevail. I also know that this country found more heroes on this one day, than we will probably ever see for the rest of our lives.

God bless and keep all those who lost loved ones.
Jo Pfeffer | 51 | Missouri

#400 | Sunday, December 9th, 2001
I was deployed in a submarine operating in the Western Pacific on 11 Sep 2001. Our time zone was 12 hours ahead of EDT. We received not a single piece of information from Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii) or Commander, Submarine Task Group SEVEN (COMSUBGRUSEVEN, Yokosuka, Japan) prior to what transpired below.

At approximately 2330 (11:30AM EDT) we received a peculiar message regarding an increase in Force Protection Condition (FPCON) Charlie due to "airline crashes" and "terrorist activities," or something close to that. Nothing more specific was included in this highly unusual message. I made note of this, then proceeded to the mess decks for midrats (reheated meat loaf, sandwhich meats, and other assorted leftovers). I discussed the FPCON message with some of the other crew, and specifically asked how this FPCON would affect our upcoming port call to a Southeast Asian country. They discussed the level of security that would be implemented, but seemed to believe that liberty could still be enjoyed by the crew.

After completing the meal, I returned to Radio at 2355 (11:55AM EDT) and came across the next message which set FPCON Delta, the highest FPCON level. Now really intrigued and having access to an HF receiver (the submarine was operating at periscope depth), I searched and found Voice of America (VOA) on one of its SE Asian frequencies (9760 kHz, I believe). At the top of the hour (0001, or 12:01PM EDT), the first news broke through my headphones, and I froze, hardly believing what I was hearing. I patched the audio to a DAT recorder and began recording the news. Simultaneously, I scribbled feverishly the incredible details being broadcast from New York City, Washington, D.C., and later Pennsylvania.

After getting a fair amount of REPEATED details, I called the Officer of the Deck and told him what I had heard, requesting the presence of the Command Duty Officer (the Executive Officer). The XO came into Radio a few moments later -- with a look strongly suggesting I'd better have a good reason for pulling a prank on him. I simply showed him my spiral notebook, which he perused for a few seconds, and briefed him on everything I knew. His face briefly turned white, then red. He looked at me; I nodded to assure him that the details were true. I then passed my headphones to him so he could verify the veracity of this too-hard-to-believe story. Once again, his complexion changed colors as the reality sunk in.

After another minute or two, he turned to the Radioman of the Watch (RMOW) and asked if we had received any more information from COMSUBPAC or COMSUBGRUSEVEN. The answer was negative. The XO looked at me and rhetorically asked why no one had bothered to inform the afloat submarines. We discussed whether to inform the Commanding Officer (CO), who had retired to his stateroom a couple hours earlier after a busy day. The decision was made not to bother him, as we had no marching orders from our chain of command (FPCONs don't affect an underway submarine, as there's little chance a terrorist could board a mobile, underwater platform).

Over the next several hours, we monitored various news sources, primarily VOA and BBC. It wasn't until 18 hours after our initial VOA intercept that official details started to roll down the chain of command. But the CO didn't wait until then before informing the entire crew via the 1MC (public address) what had transpired. By then, we had transcripts of President George Bush's speeches to the U.S. and the world. So, at 0600 (6:00PM EDT), the CO delivered the President's fiery quotes in such a manner as to immediately incite the crew to avenge the horrible acts that had befallen our citizens. However, a few crew members either had family in the affected cities or grew up there. More than a few tears fell that next morning.

And to add to the misery, advancement exams were being administered that morning. As the results from those exams have just been released this week, and I am no longer deployed in that submarine, I am unaware how those events may have affected the Sailors who participated in that exam cycle.

Over the next two weeks, we continued to monitor various news reports and provide e-mail updates to the entire crew via the ship's LAN. Of course, the XO had to proof the e-mails to ensure we weren't releasing potentially "explosive" information (less we accidentally release the name of a Sailor's kin or friend before being officially informed by the Red Cross). Copies of the e-mailed reports could be found in every work center, on the mess decks, posted in the Mid-Level passageway, and even in the heads (restrooms, for the uninitiated). Anytime I walked out of Radio, I was quickly bombarded with questions regarding the latest details.

We stopped monitoring the airwaves after two weeks, as we couldn't take it anymore. To be completely bombarded with this tragedy and have no way to release the anger or frustration was not healthy. And by this time, our chain of command had finally gotten around to providing its deployed submarines with regular (every 12 hours, or so) updates.

Although we were immersed in the gory details of 11 Sep broadcast over the airwaves, no one was really prepared to see the first video images when we hit our first port on 28 Sep. I rushed to the nearest television and finally saw a replay of one of the airliners crashing into the World Trade Center. I felt the emotion building up as I then watched a replay of a tribute to the victims during a Major League Baseball game. And then it finally hit me, and I had to turn off the TV.

I didn't watch any more news until I returned home a few days later. A friend of mine had made a copy of a network news broadcast during the first weekend after the tragic events. I replayed that tape many times, still thinking how unreal the shots were...

I would like to finish the story by letting the readers know that the thoughts of every Sailor on that submarine was with every victim, survivor, and United States citizen during those terrible days. And they were ready to fire their weapons in anger...when tasked...
Robert Burns | 35 | Hawaii

#401 | Sunday, December 9th, 2001
The phone rang at 6:30 a.m. It was my daughter calling from Minneapolis. Her message just said, "Mom, I know you are still sleeping but you won't believe what's happening!". She had been watching Good Morning America when the planes hit. I got out of bed, picked up the phone and turned on the T.V. 'Oh, my God" was all I could keep repeating.

With the American political systems terroristic foreign policy, I had always expected this would happen some day. But it was still shocking when it did.
To the citizens of New York, I grieve with you and for you. To the U.S. Plutaric politicians, I hope you really take a long hard look at your own involvment in backing terroists regimes before more citizens are hurt. I fear for America. God Bless and keep you all.
Phylis | 60 | Canada

#402 | Sunday, December 9th, 2001
I recognise that this site is meant for Americans, but since the incident is something that has changed the world in so many ways, I feel my thoughts here would not be out of place.

A journalist at the time of writing, I work as a sub-editor with a national Indian financial daily. I was at work on that day, and when it happened, it was around 7.30-45 in the evening when we heard the news.

All of us were crowded into our Deputy Editor's cabin watching CNN. The initial reaction was disbelief and shock, naturally. But then, as the enormity of the event sunk in, people started commenting on it.

Some commended the masterminds behind the attack for their guts, one guy even said this was how one took on a bully, some even cracked jokes, but every single person was devastated at the destruction of, not just property or human life, but of...how do I explain it, the idea of Big. Big USA, Big City New York, big business, big-time money, bigwigs controlling the world's financial movements...everything about America that symbolises Big to me and people in my country. All that had crumbled before our eyes.

America suddenly seemed so vulnerable on home territory, which has never been the case, not the invincible power we always thought it was.

Here were a bunch of terrorists who had succeeded in stopping the mightiest nation in the world in its tracks, without any hi-tech weapons. That's how we all saw it.

Ironically, just a few hours before, I was chatting with a reporter colleague whose wife had returned from a New York trip the week before. He has been to New York and was talking about what a great city it was. This is what he said, or words to the effect: "I was really surprised when my wife said she didn't find New York all that impressive. Man, I was damn impressed when I first visited it. It's a terrific city. You can't be unimpressed by it."

What a pity the idea of New York and Big is rubble today.
C Ramesh | 27 | India

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