#469 | Wednesday, December 12th, 2001
My name is Racquel K. Kelley and I work for Department of Defense in the Pentagon. I was sitting at my desk in 1D520 when all of a sudden there was a loud BOOM!!!!!!! At first I thought damn they have messed up somewhere cause they were doing renovations in the new corridors. I was pinned against my desk with debris, smoke and fire all around me. I called out to my coworkers but no one answered. Something fell from out of the sky and hit me in the back of my head. I then thought “I GOT TO GO. I CAN’T DIE I JUST HAD BABY!!! I then somehow got free from my desk and dove under my desk. I reached my hand into my cabinet and grabbed my purse. While under my desk, I kicked the back of my desk out and crawled through only to meet with more falling debris, smoke and fire. Two of my coworkers, Janice Jackson and Doug Knickerbocker pulled me out from under the debris. We ran and crawled over bodies, parts of bodies and total destruction until we reached what used to be the E ring and a big hole. There were people on the other side helping us get through. The hole that you saw with the smoke coming out of it on television, that is the hole that we came out of. I was sitting on the grass just staring at the Pentagon still unaware of what had happened. I ended up in the Washington Hospital Center ICU unit with burns on my hands, arms and hair, cuts on my feet and severe smoke inhalation. I was in the hospital for a week and a half; spending four days on a respirator. I was the first Pentagon survivor to go home. It felt strange leaving the hospital and returning home because at the hospital I felt safe, here out in the world I DO NOT!!! I still have nightmares. I do not like loud sudden noises. I watch the planes and helicopters fly overhead hoping they don’t fall on me. Mentally I’m a wreck!!! I cry a lot for friends, coworkers and myself that perished that day. I am still ANGRY, HURT, CONFUSED, and FEARFUL.
Racquel K. Kelley | 32 | District of Columbia

#470 | Wednesday, December 12th, 2001
Where to start? It's almost like it never happened, whenever I think of it. I had just hopped off of the PATH train which runs from Newark, NJ to the station underneath the World Trade Center. It was about 8:40am on 9/11. I normally don't go into the city on a weekday, but I was taking a training class for work for the whole week and decided on commuting instead of staying in the city. I walked out from the underground mall, thinking that I should stop by one of the stores on my way back and buy some clothes for myself. So much for that thought. I stepped out onto Church St after getting out of the complex and felt good. It was a warm, fall day, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.. or maybe it was just me. I had only walked a couple of blocks south of the towers when I noticed everyone around me looking up. I was thinking it was unusual, since these were all commuters, and didn't necessarily look up all at once. I turned and looked up behind me to find the north tower in flames, smoke billowing out, and financial papers littering the streets around me like a ticker tape parade. I stared in disbelief, hearing everyone on cell phones around me reporting of terrorists in planes. It was then I realized, I had forgotten my cell phone, and nobody that I loved knew exactly where I was at the time. I bolted for my training class and reported what had happened, when a few minutes later on the 11th floor, we heard, and felt the second plane go by our building, on its way into the south tower. We spent the next 10-20 minutes calling our loved ones to report that we were safe. Not knowing exactly where safe was, and trying not to panic, we tried to resume class even though nobody could concentrate. Our class contemplated the buildings collapsing because of the fire, while staring at the Internet news sites from our classroom. The thought was too much to bear. Then we heard and felt the most horrific thing I could ever feel in my life. Our building shook while the lights flickered and the computers rebooted as the first tower came crashing down. I could only think of the people caught up in all that mess at that very moment. It was then, we decided to evacuate. Me and a few other classmates met in the first floor lobby, where they would not let us out because of the stifling smell and thick air from the debris. It looked like it was snowing, and was dark. I watched as countless people took flight, trying to escape the choking air just outside our doors. Some were smart enough to come in, while others tried to bear it and run further south. I huddled in a huge marble doorway asking myself if I was to die there. After we heard confirming reports from witnesses that the building had collapsed, we heard about the Pentagon, then the second building collapsed, and darkness fell outside again. Some of the workers in our building tried to convince us that it was safe to go back up to our floors, but not me. No way. When the air cleaned up somewhat, a few of us bolted to out instructer's hotel room around the corner where we would clean up, and get in touch with our loved ones again. I just wanted to be home. I talked with some who said the best thing to do was sit tight, but not me. I promised myself and everyone I loved I would be home that night. So myself and two others migrated as thousands did, away from the area. We walked 2 straight hours to Times Square. Eventually, we caught a ride with my classmates' team leader who happened to have a car. We took the GW bridge out of the city, and they were even kind enough to drop me off at my front doorstep in central Jersey. On the way, I glanced behind me to watch the third building collapse. All the way home, we could see the line of smoke the towers had created from burning all day. It lined the Jersey coast, and I could even see it at home. I left my car at the train station that night, but to walk through my front door and hug my boyfriend at 7:30pm that night was well worth it. For awhile, I jumped at everything and was very paranoid. I hit bottom a few weeks later, and it's only been uphill for me since then. I still think about the people and their families. But most of all, I think about this country and how we are going to win this war to come out on top of all the tragedy. I love you all from NYC to the USA to the world. We all deserve to live free and happy.
Victoria | 27 | New Jersey

#471 | Wednesday, December 12th, 2001
I was at work, in Manchester, England, at my job as a games programmer - in the early stages of a Gameboy Advance game.

We'd just got back from the pub after lunch, and someone sent an email round saying a plane had hit the WTC. I didn't think much of it - assuming it must be a relatively minor accident involving a light aircraft.

Then came the second email. The second plane had hit. Soon most of the 120ish employees were crowded around the rec room TV, watching CNN (via Sky Digital) as the news unfolded. All sorts of rumours about other planes, the white house etc...

Not long before the first tower fell, I remember someone making the sarcastic comment 'Couldn't happen to a nicer country'. He was soon shut up, along with the rest of us, some who had compared the many replays of the impact to special effects from a 'Die Hard' movie

I saw both towers fall on live TV. And was scared.

Not so much of the terrorists themselves, but the fact that they might cause Bush to press his red button, and trigger an all-out nuclear war.

Dave | 23 | United Kingdom

#472 | Wednesday, December 12th, 2001
On 9-11, I was asleep when my mother came in and told me that America was "at war." I just told her (because I was just 3/4th asleep) "that's great." When I went into the living room and saw what was going on, I just couldn't believe it. When the media was showing the different angle shots of the plane going into the south Tower, I just couldn't believe that some people are that mean. And when I saw the Towers go down, I felt sorry for the families of all the people in the buildings and on the planes and went down in the attacks. I'm glad to hear that the U.S. military is so close for getting the coward that is responsible for the attacks. My heart goes out to the families of all the victims at the WTC, Pentagon, and on the planes. May God have mercy on the souls who is responsible for the attacks especially Osama bin Laden.
Stephanie H. | 18 | California

#473 | Thursday, December 13th, 2001
I had a class from 8:00 to 9:30 that morning, and had heard nothing at first. When I walked between classes, everything seemed normal enough, but when I walked into my 9:30 government class, the room was buzzing. I could only catch bits and pieces of various conversations, and finally I turned to a girl next to me and said "I obviously missed something very important." She replied to me that "the Chinese or someone had just flown a couple of planes into the World Trade Center." I was shocked, and figured that the damage was probably light -- most likely fighter aircraft, though I couldn't figure out why the Chinese would try that kind of preemptive strike. Finally, a TV was brought in and the professor asked someone to fetch a cable. As she was gone, he theorized that the terrorists had attacked because of the World Trade Center's symbolic role, and had therefore tried to attack the economic heart of the United States. The cable was brought in, the first images shown -- and a new addition to the headline, the Pentagon had by now been attacked. There was fear of more planes on the way, as well as various other explosions at Grand Central Station, the Justice Department and the State Department. I couldn't believe what I was seeing in front of me. After the media reported concern on what would turn out to be United 93, I couldn't help but pray that it woule all be over. I watched in horror as the towers fell -- the entire thing seemed unreal. I'm not sure if I can still believe that it was.
I wish I had some way to conclude this, but I've found that conclusions are best served if placed at the end.
Gerald Cox | 20 | South Carolina

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