#57 | Monday, September 17th, 2001
I was reading The New York Times on the web and nursing my first cup of coffee, the only person in the Niagara Falls bureau of The Buffalo News.

A circulation assistant came running in from the newspaper warehouse out back and turned on the TV. Rude, I thought, usually you'd ask first.

He flipped channels until his eyes confirmed what his ears couldn't believe. "A plane just smashed into the World Trade Center!" he yelped.

CNN was showing the smoking hole.

Holy shit, I said. Not exactly words for history, but there you go. A couple more people came in, and we were standing in an incredulous knot around the TV, trading guesses on whether it was an accident or something worse.

Then the second tower blossomed jet fuel like some apocalyptic poppy. Terrorists in America, I thought. I was in awe of the production values of the atrocity. I caught myself admiring its ingenuity and was ashamed.

There were shots of people running through debris as cops with rags over their mouths waved them on. I thought of all the international news TV clips I'd ever seen, the dazed staggering across blasted urban battlefields, and I remember thinking something like "Now we'll know how it feels."

Someone was flipping channels and I hooted when Dan Rather took a moment to caution viewers that there were no confirmed casualties. After the first tower collapsed I didn't hoot any more. The second tower collapsed to a chorus of "Oh my God"s.

CNN cut to a scene of Palestinian kids dancing and cheering outside their Lebanese refugee camp.

"What are they doing?" the young female circulation clerk asked, genuinely puzzled. "Do they have something against us?"

In that moment, I have never felt more helpless.

Andrew Galarneau | 35 | New York

#58 | Monday, September 17th, 2001
All of our teachers told us that this was an event we'd remember for the rest of our lives-like the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

I was in fourth period gym class. It was an orientation day, and we were all huddled close in the bleachers talking with one another, I was wearing a Lucky Charms shirt and jeans, when that all-too familiar voice of our principle came on the speakers. We were expecting a message that would be irrelevant to us, something about Geology Club, or some other crazy club. His monotone-voice told us plain and simple; that there had been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. I was shocked, but it had not quite settled in to me just what had happened. I could hear girls worrying about war, since we live in upstate new york, a ton of oh my god, oh no's, and immediately thinking it was something like the oklahoma city bombings. The bell rung, and i remember uneasily walking down the bleachers and to my locker to global studies. When I got there the lights were already dimmed and our santa-clausesque teacher had CNN on the tv, and was serious. It was so out of the ordinary that he was serious, but then again, so was this. I sat down in my seat, and my eyes were glued to the screen. I saw the pictures of the WTC, up in smoke. I heard the voice of Tom Brokaw, saying what had happened. I just looked at the screen with a blank stare, but i was in awe. I couldn't just comprehend what was happening. Then, i saw the first pictures of the Pentagon, immediately worrying about my sisters who lived around Washington DC. All of a sudden, i was incredibly scared.

I got home, and the door was opened for me and my mom asked me if i knew. I threw my backpack aside and watched the TV, just..i couldn't believe what was going on. And i guess, i sort of didn't. It wasn't until later that night when i had been online and saw people throwing themselves out of buildings, women crying and telling reporters what had happened, and the people asking others if they had seen this man or woman, i finally realized what had happened.

The same thoughts haven't left my head since then..mine or anybody's. Everyone was feeling weak, tired and sick at school, and still does.

For almost all of my life, I never understood patriotism--why we all had to care so much. But after these recent events, I finally do.
Maeve O'Hara | 14 | New York

#59 | Monday, September 17th, 2001
At home, in Jackson, Mississippi, safely asleep in bed. My boyfriend called with the news and woke me up; I don't think I really believed I wasn't asleep for another hour. I leaped out of bed for the computer (useless -- all news sites were swamped), then showered faster than I ever had in my life so I could get to the office and find out from CNN exactly what was happening. I found out that it's really hard to drive and cry at the same time.

Here in Mississippi, we're so distant, physically and metaphorically, from New York; but it hurts just the same, for all of us.
Atlee Parks | 24 | Mississippi

#60 | Monday, September 17th, 2001
Around the early hours of the morning my home phone and mobile phone rang a few times. I ignored them, not giving it a second thought. I woke up to NPR news this morning, as I do every morning, listening to a newscaster talking about the World Trade Center being destroyed. I thought they were recounting the original bombing of the World Trade Center. As I became more conscious I realized that's not what they were talking about. Soon the picture started developing as I started getting ready for work. I went to my phones and had messages from family and friends informing me about what was going on. I didn't have time to look at the television before I left my apartment for a doctor's appointment. I stood around debating whether or not I was going to go to work after my appointment. Living in a major metropolitan area and working just south of Los Angeles International Airport, I decided to stay home. God forbid something happen at LAX, I wouldn't be able to get home. I decided to stay home, and was glued to the TV and the Internet and phone all day and evening.
Brad Barrish | 27 | California

#61 | Monday, September 17th, 2001
I was sleeping. I wish I never woke up.

I'm a student in Florida and my only class on Tuesday is at 6pm, so I couldn't resist sleeping in. Looking back, I feel like I must have been the last person on earth to hear the horrific news.

I got up at 3pm (yes - a very late sleep indeed), and checked my email to find at least a dozen messages: "Donate blood!" "All classes cancelled today" etc. I didn't read them because the subject headers didn't make any immediate sense. Then I saw one from my parents, which I read, and it mentioned "bombings" in NY and DC (I grew up in DC and half my relatives live in NYC). And I thought, "What?" The whole idea of this country being attacked just did not register. Even if I hadn't just woken up, I reacted as if it was the most nonsensical thing I'd ever been told. It just could not be true.

But it was. This unspeakable thing was true; it had happened. I spent my entire childhood fearing nuclear attack. It was only after the cold war was "offically over" that I regained some sense of ease. Now this - airplanes plunging into buildings filled with innocent people. I have never heard so many sad stories in my whole life as I have in the past week.

Like I said: I wish I never woke up.
Sheila | 30 | Florida

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