Readers remember 9/11
GCN asked readers to share their experiences stemming from the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Specifically, we asked:
- Where you were on 9-11
- What have you most focused on in the aftermath of 9-11?
a.) What significant actions or responses where you involved in the aftermath of 9-11?
b.) Five years later, where has the government made the most significant progress?
- What projects were developed post 9-11 that you wouldn't have been working on pre 9-11?
- What is the most important thing the government still needs to deal with? Please provide some examples of things we still are at risk of forgetting or have overlooked?
- What are the most important priorities now that grew from 9-11?
- What has been or is the true lasting impact of the changes since 9-11?
Below are some of the responses. In some cases, writers answered the questions directly. In others, they simply wrote about their experiences.
Transportation Security Administration
On 9-11 my wife and I were on I-95/395 between Stafford, Va ., and Washington, D.C. I was on my cell phone in a conference call with others where I then worked, which was Qwest Communications. Because I was on the conference call, we had our car radio turned down so we were unaware of the news of the attacks in New York and the Pentagon.
We saw the smoke rising some miles ahead of us but did not realize it was coming from the Pentagon. Our first indication of something strange is when we noticed numerous cars that were northbound on I-395 cutting through the occasional openings in the Jersey wall that separates the HOV lanes of I-395 and the southbound lanes of I-395 to reverse direction and head south. I commented to my wife how strange and potentially dangerous it was for all these 'idiots' to cut through and reverse direction. By this point my conference all had just ended and we turned the radio back on, and we then heard the shocking news of the New York and Pentagon attacks. Within a couple of miles, about five miles before reaching the Pentagon, we encountered state police blocking the northbound lanes forcing all traffic off the HOV and onto the southbound lanes of I-395.
Within a month of 9-11 I was laid off from Qwest. At the time Qwest was undertaking a significant reduction in staff because of the downturn in the demand for high speed access services due to the 'dot-com' bust. I was unemployed for nearly one year and was focused on gaining new employment. When TSA advertised for screeners, now Transportation Security Officers (TSO's), I applied, was accepted, and trained as a Screening Supervisor, and went to work at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. I viewed this employment as essential to the security of our country, even though I was personally making only about a third of what I was making at Qwest. Just prior to my first anniversary at TSA, I was transferred and promoted to a position in the Office of the CIO at TSA Headquarters in Pentagon City, Va.
I was involved in establishing the TSA screener force at Reagan National. After to transferring to the Office of the CIO, I have been involved in the deployment of the IT infrastructure that supports the TSA operations at more than 450 airports in the U.S.
I think the government has made significant progress in protecting our nation and the world against major terrorist attacks. Point in fact: we have not had another attack in the U.S. since 9-11, and that is no accident.
Take all necessary steps (people and technology) to secure our national borders to seal off illegal border crossings. Continue to improve upon information (read intelligence) sharing while maintaining strict control of information access to eliminate 'leaks' to media.
The most important priority is to convince the American public that we must defeat the Islamic threat to our nation and the world, and to do whatever is necessary to achieve their defeat.
For me, to be awakened to the fact that Western civilization and culture is under attack by Islamic extremists.
David A. Lane
Emergency Coordinator and Radio Officer
ARES/RACES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services)
Prince William County, Va.
1) Where you were on 9-11?
I was on my way to work, late that morning with my 14-month-old daughter in the car. We were doing a network test and I was going in specifically for it. I was listening to "children's music" in the CD player rather than the news, so I didn't know anything had happened until I got to work. We were "sent home" and I spent the rest of the day in my front yard with two radios coordinating response because of a phone outage in Prince William County.
2) What have you most focused on in the aftermath of 9-11? What significant actions or responses where you involved in the aftermath of 9-11?
Beefing up emergency communications and self-preparedness. I have been recruiting and encouraging more people to take responsibility for their own well being.
Five years later, where has the government made the most significant progress?
At the Federal level, I would argue that they have made little or no practical progress. There have been so many missteps that the few positive things (such as NIMS) have been off-set by the multitude of negative things (Dept. of Homeland Security, destruction of FEMA).
Frederick W. (Ric) Adams
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Where you were on 9-11?
At work heard someone at the other end of the office say that an L-1011 or a DC-10 had crashed into the WTC. Went down to multimedia room and watched the second plane crash into the other tower. The media room had wall sized screens so we could see in fine detail every thing that was on screen, play over and over. That was painful, a very bad day.
What have you most focused on in the aftermath of 9-11?
Understanding who might have done this. Was amazed that the names came out so quick.
What significant actions or responses where you involved in the aftermath of 9-11?
NASA Administrator sent everyone home at noon. Just watched the news channels, monitored the Internet. I don't read newspapers. Too much spin. I prefer to look at TV unscripted, real time (CNN used to do this well but they have backed off reality news, preferring a much to laid back point of view). FOX picked up the stories quickly, got the right people on screen to explain who was involved and how it came to this.
Five years later, where has the government made the most significant progress?
Understanding who was at fault, individuals by name and organization
What projects were developed post 9-11 that you wouldn't have been working on pre 9-11? Security at work
What is the most important thing the government still needs to
Understanding that a very few number of individuals can create chaos for a large number of people, how they operate, how they manipulate the news, that the media do not understand or believe that we have a problem (perhaps in the fear of creating panic). The media leaders really are much less sophisticated than the general public in terms of being able to deal with the problem. I don't know why this is so. The media must grow up and try to develop better technical skills in terms of understanding why these things happen, who is to blame. The media is the main reason only half the country seems to understand the problem.
Your information is only as good as its source and the spin that is put on issues for political gain is very confusing to many. You have to be a real news-wonk to be able to figure it out. Graphic displays of time history trends would be very helpful in displaying information. Talking about whether we are safer now rather than before is useless. We need better metrics in discussing these events and the trends in these metrics are critical to understanding whether we are solving the various problems or making things worse. If we had the right metrics and their trends, the politics behind the stories would disappear. If the media understood the problem they would figure out the right metrics and we would all be better off.
What are the most important priorities now that grew from 9-11?
Security and stability while we figure out what to do next, how to respond to the various threats that appear from time to time. Real information from credible sources who are actually involved in solving the problem, or who have been working the problems leading up to these events is critical to the American public. The media should not be spinning these issues. They should be researching the problems and help us understand who the individuals behind the issues are, where they are coming from, why they are upset. The media should get them on the screen and let us hear what they are saying.
What has been or is the true lasting impact of the changes since 9-11?
In 10 years it will be mostly forgotten, probably by both sides.
Angela Lee Leary, Councilwoman
City of Hampton, Virginia
On 9-11-2001 I was having my first meeting to come back to community service (this was after surviving surgery for a broken neck and lung tumor surgery). Our committee sat in my den and watched in horror the events that unfolded before our eyes.
Instead of retreating in anger and retaliation, our citizens put on an event called 'Planting Trees of Hope in the Soils of Justice.' Governors Gilmore (Va.), Pataki (N.Y.) and Sweiker (Pa.) sent representatives from their states with soils from all three of the terrorist sites. Those soils were commingled with Hampton soils around eleven evergreen trees on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2001. Every year we gather around those eleven trees and read aloud the names of all those we lost on 9/11. We pray for their families and their children. We pray for guidance for our leaders and hope for our beloved nation.
This year we have added the names of all those that we have lost in the War on Terror. We will read their names aloud as a symbol of Remembrance. All of our families that 'protect and serve' whether military or civilian come to this place to 'remember and hope.'
We will stand united.
Al St. Louis
Federal contractor to TSA
1. I was flying from Providence R.I. to BWI in Baltimore, then on to Austin , Texas, on the morning of 9-11-2001. Normally, I fly out of Boston, so I was lucky to have chosen to fly out of Providence instead of Boston, the site of 2 of the 4 hijackings. Got grounded in Baltimore for 3 and one- half days. Flew back to Austin Friday night on Sept 14 when air traffic resumed.
3. Most progress has been made in pre-flight screening for weapons, suspicious persons.
4. Least progress: in infiltrating ideologically hostile groups. We need to keep up with what the people with ties to hostile groups, networks, are thinking and feeling. So many people here in the U.S. are from countries with ideologies which are dangerous to people with mental instability or those with a political axe to grind. Remember Sirhan and the late RFK in 1968.
5. So many targets available in an industrialized society, so costly to secure all potential sites.
6. Lasting impact: eternal vigilance, to be ready for anything. We cannot relax anymore, as we have so many more enemies now since 9-11.
The events of 9/11/01 prompted me to reach out to help others.
In 2001 I was the Director of Community Development for a New Jersey community-based United Way and became their 9/11 contact person following the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01.
In this capacity I contacted local families that had lost a loved one on Sept. 11. In the course of this outreach I spoke with many family members who were in a state of shock and finding it difficult to understand or accept their loss.
During one particular conversation with a mother of four young children who had lost her husband on 9/11 I learned that she had stopped reading the daily newspaper or listening to radio and television news reports in the days following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Believing that it was essential for 9/11 families to stay informed I began sending her e-mails containing articles and information relevant for her access to services that had been established after 9/11.
This concept was expanded when I established the '9/11 List-serv" through which I send daily e-mails to a growing list of 9/11 families, 9/11 organizations and concerned individuals. Even after I left employment with the United Way I have continued this initiative as part of my daily routine for the past 5 years.
The value and importance of the 9/11 List-serv has been acknowledged by several organizations including the Families of September 11th, the Voices of September 11th, the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, the World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial, the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission, the Pentagon Memorial Fund, the National Air Disaster Alliance/Foundation, as well as members of the media, among others.
The 9/11 List-serv exemplifies how the internet can be utilized to empower and enhance the quality of life of the community of citizens impacted by the tragic events of 9/11/01.
If any of your readers would like to 'subscribe' to this free service'they should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "subscribe" in the subject box.
(1) Where you were on 9-11?
I was an employee of one of the airlines that impacted one of the World Trade Center buildings (WTC 2: South Tower, Flight UAL-175). At the time, I was working as a Lead Systems Security Engineer for United Airlines (UAL). I worked out of the old Defense Logistics Agency's building, at the NW corner of the O'Hare Airport campus, in Chicago, IL, near the UAL HQ, approx. 7 miles NW from the DLA facility. My job responsibilities were to secure our networks and provide engineered solutions to our internal and external customers at UAL, mostly Internet-related network traffic. Some of the projects worked on were more complex than most could handle, so I was usually tasked with the job.
The day of 9/11, I had worked a late night at one of our data centers (located at the UAL HQ) and had been awakened by several telephone calls and pages by my wife. I managed to get up (after having only a few hours of sleep), only to watch'stupified'the horrific actions that ensued between 9 AM and 11 AM in New York City.
My wife, who worked at WorldCom Inc. at the time, had lost some dear friends of hers when she had worked at UBS Paine Webber a few years earlier. Several former coworkers of hers that she had kept in touch with, were still in one of the towers when they collapsed. She had not forgotten that fateful day, and it still is painful for her to watch anything relating to the events that transpired on 9/11. To this day, she can't stop crying about some of her closest of coworkers (which she had kept in frequent contact with) who will never be around any longer. She has often stated that if she had continued working for UBS Paine Webber, she might've been in one of the WTC buildings at the time, since travelling to NYC was one of her frequent tasks.
(2) What have you most focused on in the aftermath of 9-11?
Trying to rebuild our lives. My wife and I were scheduled to be married on Sept. 22, 2001. Despite the tragic events that had happened, we decided to still have the wedding. The day of our wedding, during the reception, my supervisor, and one of the other team leads (I, too, was a team lead at UAL, but usually worked on some of the more 'special projects') who had attended both were paged the same time. Rumors had been flying around the offices at UAL HQ that layoffs were a-comin'. And it seemed that this was it.
My wife reassured me to have a pleasant day, as it was "our day", and we went on a honeymoon, worrying'knowing that I was about to get laid off the following week, which I did on Monday, Oct. 1, 2001. About 6 months later, my wife was laid off from WorldCom because of the WorldCom scandal.
She was out of work for 4 months; however, I was out of work for 18 months. Our primary task was to try and focus on restructing our lives. We could barely make house payments on our first home that we purchased together.
Despite part-time contractual work, it still wasn't enough. In December 2002, I (quite literally) pushed a broom to make our mortgage payment, which paid for 1.5 months of mortgage fees. In January 2003 through April 2003, I worked as a security analyst setting up and configuring firewall and security products for a health care manufacturer outside of Milwaukee, Wis. The per diem was $60 per day, yet gas was still affordable, so I drove'DAILY'to and from work, for a total of approximately 230 miles round-trip, and pocketed the rest of the per diem for household expenses. I'd get up at 3:30 a.m. every morning, leaving no later than 5:00 a.m. to be at work by 8:00/8:30 a.m.. I traveled through 6 major snow storms, one of which took me 9 hours to get home, only to turn around after 2 hours of sleep, and do it all over again. I eventually got a job working for a healthcare provider in Chicago, on April 1, 2003, of which I have been working for ever since.
My wife was much more fortunate in that she managed to get a management position working for a chemical cleaning products company 6 months before I did. This still didn't stop the piles of debt we had incurred, and sometime in September, 2003, were absolved of our debts. Both of us have looked into the abyss, with both of us facing some of our worst fears: loosing our house, having to move out of the area, not being able to get a job, etc. 9/11 has totally changed our view on life in general, and we will always remember that terrible day.
(2) What significant actions or responses where you involved in the aftermath of 9-11?
Both of us have made several local community contributions to those families that had lost their loved ones resulting from the WTC tragedy. My wife even contacted several of her former coworkers' family members to express our sympathies. Every now and then, I catch her crying over the loss of one of her friends who had died in one of the WTC buildings.
(2)(b) Five years later, where has the government made the most significant progress?
Having written a book about Critical Infrastructure Protection I have found that our government has been slow to make any changes, and that most changes are often reactive, rather than proactive. Take for instance the aftermath resulting from Hurricane Katrina last year.
The issues surrounding emergency responders demonstrated that almost 5 years later, we (as a nation) still have coordination issues. However, the federal government implemented back in late 2004 a methodology called the National Incident Management System (or "NIMS"). NIMS provides the necessary protocol for both emergency readiness and preparedness as well as activation procedures for any disaster, manmade or natural. The aftermath effects of issues surrounding New Orleans and the Gulf region, has demonstrated that we (as a nation) need better preparation. If at all, 9/11 has provided government officials with a "wake up call". I think we can expect to see more activities pertaining to emergency readiness and preparedness in the years ahead.
(3) What projects were developed post 9-11 that you wouldn't have been working on pre 9-11?
Port and transportation security desperately needed increased security awareness, and anti-terrorist countermeasures implemented. Many of the increased security benefits today resulted from post-9/11 involvement from research conducted by government and private sectors alike which include better passenger screening technologies while still respecting the privacy of the passenger are being implemented as we speak.
(4) What is the most important thing the government still needs to deal with?
Our borders continue to be an issue, not so much from the immigration perspective, but that (just about) ANYONE could illegally enter this country, undetected, unquestioned, and carry just about anything with them, including nuclear materials. This means BOTH borders: Mexico AND Canada.
Although our neighbors to the North are good friends with the U.S., there is much wilderness that borders the U.S. that goes unsurveyed. Ports and transportation security will continue to be an issue, esp. with improved traveling capabilities. And, resiliencies in all of our infrastructures (all 13 of them, as outlined within the National Strategy for Homeland Security) need improvement. Just about every infrastructure sector needs to be better prepared for just about any long-term outage resulting from either a manmade or natural disaster. Both government and private sectored businesses, need to accept greater responsibilities in safeguarding some of the key essential infrastructures that are heavily utilized by its citizens, which includes such benefits as drinkable water, waste removal, sufficient electrical power, any mode of transportation, several modes of communications (including the Internet), and more.
(5) What are the most important priorities now that grew from 9-11?
Port and transportation security was an important thing, not to mention that Critical Infrastructure Protection became a 'hot topic'. Problem is, is that the federal government is still determining what would be appropriate measures and countermeasures that should be taken to safeguard our National key assets/resources and their infrastructures. This continues to be a problem. Also, communications, coordination, and mitigation efforts have (traditionally) been botched up, so the best thing that the government is doing, is making certain that people know what they're suppose to do, at the right time and place. The National Incident Management System (or "NIMS"), is probably one of the best things that have been implemented to date for emergency readiness and preparedness activities. The Incident Command System (or "ICS"), which is subset to NIMS, covers all of these aspects of communications, coordination and mitigation (recovery) efforts. For something this large to take effect, you need to train A LOT of people, and make sure that they know how to do it inside and out.
(6) What has been or is the true lasting impact of the changes since 9-11?
That we are vulnerable and are unprepared. We are so smug that nobody would touch us, only to be violated and shown that we (as a society) have little or no control; our governments are too bureaucratic and show signs of corruption and incompetency; people are lazy to make changes because it either adds more work, or represents a rapid change, which people have a difficult time accepting. We (as a nation) have to ALWAYS "be prepared". This was an old Boy Scout motto that both my best friend and I have remembered and have made efforts in practicing from our Boy Scout days. Maybe our governments need to perform similar actions of vigilance. We're too ready to go to war, but not willing to protect our own people or our resources. This, to me, represents a serious problem that we face within our Nation.
On 9/11 I worked all day on my computer without checking the news, and without having the radio or TV on. So I was unaware of what had happened until I went out to eat dinner in the early evening and was told the news by a friend.
My main focus since 9/11 has been on ways to use software to detect terrorists. For example, database searches to compare passenger lists with Terrorist Watch Lists ( TWLs ). After 9/11, I contacted the FBI to make suggestions about improving data sharing.
Five years later, I think the government has made the most progress in directing law enforcement and military attention to terrorist activities, as witnessed by the foiled terrorist plots all over the world.
After 9/11 I wrote a web-based database Query and Reporting software application that could be used, for example, to compare airline passenger lists with Terrorist Watch Lists.
Unfortunately, despite the government, law enforcement, and military attention to terrorist issues after 9/11, successful attacks still continue outside of the Middle East - of course in the Middle East they are a constant fact of life. Many of these more recent attacks, in Europe for example, have been conducted by natives of the countries in which the attacks took place, who have converted to the extremist Islamic beliefs of the more traditional and established terrorists.
The mind set of individuals and communities that ferment these attacks needs to be addressed before they will end. While the mentality of some people continues to be so pliable that they can be brainwashed into committing suicide bombings, and their social circumstances continue to be conducive to this, attacks will continue.
It doesn't matter how thorough the authorities are in trying to prevent attacks with security measures, sooner or later determined attackers will succeed. So, the best way to prevent attacks is to identify and remove the root causes of them. Unfortunately, these root causes are often so illogical, warped, and simply not based in reality, that removing them is a real challenge.
For example, Osama Bin Laden's reason for the World Trade Center attacks has often been stated as being because of the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia in order to conduct the first gulf war - and because Islamic holy shrines are located in Saudi Arabia. It was seen as a U.S. invasion of the holy places.
In dealing with terrorists of all persuasions, what is often forgotten is that the individuals involved are not rational, normal, people. Their thinking to been subverted in order to carry out acts that will gain attention for the cause they believe in - look at the IRA for a classic example of this, and what caused the terrorist acts to stop.
Perhaps the most lasting impacts of 9/11 are in the attitudes of Middle Eastern, ethnic Middle Eastern, and Islamic peoples. They now realize that small bands of terrorists can and will hijack their beliefs and identities and use them to attack others. To some of those people this is a good thing, but to the others, hopefully most people, it is not.
And one of the most important priorities that has arisen from 9/11 is to prevent this hijacking of ideas and beliefs, in order to prevent the hijacking of planes and trains.
Milton Robert Felger
CDR. DC, USN (Ret.)
What have you most focused on in the aftermath of 9-11? What significant actions or responses where you involved in the aftermath of 9-11?
1. At the time located in Charleston, SC ' as U.S. military officer
2. Seeking the truth regarding the 9/11 tragedy'.all of it
a. Accumulating information regarding the event before, during and after
b The Government has used the power of the media, local, state and nation government to conceal the all the evidence relating around 9/11
4. The Official 9/11 Report appears to be a cover-up of the event. The credibility of National government is at risk there because the 9/11 commission refuses to enter into a debate regard the event. Americans believe the 9/11 commission is similar to the Warren Commission's (covered-up President Kennedy's assassination).
5. Many dangerous policies and laws have grown out of the 9/11 Tragedy ---the Iraqi War, Patriot Act, wasting millions on the War CREATING Terror.
6 . The powerful power-elite who control corporate mass media and current administration have stonewalled a complete and unbiased investigation of the event '.. And a more important tragedy is that they have confirmed American citizens are but 'the American sheeple'.
Hello, my name is Meera. I am almost 20 years old and I am from Concord, Massachusetts...basically Boston, Massachusetts. I've lived here my whole life and am attending college here.
Everyone is aware [of] the five year anniversary of the attacks in 2001. Everyone has their own story and have had been impacted in many ways when remembering that day. I, myself took a moment to go back to that day. It's insane how much I vividly remember of that tragic day. I would like to share my story to any who are interested in reading it.
I had started 8th grade, and I was 14 at the time. I remember my first homework assignment in my social studies class was to find an article in a newspaper on a recent event which stood out to me. This assignment was given right before the weekend. It was September 9, 2001, and I searched through the Boston Globe to see if I could find anything. I remember then thinking to myself, this is boring nothing is happening in America today, it seemed. That itself stood out to me. I didn't think too much about it then, but I did indeed think to myself that it was a little weird how I couldn't really think of a recent event that seemed to hold a lot of hype; perhaps that was just my understanding at the time. I probably chose an article about research on a disease or something to bring into class.
I somewhat remember Monday, September 10, 2001. I remember spending time with my best friend after school. School was making me nervous and I had my own issues to worry about. I wanted my hair to be a different color so I could look cool but my mom simply wouldn't let me. I had a lot of homework to take care of. This is what worried me then.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I awoke at the same time as I did every day to go to school. My mom and I were arguing that morning about many different things, and I felt the need to beg her for permission to get my hair dyed. Between the arguing, I remember on the ride to school, I spotted a dead cat on the side of the road. Cats are my favorite animal and it pained me to see the poor thing laying there on the ground in one piece. I assumed it had been hit very quickly by a car. It looked like it was sleeping, and that image stood out to me until my mom dropped my off. I started to fake cry to persuade my mom to let me get my hair done, and we ended our confrontation to the point where my mom told me she would think about it.
I was off to homeroom, following my first period class being English, which began at around 8:20 and gave out a little after 9. I recall a long speech given from my teacher, and she told me that me and my partner had the last 15 minutes of the class to finish a poster for a presentation. Before those fifteen minutes began, I stared at the clock intensely, wanting the period to be over. Once the clock struck 8: 45 am, I remember something a little eery, and something I somewhat feel it takes some nerve to tell.
I just know what actually happened to me that moment onward. I noticed once we left the classroom to draw the poster, I didn't really say anything and I didn't feel like helping at all. Right as the class was giving out and the bell ring, I saw everyone get up to go to second period. I stopped for a minute and suddenly had a sense of fear take over my mind. There was nothing wrong with me, everything seemed okay. I wasn't okay, I felt as though something was about to happen to me, and it wasn't good.
As I slowly walked to my next class, I was trying to tell myself that nothing is wrong and my instinct is just being random. The next hour I just tried to get that fear out of my system, and eventually let it go. It was the end of third period, being math. A teacher came in to tell my math teacher that she had an urgent phone call from her husband. Me and some of my girl friends went, Ooooooo, thinking her husband was calling to say something romantic or something. As pointless as this may seem to read, the little vivid memories I have strike out at me before I knew anything of what was about to unfold.
Going to Social Studies around 10 30 a.m., I believe, I saw that most class room doors had been shut and a few teachers going around to talk to other teachers. My teacher, Mr. Murphy was talking outside to someone else while holding a paper with unknown text on it. We were all sitting in class waiting for the day's lesson to begin, and our teacher was in the hallway talking for quite a while. I kept staring at him, and I could see something was up.
He steadily entered the room saying he had an announcement. He said he just found out that two airplanes had been high-jacked and flown into the two towers of the world trade center in New York and that one other airplane had hit part of the Pentagon.
I remember seeing the Twin Towers once in my life at a very young age, and all I thought was how crazy tall and huge it was. We all talked about it a little more and gradually tried to continue on with class. None of us truly knew how big of a deal this was until the change of the next class. I remember hearing one kid say to his friend in the hall, there's definitely going to be a war now. Everyone was talking about it, and during lunch period, I started to realize how life was going to drastically change.
Everyone was gathering into the library where there was live news coverage of the scene in New York. My friend Annie had a brother who went to school VERY close by, and her family couldn't get through to him. She and I were both staring up at the screen. At that point, there was nothing but substantial amounts of smoke and debris floating miles around the city. Where were the towers? It was clear they were totally gone. Students were calling their parents in the office one by one. I called my mom and breifly asked her about my hair and if she made up her mind. The reason I brought it up this time was to just pretend for a moment that this wasn't on it's way to changing all our lives. My mom was frantically calling co-workers who had been flying or other clients that worked in New York. She worked for a trade company at the time. She told me how everyone else was leaving their jobs and how she had to stay to check up on all of the people.
There was one more period of the day, and we didn't talk about anything else but what had happened. It was then that the plane that had hit [in Pennsylvania] was announced. I saw several parents arriving at the school on that sunny afternoon to pick up their kids early while class was going on. All the words and news I was hearing in the span of three hours blew my mind. I was even afraid to walk home after getting off the bus. I wouldn't even let my cat outside. I turned on the television, and channel after channel after channel after so many channels, I kept seeing the footage of the planes hitting the buildings over and over. Even MTV suspending the network. This never happened before. This wasn't okay.
As I read some of the local stations messages broadcasted across the screen, stating their sympathy and apologies, I started to cry. It hit us all instantly, and our every day schedules weren't going to be carried out the same way. My mom came home pretty late, and the news was still on. I was eating sushi for dinner, which I hadn't had before, and my mom looked at my dad and started to cry, "All those people..."
I later made a quick video, thinking it would be cathartic to express myself privately. I told the camera what day it was, and showed a few channels of what was on TV. Each channel you heard crowds of people yelling and screaming while watching the towers collapse. I don't remember quite what I said except that it was an utterly frightening and crazy day which I knew wouldn't be ignored for quite some long time.
I went to bed after all the in between moments of the day where I would look at the bright sun and think about what was happening just a few states away. Logan Airport is where those planes came from? The airport that my dad helped design? The whole situation blew me away. I never knew the true definition of ugly until that day.
The next morning, the radio stations were taking calls from anyone who wanted to talk. News continued for weeks and months. Unfortunately my neighbors brother had worked in the World Trade Center. He was never found. Several of Concord residents gathered that following sunday at the Unitarian Christian Church we belong to, in honor of those who died and their friends and family. Seeing so many people crying, and my best friend on the bottom level of the church in a state of shock, and me feeling the tears come down my face steadily. American Flags were omni-present for the longest time, and we still haven't taken ours down. When I saw the twin towers at age 11, I remember hardly being able to see past them. In April 2002, I visited New Jersey and took a boat to see the statue of liberty. Manhattan was not the same.
A year later, I felt as though it was happening all over again. Watching footage of the World Trade Center being build in the 70s. The anger, the sorrow, the hideousness, the love. I couldn't express in words what it had done to all of us. It is now September 9 2006, and I stay awake at 2 in the morning despite the fact I have work in the morning at 9. When the fifth anniversary arrives, I will remember. I hope that those who lost their loved ones are coping well. I saw the World Trade Center movie, and in some `ways I wish I didn't. There are so many stories unimaginable of what they experienced that day. I had no story like those who actually were there or knew someone there that day, but all the same we all understood what had happened. It took a piece away from all of us. America is at war right now, and I don't want it to continue. If that's what America must do, then so be it. I just wish peace for all when next Monday comes. I won't ever forget.
Thank you for taken the time to read my story. I am just some girl from a small town who went to school that day, but all the same, it was a day from hell for everyone.