September 11, 2008

What were you doing on September 11th?

In the early morning of September 11th, 2001, I was sleeping in my roommate Brittney's bed and dreaming about something safe and wonderful. Brittney had caught mono at the beginning of the semester and had consequently moved home to recuperate, but she left most of her things behind, including all of the blankets and pillows on her comfortable bed. I'd often fall asleep on her welcoming bedding during my late-night talks with our other roommate Cassandra.

Around 6:30 in the morning (perhaps a little earlier or later), our fourth roommate Jana burst into the bedroom to announce a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Centers. I remember rolling over in the bed at Jana's proclamation, wondering if she was just joking. I figured there was no way she could be telling the truth and I promptly went back to sleep.

A few minutes later Jana entered our room again and this time I took her more seriously. I fumbled for my glasses and wrapped a blanket around my body and joined her in the living room to watch the news.

I was shocked and dumbfounded at what I saw.

The television showed an enormous plane flying straight into the World Trade Center, causing red flames and black smoke to burgeon from the ailing building. I watched in horror as, one by one, the two towers burned and crashed into the ground, leaving only a cloud of brown haze and ash in their wake.

The rest of the day passed by in a blur. I attended a devotional up on campus to commemorate the victims. I called my family to make sure they were okay even though they lived a half hour outside of Washington. I thought about my friend Dan and about his dad who worked in the World Trade Center. I stayed up late to watch the same footage playing over and over again on the 24-hour news channels, hoping to hear of any new developments and hoping to hear somebody would be brought to justice for such an awful crime.

Finally, I understood what Americans must have felt when the Japanese attacked and bombed Pearl Harbor. Finally, I understood what Americans must have felt when their charismatic young leader John F. Kennedy was murdered. Now, I belonged to a new generation of Americans brought together by tragedy and unified in mutual mourning.

What about you? Where were you on September 11th? What were you doing? How did you feel?


  1. What's most interesting to me is the night of September 10th. I'd just made friends with 2 guys from the Naval Academy and was chatting on AIM with one of them. I hadn't been exposed to military people before, and hearing about his lifestyle there I said something like, "You know, I never realized how much I took my security for granted."

    The next morning, I was in my room in the dorm. I think my mom called and was slightly hysterical, which is understandable. She said, "Our country is under attack!" I went across the hall to someone who had a TV and they were watching it too.

    I didn't really communicate about my feelings to anyone but I think it shook me a lot. I'm kind of ashamed to say that I spent the night at this guy's house because I didn't want to be alone. Less than a month later a huge tornado hit campus. I'm not sure if it was just being 19, college, or what, but I think I definitely felt depressed that year, like everything was kind of surreal. I remember one of my professors asking me what was going on, and I said I wasn't sure myself. He told me he understood, that another girl in my class had been so upset about Sept 11 that she even had to leave school.

    My mom had a cousin who died in one of the buildings. I never knew him, but it definitely makes it more real as opposed to just images on a screen.

  2. It was my first week of college, and the first time I ever questioned my privledged little American life.

    I was walking to Econ that morning and happened to pass the Tanner building where crowds of people were gathered around the TV in the lobby. I turned to see what all the fuss was about and watched as the first tower fell. I didn't really know what was going on but I couldn't shake the fear and sadness that settled into my chest. The day is a blur other than my complete and utter obsession with the images of the attacks that day and in the days that followed. I happened to have a susbcription to the NY Times for a class at the time so I pored through the paper, unable to tear myself away from its horrific images. I remember saving both the 9/11 and 9/12 issues, eager to preserve the proof of how the world changed that day... But looking back I don't think I could have ever anticipated the real effect it would have on me and the generation of us whose world it shaped.

  3. Anonymous3:43 PM

    I was lifting weights in Duke's East Campus gym and was watching the tv in between sets. CNN flashed over to a scene in NY city once the first tower had been hit. Soon, I saw the plane go into the second tower and knew that the world was changing right in front of me.

    Deep down I knew that one day I'd join the military. I didn't quite know when or how it would happen, but 9/11 and those images moved me to serve my country. History was happening and I wanted to be a part of it. Without question, 9/11 was a momentous day in my life.


  4. I was a senior in High school, and the planes hit the towers while I was driving to school, so I first heard about it when I walked into my first period class. My teacher was watching the news on a little tv and said we wouldn't really be having class today because of what was going on in New York.

    A friend and I walked over to the teacher's desk and watched with him while everyone else in the class just sat and talked. When the first tower collapsed, everyone looked up and watched. Then a girl said "Oh that's so sad," then turned to her friend and said "so anyway, I'm thinking I'll wear pink to homecoming."

    Geeze I hated high school.

  5. My Ausssie friend Anna was staying with us for a few days, do you remember that? She had been watching TV and came and got me out of the shower. She didn't know what the WTC was and began to ask me a lot of questions, hardly any of which I answered. I didn't know what to say. I remember telling her, in shock, that our friend's dad, Dan's dad, worked there and we had visited his office only a few months before. We could see the Statue of Liberty from his corner window.

    I remember attending the devotional with you, Anna and Adam Jensen and feeling much strength in President Hinckley's words, although I have no idea what they were. I remember being thankful to be surrounded by such good friends on such a horrific day.