Where Were You?

Freedom isn’t free. Seven years ago today, that point was emphatically proven. Many Americans woke up to talks of attack, death, and utter chaos while others stood and watched it all happen. So where were you? What’s your story? I know mine…

September 11, 2001—A normal day in California. As a high schooler, I woke up and got ready to go to school. As we were getting ready to head out the door with my mom and sister, my grandpa called. I remember being impatient as I watched my mom’s face turn from hurry to shock and terror. She raced back into the house, over to the tv, and turned on the news. It didn’t matter what channel she watched—they all had the same images and messages playing. News reporters guessing at a meaning, at what was going on. Cameramen trying to get good shots of New York’s Twin Towers. Smoke everywhere.

I have to admit something. And to this day it grieves me to realize this. I didn’t care as much as I should have. I was in 9th grade. I was thinking of the test I had that day and basketball practice after school. While my mom stood weeping in the family room, I stood in shock, but not in mourning. Maybe I was in so much disbelief that I was numb. Perhaps. But after several minutes, we loaded the car and rode to school.

My mom didn’t honk at anyone on the way to work that day. Red lights weren’t a nuisance. Rude drivers weren’t yelled at. She simply drove…and cried. We listened intently to the radio, and it still never hit me. By the time we had gotten to school, New York and the nation were in complete pandemonium.

We didn’t have that test. We didn’t even have classes. All us 9th graders sat in homeroom all day, eyes fixed on the tv the administration had given us. I don’t even think we took a lunch break. Nothing else mattered. Our hearts and minds were united on one cause.

Somewhere in that whole ordeal, it hit me. People had died. America’s borders had been breeched. More attacks could be on the way. No one was safe. I began crying. And it didn’t stop until I went to bed that night.

Even now the images, sounds, and reports of 9/11 still fill my mind and flash across the giant screen of my memory. Many people say some things you never forget, well there are few things I remember as well as 9/11.

So what’s your story? Where were you on that day? How did it impact you?


4 Responses

  1. I was warming up my ’77 1/2 Ford Truck when I turned on the radio to listen to NPR, the reports came over that the first tower and second towers were burning and just then the first tower began to collapse. I’m actually getting chills remember all this. I thought it was a trailer for a movie or a skit or something but when the first tower began to fall, something in the reporters voice told me it was no joke. I ran back in the house and turned on the TV. My mom kept asking me, what’s going on. I told her I wasn’t quite sure. She probably saw the look on my face. I turned on the TV to watch the first tower collapsing. People reporting about terrorism and footage of the planes collapsing. I rushed to school, for some reason I was worried about being late. Mostly because I was still dazed and confused. I should have stayed home to watch the coverage. I was in charge of the early morning prayer meetings so we met, and prayed. Class started and we listened to the radio, then we had an emergency assembly with the college students.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m always interested in hearing where people were and what they were doing on this day 7 years ago. It is one I will never forget.

    September 11th, 2001 changed my life, like I’m sure it did for so many others. Here’s my story: http://tinyurl.com/4s52ce

  3. I’m shocked that our stories are so similar, probably because it seems we are so close in age. I was in 10th grade. My day started like normal. I was upstairs and woke up and took a shower and got dressed. I came downstairs for breakfast where my parents were glued to the television. Keep in mind, my parents never watched the news in the morning…my dad later told me he had a disturbing feeling, and just felt like he should check the news that morning.

    I too was shocked and stunned and sort of numb, but I didn’t grieve. I didn’t comprehend the tragedy in front of me. It was like watching Columbine or or Hurricane Andrew on the TV. It was a disaster in the moment, but it was a world away, I was detached.

    It didn’t positively hit me until my mom took me to school (all the while listening to the radio, ignoring stupid drivers, etc. too) and there was a girl in class who learned from her mom that her dad was on his way home from Boston to land at SFO. They weren’t sure if his plane was the one that crashed in Pennsylvania (she later learned it wasn’t, but his flight was grounded and he was stranded for a couple days).

    But like I said, that’s when it hit home. That the large number of people who were killed that day all had connections to so many people around the world. You know, six degrees of separation and all that. I later found out my dad lost a coworker who was staying at the Marriott hotel that sits between the two towers.

    School that day was hushed and most people talked in slow and quiet tones. Teachers had their TVs on, and did little teaching. Some kids were in that numb stage all day, trying to inject a little humor into the situation to alay their fears.

    It was a day I’ll remember as long as I live. Thanks Lauren for providing this outlet… 🙂

  4. It was the first September in which I didn’t have to go to school. I had graduated the June before and now worked full time in the local grocery store. My shift had started at 3:30 that morning to help stock the store before our 6am opening. It was a quite morning with very few customers in the first half hour. I was tired as usual but strangely excited to perform my newer position as cashier. Around 6:30 I remember a strange man coming in, talking excitedly to one of my co-workers, and turning our television to the news. I never watched the news so I really didn’t care what they talked about. Tuning them out, I continued to check through the few people waiting in my line, until I reached the last woman waiting. I noticed the group surrounding the tv had grown as each person left my line to join them. A few other employees and a couple other customers had stopped and stood raptured by what they saw. I remember the woman in my line buying fruit of some kind. I left it sitting on my scanner as I walked away from my check stand and joined the group at the tv. I didn’t know what was happening, but I had a sick feeling that it was huge and terribly important. The news didn’t make a whole lot of sense at first. I couldn’t put together the stories the reporters were relaying, but it all came crashing together when the footage of the smoking tower popped up on the screen. I watched as the second plan flew into the second tower, frozen in place as the entire group of onlookers gasped in unison. It didn’t make sense. I know nothing of planes or flight paths or anything, but I instinctively knew this was not an accident. I remember the heavy feeling that held me in place until my manager (and the woman still waiting in line) directed me back to work. It felt so wrong to cary on like normal, yet I couldn’t justify breaking down about it; I didn’t know anyone in New York, so it shouldn’t effect me personally. Right? Numbness crept in and carried me through the rest of my day. I don’t remember getting off work, or going home, or talking about it with my family, but I’m sure I did all these things. Its weird…I remember my mom telling me in detail where she was, what she was wearing, and what she was doing when President Kennedy was assassinated. Before 9/11, I had always thought she was being dramatic, but now I realize how true it all is. I remember the exact moment like it was literally two days ago instead of seven years ago. Slowly over these past seven years, the reality has hit harder. Harder maybe as I mature and take things more seriously, or maybe as it is slowly forgotten by the people around me. I’m not sure which.

    Thanks for posing the question. There’s something healing about telling your story, isn’t there? Like somehow it matters to more people than just yourself…

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