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Sharing Memories of 9/11

Updated on July 14, 2017
Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia finds people's memories of great events important to save. She's collected them from friends, family, and fellow writers.

A Fireman at the World Trade Center on 9 11


Some events are so momentous that it locks that moment into people's minds. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11 was one of those events. Who can forget that moment they heard of the plane crashing into the tower?

As the day's events unfolded and the second plane struck the building, then it collapsed, those moments are seared into peoples' memories. The other plane crashing in Pennsylvania, the crash into the Pentagon, and then the rescue efforts kept people riveted to their television watching the events unfold.

Trying to Explain to Her Young Children

Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO - I was getting my sons ready for school, got a phone call from their dad, who said turn on TV. We watched in horror ... then the second plane hit and the boys' questions were nonstop, around age 6 at time, kindergarten and first grade. Impossible to explain the unexplainable - to anyone, let alone young kids. I never did take them to school that day, kept them close. We cried together and I tried hard to distract them (and myself) but the tears kept coming. It was just heart-wrenching, confusing ... such utter despair.

Maybe even more so when years later, deeper meanings came into focus and the shock, just dreadful. Our American children are actually fortunate though, since other than 9/11 they've never had to witness war in their own country. Other youngsters around the world know little else.

Fear Remained Strong for Weeks

Evelyn Saenz from Vermont - Our family was moving from Boston to Vt. My husband was still in Boston. We didn't have a TV or radio here in Vermont. My husband called to tell me about the first plane hitting. I knew it was a terrible accident.

Then a friend called to tell me about the second tower being hit and I wondered if our school was being dismissed like it had been after Kennedy was killed.

In the days after the attack, there was so much fear. My son, 3rd grade, was going on a field trip the next day to a county fair. When I saw that the young people directing traffic were dressed in camouflage I thought the fair was under attack. (They were cadets and this was their normal job.)

Two weeks later was my daughter's birthday. We were planning to let her and her friends walk from our house in Boston to go to the movie theater together. It would have been the first time (age 13) that they had gone alone. There was so much fear of gathering in groups that the parents not only wouldn't allow their children to go to the movie theater but wouldn't even allow them to come to our house.

I was at school when a teacher came in and told us that a plane hit the World Trade Center. At first, we were all grumbling about drunk or suicidal pilots. Then the second plane hit. All day in every class we left the news on. We thought this was the beginning of a new World War.

— Marigold

College Students Remember 9 11

AliciaMae - I was a senior in college in Indiana. I got up and turned the tv on to watch the Today show like I normally did before class, just in time to watch the 2nd plane hit - I spent the next 2 hours glued to the screen. I don't remember the rest of the day, or week...somehow I managed to drag myself to class between phone calls to family on the east coast.

DLeighAlexander - I was at home after getting my kids to school for the day. Then my oldest son called from college to talk to his dad and me about what he was hearing and to let us know things were getting a little crazy on campus that morning. We turned on the TV and were horrified at the sights we saw ... and prayed for our country and the people in New York.

Photo of the Pentagon on 9 11


People Were Horrified as the Day's Events Continued

WhitePineLane - I was home with my two young kids. My son only had preschool three days a week, so he was home with me that day. My mom had also slept over that night.

My husband was already at work and he called and said to turn on the TV, that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought he meant a little Piper Cub flying too low nicked the top of the antenna or something.... We watched TV for the next 6-8 hours straight, horrified as the events unfolded.

We finally dragged ourselves away from the TV and took the kids outside late in the afternoon. I have a picture of my mom sitting on our front steps that afternoon with my two babies - who were both smiling so brightly. They really had no clue what was happening, except that we had been watching something upsetting on TV for a long time... but now we were out in the bright sunshine, and everything was all right with their little world.

Some Were in School When They Heard of the 9 11 Attack

Cherry-Ambition - I was in a high school math class on a Tuesday morning. A irlg interrupted class and said a plane hit one of the World Trade Towers. Most everyone thought it was just a tragic accident. She came back in minutes later and said she SAW a SECOND plane hit the OTHER tower. By then we kinda knew it wasn't an accident, but still didn't believe it or know what was happening.

She came back in AGAIN minutes later and said the Pentagon got hit. All classes were dismissed and pretty much everyone in my high school was in the cafeteria watching the rest of it play out. Watching the towers fall was probably the WORST part of it for me, as I remember thinking

Watching the towers fall was probably the WORST part of it for me, as I remember thinking "There are still people inside those buildings, and I'm watching them die on live TV." Unsettling thought STILL... can't believe it will be 10 years ago this September...

Featured Memory of 9-11 (by CruiseReady)

My husband and I were getting ready to go to a weekly senior bowling league ... and we immediately thought about the son, who worked in a building just across from the WTC. Turns out he saw it all. We spent much of that day trying to get in touch with him. He had had to walk home through all the chaos that ensued.

Some Lived Nearby and Felt Personally Threatened

Frischy - I was taking my children to school when we heard on the radio that a plane had hit the first tower. As we pulled through the car riders' circle, they said a second aircraft had hit the second tower. We still thought this was an accident and the second one may have been a helicopter trying to cover the first crash.

After I dropped off the older girls, I took my younger daughter to her school and then went home and turned on the news to see what was going on. About that time the third plane hit the Pentagon and there were a lot of other reports of car bombs going off and fires all around the District. My husband worked in the Interior Building, just 3 blocks from the White House, so I was very frightened for his safety.

Immediately all of the phone lines went dead and stayed that way for almost 45 minutes. I could not call anyone from my home in suburban Maryland.

My husband's sisters called me in a panic, thinking that he still worked in the Pentagon. Then he finally called and he was able to get out of the city quickly on the Metro before they shut them down. He could do this because he had previously thought about how he would evacuate the city in an emergency. He said he saw many people just standing around stunned and in tears, not knowing what to do. Traffic was jammed up for hours in the District and my friends and neighbors were not able to get home until quite late in the evening.

There was a great deal of confusion that day, as news outlets reported the schools were closing early but when we went to pick up our children the school personnel did not even know it had happened. Everything was surreal and crazy and horrifying, and at the time we did not know if there would be more attacks of some kind.

Right after this, we had to deal with the anthrax in the mail and then the sniper the following year.

View from the Air of Ground Zero - 9 11


People All Over the World Remember That Moment

Sue Dixon from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK - I had just turned the TV on to listen to a radio programme that starts at 2 pm in the UK ( the Archers- the original soap) and it was tuned to Sky News, which was reporting the first plane then I watched the second plane with disbelief.

Lisa Marie Gabriel from United Kingdom - I was in the queue in Tescos when some people in front started talking about it. I went home and watched the news in complete disbelief.

Jeremy from Tokyo, Japan - Got home from work that night (night in Japan) and my wife was watching TV. The first plane had hit. We saw the second one. The following few weeks were the most homesick for America I have been in my twelve years living abroad.

pkmcr from Cheshire UK - I had just logged onto the internet and nothing would load because News sites were getting so many hits. I turned on the television and watched in stunned and tearful silence.

Bill from Gold Coast, Australia - I will never forget hearing about this for the first time. I had gone into work early at around 6 am and I must not have listened to the radio on the way or I would have turned around and gone home to watch it on TV.

When I turned on the work radio, I was confused to hear them talking about some plane crash and then finally I pieced it all together. I was alone at work for an hour and a half before anyone else turned up as they had all been at home watching it on TV. When I got home that night, it was all over the TV and I watched it for hours, just stunned at what I was seeing.

WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC, Canada - I'd just woke up and turned on the radio to listen to the news for a few minutes before getting up. The news was frightening and hard to comprehend. Thought I had woken up to a nightmare. Couldn't believe what I was hearing and ran downstairs and turned on TV. As soon as I turned on the TV, I witnessed the 2nd attack on the second tower. I will never forget that day.

9 11 Fireman Bows His Head


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