Where Were You on 9/11/01?

I know everyone and their brother are writing about 9/11 on the eve of the 10th anniversary. But I felt I had to chime in as well, as my life has changed so much in the last 10 years. This blog is not just about how I have changed, but how how the world has changed as well.

Back on that morning…

I was 24 years old, living with my friend Beth in an apartment in Farmington Hills. I had completed my MSU graduate school courses, but was working on completing my Master’s thesis. I was also feverishly looking for my first job in radio. Rich and I were just dating at the time. 😉

I remember September 11th, 2001 like it was yesterday. I awoke around 8am to the sound of our landline phone ringing. I don’t remember who called, but Beth answered. We were alerted to what was going on. We turned on the TV immediately and witnessed the second plane hit the World Trade Center. We watched in awe, horror and then sadness. We also witnessed the horrific site of those poor people jumping out of those World Trade Center windows. To this day, I have a hard time believing that happened.

It felt so ironic for this horrific act on such a gorgeous day. It was sunny with few clouds in the sky. Just the day before, there was a big storm as I drove home from Lansing Airport, after having flown back from a broadcasting conference in New Orleans. Yes, I flew the day before 9/11. One of my classmates, Valerie, had stayed behind to visit family for a few days. After all flights in the entire country were grounded for almost a week, she ended up having to drive back up to Michigan from Louisiana. I remember thinking how thankful I was that I got home before 9/11. I could not imagine driving all that way on my own. (I’m not saying I would not do it, or that I was not capable. I just would not have liked it.)

I’ll also never forget being glued to the TV for literally 12 hours on 9/11. And I’ll never forget the tone of my dad’s voice when I called him that day. That man, one of the strongest men I knew, sounded a bit scared and dumbfounded (like most people in this country). The few words he spoke that morning spoke volumes. This tragedy was massive.

In addition, I remember trying to contact people I knew lived and/or worked in New York City. Rich’s college roommate John tried to reach his then girlfriend (now his wife) who worked right near the World Trade Center. He was in Vegas for work. After many attempts to reach her, I recall him telling Rich how he was so panicked that he literally ran to his hotel room restroom to vomit. I don’t blame him. (Thankfully, she was just fine. It was impossible to get through for hours as cell phone networks were jammed.)

It was a chilling day that I think every American will remember forever. And 10 years later, the sights and sounds from that day still make me cry.

So how has life changed since then?

Here are a few snippets from my life:

-I got my first “real job” after college in commercial radio

-Rich and I bought our first place – a condo that we loved and lived in for 7 years

-We got married

-My dad passed away 2 1/2 months after I got married – talk about one of the best AND worst years of my life

-We adopted our first dog, Sarah, who lived with us for 4 years until she passed

-I quit my job in radio, helped my mom run the family business that she took over when my dad passed

-I started my own business

-We adopted our second dog, Pebbles, who has been with us 3 years now

-We adopted our first cat, Lexi, who has been with us for a year and a half

-We bought our first REAL home, a house that we also love (and continue to love more as we fix it up)

-We’re expecting our first child

(I’d say those are some pretty big changes.)

What about the rest of the country?

To say a lot of things change in 10 years for everyone would be an understatement. As far as our country goes, I had really hoped things would have moved in a more positive direction. They looked as if they would, especially right after 9/11. The immediate reaction after the terrorist attacks was to come together as one as Americans. Just about every car donned an American flag after 9/11. And while I knew that enthusiasm would not last forever, I am continually surprised at how we have gone in the complete opposite direction.

Instead of finding ways that we as human beings are all the same (I can venture to guess that we all want acceptance and to love and be loved), Americans are more and more divisive. If we ever want true peace after a tragedy like this, we’re going to have to find some common ground again. If we ever want to get ANYTHING positive done, we need our politicians to quit name calling and start compromising. We need to respect each other as human beings. We need to value each other and help educate each other.

OK, before this turns into a big rant, I’ll spare sharing specific stats on crime, unemployment, lack of healthcare, the hurting environment, etc., and I’ll pose a few questions:

-Where were YOU that morning?

-How has YOUR life has changed since 9/11? Are you happier? Feel safer? Still angry about 9/11?

-How do YOU think the US has changed since 9/11/01?

-Do you have any special plans to commemorate the anniversary this Sunday?

Share away!

P.S. Here’s one great idea for Metro Detroiters to commemorate 9/11:










8 responses

  1. Where were YOU that morning?

    As the first plane was hitting the first tower, I was in my car, driving to work. I was just out of college, working on my teaching credential, and working at Mervyn’s (a dept. store) part-time to help make ends meet. Shortly after I arrived for my 6 AM shift to set the ad signs, our manager came over the PA to tell us what had happened, and turned our normal muzak over to the news. I was near tears the whole time I listened. On my break, I watched the news in the break room and got really upset. I tried to call my parents but couldn’t get either one. Even though we were in California, no one knew if there were plans to get the West Coast, and I just wanted to hear their voices.

    My shift ended at noon, and I went home to find that Dad, a state worker, had been sent home. He had already put out his American flag in front of the house. Mom was getting home for her lunch break when I got home, so we all sat and watched the news in silence.

    I had to go to my credential class that night–originally I was mad that my school did not cancel classes, but then we spent a good chunk of the class period talking about how we might deal with situations like this as teachers. Little did I know that four years later, I would have another terrorist situation happen while I was teaching–the London Transit Bombings.

    -How has YOUR life has changed since 9/11? Are you happier? Feel safer? Still angry about 9/11?

    Like you, I got my first grown-up job. I became a teacher and I moved to England for a year to teach. I was in England when the London Transit Bombings occurred, and it absolutely enraged me when a letter came down from the head teacher that we were NOT to discuss events with our students. I lived in a town where people commuted into London, and I know kids were worried about their families. My year 7s (6th graders) knew something was up and kept trying to get me to tell them. I couldn’t. It was awful.

    I don’t feel any more or any less safe than I did. I grew up with a retired Air Force Lt. Col. and his mantra has always been “Watch your six” (watch your back). It didn’t really change anything for me after 9/11, or, indeed, on my first trip back into London after the bombings there.

    I’m not still angry about 9/11…probably more like still horrified. I wasn’t sad when I heard that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

    -How do YOU think the US has changed since 9/11/01?

    We haven’t, really. Maybe we’re more aware, but then, maybe not, because I still see people bitching about security measures on flights and our tendency to not trust people who are “different” remains in the anti-Muslim sentiment some people show.

    -Do you have any special plans to commemorate the anniversary this Sunday?

    No. Maybe I’ll blog about it, but I don’t know. I’m sure Dad will put out his American flag again, and maybe I’ll watch one of the endless shows about it. But then, maybe instead, I’ll do something life-affirming, like groom horses or go for a really good run. We’ll see! : )

  2. The morning of September 11, 2001 I was working at the drive-up window at a local bank. If I had to be at work, this was my favorite place to be with beautiful views of the mountains in our quiet little valley especially on such a gorgeous day. We first heard the news over the local radio station that was playing over the bank’s PA system. We sat in near silence as details emerged about what was happening in New York City. Customers and employees alike spoke in whispers as we went about our business as best we could.
    At lunch a co-worker invited me to her house so we could see what was happening on TV. We sat in silence with a box of tissues between us as the events of the morning were replayed. I remember not being able to eat the sandwich she had so kindly made for me.
    As the afternoon progressed, we all took a moment to check in with family & close friends. Several customers voiced concerns about relatives and friends in the city-fortunately they were all safe.

    Less than a month later I fulfilled a lifelong dream-I bought my first horse, Charlie. Less than a year after that I bought my second horse, Smoken. I still have both of them. 🙂 For me, 9/11 was another wake up call-the first was when my mother passed away of cancer at 60. I only have one life and I was tired of “when I have more (time, money, etc)”-it was time to actually start living!
    A couple other highlights: completed my Master’s degree, flown cross-country twice for vacation, and my favorite so far-a 3 week camping road trip with 2 great friends. We visited 22 different states, 11 National Parks and I lost track of how many state parks and National Forests.
    While I haven’t always been happy with the directions the country has taken since 9/11, I have been trying my best to be positive and do what I can to help others in need, and to live my best life.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever shared my memories of ‘9/11’ before, so here I go, from the other side of ‘The Pond’:

    I was working in the accounts department of a local hotel and the first half of the day was much the same as any other, except for the fact that later that day I was due to travel with a colleague for a Finance meeting at our Head Office in Birmingham, two hours drive away.

    It was just after lunch, and the TV in the bar was showing the first reports from NYC on the BBC News Channel. Soon, a small group gathered to watch, chefs came out of the kitchen, maids stopped cleaning rooms, joined by a few residents that were around, and all watched in horror as the first pictures came through from New York. At first, it was reported that a small plane had crashed into the tower, something that had happened elsewhere in the past but nonetheless tragic. What evolved brought tears to the ever increasing gathering. We watched in disbelief as another plane crashed into the second tower, and again as one crashed at The Pentagon and the fall of the two towers. The un¬imaginable thought that there were probably over 20,000 people in the towers at the time of the attack, brought fears of many thousands of fatalities. Not much work was done for the rest of the day. My colleague and I drove to Birmingham, and after checking in to the hotel, we caught up on the news on the TV.

    The meeting the following day was overshadowed by news still coming in from NYC, but we settled into learning about new procedures to be soon implemented. The leader of the seminar was the Finance Director of our Hotel Chain, an American from New York. He seemed obviously distracted, but conducted the meeting as best he could, occasionally being interrupted by phone calls on his mobile. It was only after the seminar had ended that he chose to share with us that the calls were from his family, his cousin, an officer in the NYPD was one of the fatalities………………………………..

  4. I was at work, and the attacks happened around 2pm UK time. Our chairman’s secretary came out of her office to tell us about the first plane – we had a little discussion about it, and by the time she got back to her office the second plane had hit. We heard through the office wall, “Oh my god, there’s another one!” and she ran back in to tell us. One of our colleagues was on the phone to an employee at another branch while all this was happening, and when she saw our shocked faces she just had to say, “I’ll call you back,” and see what was happening. Our credit controller ran round from the sales office to tell us she’d heard a rumour there’d been an explosion in Washington, and the rest of the afternoon was spent by the five of us glued to the internet watching the events unfold.

    I spent the whole of that evening watching CNN, trying to process what I was seeing, and still not believing that all this had actually happened. Ten years later, I still struggle to believe it when I see the pictures of the towers and the Pentagon in flames.

    I’d woken up that morning with the same thought I always had on September 11th: sending a silent “happy birthday” wish to my grandfather who’d died when I was 8 years old. 2001 was the last year that his birthday was the first thought on this date.

    Today has been spent much the same as normal, although I did observe 102 minutes’ “social networking silence” – not posting anything on Facebook or Twitter from 8.46am to 10.28am EST.

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