#2482 | Friday, September 13th 2002
My father had the news on while I was in the other room getting ready for work when he called me in. I came running in to watch while the first tower was burning and then we both saw the second plane hit and the first tower go down. He informed me that another plane had hit the Pentagon and a third plane was headed for the White House (flight 93). I remember turning to him and choking out, "Is this the end, Papa?" My knees were quaking and I ran to the phone to call my fiance, my brother and my neighbor. I had to connect with those closest to me. In the days that followed, I remember going through a variety of emotions; fear, anxiety, intense sadness and then intense anger. I wanted to be in New York digging through the rubble, I wanted to fight with our brave men and women of the military. I wanted to be everywhere, helping and fighting. I donated blood, flew the flag and played patriotic songs. I grew up with horror stories of what my parents went through during WWII (they were both resistance fighters with the Underground) but I never thought that I would be participating in our own war on our homefront.
But I will do whatever it takes to preserve our country.

Sandra | 42 | California

#2390 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was just arriving at my office when I heard the news of the first plane hitting the WTC on the radio. When I got inside, there was already a TV turned on to the news.

On that fateful morning when four teams of terrorists decided to take on the role of the four horsemen and make passenger jets their steeds of the apocalypse, I watched in horror with the rest of the world. I saw the second plane hit the south tower more than a dozen times and from multiple views. I watched the towers fall in real time, then over and over again during the course of the next couple of weeks. With the fall of the north tower, I turned and walked away unable to take any more.

I was so full of shock and despair that I thought I would break down and cry right there in front of my coworkers. With tears filling my eyes I walked away, trying not to be noticed as I made my escape from the crowd gathered around the television. Then when safely out of view, I wiped the tears and found that I was unable to do anything more.

I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t scream in anger, I couldn’t even gather the motivation to go back to work. I called my dad. We talked and afterwards I went back to my desk and managed to go back to work. But my mind and my heart were not with me in the office. They were about 10 stories up looking through the lens of a video camera watching the scenes of the morning replay repeatedly.

I kept coming back to the point of tears, but could not cry. A couple of tears on the cheek and a brief shutter, and that was all. At first I thought it was simply because I was in the office I wouldn’t allow myself the luxury. I even wrote in an email that I couldn’t believe the effort I was putting into not crying. I didn’t realize until much later, when I wanted to cry and move on, that I couldn’t.

For the rest of the day, and for several days afterwards, I was full of pain, sorrow, and anger. Being a displaced New Yorker made the pain more intense. I started thinking of old friends who never left New York and called a couple. They were fine, but shook up like I was. More so since they didn’t need a TV to see the scene.

It was six months before I was finally able to cry. I don’t just mean about the attacks but about everything. September 11, 2001 bereft me of all tears. Even for my fathers sudden passing that December. I’m better now.

David | 42 | New Hampshire

#2093 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was in Manhattan, at the northern end of Central Park. I'd turned on the TV in my hotel room to catch a weather forecast, since I was due to visit a customer at 90 William Street - three blocks from the WTC - at 11, and wanted to know whether I'd need an umbrella.

After seeing that it would be a nice, pretty day, I left the TV on. I was watching when they broke into the Today Show to report a fire at the WTC. I stayed glued to the TV as they showed the second airplane crashing into the other tower, and the fires raging, and people jumping out of windows, and the towers collapsing, and the resulting images are forever graven into my mind.

Early on, I dialed up with my laptop. I wasn't one of the folks besieging Slashdot, but I did stay on IRC for hours, talking about what I saw. That turned out to be my only reliable communications channel. My cellphone was completely useless. I got more than a few phone calls from anxious relatives that I couldn't return because the lines were jammed. I finally asked a friend to call my parents in Houston and let them know I was fine and several miles away.

This past July 4 weekend (2002), a friend and I visited Mount Rushmore. At the end of the day, we went to one of the Western dinner theater places out there. Most of the way through the show, they sang a song, "Where Were You When the World Changed?", about that day. I wound up having to leave in tears, as it brought back memories of that day, and how I couldn't get in touch with anyone except over the net. I don't know who wrote it (I asked, but have since forgotten the name - it was some country star), but he did a great job of capturing the feeling for the rest of us.

Jay | 42 | Minnesota

#2088 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I had taken my child to school that day. It started like any other day. Little did I know that it would be the last of "any other day". I struggled to get my child, neice and nephew. I watched in horror. My mother ached she said ,as she knew people where dying.
I reside less than a mile from the crash site. My home was covered in dust.
I did not want to clean the debris away because I knew it was the very essence of life. I knew I held the ashes, the DNA, the fragments of those snatched from this world. Days later, I began the clean-up and I did so with such ease and care.
The days that followed where no better. I adopted the mantra that stays with me today: "I will live until I die" it may sound simple-it is anything but simple.
I never lived with such thoughts or such an overwhelming ache before Sept. 11th. I will never be the same. Life as I knew it ended on that day.

javita | 42 | New York

#2083 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
We were already among the shellshocked. On September 11, my twelve-year-old son, terminally ill with cancer, was in Robert Wood Johnson's pediatric oncology unit, waiting for me to spend the day and night with him .................................. My husband had spent the previous night at Jake's bedside; I'd gone home to be with my daughter. As soon as she was off to school and I'd had a shower, I got into my car and began the journey I'd taken so many times: Up the Parkway, onto Route 18, my thoughts only of Jacob, hoping he'd had a good night, hoping he was feeling okay.......................... I had the radio on and heard the initial news report, minutes after the plane hit. Then a little later, one of the radio newsman said, "Wait, are they rerunningthe tape again? From another angle..?" The second plane had struck, and newscasters were momentarily confused. But after a few seconds they knew. We knew. That's when I grabbed my cell phone and called my husband. "Put on the news," I told him, "Two planes just hit the Twin Towers." I remember, I was in Marlboro, because a sign there says no cell phones while driving..........................

I got to the hospital, parked, and went up to my son's unit, just in time to see the first collapse. Jacob was sleepy, grumpy about the news being on, and while we fussed with his medications and other needs, from the corner of my eye I watched what looked to be a war movie set in Manhattan.
In the hallway, one of the other parents was pacing, looking shocked. He showed me the security pass dangling on his shirt. It was a pass for the 110th Floor of the WTC. If not for the serious condition of that man's daughter, he and his crew were supposed to have been working on a transmitter at the top of the towers. But his daughter, Julie, was terribly sick. So he wasn't in NYC.
A few weeks later, Julie passed away. A few months later, we lost Jacob. I think often about all the people who were suffering private losses even before our nation suffered this horrible event. I hope they are getting the help they need, even as survivors of terrorism get the help that THEY need. Love to everyone, may we all know happier days,...Susan

Susan | 42 | New Jersey

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