#2235 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I work for the corporate parent of a hospital system, in a small office building in a small Massachusetts city. I was coming back into my department’s suite from some busy little errand, and our secretary met me at the door to tell me a plane had crashed into the WTC. I assumed it was an accident, and was curious, but not worried. A few minutes later I heard someone say there was a TV on in Administration (we rarely use TVs here but there are a couple around the building). I went and looked at the one tower on fire, was horrified, but still thought it was just a fire.

A short time later I passed our secretary again, who is in the Air Civil Patrol. She was putting down the phone and told me tensely that a second plane had hit. Her patrol was getting organized. By that time about a dozen of my coworkers had gathered in a conference room watching a TV with some people from another department. I stood in the back and watched two anchors filling air time, basically saying nobody knew what was happening. There was a picture of the flaming towers behind them, which they couldn’t see, and they were talking via cell phone to a reporter who was stuck in a stairwell in one of the towers. I’ve always wondered about that guy. He was telling them exactly where he was and saying that his way both up and down was blocked, so could they get some help to him. He was very calm and in fact said that families of workers in the WTC shouldn’t worry because the evacuation was going smoothly and everybody was fine. I actually feel angry at the guy for saying that. He didn’t know the full picture: he was just making up something reassuring to say. It wasn’t news, and it wasn’t true. I guess he was just reassuring himself.

The call ended and the news anchors kept talking, apparently without seeing the image of the towers, because the side of one of the towers behind them suddenly blew out, and then the image was just smoke and dust, and we couldn’t see anything on the screen behind them, and they kept talking on and on. Finally someone must have alerted them that something had happened, because after a delay they said “something just happened, we don’t know what.” My coworker Hugh and I were the first people in the room to realize what had happened, and we both said at the same time, “That tower just collapsed.” I have regretted saying what I did next. I said, “Oh my God, it’s just like the end of the movie ‘Fight Club’, where all the buildings collapse.” It was such a trivial observation; I’m still embarrassed that I said it out loud.

There are two other little things I remember vividly from that morning. One was that my officious boss kept sticking her head into the conference room and stiffly telling us that we really should get back to work, while we all ignored her. I’ll bet she regrets that, like I regret my reaction when the first tower fell.

The other thing I remember was the people I immediately tried to contact. When I couldn’t stand to watch the TV images any more, I went back to my desk, searched out the e-mail address of my best friend in high school – a New Yorker whom I haven’t seen in 15 years – and send him a one-sentence e-mail: “tell me you’re OK”. Ten minutes later I got a brief reply: “shaken, not stirred.” Since then we’ve mended some fences over the internet but haven’t gotten together because I won’t go to NYC and he won’t leave. I sent the same e-mail to a friend who works in Chicago but whose home office is/was in WTC 2. It kept getting bounced back to me, and finally I got through to his wife. He was stuck in a Kansas airport, and his company’s server was in the basement of WTC 2, and he’d lost a number of his coworkers, but he was safe. It took him 3 days to drive home in a rental moving van with 5 other stranded travelers. We went to business school together and we both knew that we’d probably lost a number of our classmates. As it turned out, we only lost 3, plus there were 5 from my undergraduate college. I was surprised it was so few, but it didn’t relieve my grief for all those strangers who got killed so fantastically, so unexpectedly, so gruesomely.

On this first anniversary I sat in my office building’s stairwell and thought about that guy stuck in the stairwell, and all the people who didn’t get out of the stairwells in time, and all the people like me who were probably just doing some busy little errand when their lives ended so dramatically. Requiem eternam, dona eis domine.

Annie | 44 | Massachusetts

#2152 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
On Sept.11,2001 My Husband And I
Just Turned On The T.V. When We Both
Saw Both WTC Buildings Attacked And
The Pentagon & In PA.. I Was In
Total Shock That Morning.We Live In
California Miles Away From New York,
But The Shock Of It All I Was In Complete Tears To Just Watch.. I Could'nt Belive My Eyes To What I Was
Seeing And Told My Husband That We Were
Under Attack And That All Four Flights
That Struck Our Nation On That Day
Were Appalling And I knew Right There
And Then It Was A Terriorist Attack..
But I Also Had Hopes,And Prayers That
For All Those Who Sacreficed Themselves
We As A Nation Would Bounce Back.I Just Could Not Belive My Eyes. My Children Came Home That Afternoon From School
Telling Me That They Did Watch The Two
Twin Towers,Pentagon & Flight 93 In PA.
In My Amazment They Both Handled It Very
Well,But They To Were In Total Shock..
Thank Goodness Everyone In America
Stood Their Ground And Went On With
Their Lives... This Affected All.

Linda | 44 | California

#1869 | Monday, September 9th 2002
It has been almost one year to the day,a day that live in the hearts and minds of all americans for the rest of their lives. I remember hearing my friend in the room next to mine talking to someone on the phone, he sounded like he was crying,very upset.So i got up and went in to his room just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower.I had just got up from sleeping still not quite awake.And then seeing this i really wondered if this was real or i was still a sleep and was having a terrible nightmare.I could not take in what i was seeing people jumping to their death from 100 stories up, and buildings crumbling down A plane had hit the pentagon, one had crashed in western Penn. What had happened to the world i knew the night before that terrible mourning.After one year i still can remember that day and i will for the rest of my life.GOD BLESS AMERICA.
Ken | 44 | Utah

#1457 | Wednesday, July 10th 2002
I teach at a Royal Saudi Air Force base in Jeddah. We get off work at about two in the afternoon and I was in my villa soon after that.

I was in the kitchen fixing dinner and my villa mate was taking his mid-afternoon nap. I had the American satellite on and was half listening to The Today Show. The news guy said he had a breaking news story from downtown. He said to his producer “What? Go to commercial and then the footage?”

They cut to the last commercial we would see for almost a week.

I was watching as they went back to the news and showed the first plane run into the building. I woke up Roger. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting more and more depressed. We were wrong about everything we said to one another.

We knew at once it wasn’t an accident. We also assured ourselves that the towers couldn’t come down; that the best thing for everyone in the other tower to do was stay inside. We told each other the story about another plane crashing into the Pentagon was just a rumor.

My wife and father-in-law were flying from Panama (our home) to Miami for medical tests that morning. I was worried out of my mind. The phones were all jammed. It was only a few days later that I heard that she had been diverted to Grand Cayman Island.

On the flight line, a couple of Saudi airmen celebrated when they heard the news. Our (American and Filipino) guys called in RSAF officer. The two were taken away in an official car and have never returned to the flight line.

The next day, the Colonel called in all the Americans (and Canadians, they seem to be confused about Canadians) and offered his sympathy. Lockheed called us all together to discuss the emergency evacuation plan.

The site manger asked us if we had any questions. There was only one. “Would we get danger pay?” Expatriates are tough and strange birds.

Paul | 44 | Saudi Arabia

#1451 | Monday, July 8th 2002
I was at my job at the Duke University Free Electron Laser Laboratory. The first I heard of it was when a co-worker asked me if I heard that one of the World Trade Center towers had been hit. My response was that I had not. I went to a computer where a few people were gathered watching the first tower burn. Within a minute the other tower was struck. My first reaction was that this was not an accident. I said this must be an attack.
Vernon | 44 | North Carolina

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