#2046 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was at work, as many of us were, when my supervisor / manager came in and said "A plane's hit the world trade centre! Another one's crashed into the sea and a third is heading for Washington but they don't know where it is..."

This was 3:05pm, 10:05 in NYC.

After some initial confusion, he explained that all three jets had been hijacked but I had some difficulty in believing it all. "There's no way they'd let a plane even get close to Washington," I said "Because they'd shoot it down."

Anyway, my Mum is retired so I knew there was a fair chance she was at home. I called her up and could hear the TV in the background. I just asked if it was true and she said "yes, I was sitting here watching TV when they interrupted the broadcast and they're showing it live."

More than anything, I remember feeling the blood drain from my face. Shock doesn't even come close to describing it.

As Mum explained what had happened, I repeated the details out loud... one by one I could see people coming off the phones and just listening to me. There were about thirty people in the room at the time. I was working in a teacher supply agency at the time and 3-4pm is a critical time for sales since school will often rebook a teacher at this time. No one was interested though.

At that time, Mum had said one of the towers had collapsed but the other was still standing. This is my memory of it. She said no plane had crashed into the sea, two had hit the WTC and one had hit the Pentagon, which stunned me - I remember saying "but it must be the most heavily protected military installation in the world."

She also confirmed that one plane was still in the air but that they didn't seem to know where it was.

I came off the phone and must have told everyone in the room about three times what my Mum had told me... each time someone came off the phone I said it again. One of the guys sitting on another table came off the phone and called me over. Once again, I told him what had happened. He seemed interested in the Pentagon... about half an hour later I noticed he wasn't at his desk and I asked someone where he'd gone. That's when I found out his father was American and was in the US Navy - he worked in the Pentagon. He hadn't seen him in years. Fortunately, they confirmed a few days later that he was okay.

I had a 20 minute break at about 3:30pm. I went outside and sat in the car with the radio on. The rest of the day was surreal. We carried on with our work as normal, but all the time there was this awful feeling, a sense of shock, a thought at the back of your mind telling you that somehow it must all be a horrible and dreadful mistake. It just didn't seem to be happening.

Many times I thought of my friend, Susan Corso, who lives in New York. I wondered where she was, if she was okay. I knew I probably wouldn't be able to find out for days.

I drove home that evening with the radio on... I got home close to 6pm and switched the TV on and that's when the full horror of it all hit me. And I mean it hit me. I'm not ashamed to say I wept at the thought of what had happened, the sheer brutality of it all. I still weep now. I was apalled, sickened and stunned. I watched it all unfold in morbid, horrified fascination. I felt ashamed to be watching, as though I were some sick voyeur.

I sent emails to my friends in the US... my surrogate sister, Tomi, in Milwaukee, told me they had locked down the building, that no one was allowed in. People were allowed to go home if they wished to, but Tomi said she couldn't bear the thought of being at home with nothing to do and the TV showing nothing but the attacks. Her friend Michelle was pregnant and Tomi was worried for her as she refused to hear anything about it, afraid that it would reach the baby's ears.

I sent a simple, one line email to Susan - "Are you okay?" - a few days later, I got a brief reply confirming her safety and thanking me for my concern.

I remember talking on the phone to my Mum, honestly believing that we could be facing a third world war.

Later that night, I was in my regular chat room when a kid I knew in the UK came on. Not one for sensitivity and tact, he almost caused more bloodshed by saying it looked "cool" when the towers collapsed, like something out of a movie. I remember completely losing my cool and ranting "Maybe when you grow up you'll realise that up to 50,000 people may have died today."

I woke the next morning and had to remind myself of the previous day's events. It seemed like a dream, a nightmare. It just didn't seem possible that it had happened.

Around Halloween I spoke to Susan on the phone and she told me of the the deep effect it's had on the psyche of the city. People were afraid. Each time a plane flew quite low overhead, people panicked and cried. Susan lives just a few blocks from ground zero and she said when the wind blows, she had to have the air conditioning on. Each time she looked at the skyline, it was like being punched in the stomach.

Even now, I can't explain why it affected me so deeply. I didn't lose anyone in the attacks, I've never been to NYC and I can't say I have a special connection in any way to either that city, the World Trade Centre or Washington.

People say we should move on and of course we should. I think ahead to the future and I wonder where we're going. I believe that history will look back on the 20th and 21st centuries with a sense of stunned wonder at the harm we caused one another. People will read about our part in history and will be completely unable to comprehend all that has happened.

I hope, by that time, the human race will have learnt to embrace our differences, to celebrate the diversity of life on Earth, and not seek to destroy it.

The alternative does not bear thinking about.

Richard | 31 | United Kingdom

#2036 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
Sept 11th – Words are so inadequate to describe the feelings as the events unfolded on that terrible day I was at work in Stockport, England. The company I work for and the street I live in is directly under the flight path into Manchester Airport – every time a plane went over my heart was in my mouth, I have no idea of the scale of fear everybody in America must have felt on 09/11. You are all so brave & hopefully the 1 good thing that may come out of this tragedy is that we can rid the world of these fanatical terrorists who murder in the name of God. My heartfelt sorrow to all those who were affected by this tragedy my thoughts are always with you. Love & peace always Nicola Mullin & family xxxx
Nicola | 31 | United Kingdom

#2033 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was sitting at my desk at work, having lunch & reading a book. A colleague came in & said that one of the towers had been hit by accident.
I went on the net & read about it & as i was reading the other tower was hit. It was then broadcast by our receptionist what had actually happened & that live coverage was being shown in our conference room. All work stopped. We were watching the unbelievable, the impossible, the unforgivable. The roads outside were sudenly empty & the phone did not ring at all for the rest of the day.

I & my colleagues wish all the families who have suffered loss our deepest condolences.

To all the hero's, you should be proud to be American.

Even in the deepest darkness, a single candle can always lead you back to the light.

God Bless

Paul | 31 | United Kingdom

#2031 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
It was about 4 am here in Hawaii, and the phone rang. My sister called from her home in Silver Spring, MD, just outside of Washington, DC. My husband is in the Navy, and she thought he might be called in to work because of the attacks. She wanted us to hear about it from family instead of that call in to work. We ran down to the television and just stared in total disbelief. This couldn't be real, couldn't be happening. Not here, not this. The whole day was just a blur.

My husband was indeed called in to work earlier that the usual 6:30 am muster, but we talked on the phone a lot and it was almost like he never left. I've gone through the typical Navy deployment, and this was just as troubling. On a military base, you always wonder if you are a target.

But even worse was watching the horror unfold throughout the day. The people wandering the streets in confusion, running in directions they weren't sure were going to be safe. The piles of paper, even pictures off the desks of the workers in the Trade Center. These were pictures of the loved ones left behind. How horrible to watch, but something you could not turn away from.

We cried that day, for the victims and for our country. My husband volunteers to protect our country, and he was frustrated to be so far away and not be directly involved in some way. He's originally from Long Island, and we also spent time living near Washington, DC, and it hit too close to home.

We worried about our baby due soon, about my husband's involvement and safety. But mostly for the families. Where were their loved ones? Were they still alive? How would they cope with this? It was a helpless feeling.

Now, one year later, our lives have changed. Being in the military, security is more strict. We have always kept in touch with our family back on the mainland, but now we miss them more than ever and can't wait to see them again. Our son is now 6 months old, and we're thankful every day for him. We appreciate things more, enjoy things more. We watch stories about the victims' families and how they're doing. It's heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. But we feel better about our country and the family we all are together. In Hawaii, there has always been a special feeling of closeness and Aloha, but it has grown even stronger. We are blessed to live in the United States, and every day is a new opportunity for us to make life special.

Nora | 31 | Hawaii

#2011 | Tuesday, September 10th 2002
I was at home in Metropolis, IL in bed sleeping and then at about 11:00 am i got up to get ready to go to work at a nursing home that i still currently work at. I didn't know anything about the WTC yet. That is until i got to work and heard it on the radios and televisions in our break room and the residents rooms. Everyone at work was talking about it. At first it didn't hit me how bad it really was. When i learned that terrorists had flew planes into the towers, it really scared me and i couldn't believe what i was hearing. Then later that evening I came home from work and my husband and I talked about it and watched it on television. All we could do was shake our heads in disbelief and shock at what we saw on tv. We give our deepest sympathies to the victims families and the survivors of 9/11. May God comfort and guide you through your grief.We are proud of and thank all the heroes that were there that day. God Bless America!
Kristina | 31 | Illinois

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