#1656 | Wednesday, September 4th 2002
On September 11, 2001, I was at work in my office when a co-worker came in and told me about the first attack on the World Trade center. I tuned my radio to a local AM news station and started listening for any news updates about the attacks. I also called my wife and son to tell them. In our conference room was a TV/VCR set that had no antenna. About 6 of us gathered around the snowy picture tube barely able to make out the images of the catastrophe. Only the voice of the reporter could be heard describing the unfolding events. A co-worker made a trip to the nearest Radio Shack store and was lucky enough to grab the last set of rabbit ears. Once they were hooked up, we could clearly see what was on the screen. By this time, there were at least 8 of us there watching in horror. Moments later, we watched in shock as the first tower collapsed. Later when the second tower collapsed you could have heard a pin drop. I think we were all in a state of shock. For the remainder of the workday, we would wander over to the conference room to catch updates. I don’t think many of us got much work done the rest of the day.

Rick | 47 | Virginia

#1485 | Wednesday, July 17th 2002
I, like many other Americans, lived with the fantasy belief that nothing could hurt us. We are the USA. We were safe. We didn’t go to bed, as people in other countries do, afraid of what would happen during the night. We were the ideal to which everyone aspired. Oh, sure we argued among ourselves. But this is America. We were untouchable. No one would dare attack us.

That fantasy ended on September 11th when the unthinkable happened and we WERE attacked. We weren’t targeted for this violation during an act of war. That might have been understandable. This was a vicious, unprovoked assault on civilians. And suddenly we were at war. My only thoughts about war IN this country, ON our shores, were from stories told by my parents. This is a completely new reality for me.

I was on the 22nd floor of Trinity Church and watched BOTH planes hit the towers. I knew we had been attacked and that nothing would ever be the same again. I managed to contact my 80 year old mother and my 26 year old son before the phones went dead. It took me about 6 hours to finally get me and my bleeding feet back to Brooklyn and into the nearest bar.

I knew the dust and ash I carried on my body that day were, in all likelihood, the cremated remains of people lost. I knew I was going to die and although I still breathe and my heart still beats, part of me DID die that day. Although I didn't lose a family member in this unprovoked attack, I lost other less tangible things. I lost my job that day and more than 10 months later have been unable to find another. I can't bring myself to don the outfit or shoes I wore that day. I lost my spirit and part of my soul.

I tell people, when I can bring myself to discuss it at all, is that I think the almost 3000 people who died that day might have been the lucky ones. Those of us who remain are still trying to find ways to deal with the horror, the anger, the frustration, the fear, and the knowledge that we will be attacked again. The only question is when. I look to the sky and no longer see planes. I see potential missiles. I no longer look at the sky and see orange and red sunsets as kaleidoscope colors. I see blood. Gray clouds are now visible reminders of that horrible day. I’ll never forget the smell that day. Now sounds of planes overhead and the rumble of subways below remind me of the attack. My dreams, although less frequent than before, remain just as vivid.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to come to terms with this new reality. I was angry. And scared. I still am. I go to bed worried about what will happen as I sleep. I wake and turn on the television with a sense of dread about what might have happened while I slept. If the first image I see on television in the morning is some inane commercial then I know, at least for the moment, we’re OK.

The President tells us “get back to normal”. What does that mean? How do we get back to normal when the entire definition of normal has changed? I trust my government to do what is right and protect us from future acts of barbarism but I’m having trouble balancing that trust with the fear that is still with me. Is this rational? ‘Experts’ say yes. Should I seek counseling? Maybe, but with no job there is also no health insurance.
So what do I do? I look for another job. And I spend time with my 80 year old mother. We talk. We laugh. And I am getting to know her. I’m getting to know me through her. I’m learning about American History at her feet and through her eyes. Now, and forever more, I have my fingernails polished with red white and blue designs. Someone told me she thought it was time for me to stop this display of personal patriotism. My reply was, NEVER. My fingernails are red white and blue memorials to 3000 people who did nothing more than go to work on a sunny Tuesday morning. And red white and blue is what they will remain … until they put me in the ground and I join my brother and sister NYers at heaven's door.

D. | 47 | New York

#1324 | Monday, May 27th 2002
I was at my job when the attack occurred. We received a phone call from a business associate advising us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We got a television and monitored what was going on.
When the second plane struck the World Trade Center, I concluded that it was indeed a terrorist attack.
My feelings on that day were hard to describe. But, even on that day, it did not diminish my belief in the fortitude of the American People.
We are going through difficult times. But, I have no doubt we will come through them as we did our depression eras and the times of war.

Fred | 47 | Virginia

#1294 | Saturday, May 18th 2002
I remember waking at 4.a.m. on sep 11th..it is not something I do...but this time I woke,I walked into the lounge room,and a dread came over me?..I would normally if up too early,just go back to bed...or watch t.v...but this time,No.I remember in
my heart,feeling this dread.I did go
back to bed,and sleep.Untill my 9yr
old told me to get up.He said Mum,you have to see what is o.n. t.v.I think when that feeling came upon me,at 4.a.m. it was all the lost souls .
I saw it on t.v. three hours after that.
About 7.a.m.
I remember thinking....this is some kind of movie.I was so shocked,my son was unable to take it in...I wish I had
been more careful,and not let my son see so much.But...alas we are but human
and we have no idea sometimes,what to do....our world,as we knew it...is not
ever going to be the same.It has made me a different person,and now I suffer
from a panic that at times will set in.
I love America,I have family there....
God Bless her....and keep ..her safe.

p.Starks | 47 | Australia

#1292 | Saturday, May 18th 2002
Greetings --
I was in my apt, just sitting down to write a paper for graduate school. I spent 15 years living in Manhattan and ran a business about half a mile from the site. Now, my bedroom window is three miles as the crow flies from where the buildings ued to be. Wrote all my friends in NYC, before the phones went down. No one I know was there, even those who were supposed to be -- incredible. The noise outside was deafening -- helicopters, Air Force, sirens, etc. I could not leave to help, all the roads were closed. I live just west of Manhattan, hence no smoke. But the energy that poured in my bedroom window was big and loud and heavy. On Thursday night, there was a thunderstorm. It felt like some big arm of thunder creeped west to east and cracked right over ground zero. Stayed there and thundered, and then the rain fell. No more energy came in my window after that night.

Christina | 47 | New Jersey

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