My wife and I were in New Jersey visiting my parents. My wife is from St. Louis and had never been to the World Trade Center before, so planned on going there on Sept. 12. The morning of 9/11 my mom was at work and called me at her house and told me one of the towers was on fire, and we might not be able to go. Not realizing what was going on, I turned on the TV just in time to see the second tower get hit. After they collapsed we drove to Seacaucus, NJ, and could see the smoke rising from Manhattan.
It is a sight I will never forget. Due to all flights being grounded we were stranded in New Jersey. My in-laws had to drive out and pick us up, and bring us back to St. Louis.
My husband was in the Pentagon on 9/11. He couldn't have his cellphone with him there for security reasons. He had no idea what was going on or that the entire world was watching what was going on, including me. I couldn't reach him and didn't know if he was dead or alive. I was able to go out of the building I was working in, about five miles away, and I could see the enormous black cloud that enveloped the Pentagon and a lot of Arlington. All the phone lines in the entire metro area were jammed for hours.
Both of our families tried to reach me. His wonderful dad somehow got through. He, of course, asked if Mike was okay. I lied to him and said Mike was fine. I didn't know the truth. Mike finally got hold of me at 4 p.m. I just remembered crying. Mike was coming home to me that night. The kids didn't lose their dad, but life would never be the same again. It was the worst day of my life...ever. We prayed for those whose day was worse.
I live near the airport and I was teaching at UMSL that morning. I had heard about the first tower and the Pentagon crashes on KMOX as I drove to campus. My journalism class watched the second tower collapse on our classroom monitor. Afterward, a frightened student came into my office, crying because she thought this was the beginning of the end of the world. I realized that the world we had known was changed forever. As I was walking to the parking garage, I saw plane after plane on the glide path, called out of the sky and forced to land at Lambert. And then for days, there was silence, eerie silence.
Finally, I heard a cargo plane taking off at night after I had gone to bed. It felt like the nation’s heart might be starting to beat again.
I was in New York that week and was actually in the Trade Centers on the night of 9/10. Had come in via train to the basement level and had an hour before meeting for dinner. Chatted with a security guard and asked him where I could get a drink. He told me the view from the bar at the top of the WTCs was spectacular, but it was cloudy that night so you would pay for an overpriced drink and see nothing from the windows. He smiled and pointed me to a nearby pub and encouraged me to come back on a sunny day.
The next day we watched from a skyscraper as the tragedy unfolded. We cleared the building and were shocked at the police and other law enforcement, as well as fire and EMS rushing to the site. And then seeing the people coming out of the subways covered in debris. We had to drive home a few days later as flight travel was suspended and remember that I carried payroll checks for four of our offices that were along the route from NY to STL.
I was living in New York City and working at Lehman Brothers Data Center directly across from the Towers in Jersey City. I had just entered a conference room for our daily status meeting and everyone was at the windows watching the flames coming out windows of the north tower. One guy went back to his office and grabbed binoculars. As he’s looking he says that it’s not papers falling from the windows — it’s people.
After the south tower was struck it became apparent that it wasn’t an accident. Our office was evacuated and after walking down 39 flights of stairs I stood at a railing along the Hudson River. I watched, shocked, as I saw the first tower crumble in what seemed to be slow motion and just sank to the ground, knowing that our whole world had just changed in front of my eyes. I wept, unashamedly, as I later watched white-dusted office workers stepping off the few ferries that brought them to safety across the river, escaping the city hoping to find their way home. I’ll always remember that beautiful, horrible morning, eternally thankful when I wake to greet a new day.
I was the coach of a boys soccer team. Tuesday was our regular weekly practice day. Between schedule conflicts, family commitments, and plain forgetfulness, it was rare to have the full team at practice. I debated through the day whether to cancel practice and in the end opted to have it and see if anyone showed up. The whole team was there, and while their seven-year-old sons ran carefree up and down the field, several parents thanked me for providing a diversion from the non-stop barrage of images on television.
I was living in Seattle. My long-lost (23 years) love from Missouri was divorced, while I was still in an unhappy marriage. I knew about him from my sister, who lived in Missouri and had stayed friends with him all those years. When 9/11 happened, I watched that second building come down and just said to myself, “Life is too short. I’m ending this marriage. I don’t know where it will take me, but I’m giving things one more chance.” I’ve been happily married to my long-lost love from Missouri for 19 years now. I’m sorry 9/11 happened, but I’m grateful for the wake-up call. Life is too short to be miserable when you’ve tried and tried and nothing has changed.
Adella Denise Jones
That Tuesday fell during my final week as director of public information for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. I’d given up the pager, as I was not going to be on call to the media ever again!
I visited area sub-stations, commanders and officers I worked with for over five years. In a few days, I would begin working for Dick Gephardt, U.S. Rep for Missouri’s Third Congressional District, and the Democratic Leader in the U.S. House.
Then 8:30 a.m. on 9/11 happened. I was at North Patrol, in Major Gregory Hawkins’ office, when the second tower fell. I was called downtown to Chief Mokwa’s office. The drive was surreal. Not a plane in the sky, and downtown all the people had poured out of office buildings and they were just standing on the street confused and holding one another.
The chief’s office was a flurry of activity, as a press conference was called for 11 a.m. with Mayor Slay. I had to spring into action, learn what was and what was not happening, brief the chief and try my best to stay calm. A week later, Congressman Gephardt came into the district and I was there helping coordinate a listening session his office hosted with students from Affton High School. Those kids were thrown for a loop. The idea to go there really came from the Post-Dispatch letters to the editor page, which was filled with letters from kids all over the region. Their young worlds had just been turned upside down. That was the end — and the beginning — of everything. I cannot believe it has been 20 years.
Laurie Clauss Kinealy
I was teaching first grade at Parkwood Elementary School in Maryland Heights. We had a staff meeting and I didn’t know about the towers until my students began arriving. A little girl, excited and wide-eyed said, “A plane flew into Taco Bell.” At first, I didn’t know what she meant but it became a day like no other.
I laid aside my lesson plans and we bonded as a class. We looked at the map and found New York City. We made flags out of construction paper and learned why the flag has thirteen stripes and fifty stars. I didn’t have enough gold stars so everyone could have fifty, but who was counting? Mostly we talked. We talked about our fears and the importance of hope and faith in the future and other people. We decided that the vast majority of people are good with only a few bad, and this applied to every country and group in the world. We also talked about the people that work to keep us safe.
I shared my memory of how I felt as a kid when JFK was killed and seeing my mother crying. That led to a discussion about families and that we are a part of many families. Our American family was grieving today. Together we hung our flags in the window of our classroom with the sentiment, "We remember 9/11." They remained there all year. I have always remembered those sweet first-graders and the comfort they gave and what they taught me that day and in the days that followed.
Richard M. Palank
I was managing a board of directors meeting of the St. Louis County Local Development Company.
Our guest speaker was Rob Frueh, vice president of the World Trade Center St. Louis. The LDC and the WTC St. Louis were affiliates of the St. Louis County Economic Council. LDC, WTC and SLCEC were located in the WTC St. Louis building at 121 South Meramec in Clayton.
I had asked Rob to provide an overview of the WTC to the LDC board of directors. After I introduced Rob, he informed the board that he had to cut his presentation short, as he had just been informed that an airplane had crashed into the WTC New York, and that he had to participate in an emergency phone call of all WTC directors in the U.S.
The LDC board and I assumed that a small-engine aircraft had gotten off course and accidentally flown into the NY WTC. We proceeded through the meeting agenda, and the meeting ended about 9:15.
As I departed the board room, I saw a TV in an adjoining office that was covering the attack. It was immediately obvious that what had happened in New York was far more serious than what the board and I had imagined.
Within the hour, Denny Coleman, President of the SLCEC, informed all employees that they could go home for the day out of concern that something similar might happen to our building.
Edward C. Donnelly
Between my first and second periods, while teaching English and journalism classes at Lindbergh High School, Azeza Rostum, 11th grade, frantically screamed “Hurry Mr. D., turn on the TV, and she was tearing up. It stayed on all day, and each class was fortunate enough to act upon this unfolding event.
Pilot newsmagazine, photojournalism and spirit yearbook classes reported for publications, and our JET News KLHS Ch. 98 electronic media students went “on the air” (CCTV) to report, feature and even deliver opinion pieces.
As for the student, Aziza Rostum, she confided to me that her father immigrated here from Afghanistan as an Aramco employee. She is now a dynamic local executive: Ms. Aziza Tesserou, who gave me permission to tell this story with her name.
I worked at the American Red Cross at the time. That Tuesday morning was beautiful weather, and I was going to spend my day off heading to Illinois to see a family member who was hospitalized. As I got across the JB Bridge and reports on the radio sounded more dire, I turned around in Columbia, Ill., and headed back home.
I called my boss (I had an analog flip phone that was very unreliable so I couldn’t call from the road), headed into work and worked for 10 days straight.
I was an RN working in apheresis (platelet and plasma collection) at the time. We typically saw maybe 40 whole blood and platelet donors on a regular day; that day was well over 200 donors. The thing I remember most is how helpful people were, not just rolling up their sleeves to help (literally), but bringing in food for us staff, bringing in extra chairs, offering to fill the toilet paper in the bathroom. It was truly amazing.
I have long since left the Red Cross as an employee but I am a regular platelet donor myself now, at the very location on Olive Boulevard where I spent those long days 20 years ago. I remember it all every time I walk in the door. Every single time.
I was in the seventh grade and watched it unfold on my classroom tv. I was originally born in New York City, and the impact of this event still has an effect on me 20 years later.
Lake Saint Louis
I was in second grade. I remember my teachers being upset. My teachers explained what happened. My parents did as well. I did not fully understand what happened until I was older. It was a very impactful day. One I will never forget.
I was landing at Newark Airport from a business trip. After I got into the terminal, they announced that a plane had hit the towers. Once I got out of the terminal, I saw the second plane hit. My ride showed up and we were one of the last cars out of the airport before it was closed. I was listening to the radio when the first tower fell. I lived in Jersey and saw the second tower fall. The company I work for had offices in Jersey so for the next three weeks I worked 16 hours a day looking at the smoke from the pile. It took me 4 years before I could actually cross the street in downtown Manhattan to see what was left at the time. I do not think I have recovered from it.
Lake Saint Louis
We were on vacation at a French Lick, Indiana, golfing trip before we were going to see Mizzou Tigers play football against Michigan State. I recall watching TV with the shocking report of a plane that hit the World Trade Center tower. I believe it was NBC showing a continual shot of the two buildings. The announcers were talking away when I saw a second plane hit the other tower. The announcers were obvious to the second plane and it took some time before they would acknowledge it, which seemed so unreal. Then the progression of events leading up to the collapse was burned into my mind forever. The college football game was cancelled obviously.
When I saw the second plane collide, I remarked that this can't be an accident. This was done deliberately. It made no sense. I concluded, then, it was intentional and probably the planes were hi-jacked while in flight. Then, the following days proved my hypothesis. Still, I can visualize watching that second plane hit the other tower.
It was the people jumping from the immensely tall buildings. Their choices were either to jump and end it quickly or be burned alive.
I toured the 9/11 memorial museum in NYC, and I decided that if the museum did not cover the jumpers then it was seriously deficient.
But the jumping was grotesque and I wondered how they would handle that. Turns out they had the photos, but they were behind a wall partition with openings on each end. If you kept walking you would not see the photos. Only when you went to the other side of the wall could you see the photos.
One woman was quoted as looking up for quite a while and saw a well-dressed woman on an open window far above. She stood there for quite some time and as a final act of modesty, pulled her skirt down, then stepped off the ledge.
I was an apprentice plumber at the time. Back then, we were allowed to listen to radios during work. We began to hear news updates regarding a plane hitting one of the towers, then it became a British Airbus and then another massive commuter aircraft hitting the other tower. The entire job site was in turmoil. We had coffee break at 9:30 and voted on working or going home. We voted to stay. All I really remember of that day was going home and watching the news and crying. I went to the Red Cross to give blood but they were swamped. We nearly lost a child in child birth, but that ranks right there in the feeling of devastation.
Like so many others, I first learned of the attack on my car radio, heading to work. When I arrived, I found a TV and watched with the world as the horror unfolded. But my greatest memory was actually the following day. Our home is along a flight pattern to Lambert, and either the sound of jets are frequent or when sitting on my back patio, one can see numerous jet trails off in the distance. I sat on my patio the next afternoon, contemplating the events of the previous day when it dawned on me. It was silent. As commercial jets were still grounded, there was no sound, and as I stared into the blue sky, there were no jet trails…anywhere. It seemed all so surreal and sad. Twenty years later, I still think back to that afternoon, and my thoughts of how the world we knew had forever changed.
Maureen Joan Valentine
I was boarding a plane to Chicago from Lambert field. We were almost all onboard when everything stopped and a bit later the pilot said we were waiting to take off. We sat and sat, and that is before people just turned their phones on. I don't know how long we sat but they said we had to get off of the plane.
As we got off people were crying we were looking at each other like, "What is wrong?" The next thing I saw were police with guns. I heard someone cry out and I looked up at the TV and the first tower was collapsing. Everyone around me screamed and started crying, then someone told us about the planes hitting the twin towers. Everyone was in disbelief
I then turned on my phone and had many messages from my family scared where I was. I went out to the shuttle to go get my car. People on the shuttle were trying to reach their son, who worked in the tower. He didn't answer — I think of them often. It was a day that changed every Americans life. I still have my TWA boarding pass from that day.
The haunting memory is the silence on the Washington DC streets as I made my way out of our parking garage as we were evacuated given our close proximity to the White House (My building was 13th and G and White House is 16th and G). My radio was on and people were asking for updates. The police guided us away from our normal route past White House and over 14th St. Bridge (past Pentagon) for the obvious reasons. We had to go into Maryland and back around over the Roosevelt Bridge to Virginia. No one objected or raised a complaint. We inched, silently, snakelike, for 7 hours on our way home. We were in a meeting that morning with the American Airlines Pilots Association. We had watched with them as the second plane hit the towers — and knew then it was not an accident. Phones starting going off immediately and they ran out the door. We cried. Something was lost that day.
I was a process manager at Bank of America and flew from St Louis for a meeting in Charlotte. The next morning we were just starting the meeting when one of the participants left to get copies of a document, and was gone for quite some time. I remember being a little impatient about his delay. He returned and apologized, reporting that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center. I remember exactly where I sat at the table, in the same way that I remember that I was studying matrix algebra and sitting in the fourth row of high school algebra class when the news came that Kennedy had been shot.
I had three thoughts: First, that the Bank had people in NYC including in the WTC; second, that a B-25 bomber had hit the Empire State Building in 1945, and it had probably happened again; and third, that we had work to do.
I encouraged the group to focus on the job at hand, but that quickly proved impossible. Further news came in, another plane hit the other WTC building, and it became clear that it was not an accidental crash. We all returned to our hotels and I presume the people from Charlotte went back to their offices.
After the news of the Pentagon, the second tower, and the Shanksville crash it seemed like the country was under attack but nobody knew by whom. It was worrisome because the Bank of America headquarters is probably the tallest building between New York and Atlanta, and with its name, might be an attractive target. And my wife and children were 500 air miles away.
The air transportation system was shut down and there was no rental car availability. I was stranded at the Omni hotel. I spent a lot of time in the bar at the hotel watching the news on CNN and commiserating with other stranded travelers. Two days later, on Thursday, it seemed that air travel might be possible so I took a cab to the airport.
The taxi driver was, I think, a Muslim. He was in tears, telling what an awful thing had happened. The airport was quiet, but there did appear to be a flight about to depart, and I was able to get a boarding pass. I sat in the almost-deserted departure lounge with the crew, who was also in the dark about whether the flight would actually leave. I believe we were the second flight leaving Charlotte, and I remember the pilot announcing that there were no aircraft in the air between Charlotte and St Louis.
I got home, hugged my wife, and put a big U.S. flag on the front porch.
Living in Westchester County at the time and felt that I had to do something to help. Expecting hospitals to be overrun I went to my local hospital to donate blood. I arrived at about 11 am. Still in line at 1 and seeing no survivors coming I began to realize there would be no need for my blood and went home. That realization was almost as bad as the initial shock of the planes crashing.
Seeing the first plane crash while sitting on the couch nursing my 4 month old daughter. When I was in the kitchen I heard a friend say, "Oh my God, there's another one", and I knew that everything had just changed.
It was just after 8 a.m. and I was in my car, stopped at a light in Clayton only a couple of minutes from work when the news mentioned that a "small plane" crashed into the World Trade Center tower in New York City. At the time I worked for World Trade Center Saint Louis, the international arm of St. Louis County Economic Council. Our organization was part of the World Trade Center Association, headquartered in NYC, in the Twin Towers. Within a short time, our concerns grew for our colleagues working at WTCA, wondering if they were able to escape. Several of them had already endured the prior bombing of the twin towers back in 1993, which happened to be the same week WTC Saint Louis opened its doors.
I was living in Washington, DC, about 12 blocks east of the Capitol. As I was about to take a morning shower I turned on CNN soon after the first WTC Tower in New York was hit. An hour later I walked down to the end of my block, in my bathrobe, and saw the huge miles high tower of smoke from the direction of the Pentagon. It was a beautiful, still, late summer day. The tower of smoke rose what seemed like infinity into space, where it was surely visible.
My husband and I were in Paris when we learned of the attacks from a waiter in a sidewalk cafe. We immediately ran to a hotel that catered to Americans because our hotel only had television programs in French. Once there, we watched CNN in English and learned of the attacks. I especially remember one American shouting on his phone, "I don't care what it takes, I want a plane out of here!" I don't think he got his wish. We didn't arrive home until two weeks later. When we flew in to JFK in New York, it was completely deserted — no shops were open and people there were quiet and hushed. Very traumatic time.
The pain of it being the week of the first anniversary of my dad's very sudden death in 2000. It was already tough to cope with, and then 9/11 happened.
I was teaching a seventh-grade class. Between classes the coworker next door came to my room and asked if any of my students had said anything about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. I turned on my classroom television and saw the news. I kept the TV on and my students watched some of the event each hour.
Several teachers and I ate our lunches in another teacher’s classroom. We were all in a state of shock. All after-school activities were cancelled. I saw more of the catastrophe at home that evening, but took a break to attend a lecture at St. Joseph’s Hospital on a health issue I have. I called a friend whose son was living in New York at the time and found out that he was safely away at the time.
The next day was a half day, and I was reluctant to go to work after sleeping poorly with visions of the two collapsing towers in my head. In the diary I keep, I wrote on the 12th, “TV tonight about Arabic men who trained to be pilots in Fla. I hope they can trace the links from these b— (pardon my French) to Osama bin Laden & find him & feed him his own eyeballs.” The rest of that week was eerie because the sky was empty of airplanes.
We were in Denver eating breakfast when the little corner eatery went silent and everyone was glued to the TV. We had a flight scheduled for later that morning, which we obviously didn't take.
We drove our rental car back to St. Louis. We kept in tune with the events of the day by tuning to local stations as we traversed I-70. When we were approaching Topeka there was a traffic report that there was a traffic jam around the airport. The local citizenry were flocking to the airport to pick up airline passengers stranded there and take them to their homes so they would have a comfortable place to relax and get some food. In all the traumatic news that day it was good to have a bright light shining there in Kansas.
I heard about people at the international terminal who didn’t speak much English and had no idea of what to do or where to go. I drove to the airport, parked in a police-only parking spot and went in to ask if anyone needed a place to stay.
I ended bringing around 8-10 people with me on two different trips — a nun from the Philippines, a stranded student from Belarus, a man from Bangladesh, a Native American woman who worked at the Bureau of Indian affairs in DC, honeymooners from Columbia, etc. Some stayed with friends.
My family took in five people who stayed with us until they could get flights home — the Belarusian girl stayed three weeks. I have never felt a calling in my life but I can say that day I felt a calling to go to the airport.
I was sitting in my office located in an outpatient clinic area at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Down the hall was a waiting room with toys and a television to entertain children and parents. Suddenly the area was inundated by physicians and other employees glued to the television. As I listened and watched, my immediate thoughts were: overwhelming disbelief, Anger, and not just fear, but Terror. Could this possibly be happening here in our “safe” country??? Videos quickly surfaced of people running, crying, and looking shocked. Unfortunately, these thoughts and feelings are easy to recover with the 9/11 anniversary approaching.
I often wondered about the people who made the decision to jump from a skyscraper window in a desperate attempt to survive. I still question: What about the children whose parents did not arrive to pick them up from school? What about the pets whose owners never returned home to feed or walk them? What about the parent or spouse who forgot to say “I love you” before departing for work that day? What about survivor’s guilt for those of us safely watching this on the news from our office or home? What about PTSD of survivors and first responders? There are no answers that provide comfort. Thank you to the heroes and those who lost your lives: You are not, and will not be, forgotten.
Town and Country
Fighter jets making sudden loud, sharp turns overhead at all hours of the day and night. Lived in DC at the time. It was scary and comforting at the same time.
Lorraine F. Hoisington
I was at work, in my office, listening to the radio when the newscaster broke in and said a plane had hit the World Trade Center. He thought it sounded like a freak accident, but he came back a short time later and, in a very solemn voice, said a second plane had hit the other World Trade Center building and this incident sounded like “something different.”
We all left our offices and went to the conference room to watch the television and see the news reports. It took my breath away seeing firefighters going up those long stairwells to try and save anyone they could and to see people running down the same stairwells in order to escape the devastation. The bravery of so many to risk everything to save lives. America has fought in many wars that have had an incredible impact on its people, but to see innocent people exterminated with no chance to defend themselves or others defies humanity.
September 11 is a day that left a scar on this country’s heart that will never be forgotten.
John Samuel Tieman
Everyone has a 9/11 story. To tell the truth, I don’t have a story. I have a record of feelings.
I was teaching seventh grade in St. Louis when The World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked. Apparently, our administrators had some debate about whether or not to show this over our TVs. But how can we soften the trauma by veiling it?
At first, it was all a bit confusing. Perhaps I am a bit of a rube, but, since I’m not from New York City, I’ve never paid any attention to the World Trade Center. When it first came on the TV, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. Then, when the film showed the collapse of the first tower — we were watching recordings about an hour after it actually happened — all the smoke confused me. What’s going on? But then I saw the Pentagon. After my years in the Army, in Vietnam, I damn sure knew what that was.
My kids were scared. “Are they going to bomb us? Will they fly a plane into the Arch? What about our school?…”
We watched the TV for a bit more. The news was fragmented. The same news clips repeated. It was time to turn off the TV. Not because the news is sketchy, but because I saw the dissociation in my students’ eyes. My job was to assure them that life will carry on for us. We will be sad. We will be scared. But no one will harm Dr. Tieman’s class; no one will bomb our school. As always, I will be here at 6:30 a.m. Tomorrow, we will begin the next lesson.
Then there were, and still are, the other feelings. I’m a native Midwesterner, a St. Louisan. But I don’t hate New York. Except as the setting for “NYPD Blue,” I’m simply unfamiliar with it. My wife and I take The New York Times on the weekend, but I never read the local bits. So my connections are tenuous.
After a couple of weeks, I noticed that The Times started running extended obituaries for the 9/11 dead. I didn’t think much of it. Till one caught my eye one Saturday.
To be honest, I paused because the woman in the photo was cute. So I read on. She was a well educated, successful business woman. Every Thanksgiving, she threw a party in her apartment, because her balcony was immediately above the street where the big Macy’s parade balloons are inflated.
I imagined having a friend who threw such a party, me sitting on that balcony, sipping coffee, munching a bagel, staring at a two storied Big Bird. I remember the sadness I felt that day — I still imagine the emptiness where this woman used to be — that sadness has yet to leave me.
Barbara and Peter Kellams
My husband and I, along with our friends Joe and Ellen Hurley, were in Arizona ready to climb aboard a raft for a seven-day rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Before we boarded we learned that two towers in New York City had been been struck by planes. This was all the information we had.
The concessionaire decided to proceed with the trip. It was very difficult to decide what to do — continue or stay behind? Everyone, 15 passengers and two guides, decided to continue since there were no rental cars or flights available to leave the area and we did not know the full extent of what was happening.
While on the raft the only connection we had to the outside world was a malfunctioning radio operated by our guide. Once on the river we noticed how strange it was that we never saw a plane or contrail in the sky. On the third day we reached Phantom Ranch, a tourist site in the National Park. After pulling up on the beach we all ran for the phones to call our families. That was when we learned the realities of what had happened to our country and its citizens. It was a quiet, sad group walking back to the raft to continue our trip.
Total shock and fear. My Marine son and his pregnant wife had just returned to Camp Pendleton the day before. The fear of the attack and his deployment against a so-far invisible enemy scared me to death!
I was at the Ballwin Post Office working as a letter carrier, casing my route getting ready for my daily deliveries and listening to a book on tape I had gotten at the library. The office was buzzing with the normal chatter of the about 100 or so carriers and about 20 clerks when I got a phone call: It was my mother saying she was watching the Today Show and that a plane had hit a building in New York and then another hit as she watched. They were saying terrorists.
I went back to my case and turned my TV band radio to the Today Show on Channel 5, I shouted as loud as I could for everyone to listen, turned the radio as loud as it would go and set it on top of my case. The office went totally silent, as they listened in shock at what was being said.
To this day I will see carriers and clerks that were there that day at our monthly retirement get-together for lunch, and while reminiscing, they tell me they remember listening to the horror as it unfolded on my TV band radio, the day that changed our country forever, 9-11-2001.
My family was living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago at the time. I had just started a new job and was checking in at the security desk that housed a TV screen. Several co-workers were watching the aftermath of the first plane hitting the north tower when the second plane hit the south tower. After that, there was a sense of quiet panic in the building with stories circulating that the Sears and John Hancock buildings in downtown Chicago were being evacuated.
No official permission was given to leave the office but after realizing all of my new colleagues were gone I, too, left the building to drive to the safety of my home. The roads were eerily empty — even more so than during a snowstorm. We all felt the absence of air travel the following week — no jet noise or lines of lights at night from planes normally landing at O’Hare. My son had an afternoon soccer game when flights resumed. Play stopped mid-game as everyone (players and parents) watched as a KLM 747 jet passed over after take off.
Mark Arnold Fredrickson
Describing how my employer’s Cerberus Pyrotronics Voice Evacuation system helped FDNY to evacuate thousands from the World Trade Center.
Lori Berdak Miller
The sound of no airplanes flying, and U.S. flags on porches.
Watching the second plane hit the second tower and realizing it wasn’t a horrible accident.
I was teaching a class full of children who had no idea what was going on in the world around them.
Before school, we watched in terror as we saw our nation under attack. Then we painted on a smile & opened our classroom doors to the many faces that entered. We went through the day as if nothing had changed. However, I was looking at their faces through different eyes.
The next day was the real test. The students came in with some knowledge of what was going on in the world. How could I speak to them of such events? I had to say something because they all had their eyes on me.
I gathered them in a circle on our carpet area & placed a balance in the center. I then began putting blocks in one side as I told them some sad things had happened in our world. I asked them what they noticed. One little boy said, "Those blocks are weighing one side down." I told them that I agreed. Just like the balance, there are some things weighing our world down.
I asked them how "we" could help fix it. One student looked at the balance and said, "We have to put blocks on the other side to lift it up. We have to do good things to outweigh the bad." I got some small blocks & they started naming off good things they could do to "lift" up our world. They named things like helping a friend, or being nice to someone. As they named off the good deeds, they dropped a cube in the other side. After we named several, they clapped when the good side outweighed the bad.
We continued adding to the other side all year. They learned that everyone, even children, can help lift a heavy world. We all have to do good whenever possible.
Please remember to do something good each day.
Carla S. Farley
I was at work on the top floor of the tallest AT&T building downtown. One of the other assistants came to our office and said that a plane had just crashed into the first World Trade building. I just pictured some small plane crashing into that building, and so I kept on working.
When I heard another plane had hit the second building, I turned on TV and couldn't believe what was happening. I started hearing of employees who wanted to go home because we were in one of the tallest buildings downtown, and they were afraid we might be a target. When I went home that night, I turned on TV. By that time, the buildings had fallen.
I was recovering from surgery and was still confined to bed. My husband had just left for work, our older son was away at school and our younger son had just started working as an EMT.
I turned on the Today Show just as the program came on. Matt Lauer was reporting on the "small plane" that had crashed into the first tower. Then, the second plane hit and my heart sank. I remember saying to myself, "Oh God, they did it on purpose!" Then I cried.
I tried calling my husband and sons but no one answered. I felt scared and helpless plus I was in pain. My husband finally called back and offered to come home but I declined. My EMT son was in the field and hadn't heard the news, so when I told him, all I could do was tell him to be careful. I was afraid for him because at the time we didn't know whether the entire country was under attack. With the news being the only thing on TV for days, I was captivated and spellbound. I prayed for victims, I prayed for their families.
A few months later, I went to Washington DC and we flew past the Pentagon. It was surreal. Still burned and wrecked, its destruction was visible. I cried like it had just happened. Later in the spring, I went to New York and stayed at the Millennium Hotel, which had just reopened. It had been damaged by the collapse of the Twin Towers. Looking across the street at the hole where they stood was difficult.
I was changed by 9/11. It haunts me. How could people be so evil? It changed America.
I was outside mowing the grass when the first plane struck. We were heading up to Racine, Wisconsin the next day. That next day, as we drove past O'Hare International Airport outside Chicago, the taxiways, and grounds were absolutely covered with commercial airliners, and the sky, usually full of circulating landing and taking off aircraft, was empty and eerily silent — except for two military fighter jets passing high over from west to east.
Sitting on my patio and listening to Radio Rich on KSHE as he played “feel-good rock and roll” that evening. That day was so unreal and his playlist was soulful and reflective, as I recall.
Silent skies, no contrails.
The couple holding hands and jumping from the building. My 6-year-old drew a picture of this with tear drops falling.
Watching the twin towers collapse on morning TV. First the north tower and then the south. When the first hit, I told my wife they would come down as the structural steel heated up.
I was driving down Geyer Road on my way to my office in Sunset Hills when the radio report was made of the first plane crash into one of the Twin Towers. My first thought was of the crash of a bomber into the Empire State Building after WWII, an accident in bad weather. I called my son, a firefighter, and told him to turn on his TV.
By the time I got to my office a few minutes later people had started to gather around the television in the conference room and we watched the second plane crash into the other tower. That made it clear that this was no accident. We watched events unfold throughout the day and heard from fellow employees stranded around the country renting U Haul trucks, hiring buses, even buying cars to get home. And on the way home that afternoon lines were forming at gas stations as the fears of shortages had grown.
The chill up my spine when I saw the second plane hit on the Today Show... and arriving at the full realization that my initial thought that a plane had "accidentally" hit the first Tower was so very naive and wrong...
Karen Sue Stevens
Terror. I lived in western New York state, but had friends working on Wall Street, stepchildren in subways on route to lower Manhattan, and sons working in major U.S. cities. My fear of further attacks on our cities didn't materialize — the train beneath the Hudson River backed up into Jersey, and the Wall Street folks escaped with their lives. We were spared the tragedy felt by so many.
Lake Saint Louis
I was actually scheduled to fly out that afternoon of 9/11 to New York City from St. Louis.
Found out I was having twins at Barnes Jewish ER.
Watching the second plane fly into the second tower, realizing that it was a terrorist attack, and then watching the first tower fall.
I was living on Long Island and that morning I was out on a bike ride to the end of the peninsula that had a view of the Manhattan skyline. I didn’t know that I was seeing the collapse of the buildings from my vantage point 25 miles away. I lost two acquaintances that day: the firefighter Tom Kelly that I had done several charity bike rides with, the other a work colleague on the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. It took me months to visit the site, and I posted this entry in March 2002. I thought you might want to read what I had written then:
I went down to the former World Trade Center site this week, for the first time since 9/11. It was a dark and stormy night, with an almost surreal atmosphere of ground fog and occasional rain showers. A utility pipe venting steam into the street nearby added to the almost movie-set feeling around the dark and deserted streets.
I have been reluctant to return here, an area that I visited often on business and tourist reasons throughout my tenure as a New Yorker. The twin towers were a favorite destination for my family for showing off the city to out of town guests, as well as a place for me to go to power breakfasts for various computer industry events.
I have been back in the neighborhood several times since the disaster, not as a tourist but as a volunteer to help prepare meals for the construction and police crews working there. And while many friends of mine went to see the site in the days after the disaster, I couldn’t bring myself to go. I didn’t want to see what had happened. After losing two people I knew, I didn’t want to approach the area without some further reflection and respect for all of those who perished. It was enough for me to view the skyline from afar, and note the gap, like some extracted tooth from my child’s smile.
But this week I was ready to see what things looked like and pay my respects. I had dinner with a friend of mine who lives in Battery Park on a high floor, with huge picture windows facing the site. He and his wife watched the buildings crumble that day, and they offered me to come to their apartment and see the view for myself. Until this week, I wasn’t ready to take them up on their offer.
But once I got to their place, I was glad I came. The foggy evening highlighted the twin searchlight banks that have been setup as a memorial a few blocks away from where the actual towers were located. Their lights cast an eerie glow around the neighborhood, and from above it it seemed like you were looking down onto the tops of the towers themselves — the same square patterns of the buildings external skins have been reproduced in the lights. It is a fitting tribute to the people who lost their lives that day, to the strength and determination of the people of this country, and to two huge buildings that are gone forever.
Ironically, their apartment building stands on the landfill that was removed from the original construction site to build the trade center complex many years ago. The site and nearby streets were all under the Hudson River waterline, and to get down to the actual bedrock to build the site required creating this huge “bathtub” retaining wall to keep the water out. The wall is all that remains of that effort, and it is a massive task to ensure its structural integrity, now that the buildings and vast underground complex have been removed.
From my friends’ apartment, you could see the movement of the construction vehicles as workers continue to excavate the site, and they are still working round the clock. There was just one area left — the area of the compressed south tower. The rest was a big hole, reminiscent of the Tyco crater scene in the movie “2001,” lit up with its own array of lights. Like the movie, we are still searching for answers to why this happened. Instead of an alien life, we have other humans who were so determined to harm thousands of us.
I still have lots of complex feelings about the events around 9/11, and I am still sorting them out — as I am sure you are too. Looking at the lights, I remembered my friend’s Tom’s contribution, and honor his memory and his fellow firefighters and the many others who didn’t make it that day.
I was editor of small daily newspaper (currently owner/operator of a weekly) and experienced events as series of terse updates on Associated Press wire. Some examples:
NEW YORK — Plane crashes into World Trade Center, according to television reports.
BARKSDALE AFB, La. — Bush says military on high-alert status.
FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines says it ‘‘lost’’ two aircraft carrying 156 people.
It was surreal, jarring, and thoroughly unexpected to open the first alert on a collapse: NEW YORK — One World Trade Center tower collapses.
I was a lab assistant at Mizzou, teaching Geo 101 Labs. When the students heard, their first response was for me to call class off so they could go watch it on TV. I refused. (Contingent on if the university called classes off. They didn't.) A few started to leave, and I told them they would still be responsible for the material.
When the 11 a.m. class showed up I made this announcement: "We are going to have class. If you feel you must leave, leave now, but you are responsible for the material." One young man said his brother was in the Pentagon, and he was worried. He left. It suddenly occurred to me that the best man at my wedding worked there, too. So I added, "The best thing we can do is just keep on with class for today." And I started worrying not about him, but about the Islamic students and the mosque in town.
I did not watch any of the video for over a year.
It was only a little after 8 a.m. Pacific time. My husband Bill and I were in Vancouver, Canada. We were in the basement of our hotel where there were storefronts. We hoped to find a coffee shop. We passed a space where a TV was running. I saw the headline: America Under Attack. My comment was, “Oh, Fox News is at it again. Everything is so dramatic.” Then, we saw the fires and the big plumes of smoke coming out of the World Trade Center.
Beverly M. Wiley
I had been working at the American Embassy in Moscow, Russia for just over a month. My friend and I often worked late and as we were leaving the building to go home, on a TV monitor in the hallway, we saw they were broadcasting the news about the planes flying into the twin towers.
The Embassy immediately called as many people who were left in the building and who were members of the Emergency Action Committee into an official meeting to coordinate with the Department of State to issue an official bulletin. The handful of us who were left in the building were given an official statement and we activated the "telephone tree" — a system designed to quickly disseminate news to all Americans about a crisis.
After a few hours we finished and went home — mostly just to cry. I worked in the General Services section — an office that is part of Administrative Management — and we were responsible for housing and furniture, shipping, offices and supplies and equipment, procurement, warehousing, the Motorpool, etc.
We worked in the "New Office Building" (NOB), which had been constructed in the late '80s and early '90s. The old, or "Existing Office Building" (EOB), was located about a block away on one of the busiest roads in Moscow — the Ring Road. It had several lanes going each direction and the EOB was located right on the perimeter of the road. There were approximately 120 employees who worked there — Americans and Russians. Most of them were responsible for Consular services — issuing visas to Russians who wanted to go to the U.S. and assisting Americans in the country. Within a few days there was a threat to that building and our office had to immediately evacuate all 120 employees to the NOB.
We had to procure supplies and set up temporary offices in the NOB for all of them and used every available space, including conference rooms, representational areas and even closets. It took months of 10-12 hour days to get that task completed. We rarely had time to grieve over what had happened. The first few days we wondered if we would ever get back to the U.S. again to see our family and friends, or if WWIII had started. The Russians started laying items at a makeshift memorial in front of the EOB — condolence cards, bouquets of flowers and many other items. Eventually we collected all the non-perishables and shipped them back to the Dept. of State.
It was an extremely traumatic experience, and I join with millions of others who remember where they were and what they were doing.
I was leaving a medical conference and saw coworkers crying in the booth. I called my family to verify where they were and needed to hear their voices. I desperately wanted to go home, but had to stay for my shift. I prayed in the chapel, especially for Mr. Beamer and his courageous act to fight for plan control. This day was my absolute hardest at work ever.
St. Louis County
I was working as a sergeant with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and was assigned to the Second District.
I was having my morning coffee at Rumbolos Deli on The Hill at Bischoff and Edwards Street. Sam, the owner, had the television on and I watched as the first plane struck. I could not believe what I was watching and never in my life felt so helpless.
I was scheduled to be off work on the day the attack occurred. As a working journalist at a local television station I woke that morning and turned on the TV for the Today Show. They were replaying video of the first tower being attacked. Having worked in the media for over 20 years at the time, I knew how often we were guilty of sensationalizing and embellishing on the 'what-ifs' in our world.
It wasn't until I realized the NBC chyron on my TV showed 'Live Coverage' on the screen, just as the second plane crashed into the tower.
Not long after I watched the burning structure collapse to the ground, wondering how can any of this be real.
Moments later my phone rang. It was work, calling to tell me what I already knew. All hands on deck.
It was a hard day to work. But more importantly, it was a sad day at work.
I was in San Diego with my critically ill wife, who was waiting on specialized lung surgery. I was asleep when my work pager went off. A message from a co-worker: "An airplane has hit the World Trade Center. There is a huge hole in it!" I immediately turned on the TV, and was watching as the second plane hit.
Glen Allen Behring
Lake Ozark, Mo.
Working for an office products company as a delivery driver in Denver, Colorado, I remember that morning very well. I was loading my truck as the reports came in about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. Then another! Soon it was obvious that the USA was under attack. I went on my route with a heavy heart. Many businesses were under lockdown. I cried all morning and came close to calling my supervisor to see if I could return to base.
I somehow kept going, with a lot of undelivered merchandise. Started heading home when my ex-wife called me to come on over and watch the tragic news. A lot of wine was consumed and many tears were shed.
We were flying back from London and diverted to Moncton, Canada. Information was slow in coming. We were guests of the Canadian Red Cross for four days (minor league hockey rink). No matter how stressed we got, we were safe.
You never forget where you were when 9/11 happened. For me, I was sitting in English class at St. Ann elementary school. The principal came over the loud speaker and told the teachers to turn on their TVs (those tiny ones that were in every classroom corner); a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York City. Once the TV was on, we watched, horrified, as the second plane crashed into the other tower. A feeling of disbelief and grief washed over me. To this day, that memory is as clear to me as ever. I hope that folks continue to remember what happened that day and what it means to us as a country.
I had airline tickets to fly from St. Louis to Savannah. Georgia, to do work at Fort Stewart Army Base. Our flight was canceled so we had to drive instead. The mood on the base was very somber.
Watching the second tower fall. I couldn’t believe the huge hole in the skyline I was seeing.
At 71 years of age, I’ve lived through many difficult times in our country. I was 18 and living at home with my mother and father when the first pills were drawn for the Vietnam war draft. I recall where I was when President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. I remember where I was when the Challenger spaceship exploded and many more historic events. But, with each of these occurrences, the feelings were nothing like the sense of sorrow and hopelessness I felt when the twin towers were struck by the airplanes.
I was at work in an office with over 100 people and, as usual, there was a buzz in the air as people hurried about from desk to desk speaking to colleagues about work matters, talking on their phones, walking to get coffee or make copies and just scurrying around doing their jobs. Another typical day in the office.
It was right after the first plane struck when my father called to tell me an airplane had flown into a building in New York, and I recall wondering to myself how a pilot could not have seen a tall building? We talked briefly, ended the call and I went back to work. Then the second plane struck, and, by then, most people in the office had heard from friends and family about what had happened.
People got up from their desks and started filing into the break room where a television had been turned on, and everybody was watching what was going on. The thing that struck me was the eerie silence. Nobody was talking. You could have heard a pin drop. Then the tears started flowing, and I remember seeing men and women crying and sharing the feeling of sadness and despair we all felt for our fellow Americans on the planes and in the buildings.
We stayed in that small break room for several hours while events spilled out across the screen. Then our manager told everyone to go home, knowing that nobody was going to feel like working that day. People slowly began trickling out of the office still not talking. They grabbed their personal belongings and left for the day.
Sadness. Sadness and the eerie quiet is what I recall the most.
St. Louis County
Seeing on TV the second plane hitting the tower. At first I thought it was just circling to assess the damage. Then when I heard about the Pentagon and the plane in Pennsylvania, it really got scary.
Ann H. Zaqhniser
My husband and I were doing a four-month stint at a residential biblical studies library in Cambridge, England. That day upon returning from shopping, someone frantically directed us to the television in the common room, now uncommonly filled with anxious people.
In no time, the second tower fell. All reacted in shock.
Well wishers surrounded us expressing sympathy for Americans. We attended a church service. Personally, my husband and I reacted in horror at the possibility of another war.
As the US pondered and then responded by attacking Afghanistan, sympathy for the U.S. waned among those we knew.
Now we know the outcome of the US vindictiveness. Instead of asking, "Why were we targeted?" we responded in kind. Twenty years later some of us still regret the folly and the fatefulness of the hasty U.S. response.
I was sitting at a conference table during a meeting. A coworker, Joe, came in and interrupted. I seem to recall he was a bit breathless. He asked if we had heard about the World Trade Center. Nobody had. Joe then said he was going to go get his child from the child care center because he thought our building could be next.
Our meeting ended shortly after Joe left. My friend Nate and I then walked to our boss’s office to look at his television to see what was going on. We watched for a few minutes. Boom. Joe was right.
We were traveling with three couples to Inverness, Scotland, and arrived at our hotel about 3:30 p.m. The management of the hotel offered us condolences due to the terrorist attacks on the twin towers.
We gathered around a television and watched the second tower fall. Later that evening, at sundown, we were walking back to the hotel when a lone bagpiper stood on the hill and played amazing grace in honor of the lives lost earlier that day. We all stopped and held hands and cried. I would once again like to thank everyone in Scotland for their kindness and support for the rest of our trip.
Sitting outside in the beautiful afternoon of 9/11, I was struck by the silence. No airplanes at all, limited traffic noise, no sound of school kids. The entire country was on hold. We didn't know if there would be more attacks, or what the next actions should be.
Local women were playing in a golf tournament in Jefferson City when we saw the volunteers gathering together on the course. They told us a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. The clubhouse TV was on, and we watched the second tower being struck. Because we were in a state capital, there were fears we were in danger too. Surprisingly, they continued the tournament, but many left in fear and returned to St Louis.
I was working with a backhoe operator digging footings at West County Center for what would become Nordstrom’s. When the first plane hit Josh Moss told me he had heard on the Bob and Tom radio show that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We commented back and forth for a minute or two and then went back to work.
When the second plane hit Josh stopped his backhoe and other men and machines stopped all around the site. Everyone went to their job trailers to see if we could find out what was going on. Some workers stayed and others left the site. I stayed and work continued, but there was a tremendous pall over the site. At the end of the day I believe it was the iron workers that raised a giant American flag the flew over the site the remainder of the job. Every time I go to West County the memory of that day returns.
We were at the Marriott West for a daylong training session when someone came in and announced “some idiot just flew a small plane into the World Trade Center.” The buzz in the group grew louder, so we headed to the lobby to watch CNN on the big TV. Standing there, watching the first tower billow smoke, we saw another plane fly into the other tower. “Was that an instant replay?” someone asked.
It wasn’t a replay, and we stood there dumbfounded watching the towers burn as the news story began to develop. As amazing as the situation grew, we somehow made our way back down the hall to the meeting room to continue our training. I remember being distracted by news reports as they came in throughout the morning. In hindsight, the events of 9/11 completely overshadow the training but somehow I still remember both.
Before lunch, it was clear that America had been attacked and we dismissed the class so that everyone could go home to be with families. The drive back to South County was especially eerie as the roads were mostly empty and KMOX filled the car with constant news of the attack.
Nobody knew exactly what to do, but we pretty much shut down business and travel in response to the attack. The PGA was in St. Louis that week and I had tickets to see the practice round on Wednesday. It was a bit surreal following Tiger around Bellerive because that was the only thing normal about the day. The Cardinals had shut down baseball as nobody wanted to create large events that might be the target of the next attack. And then the PGA shut down the golf tournament with all the pros scrambling to rent cars to drive home to Florida or Arizona.
It was so quiet outside the week after 9/11. You don’t realize how much noise airplanes put into the air until they aren’t flying. As the newspapers dug deeper into the 9/11 characters and details, the sense of fear and anxiety continued to mount as we fully understood that the USA was under attack. There was speculation about sleeper cells and the next attack — things that fortunately didn’t happen.
A week later, when baseball resumed at Busch Stadium, we were there — anxiety and all. The pregame ceremony emphasized patriotism and strength as the field was filled with 500 first responders who unfurled the biggest American flag I’ve ever seen. As I watched the brave men and women who daily put their lives on the line for the good of others, my sense of fear was overwhelmed by a national pride.
Michael D. Grueter
My company had a sponsored tent but employees could go to the practice rounds so I was at Bellerive asking Padraig Harrington for a signature when the police man came out and said a plane has hit the WTC. Several minutes later he came out and announced that the second WTC building was hit. We all ran to the pro shop to watch the events on TV. When the plane went down in the PA field I said out loud, "There were heroes on that plane." How true that was, as several men and probably women jumped the hijackers and prevented that plane from hitting the White House. Those quick acting people will always be considered American heroes.
Jeanette Rose Craig
On 9/11, I was an RN/IV Therapist at St. Mary's Health Center in Richmond Heights. Every patient room had their TV tuned in to the attack. My most enduring memory was of a coworker who lived near Scott Air Force Base. With tears in her eyes, she stated she just wanted to go home and hug her children.
Emergency sirens sounding on a crystal clear morning cause me to turn on the television. The sight of a plane in the side of a building makes me wonder, "What movie is this?"
In disbelief, I listen as Tom Brokaw reports the the World Trade Center's Twin Tower have been attacked. This can't be happening! The ringing phone arouses me from my transfixed staring of the TV. Our firefighter son, Erick, telling me that he has been mobilized to standby status at their fire station.
I cannot tear myself away from the tragic events unfolding and very heart-wrenching when the second aircraft hit and then the collapse of both towers with the mayhem that followed. God help all those victims.
I call our 14-year-old granddaughter to see how see was coping, and Crystal said it was so scary. She was in one school, her brother in another, and both parents so far away at work. I explained that Warrenton should be safe. These people wanted worldwide attention by attacking a major city.
Since Sept. 11, strangers seem kinder and are more caring. There is a renewed pride in our wonderful country. And flags are displayed everywhere. Why does it take such a tragedy for people to realize what should be important in their lives and all that this great country stands for? God bless America.
Hard to think September 11 could ever offer a good memory, but it is in that time of tragedy and uncertainty that dissimilar people come together as fellow Americans. It’s not often enough we take risk at a chance to offer help or to put aside our pride and independence to accept it when needed, especially with strangers.
The best memory of that day was relief expressed by a lovely young daughter just reunited with her parents. She said: “What a day this has been! I woke up thinking my parents are dead and both my brothers are dead.”
I flew home to St Louis the afternoon before. That next morning I was writing minutes from a meeting of Protestant Justice Action the weekend before in Chicago. Beckie came in having heard a radio alert of a plane crash into a building in New York. We turned on the TV in time to see the next plane hit the second tower. Like all of America we sat transfixed waiting to learn more. All flights were ordered to land immediately at the nearest airport.
As a retired airline employee I could imagine the fallout. Whenever any airport or city receives an unmanageable influx of passengers, there are never enough hotels or alternate transport for them. Past experience reminded me of jammed terminals with stranded passengers, often with families, and nowhere to go for food or a place to rest.
Beckie said that we should offer what we had to help. I envisioned stranded families with small children. We had room — or could make room. I called the Lambert airport chapel where a minister friend volunteered. He wasn’t there that day. I talked to a catholic priest telling him, “I’m a former airline employee and understand what chaos is going on. My wife and I will pick up and house any family who has been displaced and had no place to go, and keep them here at our home until they can move safely on."
Planes and passengers from hurriedly landed air operators with no connection to St Louis sat on taxiways for hours waiting for gates to unload. The terminal was already full with confused and frightened people who had no place to go.
Later the Chaplin called us. “I have a family who you might help.”
In late afternoon we drove to Lambert and picked up a middle-aged man and wife who were still in shock but beginning to understand. Their recollection was taking off from Long Island that morning and settling in to a long flight on an airline that did not serve St Louis . They were going to the West Coast to visit his parents. Then a sudden announcement of an emergency landing in St Louis. They had watched fuel dumping and were sure they were doomed. After a safe landing came a long wait to deplane with no real information.
When we got them to our home they were nervous, restless, and stranded with strangers. They first called their daughter at college in eastern Ohio and asked her to come get them. They told us of their sons, one a policeman based at the World Trade Center and the other a New York fireman. They thought both might have not been on duty that day. Calls made and verification came that their family was intact. They remained agitated — impatient to be with family. They announced their daughter planned to drive ten hours to collect them.
We felt a need to do more, and put right whatever was possible. We suggested driving them to Indianapolis — halfway. News reports were sketchy — some said that gas stations would all soon close. Our van had a full tank, enough to get to Indianapolis — worry about a refill to come home later. We just couldn’t leave our dog when we weren’t sure when we might return. We loaded their luggage and our Golden Retriever and set out on lightly traveled roads that night. Front and rear seat conversations soon revealed we were not of the same politics or religion or understanding why anyone in the world should hate America. Yet there was no argument or need to be right.
At his suggestion we stopped for meal at an establishment that discriminated against gays. I would've preferred another place, but this was not a time for bias and boycott. Greasy comfort food was, indeed, comfort.
We reached the Indianapolis meeting place. Their daughter arrived soon after. Her father insisted we take money for gas. A good omen was the open station across the road where both cars could refuel for a return trip.
We were desperate to find some way help on that day. Some small part of what was disrupted needed set right. We made it home in early dawn. We had plenty of gas.
Sandra Spalt Fulte
My first hour AP calculus class was taking their first test when one of my teachers from across the hall came in and said,"Turn on your TV. A plane just flew into one of the twin towers in New York. They think it's a terrorist attack." I told my class to stop their tests, that life as they knew it has forever changed. This would be the marker of their generation. We watched as the second plane hit.
Two of my favorite teachers and I had prep the next hour. One asked who could do such a thing? My response was, "Osama Bin Laden. He's the only one who hates that much." We all spent the day feeling as if we had been gutted as we were so hollow, so frightened, so angry, so wanting to reach out to everyone we loved and cared about to tell them so.
All of a sudden we weren't black or white or Republican or Democrat or urban or rural. We were Americans. Just writing this recollection causes tears.
Ann S. Pott
My husband and I were on our first (and only) cruise to Alaska, hoping to be able to watch whales. I remember being docked in Juneau the evening of 9/10, hanging out on the boat deck watching seaplanes lazily land on the water. Those were some of the last planes that would take to the air.
My husband and I were running on treadmills on the ship the next morning when a woman burst into the exercise room and told us what was happening. So many things got closed down then, including the national parks — we were supposed to go to Denali. And of course all airports closed for a time, delaying for a day our return to St. Louis.
I also remember that any time we were on land in Alaska, virtually every house we passed was flying "Old Glory." The ship's crew was from Norway and they issued a statement of solidarity and sympathy, since most of the passengers were American citizens. So even though we were participants in a terrible event, there were signs of defiance and hope. It was very touching and comforting for me to see that unity against terrorism.
Driving south of Red Bud on Illinois Route 3 through the countryside bears no resemblance to the congestion and commerce of lower Manhattan, our scene, so peaceful, so quiet. In common with NYC we had only a beautiful clear blue sky and perfect temperature. R., my fellow car-pooler, had dozed off. This was often the case in our hours+ drive when we were passenger and not at the wheel. The radio on, probably KWMU, the first announcement of a twin tower being struck by a plane came as we were approaching Nine Mile Creek. We were moving at a good country speed while in New York stationary structures were being moved airliners-as-weapons moved into them. R. awakened. I recalled the earlier bombing in the subway under those buildings and wondered if this another sabotage. In the short distance between Ellis Grove and the Chester Mental Health Center, our destination, we got the second announcement. Now there was certainty: We had been ruthlessly "attacked."
This mental health center is actually a "secure" hospital, with a central office controlling the comings and goings of all, with electronically controlled gates and security staff to examine the contents of whatever we might intend to bring to our units. All residents are judicially mandated to this facility. Some more contrasts to life in Southern Illlinois and Manhattan.
Entrance to the living units are locked; that is also where our offices are, where secretaries, nurses and security-therapy aides occupy space. A day room takes the space between staff and resident sleeping rooms. When I entered the unit most everyone was in the day room looking at the wall mounted TV. Over and over, throughout the day, the media showed the same footage of the attacks.Endless repetitions from news announcers sounded silly and annoying after the third or forth time. The rush of first responders toward the site, the fleeing of citizens away from it and the surprised intrusion with President Bush's while reading to grade schoolers was also repeated and repeated. The Pentagon attack and the crash of a plane in a field in Pennsylvania confirmed what we already knew.
On our way home that evening, we passed lines and lines of cars at gas stations, waiting to fill up before whatever might come at us the next day. I began to wonder about those I knew who might have been directly affected. Cousin Kate, sharing living space with three other women in Hoboken, worked in Manhattan at MSNBC as a writer. I contacted her Mom to inquire. Cousin Lizzy in D.C., known as a bicycle commuter, was scheduled to fly home to St. Louis for a friend's wedding or bridal shower. No planes in the air. Addie, her resourceful mom, found a rental car in not too distant but too far to bicycle to Richmond. All of my people safe, but for so many that evening, loss, change, and for all of us, life has never been the same since.
John E. Turner
My family had been vacationing in Destin, Florida for a week or so when friends joined us on the weekend of 9/8/2001. By that Monday, 9/10/2001, my best friend and I had talked ourselves into securing a reservation on a fishing party boat at the Harbor Walk Pier, in Destin, for the following mornings cruise. The chartered boat left the dock at about 6:00am with 15 to 20 excited passengers wanting to, hopefully, catch a few bottom feeding Red Snappers. It was a beautiful day to be boating out in the clear, emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The boat captain had stopped several times at different locations to allow his passengers to drop our lines to try to snag a few Snappers or whatever else that might bite our baits. My friend and I were really enjoying this first-time ocean fishing experience.
By 9 a.m., while still enjoying our fishing, we suddenly heard, then saw, wave after wave, 10-12, of what I had guessed may have been F-16 or F-18 Air Force fighter jets fly overhead. I remember thinking that seeing and hearing jets fly overhead, in itself, is no big deal. What concerned me, as I told my friend: “There’s something wrong, because they all had their afterburners engaged.”
At about 9:30am, our boat captain, without explanation, announced that due to an emergency our trip had to be cut short. With that announcement, the boat headed back to the fishing pier. There was a lot of silence amongst the passengers during our return trip.
It took us a while to reach the pier, without word from our captain about what the emergency was. Some of us then realized how serious if must be because many of our family members were waiting for us at the pier, including mine. Sadness and tears could be seen in their eyes. One of the pier business owners had a portable TV showing what had taken place in NYC. After returning to our rental home and for the remainder of that day there was nothing but deep sadness, tears, fear and the thought of: “What’s going to happen next?” It broke my heart to watch the loss of life and to watch my wife cry while watching the non-stop news coverage.
We got into a taxi in Milan, Italy, where the driver tried to tell us what had happened in the U.S. Not understanding Italian, we had no idea until we reached the hotel and heard the news. A few days later while in Berlin we saw a parade of fire trucks with American flags and wreaths that were honoring the firefighters who lost their lives in New York. Very touching.
I worked in Chesterfield at a retirement community. The clear, sunny morning started at my desk, catching up from my recent vacation. Vacations are always happily anticipated but dealing with the aftermath can be daunting, so I got an early start that day. The morning silence was interrupted by a bulletin on the radio in my office: A plane had hit a building in New York, one of the World Trade Towers.
A chill went down my spine. I had just flown back and forth from the West Coast two days earlier. My heart went out to the people on that plane — small planes, any planes, were not my thing. As I worked a bit longer, another bulletin: Another plane hitting the South tower of the World Trade Center.
At this point I realized that this could be no coincidence. Two planes hitting buildings in New York? I left my office to walk out in the hall and noticed televisions on, alerting everyone to the news. While I had initially assumed a small, private plane had miscalculated and crashed, I had no idea of the enormity of what was unfolding. Life, security and the comfort of knowing we were in a strong and protected country, one that would not be the focus of a catastrophic attack, changed forever.
As the day unfolded and the Pentagon and Shanksville were tragic additions to the story, I felt an overwhelming sadness and almost a numb feeling as I looked around between coworkers, residents, television reports and back. Blended together, we were a hodgepodge of sad disbelief, no one really knowing what to say, speaking softly when we did speak as if speaking our feelings and fears would make them even more real.
Television reports kept the same news loop of the planes crashing, building collapse and everywhere people running. You relived it each time the events were replayed throughout the day. It seemed that a little part of me went deeper into despair each time I saw the events of the day reviewed. I hated to keep watching and yet I could not stop watching.
At the day’s end, I drove to my part time job at a school and noticed that gas stations were over run. People were lined up on the Rock Road for almost a mile at each station — panic buying, it seemed. My school was closed, no work tonight.
I drove home. My husband and I watched throughout the night, listened to the President as he tried to help make sense of what would never be understood, and inspire confidence when it was next to impossible to manufacture — at least at that point.
Twenty tears later, I can clearly see it all over again. I recall the same feeling of incredible sadness, in tune with the fear of what the passengers and people in the towers, the Pentagon and that field outside Shanksville must have felt. There will only ever be one Ground Zero for me — it is a combination of the 4 sites where the planes hit on September 11, 2001.
I was in the Pentagon 20 years ago on a temporary duty assignment. At that time I was an employee of the Department of Defense at the U.S. Transportation Command, Scott AFB IL. I was not injured physically but the experience did give me many days and nights of unrest.
As we were running from the Pentagon for safety, I remember wondering if I would see my family again. Thankfully, I did. I think a lot of people still take our freedom and way of life for granted. If it doesn't affect them personally, they tend not to focus or support actions taken. I am very proud to be an American and I support all the military efforts that give us freedom every day. I will always honor the ones who lost their lives so that I can live in freedom.
The noon hour peal of bells from Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis calling for an hour of connection and prayer, with executives in suits, every-day office staff, heavy-duty laborers in rugged wear and protective gear, and those who haven't had a bath or change of clothing in whatever length of time walking through the front doors from north, south, east and west, standing room only, sharing the pew hymnals with strangers of all ranks and file. We were unified in our grieving and responded as one community in all its variety.
It is with humble gratitude that we, L.Dean and Juliette Smith, express our sincere gratitude for the welcome and hospitality we received as wayfarers on September 11, 2001 and the days following.
The two of us had attended the early September wedding of two good friends in France. On the morning of September 11, we were aboard TWA flight 819, a direct flight home to St. Louis. By late morning, we were over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, when suddenly the pilot announced that the New York airport had closed down. Our first reaction was to say to ourselves that this was no concern to the two of us, in as much we were on board a direct flight to St. Louis. Even the fact that a solemn-faced copilot walked by silently checking the rows of seating passengers did not seem noteworthy. Nor did the fact that our flight had been diverted to land in Gander, Canada. Bad weather or mechanical difficulties now and then caused such diversions.
Of course the copilot resolutely avoided releasing any information. And so we landed in Gander joining almost 50 other airplanes parked together on the tarmac, along with all parts of the world and all parked together along with all our fellow passengers we were confined to our aircraft and until it was our turn to proceed into an airport building. Supper had been prepared for us! After supper, each group of fellow flight passengers was kept together and led to a space of its own, hastily made ready: in a gymnasium a bowling alley, a community center or a Masonic center (that was our destination and still other spaces). It was from the TV that evening that we learned about the terrible disaster that was the reason for our diversion to Gander.
Why Gander? This town of 10,000 had always been a key midpoint for World War II flights between the United State and Europe. Add to this the fact that Gander had just recently conducted realistic and through drills to train first responders for aircraft disasters. As a result Gander has been considered a good candidate for the sudden arrival of 6,000 guests.
The Gander hospitality never wavered during the three days we were so taken care of, singing together, meeting friends.
Everett Daniel Duncan
I'm only 18, but 9/11 to me is I would say the biggest event of the 21st century. And it changed it for the worse. Much worse.
I was visiting the Yamaha drum factories in Jakarta, Indonesia and Osaka, Japan. As the owner of Drum Headquarters at the time, I was part of a group of eight U.S. drum retailers who were given the rare opportunity for this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
We went to Jakarta first and after spending just 36 hours in that teeming metropolis, we took an overnight flight to Japan on what was early Tuesday morning, September 11, there (early Monday afternoon, September 10 in New York). By the time we got to Tokyo, then took a bullet train to Osaka and checked into our hotel, it was about 10 p.m. Tuesday, September 11 (meaning it was around 9 a.m. that fateful day in the US).
Most of us were so wasted from the overnight flight and the 18-hour trek that we went straight to sleep. A couple of guys stayed up and saw the tragedy in real time, while watching CNN International, but they were afraid to wake the others. Early the next morning, I got a wake-up call from a friend on the trip who had stayed up to watch everything unfold, and he told me what had happened. I immediately turned on CNN and in a relatively short time had an understanding of the gravity of the situation.
The entire group of eight drum dealers immediately went to the hotel restaurant to meet with Yamaha employees from the U.S. and Japan drum divisions, who were our hosts. They had been up most of the night and told us that they had already reported our whereabouts to the US Embassy, booked our hotel in Osaka for an extra week in case we got stranded there, booked all of us hotel rooms in Los Angeles for a week after our designated return date in case we couldn’t get home and had personnel at the Yamaha U.S. office in California call all of our families to assure them that we were okay. Talk about efficiency and true concern for our well-being!
We requested of our hosts that we watch President Bush’s speech that was scheduled to start within the hour (Wednesday morning in Osaka and Tuesday night in the U.S.). So we went directly to the Yamaha factory and met in a conference room that had a television. Unfortunately, we could not hear the president’s words because his speech was being translated into Japanese. However, one of the Japanese Yamaha employees proceeded to translate back into English every word the President said, so we could understand the speech. The reason I know that he translated every word is because he did not leave out the part where Bush said that what occurred on 9/11 was the worst tragedy on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. At that moment, every Japanese person in the room had a look of shame on their faces, bowed their heads and said almost in unison, “We are sorry.” That was one of the most powerful and meaningful moments of my life.
I was in St. Louis, visiting from Boston for my mom's first round of Chemo for breast cancer. It had already been an emotional weekend, to say the least. I had boarded my plane early...first flight out of Lambert. My flight was to have a short layover in Cleveland, then back home to Boston/Cape Cod. I'd be home by mid-afternoon. I had only been living in Cape Cod for a few months and while I made the decision as to whether I would stay or not, my fat cat Rudy had been staying in St. Louis with my friend Amy. But I had decided I loved the east coast and would stay, bringing Rudy back with me on this trip.
About 30 minutes shy of our scheduled landing in Cleveland, the pilot had come on and said everything looked great and we would be landing shortly. Not 10 minutes later the pilot came back on and said something had been spotted on the radar and they were making us land in Dayton. Looking out the window I thought, "What was spotted? It couldn't be a more perfect day." The sky was crystal clear blue. I now refer to skies like that as 9/11 blue sky. (I thought I was the only one...I watched a special last night and a guy described it the same way). The plane landed and were asked to exit the plane. I had my obese cat with me, and I opted to be the last one off the plane. As I was exiting, some pompous, loud mouth, blow hard said to the flight attendant and pilot, "You can tell us the truth, pilot. We are adults here." (I for one, a lifer nervous flier, am glad they gave the explanation, midflight, they gave). Being the last one off the flight, I missed the explanation as to what happened.
All I heard the airline worker say was, "Please claim your baggage and there will be a bus waiting at the front of the airport to take you onto Cleveland." Still no clue what was happening. I approached the worker and said, "Ma'am, I was not going to Cleveland, I was continuing onto Boston. Can I just wait here until the next flight to Boston." (Now I laugh as what a pain in the butt I must've seemed to this woman). In a very stern, almost scolding voice, she said to me, "Ma'am the airport is closing. Grab your luggage and leave the airport." What the...
I walked through the Dayton airport to get my luggage as directed, seething at the response this woman had just given me, not once stopping to look at a TV. When I got to the baggage claim, I saw a very pregnant woman I recognized from my flight. (As a nurse on vacation, those are the people I always take note of on a flight). I asked her what was going on, to which she replied "there was a plane crash in NYC." Alright, but why am I here in Dayton. The baggage claim, car rental, hotel kiosks was shear chaos. I had mistakenly not paid my wireless phone bill, which had very conveniently been turned off that day. So making a phone call was out of the question. The pay phone lines were 50 people deep. I got my luggage and headed for the bus as I was told to do.
I had no idea what was happening but all the chaos left me feeling very uncomfortable. As I got on the bus I asked the man sitting across the aisle if I could use his cell phone to call my brother who lived in Toledo, Ohio. (My geography sucks and I thought maybe Toledo was close to Dayton. WRONG). I placed the call and my sister-in-law answered. Instantly I turned into a sobbing wreck unable to get my words out. I remember Kim saying, I will have Kent call you right back at this number. She hung up before I could say it wasn't my phone. But he called right back and the gentleman gave me his phone back. My brother instructed me to get off the bus, grab my luggage and wait for him; he was coming to get me.
Shaking and sobbing I got off the bus and sat on the curb. I went and stood in one of the pay phone lines to call my mom. While there I was able to get a better understanding as to what was happening. There was a terrorist attack in New York City. (Still not having a full understanding the full scale). I stood in line behind a woman who didn't seem scared at all. Anything but. She seemed very put out. When she got on the phone it turned into a 20-minute, work-related business call. All I could think was my mother with cancer is probably wondering where I am. I finally decided to tap her on the shoulder and remind her this was not the time to solve the national deficit. I had a mother with cancer I needed to get a hold of. Wrap it up. She got off the phone, though not without first calling me rude.
I placed my call and finally got through after several attempts. The first words out of my mom's mouth: "Are you in Canada?" (For whatever reason, that still makes me laugh). I told her I might as well be. I'm in Dayton. But Kent was on his way to get me. She told me after I left she had gone back to bed. She started getting phone calls around 8:30 asking if she had talked to me. Why would she have talked to me, I had just left. I hadn't even made it to Boston yet. She said my friend Angela advised her to turn on the TV. With that she started calling the airline. She was told they were directing all domestic flights to Canada. I wrapped up my phone call and went out to wait for my brother.
I was sitting against the building with my luggage and my cat, shaking and crying. It was the most alone I had ever felt. Not really knowing what was going on, I couldn't talk to anyone I knew, there was nobody I knew around me. A woman approached me and asked if I was alright. I assured her I was fine, but scared. She asked if I needed a ride somewhere to which I replied, "No, my big brother is coming to get me from Toledo." She informed me that would be at least a three-hour wait. She offered me a place to stay. I thanked her for her offer and told her I really wanted to see someone I knew. Within minutes, the airport was closing. One of the workers, apologetically, told me I could not stay on the premises. I needed to go wait on the service road. I grabbed my beast cat, luggage and walked out to the service road. If I remember, there was a car dealership across the street. One of the workers came over and asked if I needed a place to wait. Nope, I was good on the curb. He later brought me lunch and water for my cat. Strangers are kind.
As I waited a news van approached. A reporter asked if I would mind being interviewed. With cameras rolling he asked if I knew what had happened. "Yes, a plane hit the WTC." And then he showed me the news footage...what all I had missed while sitting on the curb. I couldn't believe my eyes. I couldn't believe what was happening. Humbling, devastated, no words. I needed to get to a phone quick. I have many friends that live in NYC. I need to make sure they were alright. I was in shock.
Shortly thereafter my brother and nephew arrived. I have never been so happy to see a familiar face. He jumped out of the car and hugged me, asking if I was alright. Yes, I'm fine...as I threw my luggage in the trunk. "Let's go." About a block away I told him how I had missed the whole explanation when I exited the plane. My brother then asked, "Where is the cat?" "In the trunk." GEEZ, I just put my cat in the trunk...I was so disheveled and disoriented. He stopped in the middle of street and popped the trunk. That poor cat. He was fine and rode up front with me until we got to my brother's house.
When we got to his house, I sat down and watched all the footage. It was a bad dream. This couldn't be happening. I unpacked and we went to dinner. It was pretty evident almost immediately that I would be there for a couple of days. All mode of transportation had come to a halt. My other brother was in Cleveland trying to get back to St. Louis. His wife is from New York and she was devastated and needed his support. He ended up renting a U-Haul to drive back to St. Louis. To which he joked, "Young chicks dig fat guys driving a U-Haul" (typical Tres humor).
In the meantime, I called a friend back in the Cape to please pop in and feed my other cat. I finally got ahold of my mother again who told me of all the people that had been calling, Including my sister-in-law's sister...knowing I was a burn/trauma nurse, she would offer up a place to stay if I wanted to come work at ground zero. Know that if I had been in Cape Cod, I would've been there in a heartbeat. I checked on all my friends in NYC. All accounted for but with earth-shattering stories. I spent my week going to soccer games, shopping, waiting for my niece and nephew to get home from school. I called work daily to keep them up to date as to whether or not I'd be back at work that day or not. I later learned my manager at the time, called my mom several times to make sure she was alright. These people were new friends and coworkers and were already so connected to me they knew my family and my mom's cancer were of utmost concern to me. Finally, late Thursday night we got word that few flights would be resumed Friday morning but we would have to get to Cleveland early. And we did.
There was a drastically different feel about the airport...eerie. As I walked to the security check point, I had to take off my shoes (that was a first), unbuckle my belt, roll the top of my jeans down, take my cat out of the carrier. And without question, I did all of this. I had a couple of hours to spare as I waited for my flight and called my friend Amy. I will never forget her words: "Where the hell are you? I've been worried sick." I had been in utter shock this whole time and this was the first moment I absolutely broke. I had felt so alone through all of this and just then realized I certainly was not alone. I had so many friends and family worried who I could count on...who were truly concerned.
They announced my flight, and as I made the nauseating walk to the door leading to my plane, there was that same pregnant woman. All smiles she greeted me with, "you were on the news. As I sat in the hotel room that night, watching the news, I was so happy to see your face...a familiar face." Goodness, I hadn't even considered what it would be like to have had that same situation, compounded with being pregnant and put up in a strange hotel room for 3 days. God love her.
I white knuckled it the whole way back to Boston, settling my nerves with an early morning gin and tonic. Once I landed, I nearly ran to my car...all I wanted was to get back home on the Cape. I wanted to get home and go work out...work off some of this stress. I got home, changed clothes and headed to the gym. In Cape Cod there are many commuters...to Boston (such as myself), to NYC. It was not uncommon to know people that spent their week in NYC for work, then return home to the Cape on the weekends. As I got to the gym, I walked in to the usual loud mouth clowns that worked the front desk. I got to the doors of the weight room and saw a list of about 30 names. I stopped to see what the list was...a list of names of people from my gym that were known dead or missing. Humbled again. There would be no workout. I went home and just cried.
Life slowly got make to relative normalcy. There was a flight back to St. Louis for Christmas that I nearly got into a fist fight with the idiot sitting in the seat behind me that made a comment about having a bomb on him. He was asked to exit the plane. (FYI, the shoe bomber, Richard Reed, situation happened the next day). There was my cousin's flight to see me with questions of whether there were air marshals or not on her flight.
But it was my first trip back into NYC...exiting the path train from Hoboken to lower Manhattan, my usual stop...Gground zero, that I will never forget. The sight of that enormous chasm in the middle of the ground, which once housed the WTC; teeming with commerce, and chatter, and traffic...was now nothing. I stood there and cried so hard. Sobbing, shaking, humbled.
This day carries a lot of emotion for me for everyone. It makes me feel like a proud American!
I had recently retired and was having breakfast at my home in St. Louis. My daughter, Beth Lake, (also in St. Louis) called me from work and told me to turn on the TV, which I did in time to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center. My younger daughter, Melissa Lake Smith, lived in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill and was expecting her first child in early December.
Beth knew that Melissa's husband, Marc, was in New York City for a business meeting, but we had no idea where his meeting was. Phone lines in D.C. and New York were overloaded everywhere, but I was able to contact both Melissa and Marc by email. We learned that Marc was safe. He had stepped away from the meeting and could see the World Trade Center. The meeting was quickly canceled and everyone went outside and walked away from the area of the attack.
At home on Constitution Avenue in DC, Melissa had two men fixing the garage door so it would close before they headed home. Constitution was a one-way street toward the Capitol in the morning and reversed to out-of-town in the evening, but it was switched to head out earlier that day. Two men were there to fix the garage door and they finished their job before heading out of town. Melissa spent much of the day checking on the whereabouts of friends. One woman who still works at the Capitol building commandeered a Capitol car to get her son from a federal daycare near the Pentagon. There were rumors about a bomb at Union Station. Eventually Marc was able to get home by train with Melissa's help.
On a St. Louis side note, I worked for Granco Steel Products on north Broadway in the summers from 1959-1963 when they were designing their part of the flooring for the World Trade Center and the Poplar Street Bridge deck here. Later analysis showed that the heat from the fire caused when the plane filled with fuel crashed and melted their corrugated "Stay in Place" flooring. Among other things, I did a lot of filing engineering drawings while I was rotating secretarial jobs.
The memory that is seared in my brain is seeing the first tower collapse. I was reminded of how it affected me in August when my husband and I were in New York for a wedding and I visited the 9/11 memorial for the first time and saw it happen again on a video screen. I’ll never forget that.
Mardell Moeller Granger
Being asked by three fourth-grade boys if I would pray with them. I was the speech/language pathologist at Evansville Attendance Center in Evansville, Illinois. My one group, three fourth-grade boys, came into my therapy room asking me if the planes might come and bomb Evansville. They had been watching news reports in their classroom. I assured them the terrorists had no knowledge of southern Illinois and certainly not of the small town of Evansville. I told them we were safe and there was nothing to fear.
Then one of the boys asked if I would say a prayer. Once he asked, the other two asked also. So, we held hands and I prayed for New York, our country and for us and our families. All three boys thanked me, hugged me, and we went on with speech/language therapy activities.
I was in Boston. I worked for American West Air at Logan. I saw the American Airlines push off the gate at 8:20 a.m. At about 9:20, someone ran into my office and told me to turn on the TV. Right when I did, we saw the aircraft hit the tower. No way that happened. The rest of the week was one of my saddest. I knew people on both aircraft. I was at the airport 24/7 in case the authorities needed to reinspect my aircraft. I was on the flight deck of one of my aircraft performing some instrument checks, when I turned around I was staring at the biggest German Shepard dog I had ever encountered and two heavenly armed Swat members. I served in Vietnam and it was heart wrenching.
My husband and I lived in Chesterfield and after finishing breakfast, my daughter picked me up to drive to Bellerive Country Club to watch the PGA tournament. We parked and walked in close to one of the holes where lots of people were, and Tiger Woods was just coming on to that hole. We were so excited to see him close. He was very friendly and getting ready to tee off when very loud alarms started going off. He stopped and all of us were wondering what was going on. Soon the horrible announcement came of the disaster in New York City. There was absolute silence. We turned to walk back to our car and all the golfers headed to the clubhouse. It is a day I will never forget.
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