My youngest child just asked me this weekend about my memories of 9/11 (for a school assignment). He wasn’t born until a few years later, so has no memories of his own. I’m not sure how accurate my memories are, but did my best. I wrote up an article about it, and decided to post it on Human Diaries:
My memories of 9-11-2001 (16 years later)
Nothing about early that morning is memorable. I’m sure I did the usual things – wake up, take care of the kids, eat, and get ready for the day.
The first thing I remember was being in the car on the way to the dentist. I had a 1973 Dodge Dart at the time, and it didn’t have CD or cassette players in it. So I was listening to the radio, and heard that a plane had hit a building. I remember thinking what a tragedy it was, and being sad and shocked.
A little while later, I heard that a second plane hit the other tower. I called my (then) husband to tell him about it. The first plane was a surprising event. The second plane meant something more sinister. I remember thinking it couldn’t be a coincidence, but hoping somehow it was. Maybe the smoke kept the second pilot from seeing the building?
I remember seeing news about it on tv once I was at the dentist’s office. The kids, including my daughter, were able to watch Nickelodeon or something, but the adults were watching the news. It turns out we all ended up seeing the same scenes over and over again for a long time. It was on almost every channel for days. I don’t remember how long it was until we saw something else on tv, other than putting kids’ shows on for the first born, who was four. The one year old wasn’t really aware of the tv at the time.
News about what had happened was everywhere – tv, magazines, and in conversations. All around the world. Everyone was theorizing about it.
I remember hearing about the people who died. The president’s reaction. The way the United States came together, supporting each other, and sending a message that we would not let this stop us. We were united and strong, and would not let fear overtake us. Patriotism was extremely high.
I also remember the mixture of good and bad. It was amazing how people joined together, donating their time, effort, and money to the cause. People donated to the secondary victims – those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 tragedy. But then later, there were the stories about people who actually lied about having loved ones die at Ground Zero so they could deceptively collect some of that money that was so generously donated by everyone else for the real secondary victims.
The coverage of the event was everywhere, and it was haunting. Images of people covered in soot. People jumping from burning buildings to try to escape, but dying anyway. Stories of how some people were going down the stairs inside the buildings in order to leave those buildings, but then going back up as instructed. Many of those people died. No one had any idea at that time that the buildings were going to collapse, so it was assumed that staying inside the buildings was the safest thing to do. There were numerous stories of people who did escape. People who weren’t there at work that day for different reasons, or who were going in late. Stories of people who rescued others. Stories of people who died later from illnesses that resulted from that day – from the soot, and whatever else was in the air at the time.
One of my cousins was living in that general area at the time, and saw quite a bit from the top of her apartment building. I believe she took some pictures, too.
After the first two planes hit, there was news of another one hitting the Pentagon. A fourth one went down in a field. I later read about that one. People on that plane heard what had happened with the first three planes, and realized something was going on. Until that day, it was common knowledge to give in to hijackers’ demands in order to save lives. Until that day, hijackers wanted a safe landing somewhere they could escape, and would then let the plane and passengers go. That all changed on September 11, 2001. That day, the hijackers were on a suicide/homicide mission. Once news reached the fourth plane, the hijacked passengers knew they were going to die, and made the decision to fight back. They died, but likely saved many others by forcing the plane to crash in a field instead of its apparent target of Washington, DC.
Buildings collapsed, including some near the Twin Towers, because of the pressure and maybe the vibrations from the Twin Towers. People on foot were trying to find a way to get as far away as possible. I think I remember something about gridlock with those in cars because of closed roads.
All other planes were told to land. I think it was a few days until anyone was allowed to fly again.
Packages were sent to different people soon after 9/11/2001, and it turned out they contained anthrax. A few people were killed. I’m not sure of the exact connection with 9/11.
A couple we knew had a baby a few days before. They lived in New York. The baby was premature, so he had to stay in the hospital, but they sent the mother home early. They thought they’d need the hospital beds. The father worked for the CDC, and had to eventually don MOPP 4 gear to check suspicious packages that were sent through the mail, in case they contained anthrax.
Many things have changed since then. Protocol for flying, mailing packages, and procedures of what to do in case of plane hijacking have all changed. I feel like the country is joined closer in some ways, and further divided in others.
September 11, 2001 was just one day, but in my mind, it kind of blurs into many more days. It’s a day that divides time in many peoples’ lives – pre-9/11 and post-9/11.