Category Archives: memories

Memories for my Daughter: 9/11

I’ve decided to write down specific memories of certain times for posterity, as well to have some memories for my daughter to look over, my main fear being that when I get older I may start to lose my memory, and I would like to have things written down for her and others to know what it was like at the time. I’m going to start with my memory of September 11, 2001. I was luckier than many. I had never been to New York at the time, so I had no personal memories, nor did I know anyone who was there or lose anyone I knew in the attacks.

I’ve decided to write down specific memories of certain times for posterity, as well to have some memories for my daughter to look over, my main fear being that when I get older I may start to lose my memory, and I would like to have things written down for her and others to know what it was like at the time. I’m going to start with my memory of September 11, 2001. I was luckier than many. I had never been to New York at the time, so I had no personal memories, nor did I know anyone who was there or lose anyone I knew in the attacks.

I remember the morning very clearly. I was woken up by my clock radio next to the bed. Usually, I had it tuned to a music station, but there was a breaking news alert that a plane had collided with the World Trade Center. That was the only information available at the time and they would have more information later.

Of course, there had been stories of small passenger planes hitting buildings before, so that was where my mind immediately went. Tragic, but I didn’t think much more of it at the time. That was the morning that midterms were supposed to start, and being my senior year in college, I obviously had other things on my mind. I didn’t turn the TV on. I just ate a quick breakfast, got dressed, made myself presentable, and got in the car to head to campus.

On the car radio, they were saying that there were reports of a second plane hitting the World Trade Center. Flipping through the channels, where there was usually music or morning shows, they were all either on the news or the morning shows were warning people that there was going to be no comedy that morning. They began reporting that one of the towers had completely collapsed, and now they started saying the other one had collapsed. Partway through my drive to campus, they started saying that there were unconfirmed reports about a plane crashing into the Pentagon.

At this point it was clear what was going on, but the extent was still a big unknown. There were no reports about what happened to United 93 and there wouldn’t be for a while. I got to campus and no one was really saying anything. When I got to class, the professor was already talking to everyone about what happened. There would be no midterm today. People could talk if they needed to or just go. Class ended up being cut short anyway.

So I wandered for a bit and bumped into a couple of friends. We talked about it for a bit, but then we each went to our next classes. This class was in a new building that still didn’t have all the wiring together yet. But it was about video technology, so we managed to jury-rig a projector to carry a live broadcast of the news, and we talked about what happened. This was the first time I finally got to see the news footage of the planes hitting the towers. The professor said that we could all leave our cell phones and pagers on today (remember, this was 2001) in the event that we needed to get a hold of our families. About half way through this class, an administrator stuck her head in the door and said that classes were cancelled for the rest of the day (remember, there was really only electricity going to this building at this point, so there was no easier way to communicate). So that was it for the school day.

The rest of the day was kind of a blur. I remember heading back home and pretty much just watching the TV the rest of day as more news trickled in, at least from the corner of my eye while browsing the internet on the computer. Weird that I feel like I need to point out these specifics because the world has changed so much. It became clear very shortly that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were behind it. I remember Tom Clancy being interviewed on CNN and he practically started the interview by saying how the US needs to look at itself and how it had treated the Muslim world, that the US may have brought this down on itself, and CNN very quickly ending the interview then and there. I don’t think the interview lasted for even a minute. I remember eyes were already pointing towards Afghanistan since that was the last known location of Osama bin Laden, and reports with live video of fighting occurring with assumptions that we had already invaded (it was later revealed that this fighting was actually part of the ongoing conflict between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance).

Over the next few days and weeks, the new normal set in. Another World Trade Center building collapsed (many forget that it wasn’t just the twin towers that came down). There were more reports of injuries and deaths, but also of people being rescued. Despite what may be thought of now, while people did talk about what had happened, people also made a genuine effort to carry on with their lives with some normalcy. People were not walking around with gas masks everywhere and jumping at shadows. People were far more resilient at the time than some portrayals now seem to indicate. Although 9/11 was always a constant background buzz in everyone’s life. I think this was when the 24-hour news cycle really came to the forefront, and it was always talked about every day for years.

So, those are my basic memories of that day. Do you have any personal memories to share about this day? Let me know in the comments.