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Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 5:27 am

I came back from a holiday in Lebanon on the 10th Sept. My ex had moved out while I was away (I knew she was going, just hoped she'd changed her mind), and I came back to our place with all trace of her gone. So that was pretty horrific. Many tears, Simpsons, early to bed.

The next day I was pretty much the same, in a fairly bad way. I had to go to a meeting near my Mum's place (south London) mid afternoon, so en route I stopped in to see her. My sis and her little boy were there as well which was cool. I was playing outside with my nephew while my Mum and sis watched Neighbours (diabolical Aussie soap, much loved in the UK for some reason). After a while Mum called me in a voice I hadn't heard for years, since I moved out of home. When I lived at home, if there was a plane crash (or other piece of aviation news) on telly, she'd call me in an urgent way and I'd run to the TV room and see what was happening. Despite having moved out 6 years previously, I recognised the voice and ran back into the house. I could tell by her tone it was a really bad one, and I remember thinking, "This is worse than El Al in Amsterdam". She'd flicked through the channels after Neighbours ended and what was probably dismissed on the first channel as a weird disaster movie proved to be all to real as the same picture was also on CNN, BBC24, EuroNews et al.

I don't even remember what I thought when I first saw the two towers burning (this was just after the second plane hit), but I remember the next hour and feeling like my ribcage was going to explode outward. I remember that feeling very clearly, it really was like if my heartbeat increased by another few beats per minute I might die, just at the sheer horror and shock of it. I remember feeling incredible anger that the news networks didn't really know what was happening, the footage of tower 2 being hit obviously showed a twinjet airliner (albeit I thought it was a USAirways 737 at the time), and CNN had an idiot saying it was a light plane cos airliners aren't that maneouverable. Another talking head said the planes had been stolen from Islip. Of course there was worse to come as the skyline (such as it is) of Washington appeared on the screen with a telltale pillar of black smoke, and they started talking about a 747 crashing en route from NY to Cleveland (UA93 as it turned out). CNN finally came out and said some of the flights may have originated in Boston, which surprised me, cos although the aircraft involved were certainly airliners I didn't expect that the hijackers would have flown the planes so far, I'd assumed that they had originated at Kennedy or La Guardia. There was also talk of the Old Executive Office Building being on fire, and a car bomb exploding on The Mall in DC.

When the south tower collapsed I had no idea what had actually happened, I assumed that some jet fuel had pooled somewhere inside the building and it was some kind of 'secondary explosion' or something, and we (me, Mum, my sis) waited for the smoke to clear. Of course it did clear, and there was no sign of the building. It was a good few minutes before we all concluded that one of the Twin Towers was gone. I remember reading Robert Fisk's excellent book about the Lebanese war (1975 to 1991) and especially the bit when he went to the US Marines barracks a few minutes after it was truck bombed. As a war correspondent he knew it well and it took him ages to realise the entire building (five storeys - actually the old MEA training centre) had actually gone. I remember reading that years ago, and then on 9/11 feeling that complete confusion myself. Where is the other tower? That smoke must be pretty thick that I can't see the other tower at all. Odd that I can see buildings behind it, but not the building itself.

Anyway the next half hour was perhaps the worst, for indeed the south tower, where the husband of my sister's best friend worked (English guy; they'd been married less than a year) had collapsed; and what remained was ONE twin tower. There was a sight so gruesome, surreal and plain wrong that for me it's the most memorable mental image of the whole day. Oddly enough, it's almost impossible to find a picture of it - I've spent a few hours in the last two years surfing to try and remember the shock, or to try and understand what happened that day, or something, but although there was a period lasting half an hour where the World Trade Centre was a single 110-storey building, photographic evidence is hard to come by. Probably because it's just too hard for some people to take I guess. If there is a defining symbol of the tragedy, that's it.

Then the second tower collapsed and I remember what the CNN commentator said: "There are no words." Then he, and us, and everybody watched it collapse into a second huge cloud of dust in silence and the 'event' was over, an hour and three quarters after the first plane had hit. From then on it was just constant replays and snatched interviews in the street with people crying and looking for their missing loved ones for days. I remember the next day there was a televised stand-off at a hotel in Boston with a suspected accomplice - don't know if it amounted to much. The aftermath didn't really matter, I know Pierre Boulez (I think it was) said 9/11 was a piece of performance art and had concerts cancelled on him and god knows what else, but actually he was right, and I really felt that strongly after the second tower fell; it was also the curtain falling at the end of the show. Of course it was the only story on TV for weeks and up until Enron, but the event itself didn't last for weeks, it was an hour 45, and when it ended with the second tower falling, everyone backed away from their tellys, shaken to their core.

I'll never forget that day and I'll never stop thinking about it, trying to get a different angle, trying to fully understand it. Of course for me there were two personal angles, one being that I lost someone in one of the buildings and see his widow from time to time - the bravest girl I know. The other is that I visited NY - one of my favourite places - with the girlfriend who left on Sep 10th, and so the destruction the next day of my favourite skyscrapers in that great city also became a metaphor for losing her.

You know the time right now? 21.11 on Sep 10th, 2003. RIP all those lost. Peace.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 7:02 am

I was there. I had dinner on September 10 at a restaurant just a few blocks away from the Twin Towers. My friends teased me that night how I was "crazy" to take an overbooked Delta flight EWR-MCO-ATL-SFO instead of the nonstop United flight 93 that they had offered to rebook me onto. Hey, its all about the frequent flier miles.

I was there. I arrived at Newark airport just before 8am that fateful morning. I saw N591UA push back from her gate at Terminal A for her trip to San Francisco. Eventually, I made it to the Bay Area a few weeks later. The passengers on that plane never did.

I was there. My Delta Express 737 pushed back from the gate just before 9am and I saw a plume of smoke above the World Trade Center. No one knew what had happened as we taxied out. Then we saw a large aircraft flying very low. What the hell are they doing? It disappeared for a few seconds, and we saw a fireball. And we knew.

I was there. We taxied back to the Terminal. One of the Flight Attendants was sobbing on her jumpseat. I called DeltaSFO to ask what the hell was going on. He told me. I called ACVitale for more news. He told me about the Pentagon. Then US Marshals with M16s came running up to us and herded us out of the terminal.

I was there. I boarded a bus to Newark Penn Station. As we set off, I saw two towers amid the smoke. A while later there was only one. By the time we arrived, there was a void where one of man's most fabulous creations had stood only hours before.

I was there. I identified myself as having law enforcement and first responder training and was assigned to the triage station inside the station. I tended to people with minor injuries like sprains and cuts that they got from dodging falling debris. This wasn't a TV show, this was real blood being spilled.

I was there. I saw people come off PATH trains that were about to discharge passengers at the World Trade Center station, but turned around and came back. They had just cheated death and they knew it.

I was there. I went back into Manhattan the next morning on the PATH train. The fires were still burning at Ground Zero and you could feel the heat in the tunnel. There was a thick cloud all over midtown that made it difficult to breathe.

I was there. That same night we had a bomb scare in Midtown. Our hotel had to be evacuated. I volunteered to help the US Marshals again. We ran UP stairways and helped carry children out of the building. We were lucky. Others ran UP stairways in other buildings and weren't quite so lucky.

I was there. All week I stayed in New York as the city responded in a way that only cities can do. The city cried, the city mourned, but the city stood strong and proud.

Then I left. My Delta MD-11 back to Atlanta took off from JFK after 1am on Sunday morning. As we climbed out, and the city came into view, with a million lights shining brightly. But down at the southern end of Manhattan, there was a different kind of light and a big huge void where two of the brightest lights had once shone.

At that moment, I began to cry. I'm sure many others on board cried too. We cried not out of sadness or out of joy, but we just cried to let it all out. We cried for the city that we remembered before Tuesday and we cried for the city that we now knew. We cried for the loss of innocence that the country and the entire world had suffered. We cried for the victims and the families and the rescue workers working thousands of feet below us. But most of all we cried because we were back in the air and no matter how hard they knocked us down, we were back up again.

I'm not American. I simply happened to be in New York on business that day. But for a brief moment, my world stopped turning too. And it is testament to the human spirit, fed by the thousands of human spirits that were lost that day, that the world got back on its feet and continues to turn today.
"The A340-300 may boast a long range, but the A340 is underpowered" -- Robert Milton, CEO - Air Canada
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 7:10 am

That was a very touching post Sean, and I appreciate your respect, concern, and help that you gave to our fellow people when you were there that day.

Some people are like slinkies - not good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 8:00 am

i got woken up first by my mother, she called me at like 0630 my time and i just got to sleep at like 0500. she said something hit the buildings, i thought it was a cessna or something, you know in crappy wx. then my gf calls me and tells me that she got a phone call from FDNY ordering me to be in at work in an hour. i was like, what the fuck?? then one of my roommates comes in and tells me to get up and get to the TV. when i saw the shit happening i wanted to be here so badly, i felt useless. it wasn’t till 2 days later that i realized that i would have been dead right now if i hadn’t been at school, since i was assigned to the EMS garage downtown and would have been there ASAP to help out. i lost 71 friends that day. i only went to 4 funerals where their bodies were recovered.

our school got closed down for a week and all the foreign students got interviewed by the FBI. no one flew, it sucked ass! of the people i was assigned to work with before it happened, 2 survived, the other 27 weren’t as lucky. my gf, being muslim (she doesn’t wear a veil or anything but she’s still muslim) left a month later and went to albania, she only got back this past march. when i went home for xmas vacation i stood there on the first day i got back, in the middle of the pit and just started crying. i had never cried before for as long as i could remember. i had trouble standing up straight. the next day i was there digging and was there until the day i left to go back to school.

"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 8:38 am

As it was happening? On BA Concorde G-BOAF filled with 'pax' (actually BA Concorde Engineering staff) that had fully simulated a LHR-JFK flight by going out to 30W and back, to retrain crew, try out new seats and menus, generally aid the relaunch and we were on as a 'thankyou' for the return to flight work, 4 more were planned, one going to JFK and back (which it eventually did on 22nd Oct), we would have slowed down to subsonic and been back overland at the time it started.

So when we left the aircraft at T4, all smiles, we heard people mentioning that '2 737s had hit the WTC'. What were they talking about?
Well some of us had to go back to the hangar anyway to pick our stuff up, in the crew room was a TV.
It was on, a small crowd had gathered, I could have gone right home then, I must have stayed for a couple of hours as it all unfolded.

The playbacks of the 2nd aircraft hitting, flash reports of further attacks, US airspace being closed.
Some of us had friends in NY, it was easy to forget the time difference between London and NY, so you assumed that the towers were totally full when they fell, it being mid afternoon here by then.

Questions; how did they get the aircraft? are there more? Will the USAF have to shoot any down?

Eventually, I went home, my neighbors had TVs on of course, we moved between each others flats trying to take it in, conversation about my flight was not the main topic to put it mildly as you can imagine.

The evening became a daze, of course eventually you wondered how you'd be affected, ringing my Mother in the evening I commented "I could be looking for a job soon, me and 50,000 others at BA."
Then of course the wider implications, for everyone.
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 8:45 am

I too was there.

I helped set up a triage center.

I saw so few survivors....

Not a good day.
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 9:00 am

I was heading to my office when a friend called me on the handy to tell me about it..it had just happened and his bank has a branch in NYC, so the guys there called to advise it...at the beginning I thought it was a joke ... then when I arrived at the office I realized that it was no joke at all..


"ad astra per aspera"
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 9:00 am

In school about 3 blocks north of the twin towers (id say about 400 yards away). Had biology class when it happened.. we got evacuated after the towers collapsed and i walked home to the upper east side and watched news the rest of the day. FOllowing that the school was closed for a couple of weeks since it was used by the wtc workers.
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 9:42 am

I was in United's WHQ in Elk Grove Village outside of Chicago. I left my Hinsdale home quite early that morning at about 6:45 central time, to respond to emails and messages after a trip the previous day. My secretary had not yet arrived for work and the offices were fairly empty at the time. At that time I was unaware that anything had happened yet. When contact was lost with the planes it was not so newsworthy that I, being in finance, would have been notified. At about 10 min of 8, (9:50 Eastern) I saw several of the employees who had also come in early run past my door. This seemed quite strange to me so I decided to get up and get a cup of coffee.

On my way to the kitchen I saw several employees gathered around a television. At first nobody could believe that a plane hit the trade center. Within a matter of moments telephones throughout the building began to ring. Seconds later when we saw the second plane hit. Somebody under their breath whispered “That’s one of ours.” Most of the employees present went to the ops center. I followed with them but by the time we got there, operations were already a zoo. Nobody knew what was going on with any certainty. Watching the employees franticly struggle to confirm what was happening, I had never felt so helpless in my life. We watched unable to do anything as the events unfolded in front of us.

Soon the bosses started showing up. For any of you out there who shall we say don't particularly like the former management of United, I won’t comment on their leadership skills but I will say that the concern that all of senior management expressed that day for the employees, passengers and their families was something unlike anything I have ever seen in a corporate environment. They were trying to maintain composure while holding back tears. Once the bosses arrived order was restored but nobody was stable. People were crying, all the time staying at their post trying to help in any way possible.

The events that I experienced that day were unlike anything that had happened before in my life. I am glad that I was there to help in any way that I could although I am not really sure of how much I accomplished. I had a very unique perspective on what happened that day and I will never forget.
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:03 am

I can't remember what I was doing on September 10, but I do remember going to bed that night and for some reason I just could not sleep. I finally gave up and got up about 4:00 a.m. (Central Time). There was nothing on TV except infomercials, so I got on the internet.

A few weeks prior to that, I had found a website with hundreds of old airline ads and every day, I'd look at about 150 or so ads a day,and I was saving the ones I really liked and was planning to post some of them later. I had just found this ad for TWA and thought "This is the best one, yet".


I was in the process of saving the file when the phone rang. I looked at caller ID. It was 8:38 am Central Time and the call was from my dad. His birthday had been the week before and I had spoken to him then, so I was wondering why he was calling me again, especially at a rather early hour. I just knew he was going to tell me that someone in our family had died or something, but, of course, that wasn't the case. He told me to turn on the TV and explained that the news was saying a commuter plane had hit the first tower and then another plane had hit the second tower. I thanked him for alerting me and switched on the TV.

It was ABC News with Peter Jennings. I could hear his voice in the background talking to someone (can't remember exactly what they were discussing) and there was a split screen. One the left hand side of the screen was live footage of the WTC. On the right side it was live footage from the Pentagon. Wait a minute! The PENTAGON!? Dad hadn't told me about that. (It was probably happening as I was on the phone with him.)

I immediately knew this was my generation's Pearl Harbor and put the only blank tape I had in the VCR.

15 minutes later, they're still showing the spilt screen, WTC on the left, Pentagon on the right. Peter Jennings was still talking in the background. I was mainly watching the WTC side of the TV screen. They had zoomed in on a corner of the building and I remember seeing these strange looking drips. It looked like little drips of fire or something. Kind of like a volcno that was dripping hot lava. I remember thinking "What is that stuff dripping from the corner of the building?"

All of a sudden the part of the building above where the drips were coming from just broke away and started leaning to one side, falling as the rest of the building just dissappeared in the smoke. I'm thinking My God! The Building just collapsed! Immediately, the side of the TV screen showing the Pentagon vanished and now the whole screen is just the building falling and the camera panning out. Smoke, dust, and debris falling, then rising again and spreading out across lower Manhattan.

Incredibly, Peter Jennings and whoever he was speaking with seemed to not have noticed and were still talking. Finally about 15 seconds later, Peter Jennings says (I'm paraphrasing here) "OK, Let me interrupt you for just a minute. We seem to have a secondary plume of smoke coming from one of the buildings. It appears that... uh.. I'm not sure ... uh ... what do we HAVE here?

He gets ahold of one of the correspondents on the street and the guy is saying "Peter, the second building hit has just collapsed." Peter Jenning still doesn't get it. He says,"OK a side of the building has just collapsed."

"No Peter, the entire building has just collapsed."

Peter Jennings voice is incredulous. "The ENTIRE building?"

"Yes, from my vantage point it appears that the entire building has collapsed. At the very least the top portion of the building is gone. It's very hard to see because of all the smoke, but it DOES appear the enitre building has collapsed."

Three seconds of total silence (except for the office sounds and the phones ringing in the background of the ABC Studios) and finally Peter Jennings just says softly, "My God."

Word starts coming in that the second building is in danger of collapse and they are moving the triage area.

Thirty minutes later the second building collapses and Peter Jennings starts talking about how the skyline of New York has changed forever.

With only 30 minutes left in my VCR tape, I threw on a pair of shoes, grabbed my wallet and rushed out the door to run across the street to Target so I could buy more blank VCR tapes.

It was errie. It was by then about 10:30 a.m. here in Austin, yet the streets seemed deserted. There were hardly any customers at Target and some of the cashiers in the checkout lanes had radios on. Everyone seemed to be stunned (myself included).

Those first two days I taped a lot of coverage, and after that, every time there was a special report on Dateline or CNN Presents, or PrimeTime Live that had anything to do with 9/11, I taped it. I guess that was my way of coping with the situation, and preserving what is was actually like that day for future generations.

I'm not talking about the cleaned up versions of the events of that day, with scenes in slow motion and music in the background. I'm talking about the raw footage of the day. The images. The sounds. The confusion. The speculation. The messages scrolling across the screen that the airports were shut down. The fear. The horror. The shock. The grief. The anger. The sadness. The outpouring of sympathy from around the world.

This is one of those events that, years later, people will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.


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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:11 am

I was at UALs reservations building by ORD on Higgins Rd. Me and my friend were to be inducted and trained on Uniteds "special assistance team" on Sep. 13, 2001. We called them up and even though we were not trained yet we were told to come in and expect to go. When we arrived and after about 3 hours of waiting on nails we were told to go home and that we were not needed. In a way im glad I wasnt sent to flight 93s crash site, but I would of loved to help out. Thats were I was 2 years ago. 9 days later I was layed off, only to be called back 22 months later.
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:22 am

2 years ago I was on the computer, getting ready to go to sleep. School was the next day so I had to get up early. Funny how things never seem to change, as here I am readying for school and getting up early tomorrow. If only I'd have known.....
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:50 am

I stayed home from school, feeling a bit under the weather. I laid in bed listening to "The Regular Guys" on 96 Rock because my mother had woken me up before she went to work. I was dozing off as they were discussing something unrelated. All of a sudden one of them said, "Wow, a plane has hit the World Trade Center." I jumped out of my bed and ran down the hall to my parents room to turn on the television. I watched in absolute horror and fear as the speculation grew that the strike was not caused by a small plane, as originally thought. Out of nowhere, a large shadow appeared and then disappeared behind the 2nd World Trade Center followed by a huge explosion. I have to admit, I was upset, but not too shaken up. After that, I quickly called my father. I was pretty sure he flew to San Diego the night before, but I really dont pay too much attention to where he is going on his business trips, so I wasnt sure if he was actually there or somewhere else... Luckily, I woke him up at his hotel in San Diego.

I kept my eyes glued on the television, and felt utterly sick to my stomach when the towers collapsed. My thoughts turned to my two cousins who lived and worked in Manhattan (one of whom owned a restraunt a couple blocks from the WTC on Nassau St.), and all my aunts and uncles in the New York metro area. I tried calling my cousins, but unfortunately the only numbers I had were their cell phones. I fruitlessly tried calling their cellphones for an hour with no answer. Finally, I got a call from my cousin who was a lawyer in Midtown, he called to say he was okay and he had spent the night at his mother's house on Long Island. But, my entire family was worried about my cousin who worked only a couple blocks from the WTC. Once I got off the phone, I tried the impossible, I called 411 and got the number for his restraunt. And to my utter surprise and happiness, not only did I get through, but Matt was on the other line. A usually jovial and happy person, he was crying on the other line. His restraunt was undamaged (other than the several inches of soot that had accumulated outside and on his roof) and his employees were okay too. The majority of his employees hadnt shown up yet since it is a lunch/dinner restraunt. He had actually been able to get to his restraunt after the WTC collapsed. Throughout the day, a bunch of aunts, uncles, and cousins. called me because I had somehow been the only person to get through to Matt to confirm that he was okay. Matt ended up losing about 30 friends in the collapse, I met a couple of them before. His restraunt tanked after 9/11 because they could no longer make inside deliveries for catering orders, and the WTC was a major source of revenue. However, its still open for business, its just unknown how much longer it will remain open.

Support Lower Manhattan!

A sad, sad day.  Sad

[Edited 2003-09-11 03:53:52]
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 11:05 am

I was feeding my youngest son, then 2, and he was watching "Bear In The Big Blue House" on DisneyChannel. I got an IM from a friend to turn on the TV as supposedly a private plane had hit the WTC. I turned on ABC about 30 seconds or so after the 2nd plane impacted. Again, my friend said that the report was that they were private planes. But when I saw the reply of aircraft #2, I commented to her "that's no private plane, that's a widebody!"

Shortly after, I had to take my son to day care, and, then sat in front of the TV. I called work, and asked if they wanted me in there, and the supervisor said to just sit tight, as there was mass confusion at the airport. I called my wife once, my mother, one of my best friends, as she sat at home-but I was all alone, which I wish I hadn't been.

When news came in about the Pentagon attack, I decided, on my own, to drive into work, 3 hours early, because I knew my colleagues would need help. I took a shower, and as I was leaving, the first tower fell, but I didn't realize it-I thought the top had just sheered off. It wasn't for about 2 hours that I realized the tower was just gone.

I got as far as the entrance of CLE, but traffic was stopped there. The DL 767 going BOS-SFO had just diverted there a few minutes before, and it was on ABC radio that that plane might have been a hijacked aircraft. About 30 or 40 CPD squad cars raced by us into the airport. One of the girls I work with was right behind me, her car stopped ,and a look of absolute fright on her face. Shortly after, I decided I couldn't get to work, turned around, and went home-to sit by myself again, for about another 3 hours. When I heard about the PA aircraft, I truly felt that the world was ending in a way, and wished I was with someone, instead of by myself.

It was a quiet day when the kids came home from school, and I hardly slept that night, as did, I imagaine, about 270 million other Americans.
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 11:19 am

11 September 2001 started like any other day for me. I was up at 630AM, drive to school, arrive by 730AM, sit in the hallways and talk with friends until school starts at 8AM. First class goes by fine, get to my next class, Band, and sit down.. Bell rings. One of the priests at my school comes on tells us what has happened and leads the entire school in a Haily Mary and Our Father to bless those who are currently in harms way.

2nd hour goes on as normal, bell rings, period change time of 4 minutes. We have television monitors in our hallways and all of them were broadcasting a live ABC picture of the World Trade Center burning.. The school comes to a standstill, 4 minutes stretches for the rest of the day. NOBODY can be pryed away from the TV set. I eventually get to my 3rd hour and sit down.. We've got the TV going and all the sudden, WHAM! A second plane hits! There was screaming on the TV and everybody's jaw just hit the floor.. It was the most horiffic thing ever witnessed for us.

The rest of the day continues like this.. nonstop watching of Television. The towers collapse, pentagon hit, everyone is just wide eyed. All school events are cancelled, everything in Metro Detroit is cancelled. I get a call from my mom, she is evacuated from her office in Downtown Detroit, as it is in the shadow of the 77 story Renniasance Center office complex. She is on her way home.. Dad was evacuated from his office in Troy. We all came home and watched TV.

I will never forget that moment.. It was such a bright and sunny day here in Detroit just like it was in New York. My life was changed forever in that one instant. All those people..... I just cried and cried for weeks after that.

Tomorrow, 11 September 2003, is predicted to be just as it was 2 years ago, sunny and bright, just slightly chilly.. a beautiful day with a dark cloud hanging over it.

11 September 2001. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

The image that burns into my memory the most.. this one hurts:

A man of peace, killed.
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RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 11:26 am

I always come early to work, in a company where the majority comes late.

So there I was, doing my stuff when one of the few guys on the floor told me a plane had just crashed in one of the tower.

First thing I thought was that it probably was a Cessna 172 or something like that who got lost in the fog or the clouds. At that time the information was quite sketchy.

But then more news were coming in and although the exact plane type wasn't still known for sure, it apparently was a airliner. That was odd.

More and more people were coming in to work and this incident was pretty much treated like a crash; a bit unusual and strange, but "another" plane accident nonetheless. Nobody mentioned anything about a possible terrorist act.

Then the news came in that a second airliner crashed into the second tower. Then I knew it was terrorism. I remember telling out loud to people around me: "This is Ben something's work. You know this Arab guy, what's his name again, Isama Ben Aden, Ismala Bin... You know that guy". Two of my employees are Algerian and they gave me that look. I think they could have killed me right there. But they knew I was right, they told me so later.

Everyone stopped working then. And they were all trying frantically to find any information on the Internet. Eventually we set up a TV in a conference room. And then came the other news: a crash in the Pentagon, a crash in the White House, a tower collapsed, cars blowing-up everywhere, the second tower collapsed, AF1 being under attack, a plane crashed in Pennsylvania, a plane is heading for the Sears Tower in Chicago, buildings being evacuated everywhere...

Our new president at the time was an American. He was pale, but he tried to keep his composure, even joking at time. I remember him joking about Dick Cheney going "Ahhh, Ahhh, Ahhh" with a hand on his heart. But he was concerned. Understandably so. He's from New Jersey.

Nobody worked anymore that day, except my boss, but he's workholic. Many people finally opted to leave the office, in tears and in disbelief.

That night I had an appointment with my dentist. To get there, I have to drive by YMX. I saw many planes that were diverted over there, planes you never see at YMX, such as a UA 744. And hundreds of people outside the terminal, trying to catch a cab, a bus, trying to find a hotel where to sleep.

I drove by the terminal. I saw a couple with a young baby, seated on their luggages. Having two babies myself at the time, I was touched and I decided to stop.

I said "Vous parlez français ? Do you speak English?" "English" they said.

- Maybe I could help.
The man said :
- We'd like to find a room somewhere to sleep. But we don't know where to go. Nobody's helping us.
- Listen, I'm from the area. I can help you. Why don't you get in my car and I'll drive you to hotels or motels I know until we find a room.

The lady started to cry and her husband said "Yes, please. That would be so kind".

As we were driving, they told me they knew what happened. They were Americans, on a SR flight to ORD. His name was Jonathan, her name was Katie, the baby boy was Samuel. But that's pretty much everything they told me. They didn't talk much; the lady was sobbing most of the time, probably out of exhaustion.

I knew I had to drive them a bit farther from the airport to find them a room. We were lucky as there were rooms available at the first motel we stopped to. They took their stuff, told me they'd be fine and thanked me very much. Never heard from them again. Made me feel good; at least I had done something.

Finally. I was supposed to be in Alexandria, Va, September 11 2001, 15km away from the Pentagon. But we pressed our client to have this meeting a week before instead. September 5th, 2001, at around 3:30PM, I was seated on seat 1A on an AC CRJ taking-off from DCA on my way back to YUL. As we took off, I had a perfect view over the Pentagon and I remember being very excited about that. Now I can say I saw the Pentagon, from the air, before...
Never let the facts get in the way of a good theory.
Boeing Nut
Posts: 5078
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2001 2:42 am

RE: Where Were You Two Years Ago?

Thu Sep 11, 2003 11:35 am

There aren't the words that come to mind when I think of this day, so I'm going to share a letter with you that I sent to my friends later that week. I worked at STL Operations at that time, at it was an ncredible day.

This is an event that words can never and never will be able to explain the magnitude of what happened. I just wanted to share my thoughts on what happened that incredible day. For your info, Laurie is my wife. (later in the letter)

God bless America, God bless every peace loving person on the home we call Earth

Hello everyone,

I have had some friends of mine ask me recently what things were like at St. Louis airport on September 11, 2001. So, I decided to just write down what the day was like and share it with you.

I, like many people that day, was just watching TV and drinking my coffee. I was about to turn off the TV when "breaking news" was about to be announced. The initial report was that an aircraft had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. I, like everyone else, was stunned at the sight. But I was also confused. I saw the smoke billowing from the tower, but I also noticed that the weather was beautiful that day. I asked myself, "how the hell could that happen?". So I continued to watch still wondering. Then, I saw the second aircraft. To me, it looked like it was just flying by to look or something. I know that there are a couple other airports close by, so I really didn't think anything of it. But then that firebell appeared that it burned into everyone's memory forever. In case there are kids reading this, I won't repeat exactly what I said. But I did say out loud, "that was a *#%@&*! airliner!" I was stunned. I remember one of the news reporters saying basically that I think we can rule out that this was an accident. I continued to watch. I just couldn't seem to move. Sometime later, the reports were coming out that all the New York area airports were shutting down. I decided to call in at work to see what the situation was. At the time I was talking to one of my coworkers, another had just recieved a call from the air traffic control tower that the entire national airspace system had just been shut down. I didn't even ask if I should come in. I told him I was on the way. Even though there was no true emergency at they airport, I drove like there was. The radio was flooded with news reports by now. There was no normal programing that I could find.

I had arrived at the airport, and was running to the operations tower. I could see nearly everyone, including airport workers, glued to the TV's around the airport. Not believing what they were witnessing. I arrived at my workplace, greeted by phones ringing, work radios blarring, and just controlled chaos. It was then that I looked around the corner to our back office where we have a TV. The first tower had just collapsed. I remember saying, "oh my god, it collapsed! It just freaking collapsed!". That was the last footage I saw for quite sometime. Right then we got the order to set up our emergency communications bus in front of one of the fire stations at the airport. It's basically a small bus with about ten cell phones, a fax machine, and other communications equipment. Our duties were to provide escorts for any airline that needed to tranport crews that had been grounded. The airlines had trouble of their own and couldn't handle the workload. Aircraft were flooding in. Airlines we never see. Airplanes we never see. At one point I was actually excited that a 747 was coming in. Then I remembered why it was coming in, and almost felt ashamed. The emergency bus was also located next to the Missouri Air National Guard. They were parking large trucks and placing concrete barriers to block the entrance to thier ramp. The soldiers that weren't working were holding M-16's. I knew then that things would be different for a long time. This was shortly after the Pentagon was hit.

After a while, we stopped receiving airplanes, and we were told to secure the emergency bus. I don't even remember what time it was. Our duties then focused inside the terminals. Everything except the ticket lobby was being shut down. Walking through the airport and not seeing a soul during broad daylight was scary. Nerve racking. We were locking down concourses, telling airline workers to get out. I remember glancing at the flight information screens and seeing every single flight was cancelled. That was yet another sight that was too sureal. I got back up to our office area and things by now were starting to slow down, but the reality of what happened was beginning to sink in.

It was actually rather slow the rest of the night. My coworkers and I were watching the reports. I got home about midnight that day. I had talked to Laurie a couple times from work, but I woke her up and gave her a hug. I had been watching the news for a few hours at work, but I couldn't keep from turning on the TV yet again. I think I slept three hours that night. Just lying awake wondering what was going to happen in the world. I knew one thing already, nothing would ever be the same again.

That's my story of September 11, 2001.

I'm not a real aeronautical engineer, I just play one on Airliners.net.

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