September 9, 2011
This is the picture I associate with 9/11. I took it on the evening of 9/9 on the Pacific Princess going out of New York Harbor to Bermuda. I remember watching CNN in my cabin when the planes hit as the boat went into Bermuda. Everyone on the boat gathered to watch CNN together. People were frantically trying to contact family in New York. It was very surreal to be in a location so tropical and beautiful while seeing such destruction.
I grew up in NYC and what I can remember from 9.11.01 was that it was early in the morning and I was in my biology class on the upper east side of Manhattan. My teacher was giving us a lecture, and all of a sudden, the vice principal walked into the classroom and told us to turn on the radio. He said that the twin towers had collapsed. At that time, I was like, what are you talking about? I was just there last week with my aunt and uncle, who were visiting NYC. Then we turned on the radio and TV, and rest is history. That day we were not allowed to leave school until very late in the afternoon because they worried that the subway system might not be safe.
George S. Liu
On that day I was on a boat in Curacao for an early morning scuba diving charter. I remember it vividly. We were diving a reef called mushroom forest. The reef looked like a Martian landscape with its giant mushroom shaped coral formations. We floated in between the massive shapes and dove underneath their overhanging plumes. When we returned to the boat after our first dive the captain said we had to go back to the shore but we were not told why. At the shore we were led to a house where we could see the destruction that had taken place so quickly that morning on the TV. It was the most helpless feeling I have ever had come over me, I was in another country with my father and brother and all I could think about was my mother and sisters at home. We should have been at home with the family.
When we returned to the boat we went back out to sea. We were contemplating returning to the resort we were staying at, but then a pod of dolphins swam right up to the boat. I had seen pods like that on the surface before, but never under water. We quickly put on our equipment and dove into the water. The dolphins swam around us and I could hear distinctly their singing. It was an amazing experience and for a few moments we were overcome with the beauty of nature and forgot about what had happened. I like to think it was as if the animals knew what had occurred and were helping us to cope with the emotions. That was the first and only time I’ve ever seen dolphins on a dive.
It is weird how that day was in one experience the single most horribly violent and destructive thing I have ever witnessed, and in another the most beautiful.
I want to contribute to this BLOG post since I was living in the Union Square area of NYC at the time of 9|11 and held a couple of jobs at the World Trade Center, including a post as security guard in One World Trade Center. But I just can’t bring myself to put it into words the magnitude of it all…it’s way too heavy. I will never forget.
I moved into a new apartment on September 10 and was ready to begin my sophomore year at DAAP. The morning of September 11 I was up early, excited to watch the Martha Stewart show. When I turned on the TV both towers were still standing and I remember watching with my roommates as the morning unfolded. My awareness of the world was so narrow, and in the weeks that followed I realized how much of life and the world I had not experienced. Traveling became my passion. I wanted to know cultures, food and people different from what I had lived.
It is very hard to recount the memories of 9/11. I think I could write pages…but I won’t. At the time I was living in Boston, where the planes departed from. I was working in a small office downtown and I remember the phone ringing, my boss answering and immediately standing up and saying, “Oh my God”, Someone get a TV!” Her mother had called to make sure she wasn’t on the plane heading to D.C. We spent hours trying to reach family, but there wasn’t any cell service, the land phone lines were down and we were cut off. I remember looking out the window and staring at all the cars trying to leave the city at the same time, causing a massive traffic jam that lasted for hours. Horns blaring, people screaming – utter chaos. I made the decision to wait it out at the office. I left at 2 in the afternoon – a bright and sunny day. The city empty and sterile in the middle of the day. I left for home to my parents, husband, and 1 year old daughter, not passing a single car on the 45 minute drive home. When I got there, they were together watching the replay of the horrible events of the morning.
I can’t convey the terror, the sadness, the utter confusion. I knew so many people who lost a loved one, or knew someone who had. My best friend had a cousin on one of the planes. She didn’t find out until two weeks later. A project we had done across the street from the towers was destroyed and 6 months later, we had to do an insurance report. We spent hours poring over the destroyed day care center, calculating the damage – there was nothing to save. The wall phones melted in place from the sheer heat of the buildings across the street. We re-lived the horror over and over.
I realized, with this being the 10th anniversary, that my daughter – now 11 – doesn’t know a world before 9/11. It doesn’t have the meaning that most of us carry with us. We now live in a highly suspicious world, but this is normal for her. She knows more about the Middle East than I ever did at her age. War is something that is always occurring. She has always had to remove her shoes at the airport and arrive 2 hours early to get through security. Can I ever get her to understand what we lost? What can we teach our children that will help them as adults steer back to the safety and comfort that was the America we knew? I am not sure it’s possible. I think the most precious thing we all lost was hope for a better future.
I don’t really have comments. I’ve never really moved beyond anger. I was in NY at the time and I have uploaded some photos to my Flickr account. You could link to it.
I spent the weekend of September 8 and 9 in NYC, visiting my sister. At one point on Saturday, my 5-year-old nephew looked up as we were crossing Broadway and said “look, we can still see the World Trade Center from here.” It was the last time I saw the towers.
On Tuesday, September 11, I was with the Macy’s survey team at the Bridgewater store in Newark, New Jersey, 50 miles outside of NY. News of the first plane hitting the tower made us question it being accidental, because the sky that day was unbelievably gorgeous and clear. News of the second plane had us upstairs in the employee lounge, transfixed by what was unfolding on the television screen. In disbelief we watched as the towers fell.
The Macy’s store and the mall closed down, there were rumors about bomb threats. Our team returned to the hotel. Several times that day the F-15’s flew overhead, which made us feel safer. The news stations covered the events that afternoon straight up, in all of its horror. By Wednesday they were editing the film footage.
Airline flights were all cancelled indefinitely, so we kept our rental car and drove it 11 hours home to Cincinnati. Looking back, I can still remember the shock of the events, and the sense that our world would be changed forever.
My father said to me “this is your generation’s Pearl Harbor.”
Here was my submission in 2003 for the World Trade Center memorial. You may have guessed I didn’t win………..
I was living in New York on 9.11. When all the bridges and tunnels closed it was the first time I realized we were really living on an island. I will always remember how wonderful New Yorkers were that day. We all had to walk home but there was no panic, just support and helpfulness. As we heard bomber jets overhead a man said to me “don’t worry they are ours”. We were all in it together.
In 2001 I was in the 7th grade. I can remember sitting in my reading class when suddenly the principal walks into the room and starts talking to the teacher in a hushed whisper. After a few seconds my teacher reaches and turns on the ancient television to the news. This struck me as weird because those T.Vs were never turned on. In my entire career in that building I can only remember the televisions being used 2 or 3 times. My classmates and I started talking amongst ourselves, wondering what was happening. That’s when I realized this extremely tall building was on fire. At the point in my life I had never even heard of the World Trade Center. By this point in time, the bell had rung and we were switching classes. As I walked into my social studies classroom, I looked up and watched as the second airplane crashed into the second tower. I was momentarily stunned. I can remember stumbling to my seat and staring dumbfounded at the screen as I watched the mayhem unfold. While we watched the towers collapse and our country fall to pieces, I remember being confused and slightly afraid about the entire situation. Here I was sitting at school in the middle of an Ohio cornfield wondering if something like this was going to happen to me next. Obviously, the probability of that happening was slim to none, but my 13 year old brain didn’t know that. The teachers never discussed what was happening. Perhaps they weren’t allowed or they were just too caught up in their own emotions. Eventually, my school district canceled all afterschool activities and released us to go home early. When I got home my parents, younger sister, and I discussed what had happened and what we thought it meant for our country’s future. Some of what we said actually happened, but I don’t think any of us could have imagined all the trials and tribulations the United States has been through in the past ten years.
My story is not dramatic or particularly sad, but it’s what I experienced on that day. I was fortunate enough to not lose anyone close to me in the attacks. I am also lucky all of my family members in the military have come home safe from overseas tours. My heart aches for the lives lost that day and all the soldiers since then who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting their country. It is my wish on this day of remembrance that we continue to pray for all of the people directly affected by this tragedy. I also hope that our country will remain strong and true as we face an unknown future.
I was working at the Cincinnati Airport at the time. When everything started to happen, we were notified they would be landing a large amount of planes so we had an all call to open all the bars and restaurants. The airport turned off all the TV’s in the concourses. So the only way to get information was in one of our bars or restaurants, which were soon packed with people in utter disbelief and shock. Many of us wound up working all day and night to accommodate all the passengers on the ground. People from all over the world were ‘stuck’ in Cincinnati airport for several days. I’ll never forget the look on people’s faces when they realized what was going on that morning. Some of them were complaining about not being able to go where they were supposed to be going and you could see their faces completely change as they started watching the news and realized the tragedy that was unfolding. I worked about 30 hours, went home to take a nap and shower, then went back in for another couple of days. For many of us, helping at the airport was the only way to alleviate the feeling of complete helplessness.
There were rumors all day that other planes and airports were being targeted and that Wright Pat would be high on the list of targets, etc. So being at the airport, we were all on high alert. Also, amazingly to look back, this was before everyone had cell phones. I didn’t have one. My wife and I had very little communication throughout the day and she was pretty freaked out that I was at the airport because it seemed like a pretty dangerous place to be at the time.
It’s amazing to me to look back at how naïve we all were before it happened. We learned a couple weeks later that some guys on the terrorist list had applied for positions with our company and several others within the airport in the year leading up to 9/11. We found their applications and thank God we hadn’t hired them.
I think the bottom line is I will never take for granted ‘just another day at work’. Things can change so drastically and quickly in today’s world. And you feel so fortunate when you think of the people that went to work that morning, on ‘just another day’, and never came home. You have to live every moment to its fullest. This anniversary needs to be a reminder of that to us all.
P.S.I bought a cell phone a couple days later.
“BUILT TO FALL + BUILT TO SPILL”
As odd as it sounds I partied on the evening of September 11th, 2001. Being back in my hometown of Cleveland on a break from the unforgiving grind of Architecture school, I already had lined up tickets to go to the evening concert at the Agora on the East side of Cleveland, with my best friend from high school. I woke that morning to every news station covering what was first thought to be an explosion or fire at the world trade center, only then to watch the rest of the story unravel so quickly before my unbelieving eyes. It seemed dreamlike and so unreal, leaving my thoughts paralyzed with visual reruns of the footage all day. Before I knew it, it was nightfall and I called to verify my assumption that the concert was canceled or rescheduled, but I was mistaken. The headliner was Built to Spill and they played in the smaller side ballroom at the venue which made for a dark and intimate atmosphere. If my memory serves me, they started the night with a song of theirs called “Strange” which set the mood for the rest of the night and reflecting upon the indigestible occurrence each audience member couldn’t be distracted from. The music and feeling surrounded, penetrated and lived in each of us. The band’s set was serious and intensely played, and the crowd was one with the music in the most passionate way. I wondered how they could ever end this evening as the temperature and connectedness in the room accelerated with each song. It was ended with a cover, but like no cover has ever been covered before, more it was uncovered. The final encore was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”, which rang out and played continuously and uninterrupted, notes bending and held high in the air by a hot cloud of cheers, fists and lighter flames…yes for thirty whole minutes straight. The meaning of the song was redefined for everyone in the room and will conjuror up memories of that day whenever heard. Built’s humble choice of their ending track grounded us all at that time in the reality of the now, and somehow let us both release the emotional energy and anxiety that filled our day, close the gap and connect with the absolute sorrow experienced 460 miles away, and put to bed a dark day by way of resonating energy filled with hope and the free spirit we are each afforded in this country. It was an unforgettable roller coaster ride of an experience that is my memory of September 11th 2001.