Wednesday, September 11, 2013


September 11, 2001

I went to work as usual, taking the train from Fort Washington to downtown Philadelphia.  As I walked from the train station to my office, I was enjoying the beautiful September day.  The sky was clear blue, not a cloud in sight and the air was just crisp and cool enough to make breathing a joy.

It was a typical day in my office.  My co-workers and I had finished our morning coffee and were busy working on our individual projects.  I was sitting at a desk that faces a window, working on my computer.  My co-worker across the office had his radio on as usual, but low enough that I couldn't hear it.  He stood up and told us to turn on our individual radios (we didn't have a TV in the office).  He told us that one of the twin towers in New York City had been hit by a plane.  At that point they thought it was probably a small plane and an accident.  Of course, a few minutes later it was reported that the second tower had been hit.  It was beginning to dawn on us that this was an intentional attack.

When we heard the Pentagon had been hit as well, we all decided we should leave and head for home.  We had no idea what the extent of this attack was going to be.  As I walked down 16th street in Philly I noticed everyone had the same shocked look on their face that I must have had on mine.  It was the same on the train; everyone sat there silently with the same stunned look on their face.  The main thought in our minds was to get home.

I arrived at home and turned the TV on.  By then they were reporting that a plane had gone down in Pennsylvania.  It wasn't that far from where I was living and my husband was on a business trip in Chicago.  I started rushing around the house finding emergency supplies, just in case.  I got my cat carrier out so I could take my cat with me.  But where would I go?  I had no idea.  I guess I was in a bit of a panic.  I ended up staying there, watching TV in the same shocked disbelief as the rest of the country.

My husband called later and said he was driving home from Chicago.  He happened to have a rental car already, so he was one of the lucky ones.  Since all flights had been shut down, everyone was scrambling to rent cars and they quickly ran out.

For days we mourned.  We mourned for the people who died, for their families.  We mourned for the firefighters who ran up the stairs and died.  We mourned our country's loss of innocence; our sense of security had been shattered.


the veg artist said...

People all over the world remember that terrible day, with its senseless loss of innocent lives.

We were on holiday near Penzance, Cornwall, and called at a Fishermens' Mission that we had visited before. There is a canteen, designed for the fishermen, but open to visitors. We were sitting at a table, and the TV was on, pinned high up on the wall. At first I thought it was a film, but then I realised that the commentary was live. The reports were of the first hit/accident? The cameras were watching as the second plane hit. By then we'd got them to turn the sound up, and the fishermen and canteen staff were watching with us.

We stayed there for about an hour or so then made our way back to our rented flat. We could tell from the faces of other people which ones were aware of the attacks and which ones were not. In the car park people were asking each other, total strangers, "Have you heard?"

The small town was deserted that night, as was the beach the following morning - in one of the busiest resorts in Cornwall. Just before 11am we heard church bells, and I told my husband that we had to run down to the church. It was packed, with stunned people like ourselves, who could just not understand why some people would want to do such terrible things.
I'm not sure such terrible violence can ever be undertood.

judy in ky said...

You are right, it can never be understood. Thank you for telling me of your experience. It seems people there had the same reactions as people here. I got tears in my eyes when I read about the church bells ringing. Church was a good place to be that day.

littlemancat said...

I remember being at work too, the initial sense of an accident, then the dawning realization of what was happening. I called my son who was in college at that time just to hear his voice and be assured that he was alright. As you note, it was hard to think rationally. I was -still am- in PA, not too far from Philly and thoughts of our city being attacked were very real.
A terrible, terrible day for all good folks, everywhere.
Our flag hangs half mast today in memory...

judy in ky said...

I remember those thoughts of wondering if our city would be attacked. Anything and everything was possible in our minds. It was as if our world had been turned upside down. It's good that you spoke to your son and you both knew the other was okay. That's what you think of most, your loved ones.

Pam said...

Thank you for your writing here Judy - the emotions of the day are so evident and I feel for you.
We seemed so far away here, and yet could relate to the universal human emotions and fear experienced when one is at risk of losing loved ones and in the midst of crisis.
Our defences are aligned with the U.S. and as such, we wondered what this would mean - the teenagers I taught that day were particularly frightened and apprehensive.
Our hearts and minds were with you all on that day.

judy in ky said...

Thank you, Pam. We may be far away but we are connected by our cares and concerns. It's good to know we have friends and allies there. I feel the same when I hear about floods or other troubles in your land.