There are a few events that people live through and remember where they were and what they were doing years after an event. September 11th is one of those events.
On September 11, 2001, four coordinated terrorist attacks against the United States forever changed the course of history. Where were you? What do you remember thinking as you realized what was happening? Who did you call first?
So we don’t forget this day, each year I share a post that was written in 2018 where I asked friends and colleagues to share their memories of how the events of that day impacted them and changed their lives. This post is a compilation of their responses. As you will see as you read them, all were going about their lives – yet once they heard the news, they stopped what they were doing and sat glued to a TV for hours to follow the events. If this is your first time reading this post, please share your thoughts and let me know where you were on that day.
As you read the following posts this year, I ask that you say a prayer for those who were lost as well as their families. If you would like to share your memory, feel free to put them in the comment section and I will add you to the list of memories as it grows each year.
Posts of Remembrance:
This one is from me. I remember like it was yesterday. I was on my way to Portland, Oregon for work. I was on an early American Airlines flight (7 am). I remember having a strange feeling as I waited to board the plane, but I could not put my finger on it. I was looking at all the people waiting at the gate and was surprised to see so many people flying so early across the country. We took off on time and stopped in Dallas Texas as scheduled. Our flight was supposed to go on to Portland after a brief layover, but before we deplaned, the pilot came on the intercom and told us to all to take all of our belongings as we were going to change planes. This was not unusual, just unexpected as we were all settled and now would have to go to another gate to continue our trip.
As we left the plane, I called my office and found our receptionist crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me about a plane hit the World Trade Center. As I listened, I searched for a TV and saw the second plane hit the Towers. I stood in shock with so many others.
I immediately called my husband as I wanted/needed to hear his voice and to let him know I was ok. He told me to try and get a hotel as there would be no flights for the next few days. So, my next call was to our travel agent. She was able to get me a hotel room close to the airport, so I made my way there. At the hotel, I met many fellow travelers. As it was a beautiful day, we sat by the pool and talked about the events. Once back in my room, I watched CNN to learn what was going on and why the attacks happened.
A few days later my husband was able to get me a Greyhound bus ticket to take me home. Planes were still not flying, and I wanted to get home. Traveling across the country on a Greyhound bus was an experience. I was with several women who were also trapped by this disaster. We stayed together and supported each other. Once home, I recall feeling very grateful but still in shock. On every flight since 9/11, I say a prayer that we will be safe. I will never forget that day.
Dyan Ruhana: I was at a workshop in Ft. Lauderdale. The instructor’s demeanor suddenly changed, but I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until much later as I used the restroom did I see a television. The instructor kept teaching the class. She stopped to take a call and told us all that her bother was on the top floor of one of the towers and no one can reach him. We later learned that he died. It was a surreal time for all of us.
Ellen Fink-Samnick: I spent the day case managing patients, family members, and working with valued team members, as I did every day. However, that day was dramatically different for I worked at Virginia Hospital Center, the hospital closest to the Pentagon. I used to cherish the view from the window immediately outside my office for it looked out on the Pentagon and toward D.C. My colleague Linda May Grobman published my reflection on the day in the New Social Worker magazine. Here is the URL for those who would like to read it. http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/such-bright-blue-skies-reflections-on-911
Julie Fling Irons: I was on vacation in Northern Ireland. We had toured the Bushmills Distillery that morning and were leaving the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge when we were told about the attacks. My reaction was that they were describing a Tom Clancy storyline. This was 2 hours after the world knew. We did not see images for another 3 hours. Ireland went into mourning as they found out an Irish mother and her children were on one of the planes. We spent Friday, mourning the events. The whole city of Dublin was shut down for the day. We made our way to the American Embassy and found a line with over a 3 hour wait to sign the condolence books. I always wish we had waited, but we had our 5-year-old daughter with us, and she had just received five stitches in her elbow, so we moved on. As I was away, I don’t have a single newspaper about the tragedy, but we brought home every European paper we could find. We will always remember where we were on that day. On the good news side, my 2nd granddaughter was born one year later to the day. Happy Birthday, Renee!
Erna van Rooyen: Hi Anne, while this is engraved in the hearts and memories of millions. These millions reach much further than the USA borders. I was case managing at Linksfield Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa and just walked into my office when a colleague screamed NO ….. we stormed out of our offices to the foyer where the closest TV was, and that is where we pretty much spend the rest of the afternoon. My brother, his wife, and kids were to fly to Atlanta that evening immigrating to the USA. The trip was postponed. So yes, the events of 9/11 touched everyone around the earth.
LeeAnn Giles Moore: I was at my desk starting my day when the news began to filter in. Wild rumors were flying along with all the unbelievable news reports. Trying to get Internet updates was futile as sites were crashing. A large group of us just stood together in front of a small TV and prayed. As soon as our employer dismissed us, I headed straight to pick my son up at daycare and tried to explain what was happening to my 4-year-old. Eighteen years later, he still wants to join the military.
Johann Achim BeiBel: I was on board Lufthansa flight LH 456 seat 16c en route to Los Angeles International. After 10 hours in the air, we had to turn back, and we had to stop for fuel in Island Keflavik KEF and finally back in Germany. My longest flight ever. Editor’s Note: Thanks for sharing, Johann. Did they tell you why you were turning back? Johann Achim BeiBel: No, the pilot made a smooth U-Turn nobody realized that we are on our way back. The In Flight moving map was shut down before due to technical problems so no one really knew what was happening…..when the Captain told us that we are flying back, he said something about an accident with a plane in NYC. But when we arrived at KEF for our pit stop, we realized because of the many big planes standing in line for fuel that something terrible must have happened….
Cara Newman Fandel: I was getting ready for work. My boyfriend called to tell me what was happening, and I thought it was some joke. It took some time for the news to settle in me before I realized how horrible it was. I think I was in denial.
Pat Trefny Ford: Craig and I were at a conference in Reno, Nevada. We had driven down there from our home in Edmonds, WA. It was our 30th wedding anniversary, and Craig had made reservations for us to spend the night and celebrate in Lake Tahoe. Our celebration was very low key that night. My sisters all live in CT, and one of my brothers-in-law worked in NYC at the time. I was able to reach my sister and found out that he was safe. It took him over two days to get home. I will never forget that day and the solidarity this country achieved for a short time. We were all proud of our country.
Windy Williams: I was at work, and it made me realize that we should never take anything for granted…Also, Sept 11, 2005, was the best day of my life…I became a grandmother…No more sadness on this day, and we feel blessed that God has given us Marley. She is such a unique child and has visions of making this world a better place…Happy Birthday, Marley!
Sue Binder: I was at Hackensack University Hospital, and, we had a distant view of the World Trade Towers in NY. After the planes hit, we saw the smoke coming from them. We went into emergency mode, thinking that some nurses could go over to help. Unfortunately, that request never came. It was a day I will always remember and send prayers for all involved!
Charlotte Moon: I was teaching at Driftwood Elementary. I received a call from home to turn on the TV. I had it on until we were told to turn off by the principal of the school.
Donna Wallace: I was a Family Counselor for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at Seminole Middle School. The television showed the attacks happening. We were instructed to turn off the sets. Everyone was in shock.
Cheryl Smith Rizk: The night before I had gone to a Tony Bennett/KD Lang concert and so I was running a little late to go into my office. I was listening to The Today Show and heard that a small plane had hit one of the towers–I poked my head around the corner to see what was up and saw the second plane hit. My first thought was–we are under attack. I called my husband, who was working as a contractor for Sprint at the time and told him what had happened. By the time the plane had hit the Pentagon, he was pulling into our driveway–anyone who was not a Full-Time employee at Sprint was escorted off the Sprint campus–they were afraid of terrorism. I spent the rest of the day in front of the TV, and I never went to my office. I was just amazed that life was going on–that the phones at my home care company were ringing, that customers were coming into my DME store, people were going to the grocery stores, etc. I knew our country was changed forever. I remember watching the TV and will never forget the look on President Bush’s face when he was told the news. I can only imagine what was going through his mind; will there be another attack, where are Laura and my children?
Silvia Lozano from the South of France, La Provence!! On 9/11, I was in Del Rio, Texas, with my parents because my aunt had passed away. We did not know what had happened because we were driving and left our home in Little Rock early in the morning. It was not until we stopped for late lunch and walked into a Dairy Queen that we knew something was wrong. Everyone was watching the TV, and some were crying. Our first thought was disbelief then sadness. We did not eat but got back into the car and listened to the radio to our destination.
Wendy Hunt-Flanagan: I was in my den on the phone with my friend Deborah Ann when the first plane hit my heart sunk at that time.
Bonnie Zickraf: I was at work at a case management organization at the time and running from meeting to meeting. Every time I came out of a meeting, someone would say OMG, a plane hit the Towers. I came out of another meeting, and someone else told me another plane hit the towers. Came out of another meeting and someone else said to me that a plane hit the Pentagon. I immediately stopped and said, “not our Pentagon!?” Several of us went out to lunch at a nearby restaurant that had TV sets, and I could not believe what I was seeing. Well, we all know the rest of the story…
Margaret Chu: I was in Manhattan working on 34th Street, where I worked for a large managed care company. We were involved in an NCQA survey, sequestered in an interview room with the surveyors when the first tower went down. I stayed the night in a nearby hotel as all the bridges were closed. That evening was eerie as midtown Manhattan looked like a ghost town and felt like Twilight Zone with soldiers armed with rifles on army jeeps…. we could see the smoke from downtown Manhattan and people were in a daze walking around the area in the earlier afternoon. As I was the survey coordinator, I also had to make sure the five surveyors from different parts of the country were OK … How did it affect me? I think the events of 9/11 affected me profoundly on a personal level. It made me realize how precious life was and what was truly important! Our best man in our wedding, Joey was in Tower 2 but made it out! Many others did not. Our prayers to all those who were not so fortunate on that day.
Vivian Weaver: I was in Aruba in a meeting at the Bank. There were no televisions in the meeting room, but the managing director had the TV on in his office next to the meeting room. I remember him coming into the meeting room and tell us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We assumed it was a small plane and an accident and continued the meeting. A little while later, he informed us that a second plane hit. At that moment the meeting stopped, everyone was in shock and very upset. All the TVs in the Bank were tuned into the news. I went to my office and tried to access CNN and other online websites; they were all jammed. I gained access to Le Monde from France and watched there. I remember all parties and events in Aruba were canceled for about ten days. The first time there was a social event, it was a meeting of the Alliance Francaise (French Club), and there was a moment for reflection.
Renee LaFollette: I was in Houston, Texas, at work as I went in early to complete some reports for a meeting that morning. I received a phone call from my boss telling me to have everyone go home. Later at home, I watched the newscasts with everyone else wondering how on earth something like this could have happened. As they called for volunteers to provide the medical care, I was told I was not to even THINK of volunteering. There I was an Army trained Combat Support Hospital ER triage nurse, and a HEALTHCARE company said to me if I volunteered, I would be fired. I quickly found another job. I was devastated not to be able to respond, and my heart broke for all those people that lost their lives and the families they left behind. I will never forget that day.
Emily McCrater: I had just left my son at the bus stop and was getting ready for work. My mom called me and said to put on the news about the plane crash. As we were watching the Today Show, we saw the second plane. We were shocked. We went to work, and I remember how there was hardly any traffic on US1, and we had the TV on all day. Everyone, even the homeless newspaper vendors, were in the shop with us glued to the TV. We couldn’t wait to get our kids out of school, and that evening everyone hugged their loved ones tighter and a little longer, and the community came together. It is a day I will never forget.
Cathy McMeekin Denson: I was driving to a rehabilitation facility to meet with a patient and heard the shocking news on the radio. Upon entering the facility, several nurses and case managers were in the patient’s rooms. As we watched the TV, we were unable to believe what we were seeing and hearing. I will never forget it, the emotions of shock, fear, denial, and the sudden personal bond-forming in the room, at that moment, among all of us. All hospital sounds that are so common to any facility stopped and seemed to stand still. There are so many tears and unanswered questions. For weeks, I watch the news sleeping on the sofa, calling my Mom and daughters desperately wishing we lived in the same home, where we could hug and protect each other. This day in history shall never be forgotten.
Kathleen Fraser, I was having an early morning CMSA meeting at a Cracker Barrell in Katy, TX when the 1st plane hit the Tower. Horrible, horrible day!!!!
Elinor Adler: I was on my way to work and was listening to a tape on how to recruit volunteers. On I-95, I noticed people in their cars had strange looks on their faces but didn’t know why. When I got to my downtown Miami office, nobody was in sight because they were all in a guest office looking at the T.V. In disbelief, there was screaming and crying when the plane hit the towers. Only then did I find out what happened. We had to evacuate because I worked in a government office. Like everyone else, I was in shock. It was the longest and scariest ride home since the McDuffie riots in Miami. I found peace a few years later while visiting the site and then again visiting the new Memorial in New York.
Lora McCann, I was working in an ophthalmology practice as a business office supervisor. The patients were glued to the televisions, and the administration wanted me to turn them off. Crazy times! Glad my time in that practice was short-lived!
Susan Woodward Sullivan: shared, “it is still hard to believe it happened”…. Such a tragedy! I was crying in front of my TV all day!
Stefany Almaden, I was trying to get to my office early that morning at 5:45 AM PST. As a news buff myself, I always have the news on, and it is the last thing I shut off before leaving. As I was doing that and preoccupied with the mounting work I had to leave early to clear, I thought it was a scene from a movie or something. Once I got in the car and drove off; news on again KNX (CBS radio), it hit me like a rock; my stomach gripped, and I needed to throw up (sorry for being too graphic). I cried to the office “shell-shocked” as it was reliving a terrible memory for me. It brought back to me what I ran away from coming to the land I loved as a child and growing up. The terrorist were robbing people of their lives, peace and the joy of living in freedom…I’ll never forget that day. It changed my life and my perspective on life as well as the value of communication with your loved ones. We should always remember.
Donald Pazour: I was with a Washington DC-based colleagues visiting our branch office in White Plains, New York. So tragic, so frightening. Still hard to comprehend. I pause with thoughts and prayers for those suffering the losses most closely.
Janet Minard Coulter: I was at work, and we gathered around the training TV so we could watch the news. It was so sad. It was also my friend’s birthday, and we had planned to take her out for lunch. I was all for canceling lunch, but she said. Well, we have to eat anyway, so we went to lunch, and it was very odd. The restaurant was empty. That evening we were scheduled to sample wedding cake in preparation for our oldest daughter’s wedding. I told my daughter we needed to reschedule as we were having a national crisis. She was not very happy until she called the bakery and realized they were closed. The day ended when I ran over my kitten in the driveway. The accident broke her hip. She almost did not make it, but she is still alive and well. A day we will never forget.
Maureen Orr: I was working with a local psychiatrist in Coral Springs with litigated cases, as a Legal Nurse Consultant. We had no TV so I listened on NPR. When the final plane went down only 20 minutes from where my father was living in rural Pennsylvania, I had a feeling like it was the end of the world. Within days, my husband was volunteering with the Red Cross in New York. Horrible day. Our country lost its soul on that day in many aspects.
Jenn: I was working in a family practice physician’s office and had just come out from assisting with a pap test when one of my co-workers told me about the first plane hitting the tower. We all went to the waiting room and were watching the TV news when the 2nd plane hit. I remember feeling shocked and wanting to hug my brother, who lived in New Jersey at the time. Visiting the site and the memorial, years later, was healing and comforting. We put our hands in the flowing water of the memorial and felt our skin cells becoming part of those who mourn. Prayers for the millions of those who were affected by this horrific tragedy.
Carmen Stine: I was there! I’m a New Yorker, I was an ER nurse then at St Vincent’s Hospital where the broken victims were brought in, minute by minute by EMS. I cannot describe even 19 years later the devastation we saw that day & for days/weeks later with families looking for their loved ones & being turned away because we didn’t have them. We all worked 16 hour days for weeks as families came & went day after day. It’s vivid in my heart forever. I lost 27 neighbors that day, folks with young families, pregnant wives. The world changed for us all that day, but for us first responders, it’s beyond words, beyond common words. It’s 19 years but in my heart, it was just this morning because life has never been the same, & never will be again.
Connie Sunderhaus: On my way to a morning CMSA Chicago Chapter mtg and heard that a small plane had hit one of the towers. The mtg was being held at a Marriott and as people came to the mtg the news became worse. We were all able to go to the lobby and watch the tv. Once back home was able to reach my son (at the time in CA) who told me that my daughter in the UK was panicking as she couldn’t reach me. She knew I often traveled and used United airlines and the early news said the plane had come from Chicago. It took a while before we could connect by phone, due to jammed phone lines. I drove the office later that morning and it was eerily quiet on the roads and seeing no flights from O’Hare.
Teresa Gonzalvo: I clearly remember that day. I was in Reno, Nevada attending the National Association for Healthcare Quality conference. That being the last day, I was getting all my stuff together, last-minute packing before heading out to the final session when I saw the news. I was shocked and thought that perhaps I inadvertently switched channels, and this was a movie like Independence Day/ but was not. No words could describe the disbelief and fear that overcame me. How could this happen? The people, their families??? I was far away from home and my family. The NAHQ leaders did an awesome job of communicating with us regarding canceled travel plans, hotel stays, etc. We prayed and hoped that our flights would be rescheduled, but that did not happen. Our Ohio team decided to act after a couple of days, rented a car, and drove from Reno to Ohio. Never forget the prayers, mixed emotions, fear of the unknown, feelings of concern for our families, and the kindness of people! The trip home made us a more cohesive team! Lest we forget the lives lost! When we visited the 9/11 memorial in New York, it rekindled all the emotions and feelings of that day, praying for the lives lost and their families.
Celia Bertuzzi: My husband was on the 25th floor of Tower 1 while I was admitting a 24 weeker in the NICU. I will NEVER forget.
Thank You to all who contributed to this memorial post. If you want to comment or share your memory, I would be grateful.
Stay safe and alert,
It still is very painful. It cost us 2 unnecessary wars, many thousands of dead US military and Overseas military and thousands more civilians. Such a waste.
I was working as Director of CasE Management in an LTAC. People came by the office with reports. I believe I was in denial and used my work as a reason I couldn’t go watch the news. It was the afternoon before I did. When I got here me I finally broke down in tears and watched news nonstop.
I tear up every year as we hit this very sad anniversary. I pray for all the lives lost that day and in the years since during the war on terror.
Ellen Fink-Samnick’s post resonated with me as I recall discharge planning for discharge ready patients to clear the decks for the injured WHO NEVER CAME. It wasn’t until much later in the day that most hospitals realized that the presumed injured were now the dead.
It was devastating. I spent the the evening in church with many others from my community both friends and strangers–we became family that night. Pelham Manor had so many losses, husbands, wives, father and mothers who worked at Kantor-Fitzgerald. A work colleague lost her son–the youngest firefighter in New York City. Another colleague’s husband watch the planes stick from his office window. After all this time he still has nightmares.
These are humanities losses, still heart breaking after all this time.
My family & I flew home on an overnight flight returning from a 10-day trip to Alaska. I got home at 4 am. My son was just 7 months old. Our phones started ringing like crazy at 9 am with concerned friends & family. (I had lived in NJ for 10 years). We turned on the TV and saw the second plane hit the South Tower. We saw the President departing from Sarasota and went into our back yard in St. Petersburg to look for his plane. We watched in fascination as all of the planes crossed our view heading to land at Tampa Airport. One after another and another went by so fast until the skies got quiet. It was eerie. All I could think of was that “that could have been me.” I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that our country would never be the same again. Sad day for one and all.