It has been 9 short years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our great nation. My heart still churns on a near-daily basis with the thoughts of that terrible day in our history. Seems to me I’ve never shared my “where were you” story from the morning on 9/11 so I will proceed to do so below.
At the time, I was in Columbus, Ohio going to college and I remember when I woke up that Tuesday morning. My alarm clock was set to go off with a local radio station sometime around 10am or so. Well the radio came on and I distinctly remember Howard Stern say something like, “wow, entire World Trade Center tower gone….,” and then I hit the snooze button. Took me a minute in my just-waking-up state for it to register in my brain what was just said on the radio. This apparantly was just minutes, maybe seconds after the South Tower collapsed at 9:59am.
I immediately turned it back on and began listening for a few more minutes. I remember Robin Quivers and Howard Stern saying things like, “whatever the response is from President Bush, we are behind him 100%.” My how times have changed.
From the few minutes of listening to the radio I finally stumbled awake and got out to the living room. I was living with 3 other room mates in a an apartment a few miles from the school. We had a crappy old TV which took 10 minutes to warm up before you could see a clear picture. We were glued to the TV, listening to the audio at first until we could see clear images of the remaining World Trade Center tower burning with smoke billowing into the air. I remember being just stunned that the South Tower was entirely gone, it had happened already before my alarm went off that day.
CNN was replaying footage of cameramen on the ground and from the air of the tower collapse interlaced with the current tower still burning. Of course, the speculation had moved to terrorism and wondering whether there were more planes and whether the North Tower was going to collapse. So we watched until we saw the North Tower collapsed live on television. It was a terrifying thing to witness happening live since you wonder how many thousands of civilians, firefighters and police perished during the collapse.
After it set in, I remember feeling concern for my family and my own safety. You wondered just crazy things could get. Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania and another plane had hit the Pentagon. Was there more coming? Were other cities being targeted? The thoughts were rolling through my head as I recall.
I ended up going into the school because I was scheduled for 1pm class. When I got there I found out it was canceled since our professor was a National Guard reservist and had been activated that day. I remember waiting around the student lounge watching CNN on the massive big screen with scores of other students. Watching in near silence just listening to the audio. Watching the rubble begin to be sifted through, still wondering if another attack was going to happen.
Finally I decided to head back to the apartment after maybe an hour at school. The radio which was usually filled with music and commercials was a national news feed covering what was happening. It was surreal. Finally back home I was able to speak with my Dad in the evening time and one of my sisters. In Columbus, the downtown buildings were evacuated by noon of that day for fear they could be targeted. That made it feel a little closer than New York and Washington.
I also remember explaining to the room mates in my apartment about the awe and grandeur of standing on top of the World Trade Center and viewing the entire city. I was the only one of the three who had stood on top of towers and they could not totally comprehend the scope and scale of what had occurred.
I don’t know what time I might have got to sleep that night, if I even did sleep.
I’d encourage you to share your 9/11/01 experience below.