Blog: Where Were You That September Morning?

May 2, 2011

We had several requests Sunday night for a blog  that we published back on September 11. With the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, we felt it an appropriate time to rerun this blog post from September 11. Your thoughts and comments are welcome below.

September 11, 2001. It’s been nine years. We’ll all ask each other, “where were you”. So here’s my story.

Life, at least when that morning began, seemed good. I’ve always been a work at home dad, so I was home with my two girls. The youngest was almost four months old, and the oldest was approaching her fourth birthday. It was a normal morning. The little one was asleep, “fat and happy” as we used to say, after a morning bottle. The oldest was in the living room just a few feet from my office watching PBS Kids on the TV as I worked on a project for a client.

Then this arrived in my inbox:

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 08:52am

– World trade center damaged; unconfirmed reports say a plane has
crashed into tower. Details to come.

I got up, walked to the living room and flipped the TV to CNN. They were talking about how a pilot could make such an error, hitting such a large building. They were speculating that it was just a small plane. But then as the TV news helicopters zoomed their cameras in closer, the anchors were beginning to notice what I had already thought….those holes the tower were to big to have been a small plane.

I called my wife at work in Atmore. She had seen the breaking news email, and had tried to visit the CNN website to see the story. If you remember trying to use the internet that morning, it was near impossible to get a news website to load; they were all overloaded. She was unable to see the pictures. I was describing what I saw on the TV to her.

I managed to grab a picture from CNN via my web server and then download and email it to her. We were speculating about how it could happen when the second one hit.

I remember saying “wait, hold on, wait…”. I told her what I just watched on the TV. The second plane had hit the other tower. We quickly decided that we were at war as the anchors on TV speculated again that perhaps there was a problem with some navigational system, causing jetliners on a beautiful, clear morning in New York to fly into some of the tallest structures in the world.

Another breaking news email arrived:

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:21am

– Second plane crashes into World Trade Center.

She and I began to speculate ourselves that we were at war. What would we do? What should we do? What about the kids? It was not panic, understand, but just that protective momma and daddy instinct, I suppose. Prayer. That was a good idea. Maybe go to the bank and get out a little cash. That seemed like a good idea. How would you prep for a war on American soil? We were not sure.

I continued to relay information about what I was seeing on TV to my wife at work, who, in turn, would relay the information to her coworkers. They had a TV, but no cable service or antenna. They ended up fashioning a homemade antenna to see a fuzzy picture.

Meanwhile, the breaking news emails kept arriving…

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:32am

– Sources tell CNN one of two planes that crashed into World Trade
Center was an American Airlines 767.

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:42am

– President Bush calls plane crashes at World Trade Center a
terrorist act.

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:45am

– Significant fire at the Pentagon. Details to come.

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:46am

– White House evactuated. Details to come.

The Pentagon on fire? The White House evacuated? Notice that in CNN’s email they were in such a hurry that they misspelled “evacuated”. One sentence at a time, the situation became more grave.

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:55am

– CNN confirms a plane hit the Pentagon

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 10:03am

– One of World Trade Center towers collapses; fire forces
evacuation of State Department

Subject: CNN Breaking News
From: BreakingNews@CNN.COM
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 10:30am

– Second World Trade Center tower collapses in Manhattan

Over and over, we watched those towers collapse on TV, and we watched our Pentagon burn.

Our almost four year old asked a lot of questions. “Were people hurt? Did they need a Band-aid?” The magnitude of the event was lost on a four year old. Looking back at those first few hours, I think the magnitude of the event was lost on all of us.

Like many Americans, I sat glued to the TV that day, continuing to watch the video of the towers falling. Our almost four year old asked if another building fell down or if it was the same one. It was time to change the channel on the TV.

You might remember that many of the entertainment TV stations ran network news feeds. Others just simply ran screens about the day’s events. There was no USA network, no ESPN, no MTV. But on PBS, we found children’s programming at a time it was not normally on. For a little while, sitting in the living room floor holding my kids, the world stopped turning that September day, as we watched Big Bird and the Cookie Monster.

Country artist Alan Jackson later wrote a song “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?”.

Some of those lyrics:

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry

Did you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don’t know
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below

But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Where where you when the world stopped turning that September day? Your comments are welcome below.


14 Responses to “Blog: Where Were You That September Morning?”

  1. Terri Sanders on September 9th, 2011 9:45 am

    I was still in bed asleep.I woke up with a jolt at exactly 7;52 my first thought was. maybe a car wreck in front of our house. there had been a terrible tragedy .Since i am not a television watcher it was a couple hours before a family member called me to tell me to turn on the TV.

  2. cantonment on September 8th, 2011 11:25 am

    I was at work when I got a call from my husband. Soon my co-workers were getting calls. We gathered in our conference room and watched events unfold on TV. We remained glued to the set all day. Very sad day. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years. It seems like it was only yesterday.

  3. frances on September 8th, 2011 6:46 am

    I’m headmistress of a primary school in France, i was in the schoolyard, expecting for my students in the playground. The restaurant manager school arrived suddenly, she was listening to the radio… and she explained me the horror…..

  4. Tammy F on August 3rd, 2011 9:46 pm

    I was in Washington D.C. working on client site at the ATF. I heard about the first plane as I was going up in the elevator. Some of the special agents had TVs and we watched and saw the second plane hit. One of my co-workers decided we were going back to our office in Fairfax, VA. So, we left. I rode with a co-worker who lived in Alexandria. We saw the smoke coming up from the Pentagon on the ride back and heard about a car bomb (which was false) at the State Department. As we were driving out of D.C. my co-worker said he wasn’t going to our office and was going to drop me off at my car at the Metro which was close to Fairfax. He was then going to turn around and go home (Alexandria is back toward DC). I told him to drop me off at the Metro so he didn’t have to drive out and back in but he was concerned it wasn’t safe and wouldn’t drop me off. If I remember correctly it took about 2 hours to get back to my car, which was probably at most 45 minutes away on a good day. I got in trouble with my mother later on that night for not calling her at work to tell her I was okay. She worked at Vanity Fair and I usually didn’t call her at work. I naively thought she wouldn’t know anything about it until after she got off work so I left a message on her home phone. Well, she did hear about it and she didn’t know where I worked, just that it was in D.C. So, she had been worried.

  5. 429SCJ on June 29th, 2011 11:09 am

    I was sitting in my old mercury, playing with my 12 volt portable television, I had just bought, anticipating a camping trip. There was a breaking news alert, one of the twin towers of the WTC had been struck by an airplane. I thought it was an accident, until the second jet roared into the little 5″ picture frame. I remember inserting a magazine into my rifle and slinging it over my shoulder, I thought we were under attack, we were!

  6. Vet on May 3rd, 2011 1:50 pm

    I sat on the couch, crying and in disbelief the entire day. Three days later I got a phone call saying I was going to be reactivated into the Army to return to my unit in the 101st Airborne Division, only to learn that I was ineligible, because of my disability rating. I tried to volunteer to return, to no avail. Now I wish I’d never gotten out.

  7. justsaying on May 2nd, 2011 10:23 pm

    I was in fourth grade. Math Class. Taking a test, my teacher was watching the news on a little tv on her desk. Had no idea what was going on, she seemed distraught. Came home, and my mother told me everything.

  8. Angel on May 2nd, 2011 9:37 pm

    I was here in Pensacola taking 3 little girls to ballet class from the daycare that I worked at when my husband called me to tell me the twin towers had been hit by jets and we were under attack. We had just visted New York one month prior because my Mom and two sisters live there on Long Island. My Mom and both sisters are Nurses there in three different hospitals and my brother-in-law is a New York City Policeman. I was frantic trying to get through to all of them and the phone lines were all tied up including cell phones, however I was fortunate and my family members were all safe. It was such a sad day and one that I will never forget. If we forget, we are doomed to repeat it.

  9. p on May 2nd, 2011 5:05 pm

    I was in H.S. taking my ASVAB test.

  10. Judy on May 2nd, 2011 2:39 pm

    I was living onboard the Joint Forces Staff College Navy Base next to Norfolk, Navy Base. I heard the news and hurried to pick up my children from school. I had three young boys and was 5 months pregnant with my 1st daughter, shortly after I pulled through the armed gate where I lived they closed the whole base to anyone trying to come through and those trying to leave. At the time I was alone as my husband was out to sea. As a matter of fact, his was the first aircraft carrier (USS George Washington) to reach New York. He said he could see smoke for days. My mother in Florida kept begging me and begging me to get out of there, that where I lived was the next biggest target on the East coast.
    I remember lots of fear in those days after.
    It makes me sad how quickly some people forget…

  11. ProudArmyParent on May 2nd, 2011 9:34 am

    I was sitting in the back of Mid-town auto parts in Atmore, AL, my car had broke down and my husband was trying to get it running. Charles and I were watching the terrorist plot take place before our very eyes on the TV screen. I was running in and out keeping my husband informed on what was going on. I kept trying to call my cousins and a close friend in NY to be sure they were alright, I couldn’t get through!
    It was only later I learned that Aram Iskenendarian, Morty Frank, Michael Horn, Dennis Buckley (all four worked for Cantor Fitzgerald) and Patrick o’Keefe (FDNY, Rescue Company 1) were all killed in 9/11. These were “boys” I went to Lynbrook High School with. These were guys I ran into in the school halls, that my brothers would bring home to hang out with, these were guys that we played baseball in the town streets with, and ate my mom’s pie. In just a blink of an eye they were gone. Their families had a gaping hole and the Town of Lynbrook has a memorial for. God Bless these families, God Bless these “boys”.

  12. Brandy on May 2nd, 2011 9:06 am

    I had called in sick to work on that morning, very rare for me being a single mom at the time.. I had taken my 18month old to daycare, so I could try to get some rest, I was laying on the couch and a Breaking News Story interrupted whatever it was I was watching.. I watched as thousands of peoples, including mine, lives changed forever!! My first thought, if this is THE END, I want my son with me, so I hurried to pick him up, and the rest of the day we sat together, snuggled on the couch watching the horrific events unfold, luckily he did not realize what we were watching was real, he knew mom wouldnt let him outta her sight, not even to go play in the bedroom, I made him bring toys into the living room.. I called my family, and told everyone how much I loved them, just cause!!! I couldnt be happier that Bin Laden has finally been brought to justice!! An eye for an eye, yet it will not bring back all those we have lost at his hands!! I pray for peace and closure for those who have lost loved ones and bring home our military!! THANK U TO ALL WHO HAVE AND ARE SERVING our country and protecting our freedom!

  13. Rev. Gene Hudson on May 2nd, 2011 8:51 am

    Our Senior Adult Sunday School class was just outside of Washington DC, somewhere in Virginia on a tour bus. All laughing and excited about spending a week in DC, when my wife called my cell and asked, if I had saw the news? “A plane just hit the Twin towers and another one the Pentagon, WE ARE UNDER ATTACK! “.
    We found a truck stop at the next exit and joined a crowd in front of a TV, watching the news, (everyone was in shock.) We found a hotel and re-grouped, making our way back to Cantonment with a solumn mood to say the least… One minute we had the wind in our sail flying high and the next, NO WIND AT ALL…life changes so quickly…GOD BLESS AMERICA!

  14. T on May 2nd, 2011 8:08 am

    Thank you William