Blog: Where Were You That September Morning?

September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001. It’s been 10 years.

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.

Comments

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

  1. Rachel on September 13th, 2011 9:16 am

    I was in school, 8th grade. I was told my dad was there to pick me up and i was so excited, i didnt even know what was going on. I had no concept of “terrorists” when i turned on the television at home and saw that every channel was about a building that was on fire. I didn’t know what was going on, or who did this, or why it was such a big deal. I was just a kid. upset that my favorite channel was interrupted the whole day with a news story. It sounds conceited, i know, but like i said i was a kid. I didn’t know there was any attack going on, or that our world was going to be forever changed by this tragic event that caused so many innocent people to lose their kids…their husbands/wives…their parents…their lives. This world will never be the same thanks to that one day when everything went wrong.

  2. mike on September 12th, 2011 9:23 am

    I was driving a big truck and was unloading in Philadelphia, Pa when my mom called to check on me, she had told me a plane had hit one of twin towers in New Yourk. I was still on the phone with her when the second plane hit the second tower . I made it to reload and hooked up my satellite tv and started watching CNN and watched the last tower fall. They said a plane had hit the Pentagon and a fourth plane was missing. They were talking about the possibility that it might be heading to the White House, Disney World or a very populated area. The load I was loading happened to be going down around Orlando, Fl. On the way down I was watching the skies watching for a plane heading south. The am/fm radio was talking about all the planes have been grounded. About half way to Florida, the radio was talking about the missing plane had crashed in Pennsylvania and there were no survivors. Later on the news started saying the passengers tried to regain control of the plane and it went down. In my opinion, every single person on that plane are heros. They all sacreficed their lives to save possibly thousand of other lives!!!!

  3. former US Navy and proud of it on September 11th, 2011 9:29 pm

    I remember that day very well I had just come off my shift as a Security Officer at a weapons station in California at 5:30 that morning. I had just gotten to sleep good when my wife came in the room saying you have got to come see this I walked in the living room just in time to see the second plane crash. I told my wife there is no sense in me going back to sleep because I knew it would not be long before I was called back. To my surprise it was 12 hours later before the order was given for total recall at which time I returned to work where I was on duty for the next 36 hours before we were aloud to go home to our families. Would I do it again ABSOLUTELY this is my country and I will not stand for that kind of treatment. To all the heroes on that date THANK YOU.

  4. anonymous on September 11th, 2011 8:48 pm

    Honestly, I was only about 3 years old, so I don’t remember anything, but my heart goes out to all the people effected by that tragedy.

  5. PrettyYoungThing on September 11th, 2011 8:35 pm

    I was in the 3rd grade at Carver Century K-8! :) I didn’t really know what was going on though.. :(

  6. Emily on September 11th, 2011 7:53 pm

    I was a 1 year old at my Aunt Dawn’s house I remember standing and watching it on TV. Memories dont start until you are 3 or 4. wierd.

  7. Gerri McDonald on September 11th, 2011 6:24 pm

    I was greeting students as they got out of their cars at Perdido Elementary when I heard about the first plane. Shortly after the second plane hit tower 2, I had my 8th grade students in our library and we watched the events as they were reported. I remember one of my students saying he wished he could go to church, because he had never been before and felt like that was the only safe place he could go.

    My oldest son was a junior at the university of Southern Mississippi and was in the library when the terrorist hit. As soon as the second plane hit, many of the muslim students jumped up on tables and began cheering. My son and several others were blocked or restrained by school officials from ‘causing a riot’. This single even had a lot to do with his determination to join the Marine Corps.

  8. Jane on September 11th, 2011 2:13 pm

    I was living in another state, working in a high security area when we were told to go to our largest conference room. The big screen monitor was on, showing the horror taking place. We were then told to go home and stay there. Do not go out and do not answer the phone or any questions anyone might ask you until you receive an email from the company. So I went home and watched TV, knowing I had a couple of friends in the 2nd building. It was awful and the feeling of helplessness was overwhelming.

  9. **Kayla** on September 11th, 2011 1:24 pm

    i was in my crib that day…wasent even old enough to understnd what was goin on… :(

  10. Tracey on September 11th, 2011 12:34 pm

    I was working as a 1st grade teacher at Rachel Patterson…I remember that an all call was made for the 1st grade teachers to meet Mrs. Drew in the hallway…she “filled us in” on the horrific tradgy…

    I was pregnant wth my 1st child, Bryant. (I questioned/worried what life would be like for him, for our family, for our country…) I prayed and trusted God!

    I called my husband and mother during my break at school and tried to stay calm for the students and carry on with a “normal” school day.

  11. Andy on September 11th, 2011 12:05 pm

    I was at Walt Disney World in Epcot on 9/11/2001. Around 11:00 am, while sitting in a restaurant having lunch, I looked out the window to see everybody leaving. I was told all the parks were being evacuated and to leave immediately. I had no idea what was going on since I had been inside since 9:00 am and had no access to news reports. It wasn’t until I got to the parking lot, turned on the car radio and found out the tragedy that had taken place.

  12. bmr on September 11th, 2011 10:25 am

    My wife and I were cleaning a house,when the lady of the house came home and asked if we had heard what had just happened,we told her no,then she proceeded to turn the tv on, and we saw the horror unfold.

  13. katie on September 11th, 2011 9:31 am

    I was in 8th grade english at carver middle school. I remember thinking how could someone be so evil that they would want to kills thousands of people.

  14. God Bless America! on September 11th, 2011 9:23 am

    It’s hard to believe its been 10 years since the great tragedy affected our country in such a way. I remember where I was that sad Tuesday morning. I was in my 8th grade Math class with Mrs. Tims. I remember Principal Payne’s voice on the intercom telling teachers to turn their tvs on in their rooms because there had been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The whole class including myself had no idea what the world trade center was but by the end of the day we knew what it was. This great tragedy changed our Nation forever! It changed my 8th grade math class forever! Also it changed many men and women’s lives because that day was the day a lot of them choose to fight for our country! My husband was one of them. When he became of age he went into the Army. He is now going on his 8th year in the service. I couldn’t be more proud of my husband for the sacrifices he has had to make as a soldier! I’m proud to be an American and I am proud to be a Army Wife! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!

  15. Beth on September 11th, 2011 9:13 am

    I was at work as principal of Rachel Patterson Elementary. A family member of one of the office workers called to tell what was happening. We turned on a TV in the office to see what was going on. Just moments later we witnesses the second plane hit. My first thought was how do I let all my employees know our country is under attack yet at the same time not terrify 600 children. A day I will never forget.

  16. Just is on September 11th, 2011 9:06 am

    I was fishing offshore and listening to the FM radio. Word that a plane had hit the tower came over the normally rock oriented station from a D.J. I turned up the radio on a new station and we nervously continued fishing. We were supposed to fish till about 1pm before departing the fishing grounds. Instead, our crew decided that it may be prudent to get back in early. The pictures and video move me anytime I see them and I can’t help but wonder why we allow these people to freely move about this nation.

  17. LCDR James A. Moretz, USN, Retired on September 11th, 2011 8:46 am

    It has been two years since I made a post on NorthEscambia’s 9/11 Blog, and my memory of the events of that tragic day is still clear:

    I remember well September 11, 2001, which is now ten years ago. I was serving my country on active duty in the U.S. Navy as the ship’s First Lieutenant aboard the USS NASHVILLE (LPD-13), an amphibious transport dock, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. My ship was getting ready for a maintenance period at a local shipyard after recently returning from a six month Mediterranean Sea deployment. The crew was busy out and about taking care of business when the news started spreading around the ship that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

    Being curious about this report, I quickly went to the ship’s wardroom and turned on CNN. Several other officers and I stood looking intently in disbelief at what we were seeing unfold on television; live on the screen was the first trade center tower burning. Glass, debris and people were falling hundreds of feet towards the ground. A few minutes later, a second plane crashed into the other tower of the World Trade Center!

    Somewhere among the events that were unfolding live on television that morning, I went topside to the ship’s bridge wing so that I could get cellular phone service. I wanted to call my wife, Lisa, who was living in Pensacola with our four children. I had moved my family down to Florida during the summer in advance of my fall transfer to NAS Pensacola. I needed to let her know what was going on because she didn’t normally have the news on at that early hour.

    As we spoke on the telephone, she turned on the news and started crying because neither of us knew what really going on with these plane crashes, which by the way never seemed to stop coming. Nobody knew when or where the next crash would occur or what else might happen. After my call to Lisa, I looked across the wide expanse of the Norfolk Naval Base where I saw ships preparing to emergency sortie. The ships that could get underway on their own on extremely short notice began to head out to sea to get out of harms way and the unknown. But my ship, the NASHVILLE, was without fuel and some of the ship’s engineering plant had been disassembled because we were getting ready to go up river to the shipyard, so we stayed behind.

    The officers and crew mustered and we shifted our focus from ship’s maintenance to ship’s defense. We scrambled to take-up a more defensive posture for protection against the unknown. Machine guns were mounted and staffed and additional armed sentries were posted with orders to report and defend. The mood was very tense for everyone.

    Later that morning, I learned that the Pentagon was attacked by a plane. I wondered about one of my shipmates who had recently transferred from USS NASHVILLE and was stationed there. Lieutenant Commander David Lucian Williams, age 32, was on duty that morning working inside the building right at ground zero where the plane struck. He was assigned to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and his job focused on troop movements in case of a homeland terrorist attack. Although at the time his fate was unknown, I found afterward that he was killed. He left behind a child and a pregnant wife, Sara Williams.

    Yes, the morning of September 11, 2001 is a vivid memory and as we reflect on those tragic events today – ten years later – we should recall and remember those who lost their lives and their families including all those who served and still serve their country and communities.

  18. Grave Digger on September 11th, 2011 8:03 am

    I was stationed on the USS Nashville (LPD 13) moored pierside at Norfolk Naval Base in VA.

    With nearly 20 years of service, that was the first time I remember standing armed watches behind locked and loaded, crew-served machine guns in a United States port with the order to stop any planes, vessels or swimmers who approached our ship. We had stood similiar watches in foreign ports on numerous occaisions, but never on U.S. soil.

    What was a response then, is normal procedure now. Life was changed forever on that day.

  19. Elizabeth on September 11th, 2011 7:14 am

    One of the life-changing thoughts I had, which I vividly remember was, “How does someone accidentally hit a massive building like the World Trade Tower?” I remember laughing (before I understood the gravity if what was going on) and saying, “What a crappy pilot!”

    I was 22 years old and was still naive to the fact that true evil exists in the world.

    When reporters started saying phrases like “terror attack” and “Al Qaeda” and “Taliban,” my perspective on life changed.

  20. Mary Spence on September 11th, 2011 6:10 am

    We were at the YMCA in Atmore. Prayers going up for the families that lost loved ones on 9/11.

  21. Cynthia on September 11th, 2011 1:42 am

    I was home asleep when my brother scared me opening the door yelling look at the tv.. We watched ,we cried, we could not believe our eyes..i felt scared,an empty,cold chills ran over me, tears ran down my face we were n shock.. So many lives were lost that September day. We didnt know what to do r what to say.. Couldnt understand y all the lives lost . Ppl jumping from windows ,running out buildings an help trying to get there to help… This will forever b imprented n my mind.. An my prayers r with the familys that lost love ones that day. An my prayers r with the familys thats have lost love ones that has given their lives for our country since then……WE R BLESSED

  22. BLESSED on September 11th, 2011 12:41 am

    I was working at Kids Place daycare and was pregnant with my second child. We had the kids on the playground when one of our caregivers came outside to give us the news. My daughter was in kindergarten and all I remember was I wanted to get to her and hold her tight. My next thought was our Navy base and would it be a target., Ten years later its still very fresh. My thoughts and prayers are w/ the families of everyone that has made sacrifies because of 9-11.





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