Blog: Where Were You That September Morning?

September 11, 2012

September 11, 2001. It’s been 11 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.


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

  1. Charles "TOM" Smith Jr. on December 1st, 2022 9:55 pm

    I’m a Desert Storm veteran and was working as a civilian paramedic at the time. After coming home from a bad shift as it was, my wife had a load of laundry in the drier and one in the washer, but the drier wasn’t heating. Grrr. Just what I really didn’t want to come home to. So now we have to go to the laundry mat to dry 2 wet loads of laundry. There was a TV in there on some news channel, I can’t remember. Just when I mistakenly thought that I couldn’t get in a fouler mood, it happened. At first, we just thought that it was an accident until the second one hit. Right then I knew we were under attack. I’ll never forget that day.

  2. Ginx on September 5th, 2019 4:07 pm

    I had just gotten off my AM bus run when my ex-husband called me. He said OMG I think that we’re at war. I said what are you talking about. I turned on the the T.V. and for the first time in my life I was really really scared. Would I ever feel safe again anywhere. I just wanted to get my children and hide somewhere safe. But what was safe anymore. I’ve never really felt safe since that time. It’s so sad!

  3. recycled used auto parts on March 29th, 2019 2:53 am

    I was arriving at work. When I walked into the office (company). where I did my work and took lunch with my friend.After work came to my home took rest and enjoy dinner with my family.

  4. Greg on January 18th, 2019 5:28 am

    I was at West Florida Hospital waiting for my daughter to be born. We had come in early that morning because we had scheduled for my then wife to be induced that morning and they got us in and had started the medication to get the process going. She was up walking and I had just sat down to watch TV when a nurse came in and said to turn it to the news because a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center. I changed it to CNN just in time to see the second plane fly into the tower. We were glued to the TV the rest of the day while she was in labor and it was such a emotional drain on us all. Finally that afternoon my daughter made her appearance into a strange new world for us all. Last week my now 17 year old daughter raised her right hand and took the oath to join the Army.

  5. Jeannie on October 6th, 2018 8:37 pm

    Its been 17 years,i was on my way to Corry Field for therapy, heard it on the radio, got to base they were checking ids where usually they just waved you on through but I told the man at thegate that I had heard it on the radio. Called my husbamd told him to change the tv from animal planet to news, he was an Air force flight technician retired after 21 years, I knew He would be interested knowing so many people lost their lives that day.

  6. Inchworm on May 27th, 2018 12:23 am

    My mother-in-law, my 3-year-old daughter, and I were having breakfast in my kitchen in Woodbridge, VA when we turned on Fox News and saw what was left of the Twin Towers. We were stunned–numbed and in panic simultaneously. My husband was working in Washington, DC and despite jammed roads and telecom paths, was able to get home in 90 minutes.

  7. Miles Needham on February 28th, 2018 9:57 pm

    In the office at Jim Allen Elementary registering my daughter for school… I asked someone what was going on on the TV? He said, “A plane hit a building”…. Mind blowing to watch all of this unfold live… I was fortunate not losing anyone…

  8. Kay Archer on March 27th, 2017 5:29 pm

    I was on a travel nursing stint and it was my day off the television was on and I was doing a little bit of housekeeping when the news came on I was sitting there stunned when the second tower was hit . I lived in apartment right near the airport in Kansas City.
    I, too was glued to the tv all day. Airports were closed, so I couldn’t fly home to Atmore. At one point I heard planes leaving the airport and I was afraid something else had happened. I fell on my knees and prayed.
    About a year ago I watched a documentary about that day and cried all day
    How could this happen in the USA???

  9. Julie Pittman on March 2nd, 2017 9:18 pm

    I was in Seattle Wa and running late as usual , getting ready for work and kept crossing the living room with the television on and seeing the Twin Towers and smoke and an airplane flying , too rushed to really get a good long look but I remember stopping at one point and saying what is going on, but didn’t take it in , only on my morning commute on the transit bus to my job as a transit operator for Metro ( King County) and the passengers all talking to each other, in rushed awe did I ask what was happening and then I found out, Oh my God.

  10. Paul B on September 12th, 2012 2:51 pm

    I had just started the second day of new hire orientation here in Pittsburgh. The doors of the training center closed at around 8:30 and did not open till noon, we knew nothing of the attacks till then! The first I heard was when I entered my car to run out for lunch and turned on the radio. I could not even comprehend what had happened I had no visuals at all. I stopped at a local resturaunt and the TV’s there were all showing footage of the second plane hitting the tower and of the fires.. The commentator said “obviously this is old video as the towers have both fallen…” having traveled to NYC often for business and having seen the WTC I was dumbstruck. Cried for weeks, still cry till this day for those lost…

  11. Safebear on September 12th, 2012 1:31 pm

    I was on my way to a client in Grand Prairie, Texas. Just as I was passing 6 Flags over Texas in Arlington I heard the first report of the first plane hitting the tower. I got to my client and told the ladies in the office about it and they turned on the tv. I started the class I had to teach and was interrupted by them when they came in to tell us about the other plane into WTC, the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. Class was over.

    If there was anything good, I found out how many people cared about me that day. Everyone knew I traveled a lot and flew on some of those flights. My voicemail filled up with people calling to check on me.

    My heart still goes out to those who died.

  12. tomtom48 on September 12th, 2012 1:12 am

    coming home from work and had the radio on 102.7 and heard Marty and Linda talking about it.

  13. Douglas Berry on September 11th, 2012 10:13 pm

    I was a Northwest Airlines 757 Captain sitting in the lobby of the Portland Holiday Inn at 5:00 AM waiting with my crew to be taken to the airport for our 7:00 AM flight to Minneapolis. CNN was on the lobby TV and I heard them talking about a fire at the World Trade Center. I glanced up at the TV and saw the second aircraft hit the tower. I dropped my cup of coffee and my crew gasped in horror. Everyone was in shock and several people started to sob and cry. I looked at my co- pilot and he said “our world will never be the same.” We spent four more days in Portland , watching F-16s fly over the city. Finally we were allowed to take our airplane back to Minneapolis.
    I called my father later that day and we talked about Pearl Harbor and how he felt.

    We must never forget either day……..

  14. AL on September 11th, 2012 10:10 pm

    I had just worked an overnight shift at West Florida ER. I was at the light of University and 9 mile when the radio DJ said they had received reports of a “small bi-plane” crashing into the World Trade Center. I didn’t hear anymore until I woke up around 11am and my mom was sitting at the dining room table with shock and tears in her eyes saying “we’ve been attacked – the whole world has gone crazy”

    I was totally submerged in the coverage out of some sort of guilt over sleeping while it was actually happening.

  15. Jimbo on September 11th, 2012 6:48 pm

    I was 12 miles offshore fishing with some friends. We knew after the second airliner hit the WTC that the U.S. was under attack. Before we began the ride home, we’d heard about the plane that was brought down in Pennsylvania and the one that crashed at the pentagon. We were shocked and somber. Every now and again we get together and fish… and remember and remember.

  16. Birdie on September 11th, 2012 5:57 pm

    I was at work at an elementary school. We went into the library for a book fair and the TV was on. The first tower was ablaze, and one of the teachers said, “We’ve been attacked.” When we returned to the classroom, the teacher turned on the TV and we watched the news for the rest of the school day. It was difficult to explain to my ESE students what was going on. Some had family member in the military. They couldn’t tell me which branch, just “in the military” and they got very worried when we saw the news about the Pentagon.

    Like Maggie Jackson, I also remember exactly where I was on November 22, 1963. I was in class at Sherwood Elementary and I didn’t understand why all the teachers were crying until Miss Howard told us about President Kennedy.

  17. bill l on September 11th, 2012 5:55 pm

    Sept 11 2001 was our 19 yr wedding anniversary. I was on my way to McDavid where I just bought property that year, to do some work. I heard on the radio that a plane hit a tall building. I was just passing Tate high school at that time. Being an airline pilot my first thought was its a small plane in bad weather got lost and hit a building. I didn’t know until noon what really happened. At dinner that night in a resturant there were only 2 other couples eating, I was telling my wife of 19 yrs that this is gonna make major changes in America. May God be merciful to this country.

  18. Misty on September 11th, 2012 4:21 pm

    I was in my 9th grade BST class @ West Florida High School.

  19. Still Sad on September 11th, 2012 3:11 pm

    I had started a new job with Champion and was in training, when the big boss came in and started telling us what was going on. I remember being very scared and wanting to leave, pick my kids up from school and just go home.
    Last night I sat watching all the stories of all the heroes from that day and it still just breaks your heart! We will NEVER forget !!!

  20. Roll Tide on September 11th, 2012 1:52 pm

    I was at work. My husband called and told me what was going on. Everyone at my office gathered around a TV and watched as the buildings started to crumble. The feeling you felt at that moment is still raw. As our parents remember Pearl Harbor, my generation will forever remember 9/11. We will never forget how helpless we all felt as things continued to unfold that morning. Thoughts and prayers are lifted up and will continue to be lifted up to all those affected that day. Firefighers, police, the people in the buildings, the folks in the streets that had no idea what was happening, and the families of all involved. Peace be with you all…God Bless America!!!

  21. Deborah on September 11th, 2012 11:19 am

    I was driving home after dropping my children off at elementary school. I was listening to the radio and heard about the first plane crash. I got home and turned on the tv in time to see the second plane crash into the towers. For two full days it seemed, I was glued to the tv, radio, and internet for news.

  22. Vulcanrider on September 11th, 2012 10:30 am

    I was prepping a classroom on base to teach a Force Protection/Anti-Terrorism class. My Captain came in, told me about the first plane and we switched to the news just in time to see the second tower hit. The class was cancelled and 2 weeks later I was deployed.

  23. Jane on September 11th, 2012 9:51 am

    I was watching in horror and praying for all those people who were in the towers and those trying to save them. I thank all the people who tried so hard to get people out and worked tirelessly to recover the ones who didn’t make it out. NEVER FORGET!!! And never forget those who fought so hard to keep us free!

  24. Nicole on September 11th, 2012 9:13 am

    I was just waking up with my six month old daughter, when the phone rang. It was my husband calling from UWF, yelling at me to turn on the TV. I watched in horror thinking, this must be an air traffic control accident. Then a minute later I saw the second plane hit. My husband started crying, his mother worked at WTC. He came home as we stayed glued to the TV, and tried to get calls into NYC, and even relatives in upper state NY. Thank God, she had been transferred to tower 4 a few weeks earlier. Through the kindness of strangers, and a 12 hr car ride, she made it from Manhattan to Queens. We ended up seeing ground zero in person as soon as planes where flying again into NYC. It was a gut wrenching thing, that in a ways, I wish I’d never done. I still have nightmares about the sights and smells….even over a month after.

  25. bp on September 11th, 2012 8:41 am

    that morning i was getting dressed to go to town for groceries. i had the tv on while getting ready. i could not believe what i was seeing. when it was apparent that our nation was under attack. my daughter works at a local military base, i called her and told her “do not collect $200 dollars, come straight home, NOW” she just laughed at me, later as she drove to work every morning and had to pass thru armed military gates, the seriousness of the attacks was appreciated. god bless the usa……

  26. Sunshine on September 11th, 2012 8:36 am

    I was only in the fourth grade and i remember watching it on the tv. I remember starting out that morning i tried to tell my guardian that i didn’t want to go to school. when she asked me why i said there was some mean people. she told me everywhere you go your going to run into mean people. so i went to school, and remember my teacher coming in and crying and was wondering what was going on and then everyone started crying. i didn’t understand at the time what terrorist meant. later on that week my class put together a presentation and our whole class wrote a quote about 9/11 and we sang God bless the USA in front of the whole school and the quotes we wrote we had came up to the microphone one at a time saying them out loud. that was a very terrible tragedy and i pray for all those families who lost a loved one and watched as this went on. i give thanks to all the firefighters who not just because it’s their job but because they enjoy helping others…

  27. Packy Mitchell on September 11th, 2012 8:23 am

    Iwas having a typical day at work, on the way to O.J. Semmes School when the news came on the radio. I heaed to the Bloob Bank on 9th avenue to see the tv. Saw the second plane hit and we all were stunned at the events taking place. Within minutes the lobby was full as well as the parking lot as OUR GREAT COMMUNITY responded to help in any way possible. NEVER FORGET!!!!!

  28. Bro. Hart on September 11th, 2012 8:20 am

    I was preaching that morning at an international fellowship of preachers just outside of Chicago. As we entered the church some of the other pastors told what was going on in New York. Unaware of what fully was happening until later that day I preached on the power of God and what it would take to see a move of the Lord like we have read about in years gone by. America did do some praying and talk about “God bless America” after that day. But, we still need God’s power for people to come to Him!!

  29. Nancy on September 11th, 2012 7:40 am

    I had just dropped my husband off at work and was on my way back to the house on hwy .399 just passing the cross roads when I turned on my radio to see what was playing, it took me a few minutes to gather what I was hearing,
    the first plane had just hit the towers, I got to the house ran in, turned on the T V just to see the second plane hit. A day I will never forget where I was at that time in history when our country was under attack.

  30. Northender43 on September 11th, 2012 7:31 am

    I hadn’t turned on my TV that morning, I got dressed and went to Movie Gallery in Cantonment. While I listened to the radio, I heard that a plane hit the WTC. When i got to Movie Gallery I asked the girl there if she had heard anything. She said she hadn’t. I told her that a plane had hit the towers. (I was thinking a small plane like had hit in the 70’s) When I got home I turned on the TV and was absolutely stunned by what I saw. The TV didn’t get turned off for about 2 days.

  31. Crystal on September 11th, 2012 7:06 am

    I had just put my 5 year old on the bus to send her to school and was playing a game on Pogo. People in the game room was saying that a plane had hit the WTC but I thought they meant a small private plane. It was later that I turned on the tv so see. My 5 year old is now a junior in high school…..time has flown for me, but has stood still for many others.

  32. Maggie Jackson on September 11th, 2012 6:43 am

    I was arriving at work when my daughter called to tell me about the first plane. When I walked into the office (radio station), there was no music playing, the only sound coming from the control room was the television broadcast. We broadcast commercial free the rest of the day. Two days I will never forget…….November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001.

  33. KJ on September 11th, 2012 5:43 am

    I was in the Dollar Store in Flomaton and heard it on the radio. I though it was some “serial” like a radio soap opera. When the clerk told me it was real, cold shivers went up my spine. I haven’t felt really secure since.

  34. Freda Whaley on September 11th, 2012 4:45 am

    I was at work when my mom called me to tell me a plane had crashed into the first tower. I was still on the phone with her when the second one hit. We both knew it was no accident by that time. Then we heard about the one in DC. My mom cried and that scared me more than anything. I had never heard my mother cry before. At the time I was working at AA Dixon and all the TV’s went on so we could watch the news. No panic but some parents did come pick up their kids figuring we were at war. I was glued to the TV for days afterwards and had to drive through New Orleans a few days later. I remember getting upset as I hit gridlock as we drove past the city. Tall buildings, thousands of cars and we were sitting ducks. Not a good feeling.

  35. John on September 11th, 2012 3:36 am

    I was getting ready for school. I saw the first plane hit on Good Morning America. I got to my first class at Carver Middle School, and told my first period teacher that a plane crashed through the WTC this morning, and she looked at my 11 year old self like I was crazy, and told me to take my seat.

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