Our View: Where Were You That September Morning?

September 11, 2018

We publish this piece on an annual basis, and we encourage you to comment below, answering the question ‘Where Were You That September Morning?

September 11, 2001. It’s been 15 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.

(continues below photo)

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.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Bethany Reynolds, click to enlarge.


17 Responses to “Our View: Where Were You That September Morning?”

  1. Lee on September 13th, 2018 11:29 pm

    Someone at work heard about it and we watched tv in one of the conference room. When we could process what had actually happened, we closed down for the day. That day changed my life as my four Soldier sons and a daughter-in-law would serve a total of ten very long deployments, first in Iraq and later in Afghanistan.

  2. Gabe on September 13th, 2018 1:27 pm

    I was on vacation here in the US.My wife woke me up after the first plane hit the tower.That was shocking and we were really feeling the pain with everyone here.We were supposed to go back home to Europe the next day flying through New-York , well that didn’t happen and we were able to make it home a couple days later.

  3. Candace on September 12th, 2018 11:18 am

    Working with your wife. I remember when she got the email, and then your call. I don’t think I will ever forget. I do remember us trying to get a TV to work so that we could watch. And then staying glued to the TV once I got off work and home.

  4. anne 1of2 on September 12th, 2018 10:57 am

    Walking through the family room where the TV was on for the morning news. When I saw the jet sticking out and smoke rising I figured it was a new movie coming out and thought how stupid it was to put a thought like doing that into anyone’s mind! When it was still on after I had dressed for the day I finally turned on the sound. I was sick and glued myself to the TV. My vivid memory is the ambulances lined up with medical personnel waiting and waiting for the injured and there were no people coming, not one. I couldn’t grasp the idea of no survivors.

  5. Mike J. on September 12th, 2018 10:04 am

    I had just started driving to work and heard about the first plane on WCOA. Before I arrived, they described the 2nd plane and we realized it was no accident. My coworkers didn’t know until I told them so we were glued to the radio all day. The next day security searched every car and the guard found my drill motor under the seat. As he felt it he first thought it was a gun and was disappointed that it was not. Rest in peace all the victims of that horrible day.

  6. Native 1950 on September 12th, 2018 4:00 am

    I was working at UWF then. Had just settled in good with a cup of coffee for the morning when we were all told to go to the conference room to watch the news on television. Everyone was just in shock! Before long, we were told to leave campus and get home! Very frightening…

  7. John on September 11th, 2018 10:36 pm

    In the drive-thru at my bank making a deposit. When breaking news came over the radio…had a flip phone at that time….i think smart phones were very uncommon at that time. Rushed home to the tv.

  8. Matchbox on September 11th, 2018 10:08 pm

    At home trying to get 4 children off to school before they missed their bus…i will never forget that day…

  9. BG on September 11th, 2018 9:57 pm

    I was a bread man then (Salesman)
    I was in Tellico Plains Tennessee servicing a Sav A Lot store
    That’s all you heard about all day

  10. River Mel on September 11th, 2018 9:06 pm

    I was at work at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in New Hill, N.C. Security came across the plant intercoms and announced the plant was in lock down, Then I learned what happened. Was in shock most of day. So sad.

  11. Court Employee on September 11th, 2018 7:55 pm

    On that morning, I was employed by the USMS as Court Security at the Federal Courthouse in Pensacola. The prosecution and defense were preparing to present their closing remarks to a jury. Before I went to the courtroom, I went by a TV in the Marshal’s office, and someone made a remark a plane had hit the Trade Center in New York. Rather randomly I made a remark “didn’t they see it?” thinking it was a small plane.

    A few minutes later, court was in session, and a transmission came thru on my service radio another plane had hit the other tower. This was surely not an accident. Observing the court clerk taking notes and handing them to the presiding judge regarding the ongoing developments, and hearing transmissions on my radio, I knew we had a history altering day.

    The jury had no idea of the developments of that day, and at the close of the trial, I merely told them there had been a lot of tragedy that day, and they were dismissed.

    Another trial convened a week later, and the Assistant U.S. Attorney addressing the new jury reminded them the American system was not altered or hindered by the actions of these people. God bless America!

  12. Old Coach on September 11th, 2018 6:08 pm

    Northview High School. Teaching Am Hy in room 204. I don’t believe any student was not affected by what they were seeing on the TV. Not a sound
    When I heard I turned on the TV.

  13. Lisa Taylor on September 11th, 2018 5:58 pm

    In training to be a school bus driver for Escambia County

  14. Rev Gene on September 11th, 2018 3:11 pm

    On a tour bus just south of Arlington VA. headed to DC with a Church group to spend a week in DC, when my wife called and said you need to pull over at the next stop, we are under attack. We had to turn around and come home… as we entered a truck stop the seen of a second plane hitting the world trade center as people from all walks of life stood in shock as history unfold before our eyes!

  15. Chelleepea on September 11th, 2018 3:03 pm

    I was on my way to work, running late as usual. The news came over the car radio. I didn’t fully realize what was actually happening until I walked into work and everbody in my section was surrounding one of my coworker’s desk watching a live stream of CNN. I remember asking if they were able to get everyone out of the building. No one knew and then there was a second plane and then everyone knew it was no accident! God bless America!

  16. Bonnie Exner on September 11th, 2018 2:54 pm


  17. Erin on September 11th, 2018 2:51 pm

    In my 5th grade classroom at Bratt Elementary. We all watched and some of us cried, but I don’t think any of us fully understood. I can’t watch a memorial or look at a photo now without crying. What an awful day, so many people lost their loved ones, lost their lives. It takes some sick, sick individuals to think what they did was okay or justifiable at all. We will never, ever forget.

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