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September 11

I was inspired by Sarah to post my own recollection of that fateful day in 2001. I was 17, a freshman in college at Western Michigan University. I’d gone from a graduating class of 157 to a school of 30,000 not far from my home town, but a whole different world indeed. Luckily, my saving grace came in the form of my best friend Tre from high school. We stuck close together as our other best friend Mo departed for Northern Michigan University 8 hours north.

I went to class like normal that morning; the first class I had was in a lecture hall of more than 300 people, and from there I went to Spanish class. I walked all the way across campus from my first to second class and then all the way to the middle of campus to the student center after my second class before I started hearing about New York, planes crashing into the World Trade Center and terrorists, and even what I was hearing was not making sense. All of a sudden the TVs in the student center informed me that indeed the US had been attacked, and that the sky was literally falling in New York City. Tre and I sat eating our pizza not saying a word, staring blankly, when an announcement was made that school would be closing for the day.

Our lives changed that day, but Tre’s did more than mine. See, less than a month before September 11, 2001, she got engaged to her high school sweetheart the night before he left for boot camp for the US Air Force. She had no idea what she was in for, but she knew it was bad. I can’t speak for her but I know her life changed drastically that day. (I’m happy to report that they married 4 months later and were stationed in California for several years before relocating to Michigan, and they celebrated 6 years of marriage earlier this year!)

I am not related to anyone who was killed that day, or even to anyone who saw the WTC crumble in person (at least that I know of), but I still feel for all the victims. I am sure that site will never be the same for anyone living in NYC. Someday I will make my way to the big city and see the memorial for myself.

Where were you when you got the news?


4 Responses

  1. Oh gosh, I really thought you were going to say Tre’s life changed more than yours b/c her fiancee was in one of the towers! Whew, crisis averted!

    I was asleep in my dorm room, also a freshman in college, and my roommate’s parents called and woke us up with the news to tell us they were alive (she was from NYC and her dad worked in the Financial District). We didn’t even know what had happened until they called. Stupid hippie college that doesn’t believe in TVs!

  2. No he was not in one of the towers, THANK GOD. I’m not even sure he’s been to NYC. I haven’t….yet.

    I think many peoples’ parents woke them up with the news that day..glad to hear your roommate’s parents were alive!!

  3. I was running late for work because of an appointment. I was pulling into my office parking lot and they announced on the radio that someone had flown a plane into the WTC. I called my parents immediately to see if they had heard. I went into work…and moments later we all realized this wasn’t just some freak accident. Everything in my office stopped. Several of us had ex-coworkers who now lived in NYC…and two of our bosses were there that morning and were supposed to have morning flights back to NC. We couldn’t get either of them on their cell phones. Panic. Panic. Panic.

    I had many friends who lived and worked in NYC at the time. My mom knows NYC very well, so I called her hysterical telling her the addresses of my friends apts and their work places…to see how close they were to the WTCs. My friend Mark lived in Battery Park at the time…RIGHT THERE. Me=even more hysterical. (Come to find out, he was standing a corner right outside the WTCs and saw that first plane…then it disappeared from his sight…then he heard the explosion and saw the fire, etc. The stuff he told me about that day is grossly burned into my memory forever.)

    I grew up with a guy named Craig. He’s a flight attendant. My mom said something that made my heart stop…”Craig flies on American Flight 11″. In the two seconds it took her to say “but he’s on vacation in Spain right now”…I had already fallen to my knees. (crying now just thinking about it). Thankfully, Craig was in another country…BUT…my heart still broke for him because his fellow crew members had just died. Ugh.

    Anyhew, I didn’t get through to any of my friends or bosses until around 12:30EST. I had left messages for all of them saying how much I loved them and snotting all over myself sobbing. I don’t know that I’d ever prayed so much and so deeply in one day.

    Wow. I’m babbling.

    So, the day was horrible. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing on TV and the internet. It just didn’t seem real. And I truly think September 12th was worse in some ways…because we woke up and realized the 11th REALLY did happen. It wasn’t just some sick nightmare we were all having simultaneously.

    I had just spent a weekend in NYC in June 2001 for my friend Danielle’s wedding. I stayed with Mark in his Battery Park apartment. I didn’t get any pictures of the WTCs when I was hanging out of his window because my camera was out of film (before I went digital). I only got pics of the Hudson which was to my right while hanging out the window…and some other beautiful buildings in front of me. I hadn’t made it to the point of taking pictures to my left yet. I figured I could just get pictures from that vantage point on my next trip to NYC…….

  4. Oh wow Jen…you just relived it didn’t you? you just made me remember how no one could get through to anyone on their cell phones…I completely forgot about that fact of the day. The whole not-knowing part of it that riddles you with anxiety for the whole day.

    And you are probably right about September 12 being worse, although I had never looked at it that way. I am so glad to hear that all your friends made it out. And that Craig was on vacation at the time – man what a horrible thing to come home too.

    Thanks for sharing. I’ll try not to make you cry again for awhile 🙂

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