Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

Such a painful day for America.

Thirteen years later, it almost seems like it was just a bad dream, doesn't it? Then again, it's such a part of us that I don't really remember what life here was like before the terror of that day.

I cannot imagine what it is like for the survivors when this anniversary comes around.

Today, I want to ask you to share your memories of that day. Where were you when you found out what was happening? What did you do? Did it affect your faith? Did you know anyone who perished or lost a loved one? Feel free to mention those people so that we can honor their memories and pray for them.

I was 34 years old in 2001, my husband and I having recently settled into our new home with our five children, all under the age of ten. It was very early in Arizona when the Twin Towers were attacked, and I was awakened by a call from my friend Bethany. She was crying and told me to turn on the TV. Groggily, I did, and what I saw was like something out of a movie: The first tower had black smoke billowing around it. The second tower had not yet been hit. As the second plane hit, and then the collapse of the first tower, and later the second tower, I watched with a combination of shock and horror. The reporters were as stunned as the rest of us.

Somewhere in those first minutes I went downstairs to tell my husband what was happening, and we watched together until the children woke up, at which point we turned off the family TV and denied access to the TV in our bedroom. We didn't tell the children anything as far as I can remember (it was too traumatic and confusing to sort through at the moment), and all but the youngest (a one-year-old) went off to school.

My husband went to work, but within an hour or so I asked him to come home. He worked for the government at the time, and I was terrified that government buildings were going to come under attack. No one knew what to think, so my husband, like so many others, came home. Together, we took our baby to his scheduled Gymboree class, and the few people who showed up were as subdued as we were, exchanging somber, worried looks, but barely talking to one another as we went through the motions of singing and playing with our children. We came home, and the rest of the day was spent watching news coverage in disbelief. I've lost the memory of when the Pentagon was hit, or when the heroes of United 93 took down their plane in a Pennsylvania field. There was much confusion about how many airplanes may have been hijacked, and the nation was bracing for more attacks. I don't remember how or when my older children got home.

It was surreal.

Nothing would ever be the same.

I kept repeating to myself, "Lord, have mercy."

May we never forget the victims and their families, and may we continue to pray for all of those who suffered so terribly at the hands of brutal mass murderers.

Please tell me your story of that day.


  1. I was a senior in college on 9/11. My DH had already graduated and joined the working world, but he was ill that week and decided to stay home on Tuesday the 11th. While he slept in, I checked message boards, saw people talking about the attack, and turned on the TV to confirm it. By the time I turned it on, only one of the towers was still standing. I went upstairs to wake DH and I have a vivid memory of standing over him thinking "How am I going to tell him this?"

    My psych class was cancelled that day, but chemistry lab took the view of "the show must go on." Campus was extremely quiet and remained so the whole week.

  2. I was in college too. There was a big of time difference so the first tower was hit during my 8 am class. Nobody came in to inform us. It wasn't until walking to my 9am class that I caught up with a classmate who told me. I thought it was a terrible rumor. I told him something probably happened but that it was being exaggerated. My teacher for 9am class showed up late and since it was education psychology she asked if we needed to process anything and then dismissed us. It was as you put it totally serial. I went back to the dorm and switched on the tv. Every channel (even ones that ordinarily carried no news programs) was playing the struck towers. Then I watched horrified as they crashed. I spent the rest of class day in a daze. I think most carried on with class because everything was confusing as far as news reports. I don't think anyone on campus was truly able to process what was going on until a while later. I ended up calling a highschool friend to see if she was okay. She lived near the pentagon and had put on lock down and sent home from work. I think that was everybody's attitude: Make sure everyone you knew especially those who lived in the area was okay.

  3. I was a flight attendant at the time. I was so excited because a few days before I was able to pick my first trip. It was not to NYC, it was a 3 day trip with overnights in Florida. Due to weather, my crew was rerouted to NYC and that is where we spent the night.

    We had an early departure on 9/11 out of NYC, but we did not get very far.

    I remember the captain calling me to the cockpit--I was head flight attendant on that day. He pointed to two towers in the distance that were smoking. Standing tall and it looked as though they were standing alone, with nothing around them. I just remember thinking to myself, even before hearing the news, how could that have been an accident.

    I remember leaving the cockpit and going to the back galley to call my mother. I was able to get cellphone reception for a limited amount of time. I called my mother and she had not seen what was going on. She was sitting at home "just knitting!" ha! I told her that I was in NYC, to turn the TV on and that I was fine.

    The captain I was flying with got us out of NYC after about 3 days. You can imagine that as a new flight attendant that I was fairly poor. ha! I had $8 in my bank account and wasn't sure how I was going to eat, where I was going to sleep or how I was going to get home.

    Miraculously, $100 was deposited into my account due to some refund I wasn't expecting.

    I will never forget this woman's face who came up to me as I was outside of the airport. My mother kept telling me to get out of the airport and to run. But there were tons of people and truthfully, I had no idea where to run to in 3in heels! lol

    We were stranded there for 3 days. Our captain got us a ride out of the city finally.....It was surreal crossing over the bridge and still seeing all the smoke settling over the city.

    1. I meant to finish about the lady....She had never left Kansas before and it was her first time flying!!! Can you imagine?? Poor thing! She had no idea what to do and there were swarms of people everywhere!

    2. Sew, this is incredibly hard to hear. How scary.

  4. I was working at my job Ladies Fitness at the time. (Somewhat like "Curves".) I was a trainer at the time and was in the back measuring a new customer and getting ready to train her. When we came out, the TVs were on and every lady was glued to the set (some still were working out despite it all). I glanced at the TV and thought they were watching a movie, so me and my trainee moved on and I continued to train her in. I honestly did think it was a movie for the longest time because what I saw is not something you see in real life--in America! I did think it was odd though that the women were so emotional over the "movie" (no one was crying or anything but they all had very serious faces on.) Then when one of the towers fell some of the women in the club began screaming and crying. I ran over to the TV and then realized that this was for REAL! I am always the last to know!

    I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I tried to get back to training because it seemed like the professional thing to do but neither me or my trainee could focus. We decided to call it a day and went back to the TV. My manager was beside herself because her boyfriend worked in one of the 5 endangered buildings next to the tower. We finally shut the place down for the day and went home. I spent the rest of the day glued to the TV and continued to watch well into the night as they looked for survivors.

    It was such a terrible day; but people began to come together and hang their flags. There was one old veteran that stood on a bridge waving his flag for a week straight--every day and all day long only stopping for bathroom breaks. He made it on the news and the traffic report always talked about "the man on the bridge with the flag."

    We also found out that one of the parishners of a church that I used to belong to was one of the heroes on Flight 93, Mark Bingham. His parents still attend that parish and although I have moved on, I think of them every year at this time.

    September 11th was the day that "America woke up". I hope we won't ever need such a wake up call again.

  5. This is from a blog post I wrote in 2011.

    Collin and I had been married for exactly 11 days. We were living in a small one-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis, MN, where I was a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Collin worked as a contractor for a local IT company.

    I remember my alarm, set to a local radio station, going off... I can't remember the time but I think it was around 7:30am, Central time. The only thing I heard before I hit the snooze button was, "A plane has hit the World Trade Center." Great, I remember thinking grumpily, some idiot in a Cessna went off course and has managed to kill himself.

    I got up and fired up my computer, intending to check my e-mail quickly before getting ready for the day. My homepage was set to and the pictures of an airliner flying into the first Tower leaped out at me immediately. I stared at them uncomprehendingly for a few minutes, then switched on the TV and started watching the news coverage. Then I went to wake up Collin and told him what was happening. He got up to watch the news coverage as well, and the two of us just held each other and watched the news in silence. We watched, live, as the second tower fell. Finally, I had to hurry up and get ready so I wouldn't miss my bus to campus.

    As it turned out, I really didn't need to rush... shortly after I arrived on campus, I found that they were shutting it down for the day in memory of all those who had died in the attacks. So I took the bus back home.

    As far as I remember, Collin and I spent the day moping around the apartment, just trying to process what had happened. I remember being so thankful that nothing like this had happened to the guests who had flown in for our wedding less than two weeks before. I wondered if Collin and I would begin our married life in a nation embroiled in war.

    On September 12, 2001, John Paul II said,

    "Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it."


  6. JPII also offered the following prayer the day after the 9/11/01 attacks. It's still very relevant today.

    Brothers and Sisters, in great dismay, before the horror of destructive violence, but strong in the faith that has always guided our fathers, we turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, salvation of his people, and with the confidence of children, pray that He will come to our aid in these days of mourning and innocent suffering.

    1. For the Churches of the East and the West, and in particular for the Church in the United States of America so that, though humbled by loss and mourning, yet inspired by the Mother of the Lord, strong woman beside the cross of her Son, they may foster the will for reconciliation, peace, and the building of the civilization of love.

    2. For all those who bear the name of Christian, so that, in the midst of many persons who are tempted to hatred and doubt, they will be witnesses to the presence of God in history and the victory of Christ over death.

    3. For the leaders of nations, so that they will not allow themselves to be guided by hatred and the spirit of retaliation, but may do everything possible to prevent new hatred and death, by bringing forth works of peace.

    4. For those who are weeping in sorrow over the loss of relatives and friends, that in this hour of suffering they will not be overcome by sadness, despair and vengeance, but continue to have faith in the victory of good over evil, of life over death.

    5. For those suffering and wounded by the terrorist acts, that they may return to stability and health and, appreciating the gift of life, may generously foster the will to contribute to the well being of every human being.

    6. For our brothers and sisters who met death in the folly of violence, that they find sure joy and life everlasting in the peace of the Lord, that their death may not be in vain but become a leaven bringing forth a season of brotherhood and collaboration among peoples.

    O Lord Jesus, remember our deceased and suffering brothers before your Father.
    Remember us also, as we begin to pray with your words: Pater noster...

    O Almighty and merciful God, you cannot be understood by one who sows discord, you cannot be accepted by one who loves violence: look upon our painful human condition tried by cruel acts of terror and death, comfort your children and open our hearts to hope, so that our time may again know days of serenity and peace.
    Through Christ our Lord.


  7. Abigail (from Abigail's Alcove) wanted to post but can't get her commenting to go through, so she has asked me to post this for her:

    "I was working as an public interest attorney in a small town in Ohio. We didn't have an office TV. I heard some updates from a paralegal with a radio in and out of my many client interviewing appointments. When she told me that a plane had crashed in PA, I put my head down in my desk, closed the door and started to cry. I thought the terrorists were attacking Pittsburgh. If they were going after Pittsburgh, I thought they might be going after all kinds of American Cities.

    I was a newlywed. My husband was 9 hours away from me finishing his grad school in Rochester, NY. He'd just left our house a few days before to start a new school year.

    On 9/11, I had just started RCIA for conversion to the Roman Catholic Church. I left work. I went to the new and unfamiliar Catholic church. It was open, but empty. Somehow the sunlight in the stain glass windows was so beautiful and peaceful. I laid down on a pew and started to cry. It actually felt painful to be in a place that peaceful while I was struggling with knowing the chaos of NYC and DC.

    I went home and started watching the news during my lunch break. The images were so awful, I quickly called work and said that I wasn't coming back that day. For the entire day and night, I watched the news alone in my empty house. (probably not the most mentally healthy option).

    I got transformed when Jeremy Glick's widow was interviewed on TV holding her newborn baby. That was the second that I realized I really wanted to have babies with my new husband. Before that moment we were on the "wait for 5 years before kids plan." There was something about realizing that time with a married spouse was so limited and precious that hit me. My heart was transformed in a second.

    My first kid basically came 9 months later. Now I'm a Stay at Home Mom to 6.

  8. I was in college. I managed to get ready for class and on campus without hearing about it. I was checking my email, and killing time in a computer lab, cursing the slow internet speeds that day. I signed out of my email and saw the news on MSN. I figured they were hyping some new action movie. I clicked the link and saw it was all too real. I hurried to the student union and joined a mass of students crowded around one of the big screens watching things unfold. We watched the towers fall...all of us in various stages of crying... my grandfather was supposed to fly to Connecticut that day for my cousin's wedding...obviously that didn't happen.

  9. I was a sophomore in college in religion class at my Catholic school. The principal came on the intercom and asked us to stand. Then he led us in an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be and told us what had happened. We watched it on TV for a while and I was so scared. I had a cousin living in New York and left class to ask my uncle (a teacher) if he could find out if she was ok. Our teachers tried to keep the day on track and not let us dwell on it. I remember going to Geometry and just trying to listen to a lecture and feeling guilty for thinking about math.

    The hardest part of it all was that my parents were out of town and I was in charge of my younger siblings for the first time ever. I drove them and the neighbor kids home from school and they asked me all sorts of hard questions that I couldn't answer. They were so afraid we were going to be attached because "our courthouse is tall like those towers". I panicked and waited in line for gas for an hour. My parents came home early from their trip that evening.

  10. From a wonderful lady who posted this on my Facebook page:

    "I was walking thru the pharmacy at work on my way back to my office and glanced at the TV just as the second plane hit the second tower. I remember being confused thinking it was a movie. But why was everyone in that lobby staring? Then it hit me. This is real! So much confusion, thoughts, doubt, fear packed into a split second. Looking back I can't imagine the thoughts in the minds of those trapped inside those buildings that day from hell. I cant wipe it from my memory. I don't want to; tho it was so horrific. God Bless the survivors and families of those lost."

  11. From a reader, Jennifer:

    "I can point to the exact spot in my living room where I was standing when I heard. I was baby sitting that day - I had my four-year-old, my one-year-old, and my friends' three-year-old and newborn. The older two were watching Bob the Builder. I was walking through the living room and the phone rang. It was the boys' mom telling me to turn on the TV. I changed the channel and saw the second plane hit. Then another girlfriend called. She was pregnant and having complications and needed me to come to her house with my four - she also baby sat - and watch all the kids at her house. I listened to the radio all the way over - about a 15 minute drive - the Chicago news radio was broadcasting a live feed of their New York sister station - so you could hear the panic in the voices of the broadcasters who could see what was happening out their windows. Every minute or two they would broadcast an alarm and an all-call for any available emergency personnel to report to the scene. At my girlfriend's house, I took the kids outside to play and kept the TV and radio off. I remember speaking to a girlfriend from Florida who had visited me the day before and was at the airport ready to fly home when the FAA grounded all flights. She and her husband were lucky to get a rental car and be able to drive home. At home, later, the empty sky was eerie - we live near enough to three regional airports and Chicago that we see planes all day. We did see Air Force One fly over. Later that night, I did not turn on the TV until the kids were in bed. My husband was not home. I think he was still taking Master's degree classes at the time. So I was home alone, with the news. . . I remember just a day or two later, at night, the unexpected sound of thunder made me very jumpy. It dawned on me today, dropping my boys off at school, that there's probably not a child in that K-8 building who was even BORN when 9/11 happened."

  12. From a reader named Janet:

    "I had gone to 6:30 AM daily Mass as usual, and felt like staying to pray the Rosary afterwards. I could hear a lot of activity of people entering the Church and was amazed about how many people were coming in for the 8:30 AM Mass, but I was sitting towards the front and deep in prayer. As I went to leave and turned around, I saw all these pained, worried, anxious faces, like nothing I had not seen or experienced before. I approached a woman I knew and said, what is happening? She had a little gasp and said, "You don't know? Of course not, you were here." and she told me. I felt like I had some life punched out of me. I went home and turned on the TV, and watched the replays. In fear I wanted to watch expecting more to happen, and knew I had to give myself a break. I remember going outside and hearing a quiet before unknown, for all planes were grounded. I was glad I prayed so much in ignorance, for it was difficult to pray dealing with fear. I went to our parish's Chapel and there was a frightened woman with a nun sitting with her, praying with her, being with her and I knew her husband must have been in a tower. He was, he had died. I was able to break the grip of fear and started praying for all those who lost loved ones. The day passed too slow and I wanted answers."

  13. I was driving on my way to take my then almost 10 week old baby (born 5.5 weeks early) to his daycare for the first time, as it was my first day back at work after maternity leave. I was listening to a local radio station when they came on talking about how the first tower had been hit and they were thinking it had been accident, a malfunction or pilot error or something. I switched over to NPR thinking they would have more info than a local morning show on a classic rock station. I can pinpoint exactly where I was on the Interstate when, while the NPR people were talking about their disbelief that it could have been pilot error and leaning towards a malfunction, the second tower was hit, and that's when everything erupted.
    I managed to get my very small, very helpless baby to his daycare and dropped him off, reluctantly saying goodbye, and drove to work, where we all sat in a big room with the news coverage on a giant projector tv watching in disbelief as the towers fell. I hated that I had to finish out work that day, but there were kids to care for (I ran a school age child care site for the YMCA of Greater St. Louis). I didn't get off until 6:15pm that night.
    I don't remember much else. My DH was at work and had graduate classes. I know he picked up our son and got home before me. I didn't know what to do. It was at that point I realized just how much I wanted to stay home with our kids.

  14. I was a senior in college and woke up to my radio alarm. They mentioned something about the twin towers being struck by airplanes so I hurried to the living room with a tv (I was living in my sorority house) and saw large group of girls huddled around the tv. I couldn't believe what was happening, but also thought I needed to get to my early class because we were only allowed so many missed classes. When I arrived, my professor was standing in the doorway and greeted each student with a hug and told us to go home. I thought that was so kind and loving of her. The rest of the day I spent in front of the tv alternating between crying and complete confusion. Throughout the day all of my siblings and I got in touch with one another to tell each we loved each other which we hardly ever said outloud - we know we just didn't say it much and now we are much better about it. It was definitely a day filled with fear but also a lot of love and compassion.

  15. Where were you when you found out what was happening?

    I was at work, post-meeting, with about a dozen of my team members in a main building of our product facility. We exited the conference room to find groups of other people gathered in the wing, watching the mounted television sets. Some people were on their cell phones relaying the news to others.

    What did you do?

    We stood watching the news for a few minutes, chatting with the others to gather information about what had happened. We all tried to digest the frantic images and the chaos. Several of us got on our phones and immediately called loved ones. In a vibrant and normally efficient workplace such as ours, it was eerily quiet that morning. Most of the employees left work at some point, that day.

    Did it affect your faith?

    It moved it into action.

    I prayed my Divine Mercy chaplet for this country and for this world today. For the sake of His sorrowful passion ...

    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Ps 91:1

  16. At the time I was single and living in Mass, only twenty minutes away from Boston and Logan Airport where two of the hijacked planes took off. I was working as a teacher at a daycare and noticed something going on. My co-worker was out in the parking lot talking to someone and she was due in the classroom. I was wondering, what is going on? She came into the room and told me that a plane had hit one of the towers. I misunderstood her and thought a plane hit one of the sky scrapers in Boston. At the time my brother and his fiancee were working in Boston. I called my Dad in a panic and asked him if my brother and his fiancee were okay? I learned that it wasn't a sky scraper in Boston, but two passenger planes had hit the World Trade Center in NYC (a place I had visited once when I was twelve and then again as an adult. I remember going up in that elevator and my ears popping because it was so high. I was 12 at the time and my brother 11. Our family visited the observation deck at one of the World Trade Centers and took all kinds of pictures of NYC below us. Those pictures came back to haunt me after 9/11. I can't even look at them without thinking of the poor people trapped in the towers, the jumpers, the people in the airplanes! May God Bless their souls!). My co-worker turned on the radio and we listened. I remember panicking when it was announced Air Force One was flying the President to a safe location and yelling at the radio: "Why are you announcing where you are flying the President to on the radio for everyone, including the people attacking our country, to hear?! I had such anxiety that my co-worker told me she would take over changing the children's diapers. I remember some of the parents running in to pick up their children early and whispering to us "Be careful", "Stay Safe". At the time one of the children in our class was due to fly to California to visit her family, but thank God her flight was NOT on that day. When I got home, everyone was watching the news, videos of the planes flying into the world trade center, stories about the pilots, stories about the passengers, family and friends walking around NYC hanging up flyers of their loved ones. I would stand there with tears running down my face. Finally, I went outside and a bunch of neighbors were gathered talking about what happened that day. The next few days were very strange. Everyone started wearing "God Bless America" t-shirts, putting stickers and flags on their cars. "God Bless America" music was even playing in stores like the Wal-Greens down the street. I remember walking to Wal-greens wearing a "God Bless America" t-shirt and people in their cars beeping at me. It seemed that everyone was in such shock what had happened. It brought us all together for awhile. And more people started to turn back to God and fill up the churches again.

  17. I remember President Bush declaring a few days later National Prayer Day. I walked to Wal-Greens, bought some red, white, and blue ribbon and started tying it around the two trees in front of my house, on our street sign, ect. When National Prayer Day happened, it rained for awhile and then a beautiful rainbow appeared over the flag waving in my neighbor's yard across the street. I remember smiling and thinking, "See? The rainbow is a sign of hope. God is telling us He is still here and He will take care of us."

    No, I didn't know anybody personally who were passengers on those planes or in the towers, but 1) Our neighbors worked with a lady who died on one of the planes and she had a 7 year old daughter. I remember seeing my neighbors on the way to the funeral. So sad. 2) Jeffrey Combs who died on flight 11 lived with his wife and several young children in the next town over from us. 3) One of my cousins worked at the Pentagon. I called his Mom in a panic and she told me her son was safe. I was so relieved.

    I remember reading the newspapers and the story that struck me deeply was about the young working Mom of two children who didn't like to be away from her family. She wrote a note to her husband and kids telling them how much she was going to miss them. She was on a business trip with her company with a few other co-workers who were also young Mothers. That story made me cry and touched my heart. I pray for repose of the souls of these young mothers, their children, all the victims of 9/11, and their families often.

    I also remember seeing quite a few black limos with tinted windows and Virginia license plates in my area. Someone told me they were the FBI.

    It was really eerie spending time outside and not hearing or seeing any planes flying over my street. On an average day one could usually spot several passenger airplanes flying over my house numerous times a day. When the FAA finally allowed airplane travel again, I remember being startled whenever I would hear one passing over me, I'd stop shot, and stare at it.

  18. The scary thing is that on 9/11/01 Americans and the world DID receive a wake-up call in the form of a national tragedy and great loss of lives. People seemed to turn back to God for awhile and start attending church again, but stopped after awhile. It is very sad and scary what is going on in this country and the world today. For example, it is very upsetting to me how some people are mocking God, Our Blessed Mother (there are some very disturbing pages on Facebook and Facebook refuses to do anything about it), and Christians/Catholics. Also very disturbing is how some people like to try to argue that a fetus is NOT a baby in order in order to justify abortion. My heart and soul is so sad about these things. So many people are hurting. They need God, but they do not realize it. It is my opinion that God is very much offended. Please pray, everyone especially the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet for the conversion of sinners and the end of abortion. If we pray more, we CAN turn things around, end abortion, bring more souls to Jesus and Mary, and have peace. Will you please join me in prayer? Thank you so much! I am speaking from my heart here. I care so much about people. I want everyone to be able to go to Heaven. May God Bless all of you! XO

    1. Hi, Leila! It's me, your friend on Facebook - Maria T. I'm signing in with my other email address, which is connected to my blog "Hail Mary Full Of Grace." where I share my devotion to the Blessed Mother and the rosary. New posts coming soon! I also plan to have a giveaway soon! If anybody needs prayer, please let me know! God Bless America and everyone here and their families!


  19. I live in Canada and on 9/11 I was working for the federal government in a downtown building in western Canada. The tension was so thick in the office you could cut it with a knife. in Canada the airports were loaded and over crowded with flights ordered to land. After all of the evil of 9/11 it was so heartening to read the stories of how people opened their home for the stranded travellers in Newfoundland and our small maritimes communities.

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