I wrote this for a book I thought I was going to publish about the 2000s Decade, but decided not to.
2001: Gefahrene Neurotische or Beginning of American Anxiety
When we think of 2001, the first thing that comes to our mind is the tragedy of September 11th. I remember the day like it was yesterday—Tuesday, September 11, 2001 started out as a beautiful September morning—chilly, but quickly warming up from the sun that was shining brightly in the crystal blue sky. Like usual, I woke up at 6 A.M., got dressed and mom took me to nan’s around 6:50, watched the news, then went to Upper Merion Middle School like I normally did since I started sixth grade exactly a week before. At 7:30 A.M. I walked through the blue doors into the cafeteria to wait for classes to begin at 8:10. I sat in homeroom like normal, reading a book or writing, and then listened to announcements. I went to first and second mods (in middle school, they called periods mods) like I usually did and just focused on school work. We didn’t have televisions in the classrooms on and following third or fourth mod, I heard people talking about how a plane flew into a building, but didn’t think anything of it. Since it was Middle School and I was twelve, they didn’t turn on the TVs for us. I just carried on in my normal fashion, disregarding anything serious, and classes went on.
Looking back, however, classes were a little strange. During English that day, our grammar book mentioned the World Trade Center and Mr. Naples skipped over that one. I thought it was odd, but after further examination, it was obvious to figure out what mechanical and grammatical errors were and thought he skipped over it for that reason. The bell violently rang at 2:55—the day was over. As always, I lollygagged because I either liked to talk to a teacher, took extra time at my locker or stopped by the library to quickly check out books before I went outside to meet my dad to take me home. On the afternoon of September 11, 2001 it was no different and I was expecting daddy picking me up. I walked out the double light blue cafeteria doors out to the porch that was protected by an awning that was painted a tan colour. I surveyed the crowd to look for dad, but to my surprise I saw mom instead. Since dad is a deputy sheriff for Montgomery County, my first thought was that something terrible had happened to him. Since I was lollygagging, mom thought something happened to me.
“Where were you? I was worried sick!”
“I was inside. What’s wrong,” I looked puzzled, but soon filled with dread expecting to hear something bad had happened to dad.
“Didn’t you hear what happened?”
“We’ve been attacked!”
Edwin Farrell, a senior at the time of the attacks from Scotland High School in North Carolina recalls:
think I had fried chicken for lunch. [Our school] had the TVs on, they had those close circuit TVs in the rooms. [I was not scared because] I was in bum fuck North Carolina.”
Ray Cravitz, a senior at the time at Upper Merion High School in Pennsylvania recalls:
y biggest memory from Sept. 11th was the dissonance between what was going on and how sunny and beautiful the weather was. Also, I spent the whole night googling what happened and Osama bin Laden.”
Marsha Williams, a junior in high school at the time recalls:
remember I just back in from English, I was somewhere. When I got back, the TV was on and they were watching. I don't think what was happening set in my head then. But I knew something serious was happening. I was in High School then, 11th grade.”
Judith Bierman, a retired woman and great friend of mine from Wisconsin recalls:
remember I was just checking out of a hotel room after a brief vacation before heading to one last place to site see. As I saw the 2nd plane slam into the Trade Tower on TV I was just absolutely stunned and realized the only place we needed to go was straight home. It was a day for mourning.”
Scott Good, a sixth grader in middle school from Downingtown, Pennsylvania recalls:
, like you Jessica, was in Middle School. I remember all the teachers acting suspicious and fellow students being picked up by their parents. When I got home on the bus, I knew something was wrong when I walked in my house. My Mom was standing in front of the TV and didn't say a word, just motioned me to look at the TV. Every channel had coverage of the planes flying into the Trade Center and Pentagon. I'll never forget coming home and seeing the planes fly into the World Trade Center.”
Darlene Grace, a friend and current resident of Elkton, Maryland recalls:
was in work. One of my coworkers had a small tv for lunchtime but she tuned it in when someone commented about a plane hitting into the Trade Tower. We were all so shocked about a second plane. When the second plane hit, we knew it was no accident. I also recall the day as beautiful and sunny, but the horror of what was going on in New York was such a stark contrast. I know we started getting pretty scared once the realization set in. My coworkers and I had planned a company sight-seeing trip to New York on Saturday, Sept 15th (which obviously never happened) but I remember we were all excited for several weeks beforehand that we were all going to have fun in NYC. Honestly, that day 9/11 was just a day that stands out in one's mind forever. It was also frightening when, for a time, all flights were grounded. That also was pretty sobering. I guess like others, I never thought such an attack would happen. Now after that, I feel it can easily happen again. I will be 54 in March. (Just for your reference). Really, I was very complacent. In my mind, my world was safe. It sounds so cliché but everything changed forever. Even flying. I flew down to see my parents in Tampa Florida since they moved there in '98, breezing thru security.
It was never the same again....and it never will be. Anytime I see recent 'close calls' with a terrorist, the back of my mind says 'Oh God, not again...’”
Early Hours, a friend from the Writing.com community and current resident of Ft. Myers, Florida recalls:
was driving 45 minutes to work, listening to the Howard Stern radio show (which is broadcasted from NY). This "shock jock" became a real newsman and had one of the finest and well-regarded on-the-scene coverage of any news agency. It was shocking hearing the events as they happened.”
Rick Jackson, a fifth grade student at Sacred Heart from Havertown, Pennsylvania recalls:
was in math class when I heard about the tragic accident, I recall a friend of mines father who witnessed it all and lived to tell the story, he worked for amtrack and was running through NYC the day it hapened and I just remember everyone being emotional over the bad incident.”
Tweeky, from the DJ community and a resident of Lincolnshire, United Kingdom recalls:
was out bird watching with my father when I heard about it. We'd gone out to see a Purple Heron in Leicestershire but it had gone, once we'd given up and were almost pack at the car the pager which we have to keep us up to date on rare bird sightings beeps but instead of bird news there was a message saying that two planes had crashed in to the Twin Towers. As we drove home we listened to the news breaking on BBC Radio Four. It was pretty shocking, as we listened we heard that first one then the other tower fell, then there was a report of a third plane hitting the Pentagon. As I recall there were reports that several other flights may be missing, one was the one that crashed in Pennsylvania, the others were thankfully false alarms although at the time we feared we'd hear of further crashes into high profile targets.”
Barb Burkert Bayer, a mother of my friend Joyce and a stay at home mom, resident of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania recalls:
was at home with Mathew. Joyce was at school and Mike was at work. I was on the Yahoo IM talking to Mike when I saw the first report. Then I heard how the Pentagon was hit. I was terrified that Philly was next. Mike at that time worked in Center City right across the street from Independence hall and stuff. I saw the second plane hit the tower and I cried to Mike to come home because I was afraid PA was next. I remember that night after everyone was home. I was awaken by planes flying over our house and I kept waking up and fearing we were being attacked and I woke up Mike telling him I hear planes and he told me it was the military flying over us keeping us safe.”
Sam Rapine, a fourth grade student at Roberts Elementary School at the time, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania recalls:
remember coming home to my family around the TV, and everybody looked grim. It had just been a quiet day, because they didn't tell us (fourth graders) anything about it. It barely seems like something I was alive for, compared to how I take a tragedy on that scale now.”
Sean Sebeck, a fifth grade student at the time from York, Pennsylvania recalls:
remember I was in Math Class taking a test. I remember my teacher telling us to line up and since I went to Catholic school we went over to church to pray, but I didn't know what was going on. I remember having my mom pick me up from school and I watching both towers come down live on tv. I still remember watching the tv and how they would replay the planes flying into the buildings again and again.”
Dick Madden, my mom’s godfather and a resident of Seattle, Washington recalls:
etting ready to work. TV on. Unreal feeling and a remembrance of the Shuttle disaster. When the Pentagon terror act was shown we were very concerned about those in the area and, more to the point, our son Christopher who works at the Pentagon near the site of the crash. It turned out he had to stop at another site on his way to the Pentagon and was further delayed looking at the New York buildings afire on an office TV. Otherwise he might very well have been in the area where the plane impacted. (We have thanked the Lord for those delays more than once.) A colleague of our daughter, a doctor, also happened to be on a golf course near the Pentagon when the plane flashed overhead. He did not realize what was taking place until later when he realized it was the hijacked aircraft. A further comment. Those that try to maintain the whole thing was staged and that explosives were used planted by "our side" is not looking at the data. A high speed aircraft with fuel aboard can cause a terrific amount of damage even to reinforced concrete buildings. Except that that side of the Pentagon had recently been reinforced, the damage would have been even greater.”Grady Brown, a sixth grade student at Upper Merion Middle School at the time recalls:
think I was in 6th grade and we had to go outside for some dumb reason I thought at the time and when we were out side Chris Gefvert told me that the twin towers got ran into by air planes.. and I gave him a dumb look like why would someone do that twice.....”Caroline Wallace, a friend from the writing.com community and a first grade student at the time from Tampa, Florida recalls:
was in first grade. My parents didn't tell me about it because I guess they didn't really know how to explain it to someone that young. I remember people being unusually upset. Though I didn't understand it, I had too much pride to ask someone for what I didn't know. A year later I found out, and the reality changed something inside of me.”
Dani Yeager, a junior at Williams Valley Junior-Senior High School at the time from Tower City, Pennsylvania recalls:
ll I can remember thinking is this can't be happening. This isn't real. It's a hoax.”
We walked to mom’s 1995 dark green Acheiva and I sat down on the black seats. She had the radio on and it was news about the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., followed by a crash in Pennsylvania. The news anchormen and women, I recall, compared it to the Pearl Harbor attacks.
“That’s ironic how these attacks almost happen sixty years after the Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor,” my young mind thought. Mom explained that dad was working late this night for security reasons, but my mind was racing to really pay attention.
Mom’s dark green Achieva pulled into our white two-door garage and quickly I noticed dad’s 1991 blue Oldsmobile, which we nicknamed the Blue Bomber, wasn’t parked on its respective side. Instead it was empty with oil stains on the concrete.
Quickly mom stated, as she most likely read the worried expression on my face, “Daddy’s working late tonight, sweetie. They needed extra help watching over important monuments.”
When mom and I walked through our white kitchen door decorated with black wheel marks from my rolling backpack, we were greeted by Woo and his high-pitched meowing that sounded more like a baby than a cat. Though he was an indoor cat, we both knew he wanted to go outside for a little bit.
I opened up the back door and outside I stepped with Woo into the fresh air. I walked around the yard in the sunshine and thought about what was going on and a dream I had the night before. Woo roamed the backyard, sniffing the air and enjoying his brief freedom.
Walking in through our old rickety sliding door with Woo in hand, though he’s meowing to let me go since he didn’t want to go back inside from the beautiful day outside. I ignored him by putting him down in the dining room and I walked into the living room to turn on the TV. All stations showed the planes flying into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Seconds later the buildings were in flames. As reported on ABC’s Good Morning America:
Well, we see—it appears that there is more and more fire and smoke enveloping the very top of the building, and as fire crews are descending on this area, it—it does not appear that there’s any kind of an effort up there yet. Now remember—Oh, my god!
Oh my God! Oh my God!
The second building that was hit by the plane has just completely collapsed. The entire building has just collapsed…it folded down on itself and it’s not there anymore.
We are talking about massive casualties here at the moment and we have—whoo—that is extraordinary.
ABC then pans on the screen the terror in New York City citizen’s eyes as Don Dahler reports that “there is panic on the streets. There are people screaming and running from the site. The gigantic plume of smoke has reached me and I’m probably a quarter of a mile north of there” (The Cell 3) and I cannot believe I am watching this terror unfold—it feels like a terrible dream that is followed by watching the Twin Towers collapse.
That night I stayed with nan and before I went to her house, I got a call from Anna. She had sent me an e-mail asking if I was alright, but since I was grounded and couldn’t go online, I didn’t get the e-mail. Out of concern she called me to make sure I was alright. Anna lived in Tower City at the time, a few hours from where that one plane crashed in Pennsylvania; she was shaken up. We both talked about how we couldn’t believe that we were living through this and how surreal it was. When I went to nan’s house, she said it was like Pearl Harbor all over again, but “Roosevelt declared war on those Japanese, they were dirty.” From her history, she foreshadowed what was to come in another year and a half.