Your 9/11 Story

All our lives changed on September 11, 2001. Some of us lost loved ones, or knew someone who lost a loved one. Some of us experienced a profound change in attitude–a profound paradigm shift, perhaps. Well, it has been about 10 years now since 9/11. Looking back, how did you manage to get through the events of that fateful day? Where were you? How did 9/11 change you? What lessons  have you drawn from the events of 9/11? Tell us your story.

With respective permissions we will feature a few stories on the Tell Us Your Story page on the 9-11 10th Year Anniversary website–which recently launched. Have you been to the commemoration website? If not, visit www.911TenthYear.com now and share it with your family, friends, and coworkers.

76 Responses

  1. Was a EMT that responded. longest day of my life. Everytime I see a low flying, I always watch it til it disappears. RIP Yamel Merino and all others lost that horrble day

    • Thank you for your service and bravery on 9/11. You are a true hero sir.

    • Thank you so much for everything you’ve done.. I think you would appreciate this:

      “You Were Running In”

      “Because of the Brave”

      • That video was just so beauiful it brought tears to my eyes.After 10 years it still hurts in side just knowing how many people lost there lifes and there family members. My God bless all of you.

      • Thanks for sharing these videos Chelsea.

      • I can not watch the moments of the attack,the destruction and evil unfold without shedding tears for the senseless twisted act.
        When I see those men and women walking into the destruction to take care of the chaos and aid in the recovery I loose my composure. Those are my people.
        Those are my brothers and sisters who do not know or understand such evil.
        They have pride and honor in their souls to help and save their fellow Americans.
        That day we were all one despite the evil that reigned down upon us.
        Too many have forgotten in the name of political correctness and ignorance.
        The Islamic threat shall never end and those who follow Islam aim is to further Islam and corrupt our way of life. By pen or by sword.
        We all promised to never forget. So many have.
        Those on flight 93 were our first soldiers in this war.
        Where they perished is now a monument that encompasses the Islamic faith and points to Mecca.
        Why have so many forgotten?
        We owe the dead so much more.

  2. On the morning of 9/11, I was on my way to renew my MVI sticker. I turned on my radio on my way and I heard the live talk of the attac on the towers. I was schocked to hear what had happened. I thought it was all a joke when I first heard the news. I went home after renewing my MVI sticker and quickly turned on the tv. I froze when I saw that local tv had the towers in their attack. I went down in tears and realized it was true what I had heard on the radio. I looked at my husband and hugged him realizing that my husband will go into the war that was going to take place. My husband was in the National Guard at the time. I knew that this attack was calling for a war. Luckily, my husband didn’t go into war, but he was activated to go to Fort Polk, La. to maintian security at that base since that unit at Fort Polk did get activated to go into war. Later on, my husband’s unit was activated to go to Guantanamo, Cuba to watch the prisoners of war. Luckily, my husband did not go to Guantanamo, Cuba, because I was pregnant at the time and due to medical reasons with my pregnancy, my husband was discharged from the military. I felt so blessed that I was able to keep my husband at home. I was terrified that other families had to loose their loved ones for the war. Before the 9/11 attacks, news that happened in the United States or around the world really didn’t get my attention, but after 9/11, I matured and began getting more invovled into what happened here in our country and the world. I did not have any family members or friends invovled in the attacks, but it felt like I did. Everyone that were involved in this attack felt as my family. I was in so much pain and distress. I felt as if I had lost family members, these victims were my family….we’re a big family in this country. Now a days, I watch over my family, friends, even strangers. Everytime I get a chance, I make sure no one is in danger. I worry about terrorists coming in into our country. I know this country is blessed, because our God is the one who is taking care of us. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the men and women who have served in the military for this war and other wars before this one. Because of these soldiers and soldiers before them, this country is the best country to live in. Also, I would like to thank the families of the soldiers who stand behind them with all their support. I know this is a painful time, I wish I could do more than just keep them in my prayers. My husband, children, and I would do anything for these families, we just don’t know what to do or how to. MAY GOD BLESS OUR COUNTRY, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!! Mirna Mapp, Gonzales, LA.

  3. On September 11th, 2001, I remember it as a beautiful day in our Nation’s capital. Along with my husband and 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter, I lived in Northern Virginia, just about 20 minutes from the Pentagon. My children had gone off to school. My husband was away at a company executive meeting in St. Michael’s, Maryland, on Chesapeake Bay. I went off to a women’s club meeting a couple of miles from our home. The meeting was held in a one room school house, which the club was preserving through historic renovation. My husband was in a B&B with no public phone or television. I remember him calling on his cell phone to tell me Happy Anniversary again(our anniversary was the 10th and he was away) and to say that “someone said that a small plane hit the World Trade Center Tower.” We talked for a moment about how that could happen. He had grown up in New York City and watched the World Trade Center being built! Bill and the other executives in Maryland on retreat happened to be the CEOs of some of the largest, closest hospitals to the Pentagon. Through cell phone connections, they found out what was happening in New York, Washington and Pennslyvania. As they began to gather their things and drive back across the Bay Bridge at close to 100 miles per hour the air ambulance from my husband’s hospital was the first emergency vehicle to arrive at the Pentagon. The scene was a war zone. Meanwhile, back at the schoolhouse, a neighbor rushed in and shouted, ” you all need to leave and go home! The Pentagon has been attacked, the World Trade Center and the state department!”. Of course many stories that day were incorrect. A few people in the room screamed. I later learned that several of the women’s husbands worked at the Pentagon and one of the ladies’ brother-in-law died in the North Tower in New York.

    I immediately rushed to my son’s middle school. It happened to be at the end of the Dulles’ Airport Runway with the runway ending guardrail in plain sight. The Principal let me take my son home but did not want to alarm the children because she didn’t know if some of the parents would not be alive to be at home if she dismissed school early. I gathered my children around me and eventually my son went over to a chalkboard in our kitchen and wrote” God Bless America.” He was 12 years old, a South Korean born, adopted child who became an American citizen when he was one year old. His heart was broken. I still have that chalk board in my kitchen in the Chicago suburbs and it still has the same words on it from that morning which have never been touched. Very late that night my husband arrived home with the saddest face I had ever seen. He had been preparing for the next attack, since arriving back at the hospital. He handed me an anniversay present which he brought home from St. Michael’s. It is a print of a dock on the Bay. He took out a pen and wrote on the back of it before we put it down. “Purchased at Wade’s Point Inn on The Bay on September 11, 200l in St. Michael’s, Maryland, minutes before the terrorists bombed The World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.”

    In New York City, that evening, my sister and brother-in-law could not be reached. They live in Battery Park City in a co-op, two blocks from the World Trade Center. My sister-in-law had her windows open that morning and she heard the planes hit the Towers. She rushed down the stairs to the street and was immediately ushered on to a pleasurecraft boat to New Jersey. She could not reach her husband at work or her young children, at school. They were out of touch for 24 hours. Her Father-in-law, who was elderly and ill, walked to each of the schools and picked up her sons without her knowing where they were.( The co-op building was evacuated later that week for several months because it was unstable. Everyone had 30 minutes to move out! )

    My neighbor across the street was the Head Secret Service Agent to the President. He was on Air Force One with President Bush. We heard how much the President wanted to return to The District all day on September 11th, to be there for the country and for his wife. The Secret Service finally told him that he could not return until it was safe because they were, in fact, protecting not only him but the Presidency of the United States.

  4. On 9/11 I was in 6th grade and I walked in class and thought something was wrong just didnt know what it was.The teacher of my class and the other two teachers that taught sixth grade at this school were outside talking. Finally, after about 30 minutes she comes in and tells us the news that the North tower had been hit. I fell to my knees because about 3 years earlier my cousin had joined the United States Marine Corps. If you are reading this and you see a veteran from any era thank them and do it sincerely. September 11, 2001 made me want to join the US Military but later found out I couldnt due to medical issues. I hope this touches someone.

    • I am not sure, but I am guessing your cousin may have been part of the Marines who served or are serving our country in response to 9/11. Please thank him for us. And yes, everyone should express sincere appreciation to all our men and women in uniform when they meet them – especially on this 10th anniversary. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. I was on my way to a local park to run on a trail before my first class at 10:15 because it was so nice that day. I was about half way there when the radio DJ cut in with an announcement about the first plane hitting the tower. My first thought was ‘this is some sort of prank, like HG Well’s war of the worlds was.” I got to the park and did me exercises as planned. When I got back in the car to go home and get cleaned up, I heard that the second tower had been hit. At that point, I was starting to think that it might not be a prank. When I got home, I turned the tv to CNN see if they had anymore information that what was on the radio; at that point they were starting to speculate as to who was responsible for the attacks. After a few minutes of watching the news, i went to get ready for my classes. Just as I was finishing my shower, my Mom called from work to see if I had heard about the tower getting hit. I told her I had and that the second tower had been hit by a plane as well. Around the same time as Mom called, I heard on the radio about the Pentagon.

    I went to my first class, which coincidentally was Religion, we spent the first part of class watching the news via computer. Then the teacher gave a condensed lesson on Islam and we talked about what may happen next for us as a country. I had several other classes that day and how the teachers handled classes that day and the next few days varied. One teacher didn’t even act like anything out of the ordinary happened, but most of them asked if we wanted to talk about what happened, if we wanted to go on as normally as possible, or both.

    • Thanks for your story Jessica. Many of us were in shock on that day – so much so that some of us were angry that something like this could ever happen. This may be why some of your teachers (at least one) acted like nothing happened; He or she was probably in shock or angry. Hopefully, your teachers were helpful in offering to start a dialogue about what you had experienced.

  6. I remember that I was driving to work , listening and laughing at two of my favorite radio personalities, “Rick and Bubba’, in Birmingham , Alabama. I remember precisely where I was on the interstate when I heard Rick say that he was getting an announcement that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. When I reached my office, my secretary already had the TV on, showing the first horrific views of the towers in flames. I will never forget that feeling . My first thought was to pray for those in the planes and the buildings, for by now we knew it was probably a terrorist attack. There was such a feeling of loss, but it was later, after the buildings had just fallen that I was watching as the smoke was still too dense to see anything ,and a cameraman showed the first shots of the debris…at first it was silent, then I began to hear the locators the firemen wore , beeping uselessly under the rubble…my heart literally broke . I never want to have to hear such a thing again. Since the attack, I have been so much more aware of my surroundings, and I have a deep distrust of anyone who would in any way support the building of an Islamic center located very nearly on the site of this travesty. I pray for those whose family members died in the attack, and hope that we as a nation can realize that we must never be so vulnerable again. We must NEVER forget !!!!! Becki McAnnally

    • Even though it has been almost 10 years, your memory is still very vivid, as it is with most of us. And, you are right – we must never forget. I sense that the controversy with the Islamic Center near Ground Zero is a source of pain for you, as it is with many, but let it not diminish your focus (our focus) on remembering those we lost, while celebrating their lives on this 10th anniversary. Thank you for your story.

  7. i was waiting to go in for gallbladder surgery. i was all hooked up to the ivs and just waiting for my operation time. someone came in and turned the tv on saying one of the twin towers had been hit by a plane. at first thought it was an accident. that was bad enough but when it came out that it was deliberate that was unfathomable. i was devastated to put it mildly. elective surgeries were then cancelled. will never forget that day.

  8. On tuesday morning September 11, 2001 we were flying from Chicago to Providence Rhode Island on Southwest flight 418. While in flight we were informed of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center taking place at that very moment.

    As it turned out ours was the last flight accounted for as the tragic events of that day unfolded. Our flight was diverted & landed safely in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the midst of massive confusion as to what happened next, we were “saved” when our SW pilot fronted the bill for all of us SW passengers to catch a train to Midway Field in Chicago. This pilot actually put everyone’s Amtrak ticket on his personal credit card!

    SW had been attempting to re-establish their connections but when we arrived at MDW there was massive confusion & frustration. Rumors spread that bombs were planted at airports. No planes were flying. Thousands were stranded, tired & confused.

    Suddenly the crowd broke out singing The Star Spangled Banner! A wave of calm, courage & profound sense of coming together enveloped us then & continues even now.
    In retrospect, this was a pivotal moment in which the people of America & the people of the world came together!

    We are America!

    We are the World!

    We will survive & we will thrive!

  9. ON 9/11 A FRIEND AND I WERE UP IN THE RUINS AT MACCHU PICHU AND CAME DOWN LATER IN THE DAY TO THE TOWN. SOMEONE RAN UP TO US AND ASKED US TO LOOK AT THE TV IN THE RESTAURANT. THE ANNOUNCEMENTS WERE IN SPANISH,SO WE DIDN’T QUITE UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON AND ASSUMED IT WAS A MOVIE. AN AMERICAN FINALLY TOLD US WHAT WAS REALLY HAPPENING, AND IT WAS ALL SO SURREAL. I STILL ASSOCIATE 9/11 WITH MACCHU PICHU AND NEVER WANT TO GO THERE AGAIN.

  10. My Friend for Three Days

    Since this year is ten years from an event that shocked, horrified and changed the entire world I thought I might make an attempt to share a story that is mine and may very well likely parallel countless others. This by no means is any attempt to put myself above the countless friends, family members, rescue workers and survivors it would be impossible and I could never compare what they went through with what I am about to share my following experience. Assuming you are going to read all of this please understand you will need to know these words and descriptions may be considered sophomoric at best. This all stemmed with a friend who had suggested we volunteer in NYC, in November, 2001. This was the holiday season and we all know how infamous and romantic NYC can be during this time of year. No amount of decorations and traditional music could remedy the agony and sorrow saturating the streets. One friend, a psychologist, and I were set to arrive at a ground zero location the next day after arriving to provide what assistance we could. Another friend who was and still is was living in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan told us of his experience of seeing so many familiar faces on schedule enter and exit the subway entrance completely vanish as a result of this event.Hearing this set the tone of what we were about to enter into. Nonetheless, my friend the “Shrink” and I woke the next day to begin. The decision was made to walk from Greenwich Village down to Ground Zero where we were to report to the organization prearranged by my friend for our assignments. The walk there had the sidewalks crowded with people wearing patriotic clothing and holding the American flag. These were the people walking there with us, the ones who were walking away from there, coming towards us the faces told stories of horror, uncontrollable weeping and people even having to sit on the curb on the verge of passing out. Moving closer, the tips of those infamous steel beams rising up from where I knew those two towers had been and had seen many times on past visits. Covered on every available public surface and store front were flyers with pictures of missing people and information on what floor of what tower they were in on the day of the attack with hopes that someone had seen or heard they were alive. Not knowing that these flyers and photos were about to become the focus of my time. The closer we approached the indescribable stench of decaying flesh mixed with smoke and what was later explained to me was rat poison since they were in mass drawn to the odor. Everywhere most surfaces were still covered in ash and smoke still rising out of the center of what remained. This is just a small example of what I found to make such an impact so naturally we were hit with the shock and reality of such enormous destruction and tragedy.

    After arriving at headquarters and checking in we were assigned our jobs. The “Shrink naturally was to be sent to a building that was set up for psychiatric counseling to rescue workers and anyone needing attention Post Traumatic Stress was epidemic. I was assigned to an area set up for those who were searching for missing people would bring their flyers and or fill out a form that could be cataloged and made accessible to those who would take the information to the next level. The moment I arrived at my post and saw the sea of people whose faces displayed such despair, anguish, fatigue, denial and in abundance, hope. What happened to me from this point on will forever change my view of the importance of dignity and acknowledging the basic compassionate humanitarian hand was the best I had to offer.
    There must have been twenty of us at the tables receiving forms and flyers from each one of these people. The sea of people waiting for our help seemed endless. They were called to which ever one of us was available as we became available for the next. Every time I thought I had armored myself to take on the next case of devastation. Continually I had to prepare to hear and process the agony, fear and despair in their voices and had to several times step around to the back of the tent so they couldn’t see me trying to compose myself. Standing there almost frozen in shock with the image of the eyes of all these men and women and even some children clinging to their parents looking back at me as if I would be the one to produce their missing loved one became almost too much for me to handle. I was reminded that I was there for them I went back and continued as best I could. After processing personally myself about 150 people as I announced “next!” a young guy, let’s say about twenty five, appeared before me holding a stack of flyers with a photo of a beautiful young bride in her wedding dress. To this day I have tried to remember both of their names and maybe someday they will come back to me. He has a form filled out along with a copy of his flyer. Easily I could tell this guy had not been sleeping for a good while and I think he hadn’t eaten in as long as well. He asked me if I was going to help him find her.
    “This is my wife. She worked on the 101st floor of the south tower. I had heard that there were a lot of people who made it out from floors that high so do you think she did?”
    First thing that came to mind was where the hell is my shrink friend. What can I say to this guy that is appropriate and at the same time carefully protecting an extremely delicate psyche? I told him that if other people made it out from that high up there could be hope for her. He then told me he would do anything else I wanted if it were to move him closer to finding her.
    “This is all I am allowed to do and I can assure you she is recorded and listed as missing. From here someone else takes over helping to look for her. I hope you can understand this but I want you to know she is the most beautiful young woman I have seen a photograph of today and I will keep her face in my head.”
    “Really? You know, I don’t have anyone to help me but you said you would, right?”
    The look on this kid’s face and the smiling face one of adoration and fear and of that beautiful young bride is planted forever in my brain.
    “Sure “I said.
    “You and I and all of these volunteers are going to keep looking for her. We have to have hope, right?”
    “Yeah man we have to hope right? Hey you know you’re gonna be my friend okay? Cause I need you to be is that okay?”
    “Sure!” I told him knowing instinctually thinking that this may be the one positive thing he may hear all day. I was beyond moved and honored. The walk home that night, from the first turn of the corner I began seeing the young bride’s flyer posted everywhere it could be stuck. On lamp posts, bus stop benches, you can pretty much get the idea. They were collaged with hundreds more like her flyer but she followed me home and back again the next day to remind me that she was loved and missed by one hell of a guy who while on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown may have to realistically accept that she is gone. Not longer than one hour after starting the days processing did I call for my next person in line and it was my friend. He asked if I remembered him and I told him I absolutely did. Clearly this guy had not been to sleep, not showered and I’m sure again not eaten. I told the volunteer next to me I was taking a quick break to talk with my friend. We went to a bus stop bench and sat down. Again with a fresh stack of which seemed to be about 200 more flyers he asked me if I heard anything about his wife. I told him no and then asked him where else he has looked for her. He told me a few hospitals in the area and the police station as well. I suggested a few more hospitals and maybe some churches would be a good idea. By doing this I thought giving him the support of the friend I had promised hoping this may be enough to see him to the point of having to face the inevitable. Returning to my post the volunteer next to me decided to counsel me.
    “You’re not doing him any favors by encouraging this false hope of her survival. He needs to face it and move on.”
    I could feel the blood move from my chest, up my neck and into my face, furious at his lack of compassion for someone in such severe pain.
    “Neither you nor I are qualified to address his denial or offer some armchair diagnosis that only a professional should approach.”
    This guy‘s mind and heart were at such a delicate state that all he said he wanted from me was to be his friend and that is one thing I knew I was going to provide him without jeopardizing his sanity. The day ended again the same way with my walk home and seeing more locations plastered with her image and new notices of more missing people. Day three was my last. I was to fly out the next morning. I worked a good six hours and was going to head out in about a half hour to see my friends one last time. Calling out for the next in line was again my friend. He told me he passed up calls until I was free to see him. I told him that this was my last day and I would be leaving in the morning. He told me he would never stop looking for her. He said he knows everyone thinks she is not coming back but he couldn’t stop no matter what. I told him how meeting him had impacted my life. I wanted thank him and try to understand that he by showing me the devotion he had for his beautiful young bride is to be envied by the rest of us who dream of having the chance to find someone like her to keep us going in the diarist of situations as this. I wanted him to know that I still want her to come home to him and I was leaving having made a new friend. I wanted at the very least for him to have peace. I didn’t know if this would mean anything to him but it was the last I could offer.

    So this is my story . . .

    What did I take with me?

    My sincerest gratitude and amazement to all the Fire Fighters, NYPD and Medical Professionals and how much value I have in this wonderful country.

    I had taken photographs of certain historical images that I thought might benefit someone who could maybe see through some of what I witnessed was very real and unbelievably raw. I made a personal and moral choice not to photograph images of people grieving. You should understand the opportunity to do this was endless.
    Three unforgettable memories I have taken away from this experience was on the first day at ground zero my friend and I took a path provided by the city to get as close as allowed by authorities to the site. As we turned the corner a family of around half a dozen were kneeling in the rubble at the partition that was the cut off point, they were saying the rosary and what I would presume was the mother of another one gone, wailing uncontrollably.
    The second was while working the last day, I saw two men in the crowd who assumed the either had perished, run into an embrace of sheer joy. We were all witnesses and I couldn’t help but wish the same for everyone who equally deserved the same.

    The third of these was my friend for three days.

  11. I remember 9/11 vividly. It was my first day to volunteer in my son’s kindergarten classroom. He didn’t want to ride with Mommy though, he still wanted to ride the bus. So as I sat in my truck watching the bus drive away, I listened to the first announcements of the attacks. We live in Tucson, Arizona and at first they kept saying Boston. But as the story unfolded it got clearer. By the time I reached the school, my son’s teacher had her television on and we watched in horror until the school bell rang. My mom was at home with my daughter and I tried desperately to reach her and tell her to turn on the television.

    For the longest time, my son would ask why the bad guys wanted to fly into the buildings. As the years have progressed (he’s now a sophomore in high school), he has learned more about the terrorists and why they do what they do.

    For the first five years after 9/11, we took homemade goodies and cards to the several of the local fire stations and the police department. This year we will honor our local heroes again in the same way for the 10th anniversary.

    My daughter’s middle school is having a “Balloons for Hope” event where student will buy a balloon and write a ‘Message of Hope’. Then on Sept. 12th we will set them free and mail off the messages to show we care.

    On January 8, 2011 we had a tragedy in Tucson. Several people lost their lives in a mass shooting. One special little girl, Christina-Taylor Green died that day. She was born on 9/11/01. Her life began on a very tragic day for our country and ended on a very tragic day for our city. Her brother now goes to my daughter’s school.

    I did not know anyone who died that day, but feel so strongly about it just as countless other do. I know that I am far removed from what happened, but know that if I had been there, I would have wanted to do anything i could to help everyone involved.

    God does bless our country each and every day. We don’t always have the perfect rainbow and he gives us unexpected circumstances, but the plan for us is in his hands.

    God Bless THE USA. God bless all those who lost loved ones in 9/11. I will continue to pray for them all.

    Nora Fritz
    Tucson, Arizona

  12. I was in sixth grade working on my spelling list. The school had new telephones in the classrooms, and a teacher from another school in the district called to tell my teacher that terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center in New York. We lived in Kewanee, IL, and I doubt any of us knew about the Trade Center before. We didn’t even know what a terrorist was. At first, it meant we could not play outside. As time went on, we began to realize that the whole world was changed. I am so glad that my teacher, Mrs. York was very calm. She didn’t hide the facts, but presented them at our level. She helped us work through the challenges we faced then and the ones we would face. My generation is at an odd place where we remember being children in a simpler world, but we came of age in a totally different world.I’m thankful for the men and women who work so hard to defend the world.

    • You are right Rebecca – the world changed on 9/11. And you are also right in saying that your generation is at an odd place…but I would go further and say that your generation is at a unique place in history. There are very few times in history when an event transforms the attitude of many. I commend you for appreciating the men and women who defend us…this is certainly one of many positive outcomes of a tragic event. Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. My friend’s Mom use to work at that place where it crashed on 9/11, but thankfully she was off that day. I am very sorry for them people lost and them people who lost their loved ones. I am praying!

  14. … SEPTEMBER 15, 2011

    Ten years ago, on a Tuesday morning in September, we all saw, felt and lived through one of the most horrendous days in the history of our country. As the awful circumstances of the 9-11 attacks rolled over us early that day, the staff of the Speedway all went in to work.

    We were stunned, mostly silent, frozen at our desks with the TV blaring in the conference room and everyone listening in some sort of terrible trance. Other than that description, I remember little else of that day at all.

    On Wednesday morning September 12, the Speedway’s staff sat to meet. Of course the only subject was what to do on the upcoming Saturday night. Should we race? Should we cancel? What was NASCAR going to do? What would be right? What works?

    There was conjecture … To say that it was difficult to know what to do greatly understates the circumstances and emotions. In the end, of course, the decision was made to not let the terrorists win, not to let them scare us, not to let them take more of America away from us then they already had.

    … We would race on Saturday night September 15, 2001.

    And then Bob DeFazio asked us to think about what we’d do to mark the night. Races of course, some special music, some words from a NASCAR Chaplin … Ok, that’s what we’ll do.

    We were almost ready to adjourn when (then staffer) Pat Patterson put up his hand and said, “What about giving everyone at the track a candle, and at the end of the night’s racing we can dim track lights and play one more song before everyone goes home.”

    That sounded right, and as those who were there know, the mark of respect was perfect. Our fans, our drivers, our crews, and our staff all paying tribute to the innocent people who had their lives taken on that day as well as to the brave people who gave their lives trying to help.

    Ask any one who was there, it was a night with a giant lump in its throat; something that none of us will ever forget. I don’t remember much of anything about the racing, how the show was, let alone who won. But the memory of our grandstands glowing, lit only by thousands of candles and the Lee Greenwood recording of “Proud to be an American” playing full strength on the sound system is indelible.

    (But even more personally unforgettable for me was what I found at the track the next morning. I live quite near the track and had forgotten the rolls of film that our track photographers gave me at the end of each race night for processing and had gone to get them from my office …)

    We all knew that when we went with Pat’s idea it was understood that giving out some 6,000 candles and 200 lighters on that night might make a bit of a mess. That was not a problem, it would be dealt with, worth any sort clean-up that might be necessary of course.

    So when arrived at the Speedway that Sunday morning I had of expected to see a lot of half-burnt candles on the ground just past the front gate, where much of our guest foot traffic traveled to get back to their cars.

    None, not one on the ground. My thought was, “How cool is that, the fans were considerate enough to put their candles in the trash cans for us.” So I took a look in the closest receptacle. Nothing, not one half-burnt candle.

    Surprised, I looked in another trash can, then another, and maybe ten or twelve more at all corners of the parking lot. No candles. Not one.

    Then I drove over to the pits and looked in many of the trash cans there. No candles. Under the grandstands, maybe folks dropped them off before they walked out to their cars … No. Everywhere that I went to peer into the trash cans, I also looked at the ground… Not one stepped-on, flattened candle. None.

    I slowly came to the conclusion that every one of the thousands of NASCAR fans who were there with us that night took their candles home with them as their own remembrance of that night at the Speedway.

    I was all alone at the track, but somehow the spirit of that night was still very alive on that quiet Sunday morning in Irwindale. Our fans had made a statement that came through loud and clear, without ever making a sound.

    It’s been 10 years since that night and my guess is that a number the fans who were there are going to get their candle from that night out and take a look at it … No one who was there will ever forget that night at the Speedway. It was a night when NASCAR short track fans all stood tall and all stood together, and a night when the country started to heal just a little.

    • What a great story. I would have expected that you’d have found a few candles left behind – and that would have been okay. But to find none, that speaks volumes. I believe you are right – those candles will likely be lit this 10th anniversary. The candles represent a powerful symbol that connected many and that continue to heal today. Thank you for sharing your story.

  15. In my 10 years after 9/11 I have been asked by many whether I have been changed after working at Ground Zero, and the answer is yes and no.

    Today I work in the PICU in down town Indianapolis at Wishard Hospital caring for people just like I have done before that day and after. I want to share some of my thoughts with you on this matter so if you follow the link below I have posted a YouTube video on some of my thoughts of that day.

    If you have question about me or about that day, please contact me. Pictures of not only that day but my work in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita are on my Face book page or in the media section of my web site. I am waiting today to see if there is going to be a need for my help in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. For many they have already forgot then that Katrina hit the very same time as Irene, but in 2005.

  16. I was six years old. My first memory of that day was walking up and not feeling like going to school, but not knowing why. I ended up going to school late which made my mother even later for work. I sat at my desk trying to listen to my teacher Miss Flowets in the first grade classroom when our principal came over the intercom and said, “We all have to go over to church right now, two planes flew into the world trade center.” My first thought was where is this building, and my teacher told me it was in the city. Then I thought okay my father is okay, he’s a mailman in brooklyn. Then I had a panic attack because my mother worked in the city. As I sat in church I cried so bad and tried to think really hard where my mother worked. Before I knew it my mother came into the church. She told me she never got into the city, her bus turned around on the highway. It wasnt until a few years later that if my mother left home on time her bus would’ve drove right by the twin towers because she worked two blocks away. I am sixteen years old. To this day I think anyone with a bookbag on the subway is suspicious an I find my self starring at airplanes to make sure they fly safely past me. September 11, 2001 changed my life forever. Although I did not lose any loved ones I know several who did. That day taught me that people didnt really like America. I still cant fathom what those terrorists were thinking. How can a human being destroy lives and live with themselves. Al queda will fall and some people might feel at ease, but for the familys that lost a loved one nothing could ever change that. On September 11, 2011 I will be praying for safety, thank God for his blessings and live life the fullest cause it could be taken in a blink of an eye.

    • All our lives changed on 9/11. Your story is unique because you were a young child when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred and you are recalling it today as a responsible young adult. While it is true that there is evil out there, never lose sight that there is also a lot of good out there as well. Always hold on to what is good. Thank you for sharing your story Brendan.

  17. I was on duty at the Pentagon on 9-11-2001. I was a Federal Police Officer and God saved my life on that sad day. If I had been eating breakfast instead on the Mall Plaza talking with my daughter about the twin towers, I could have been killed on that sad day.

  18. Just wanted you to know that I am a 4th grade educator in our small town and have been having our 4th grade class plant bulbs each year in memory of 9-11 since 2002.

    This year, I have organized a community event… we are commemorating the 10th anniversary by planting yellow daffodil bulbs….2985 of them, for each person, in a beautiful wooded park next to our middle school. Next spring should be a beautiful sight. The yellow daffodils symbolize our nation’s strength, courage and compassion for one another as well as for the memory of loved ones lost. It’s a loving thing to do and a small message that we have not forgotten those brave souls. Every one in the community is invited.

  19. As I watched the 1st plane fly into the World Trade Center, I was afraid that my son-in-law would be among the victims.

    On the morning of 9-11-2001, my son-in-law, Chris Ward, an employee of the NYNJ Port Authority, with an office on the 67th floor, was to attend a breakfast meeting at “Windows on the World” at the World Trade Center. He would arrive late because my grandson John had missed his school bus, so Chris and John took the subway to PS199.

    Chris arrived at the WTC just after the first attack on that terrible day, and it would be days before he was able to return home to his family. He had lost many coworkers and friends.

    Chris Ward, now the Executive Director of the NYNJ Port Authority, has been overseeing the building of “One World Trade Center. He will be among the dignitaries at the 10-year anniversary ceremony. And grandson John, a high school senior, will be driving himself to school.

    • Much has been said about the heroism of first responders, especially the firefighter community and our U.S. military. But, the NYNJ Port Authority personnel are heroes too. You are right – they lost several of their colleagues on that terrible day too. Please thank your son for his service – he is a Patriot, as are you.

  20. I was at work at the Broward Sheriff’s Office and had literally witnessed, as the news anchor was telling the story of the first crash, the second plane crash into the second tower that morning. I had a job interview scheduled for mid-day and had planned my husband’s surprise 40th birthday party for 7pm that night. Following the tragedy, we were numb and completely baffled by what appeared to be two coincidental accidents. As we later learned these to be calculated, deliberate acts, we were paralyzed and could not move any of our celebration plans forward… although we were all the way in south Florida and had no personal acquaintances who fell victim.

    The impact to our lives and our community made it CLEAR to us that we are indeed a UNITED states of America. My husband is now 50 on this 10th anniversary of the tragedy which impacted this entire world. We will be in New York City at Ground Zero on September 11, 2011 to commemorate two noteworthy days in our history that will NEVER be forgotten.

  21. Every cool, bright, clear, blue sky day I walk out, I remember. The memory today is as clear as it was on that September 11th Monday morning. God Bless America and God Bless all those families who lost someone special that day. We Will Never Forget!

  22. On September 11, 2001 I was in my office on the 23rd floor of tower 2. We heard the explosion when the first plane hit tower 1. After many calls to the lobby we were told to go back to work that a small plane hit tower 1. Our company president told us to all go down to the lobby and then we will see what is going on. The majority of the employees headed for the stairs to walk down the 23 floors. I had had knee surgery and was walking with a cane so I headed to the elevator. I was lucky in that it came right away and I got right down to the lobby. After a short time in the lobby we were told to evacuate the building as another plane was heading towards us. As I left the building I heard a loud noise, looked up and saw the plane go into my building. All we could do was run with debris hitting us from all sides. A short time later I was walking down wall street when I turned around and saw tower 2 come down. I was in bad shape for many months as I had lost several friends that day and could not even watch the news without crying.

    Mike G.

  23. On September 11,2001 i was in labor and had my beautiful baby boy Keagan. He was born on the day at 2:24 in the afternoon. He loves his birthday not just because of it being fun but because it is something special to him. He has books on 9-11 and has seen videos. I would love to register him for the web site but not sure how to – any ideas would be great.

  24. I was at work, I believe the first I found out about it was when my husband called me on the phone to tell me (he was in his van and had heard it on the radio). After talking to him a few minutes, I heard others around me talking about it. So, I went onto the internet to find out more information (If i recall, it was slow, as everyone was probably scouring for any information they could get) I was on the 3rd floor of my building, and there was a TV in one of the conference rooms. I remember several of us gathering there to watch the events unfold. We stood there in complete silence, as we saw the first tower fall. The expressions on people’s faces as I looked around the room can best be described as dumbfounded. I remember going briefly back to my desk, where my husband called me again. I told him I’d see him after work, to which he responded (and I’ll never forget this as he is not a panicky type person), “If the house is still there”. We found out only later that at least one of the hijacked airliners probably flew directly over our house.

    I remember the fire alarm going off, and the entire company evacuating out to the front parking lot. I’ll never forget the Plant Mananger, with a bull horn (much like what President Bush used a few days later), standing on top of a truck, talking to us about what had happened (at this point, the company was still trying to find out if anyone was in air at the time, or in NY near what was later to be called ‘Ground Zero’. He told us the company was shutting down, and for us all to go home and be with our families.

    I’ll never forget thinking what could have been. Earlier that summer (June 2001), my mother, father, and two sisters flew to Arizona. I believe they may have left from Newark. To this day, my Mom swears there were potential hijackers on their flight. She remembers seeing at least 2 men who seemed to be acting strangely. One of them was asking a passenger next to her about the airport in Arizona, one seemed to be checking his watch. We learned later, that in fact, the suicide hijackers were running test flights, to learn about everything from meal-times, to cockpit controls.

    Day I’ll never forget.
    Eileen

  25. We started our yearly camping trip to the Adirondacks on 9-10-2011. We camped at a remote site at Horseshoe Lake. That Monday eve was calm, clear and the sky was full of stars and planes. We couldn’t count the number of flashing red & green navigation lights crossing the sky. Tuesday morning 9-11-11 brought a beautiful
    red sunrise. That evening there were no planes, just stars. We wondered about that for a awhile but being out in the woods, away from civilization, you don’t dwell on those kind of things. When we came out of the woods on Friday we noticed American flags on many cars we passed. We wondered about that also. The first
    town we arrived at was Long Lake, NY. There were many newspapers on display and a notice for a Service for the Victims of 9-11.

    We has no idea that the world we came back to had changed forever.

    • What an incredible story. You certainly picked an interesting time to go camping. Your experience highlights the significance of how connected we really are in today’s day and age. Time away in the revitalizing realm of nature is great – as long as the world we return to is not transformed for the worse! Thanks for sharing your story.

  26. See my Garden Memorial on my Facebook. If you have little money, there’s still an inexpensive way to show our thoughts.
    On 9-11. I woke up to get ready to go to work. For an unknown reason I turned on my TV, something I usually never do but did that morning. I stood there in complete shock and started crying. I hurried to work and found everyone there also in shock. We all stood around our work stations sharing our feelings. Some had access to TV’s. We were a .com company. It was very hard to concentrate on our daily work…who could when people were dying as the Trade Centers were blowing up. I’m shaking now and cannot continue. God Bless all the heroes of that horrible day and may those who died rest in peace.

  27. I was scheduled to meet my Navy Recruiter that day to start the process of reporting to boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Station on the 12th. I remember waking up that morning thinking that I didn’t have to leave, that I could still back out if I wanted. I was debating this issue throughout my shower and while making sure I had all my things packed and ready to go. I turned on the TV knowing that would be the last time I did so for a while and it was all over the news… every channel. One tower on fire and no one knew what happened. I called to my mom, who was already fighting every emotion imaginable, to turn her TV on. Then… the second plane hit. I looked at her and said “I’m not sure if I’m going to be leaving today or not, lets call the recruiter”. I called my recruiters office and the line was busy so we went ahead and drove out to his office. When we walked through the door he looked up and the look on his face said it all. He said I was not leaving that day, they had all been ordered to go home to family, and he would call me with the date I was going to leave. We got home an hour later and there was a message saying I needed to meet him the next day to head to MEPS in Indianapolis. I ended up reporting to great lakes on the 13th and I couldnt be happier I did. To this day I will never forget what happened but I will also never forget the look in my Recruiters eyes when I walked through that door, it is as ingrained into my mind as the image of the second plan hitting, or the sight of the towers collapsing. I had joined the military at a time of peace and I was now leaving for boot camp at a time of war.

  28. I was in Austin, TX after a 4 day weekend with friends. We were loading the car to go to LAX and home. I came back into the house to get my purse and say my final goodbye’s. The TV was on and someone said, “Oh my God, look”. Time stood still…I saw film of the first plane hit, then the second.. Shock came over all of us, stunned silence and then slow realization. Horror, Disbelief. Silent prayers. The next day my friend Mary and I drove a friend to the airport, as she was sure flights were taking off. We told her that she had a few minutes to find out and then we were driving home to LA in the rental car. A very long 2 1/2 days’ drive back home with 2 of us exchanging driving duties and the third lying on the luggage in the back seat all the way home. God bless those who lost their lives and those that chose to go in and help. So many sweet souls.

  29. I was living in Punta Gorda, FL on that never to be forgotten day. I had just turned off TV, went to car & was driving to work. Radio was on, the news of the first plane hitting the building came over the radio. It was as if my mind couldn’t absorb what I was hearing. Turned the radio up, felt as if this couldn’t be happening in our country. Heart pounding, mind racing as I turned into parking lot. Kept hearing the news I had heard in the car. Walked in door, several people standing like statues, not any moving, very quiet with no talking, everybody staring at TV as news of second plane hitting another building was being described, as we watched the pictures of massive disaster play before our eyes. One lady began to cry, several of us joined her with tears streaming at the sights on the screen. I believe it was then we saw the horror of the happenings, the fires, the emergency rescues as pictured, the total tragedy of this sudden raping of our country causing such loss of life and causing the safety of our country to be tested. The pictures are still vivid in my mind of the New York and Pennsylvania tragedies that have made life in the USA a totally different sense of freedom for our people. Forever it will be etched in our minds & we will share the many heartfelt losses of all those who were lost on that horrible day.

  30. Steve Krull:

    I had been working for Continental Express at the Rochester airport for about 8 months. I was taking my 79 year old mother in law back to Florida the morning of September 11th. We left Rochester on the 6 am flight for Newark and arrived a little after 7:30 am. Mom needed a cane so it took a while to walk to Gate 96 for our next flight to West Palm Beach (this was the last gate of the concourse and faced NYC). Mom had to go to the bathroom, so I walked over to the large window and was looking at the Twin Towers. Then I noticed, what initially I thought was exhaust from a large air conditioning unit on the roof, a white gas emanating from the roof of one of the Towers. It soon was evident to me that this was smoke.

    There was a TV on, at the gate and I could hear that a plane had hit the Tower, but I thought probably a small one ( as has happened to the Empire State Bldg). Mom came back from the bathroom and we and others gathered at the window to watch, what was now, for sure, was a lot of smoke. After some time, we saw a HUGE explosion. Frightening as it was, because of the glass and distance, there was no sound, so it all was surreal. The gate agent told me our flight would be delayed and they would allow Mom and I to go downstairs and wait where the Newark employees go. I walked back to Mom, as she was talking to a tall man, in his fourties, and I looked out the window and saw the second tower collapse. I said to the man ” I thought I just saw that tower fall, but I know that couldn’t happen.” The man said “no, that’s exactly what you saw!”

    In a few minutes there was a PA announcement that all flights were cancelled and the building was being evacuated. I looked for and found a wheelchair, so it would be easier on Mom. I had MCI as my cellphone carrier and was able to call my mother who lived in Brooklyn. Maybe we could get there. NO, all the bridges and tunnels were closed. So the next best thing was to find a motel room and figure out what to do from there. We were in an endless line for a taxi. People acted calm, but yet were nervous. When we were about 20th on line, a young man, with a large van drove up and yelled, “for 20 bucks I’ll take you anywhere.” Mom nudged me and said, “let’s take that!” so we got in, along with several others.

    My wife and I had stayed at the Days Inn, so that’s where I told him to take us. NO rooms. I got back in and tried the next, which was the Hilton Hotel. Tried that, NO rooms. By now the young man took pity on us (probably because of Mom’s age) and said he would stay with us until we found a place. We went to the Hampton Inn and they had one room left, with only a king sized bed. We had both my brother in law and a cousin offer to pick us up, but Mom would not leave, because her bags were at the airport. So, Mom slept under the covers and I on top. I finally got a hold of my wife in Rochester, to let her know we were OK and that, no, we had not flown into the towers.

    The next day I called Budget (I think) and let the phone ring for 35 minutes. Finally someone answered and I rented a car for Thursday. When it was announced that Newark Airport was opened for people to retrieve their bags, I took a taxi and entered the building. It was scary to see soldiers with machine guns everywhere. But, I found Mom’s bags, got the car and drove back to Fairport.

    A week later, around the dinner table, Mom announces to everyone, with a straight face, that she has had an upset stomach for a few days and that she thinks she is pregnant. Everyone laughed. I flew her down to West Palm two weeks later. It took months before I stopped seeing that huge explosion, as I tried to sleep.

  31. I will never forget that day or the days after. I live close to the airport & it’s very eerie not to hear a plane in the sky. I just got home from working all night @ Fedex. I was told to wake up that an airplane just hit one of the Twin Towers. I said WOW that’s horrible. A few minutes later another plane had hit the other tower. I then called my sister who works for the Federal government here in Indy, to tell her something is going on, that she needs to leave & go home. I couldn’t get a hold of her because she was taking one of her best friends home due to the fact a plane had just hit the Pentagon. Lieutenant General Timothy J. Maude was killed at the Pentagon that morning. Lieutenant General Timothy J. Maude was a great guy who was loved very much & who is missed every day. God Bless Lieutenant General Maude & his family.

  32. I was teaching a 5th grade class that morning when there was a knock on the door. They asked me to come down to the main office. When I got there, they told me a plane had hit the the Twin Towers. As I watched the news I couldn’t believe my eyes as what seemed like a movie played before me. My heart sank and an overwhelming feeling engulfed me as I watched this unbelievable event unfold !! I stayed for a while and was told not to tell the students anything. I struggled with this awful decision and it tugged at my heart as I had to go back to the classroom and pretend nothing happened. I believe in “teachable moments” and this was definitely a life changing experience.
    At the end of the school day, I went home to try to celebrate my birthday with my family and All I could do was cry and watch the events unfold on the news. At this tenth anniversary, my heart goes out to all who were involved and I salute our armed forces in every division as well as all of our fire fighters and police officers.

  33. I was sitting in bed watching Good Morning America when they started talking about the plane that had hit the World Trade Center and speculating it was an accident. Then, while watching the screeen, the other plane hit the second building. It took my breath away and I remember shaking my head and thinking this cannot be true. I had friends in New York City and one, I knew, worked downtown near the WTC. I tried for hours before being able to reach them to make sure they were alright. I watched as the events progressed and burst into tears as I watched the first, then second tower fall. I KNEW firefighters died. Having been a volunteer firefighter myself, I knew we go in as others run out. I cried for all that was lost in those moments.

  34. Nothing special. I was in school at the beginning of the day, when an announcement said that the WTC was attacked and destroyed by terrorists. I remember I was in a bad mood at the time, and thought some horrible things that I dare not repeat.

    The worst part was, the day before I had a writing assignment. I wrote a short tale about how Saddam Hussein had attacked America and started a cascading chain of events that led to WWIII.

  35. I left work that morning as usual. What was unusual is that instead of taking my dog to the park on the river to play then hanging with my neighbor I was so tired I fell asleep around 7 AM. Got up as usual at 4 PM and taking the dog out noticed there weren’t too many people around or much sound at all, which was unusual. Had no television programming or computer which was a choice I’d made. Couldn’t afford a computer and working 3rd shift seemed stupid to pay for television. Did all the normal things then I went into work 9:30 that night.

    Got into the smoking room hearing people talking about how they’d shut down Disneyland and when I asked why the whole room went silent and looked at me as though I’d grown a 2nd head. I asked again what they were talking about and that was when I first heard what had transpired that day, at 10 that night.

    I worked 3rd shift at a Wal-Mart and things were subdued but proceeding normally until after midnight, when almost all the people in the store were there to work. Back then there were TV’s in Wal-Mart stores and like the heat and air conditioning, controlled by the home office. We couldn’t shut them off couldn’t even turn the sound down and it was always very loud to be heard over the noise of a crowded store. Well, instead of the white noise of Wal-Mart TV we had the same news clips run over and over again all night long.

    It was horrible and while it could never match the horror of being there, seeing the plane hit that tower and hearing the screams over and over and over again left men and women alike in tears, many of us going home early work undone. All of us agreed that even seeing and hearing the same things repeated didn’t lessen the horror or the confusion or the despair.

    I asked my neighbor why she didn’t let me know what was going on and she told me she paced back and forth not knowing if she should and in the end decided if she woke me up with the news I’d get no sleep that day. It was after 9/11 I got a computer and began checking the news morning and evening, because never again do I want to be blindsided by something so bad. To this day I can see and hear in my head what was on those televisions that night. Compared to what too many others went thru however, that is a small price to pay.

    • On 9/11 at 4:30 am, our son Rolando Ramirez called us from Northeast Baptist Hospital in San Antonio to tell us that our daughter-in-law was about to go into labor. We and our daughter-in-law’s parents got to the hospital by 5am and waited for the big moment in the waiting room right outside the birthing room. Her mom went in to be with her and my son while we waited. The wait was longer than expected. The TV was on when we noticed what was happening, the first plane had hit. At the moment we understood what was happening, the nurse came out to tell us our baby had just been born, at 8:46 am! We were elated but in shock as were the doctors and nurses. We continued watching while they were getting the baby ready for us to see when we saw the 2nd plane hit.

      We had such mixed emotions – shock, happiness, and worry for our neice was in New York at a conference and staying in a hotel close by. We later got the news that she was fine although she could not go to her room for a few days and then, escorted by police only to get her things. Our beautiful grandaughter is celebrating her 10th birthday today and she understands how she was born on such a historic day. We feel God gave us a special gift to lift our spirits and feel his love. Our grandaughter’s name is Larissa Ramirez, daughter of Rolando and Anna Ramirez, and they live in San Antonio. Grandparents: Reynaldo and Leonor Ramirez from Pharr and Robert and Olivia Rivas from Harlingen.

  36. Well during 9/11 I almost lost my Grandpa. Because he was so close to those buildings, he almost lost his life. My Mom told me when the Twin Towers fell down she was in school during this time and she wished she was there. I’m glad I’m learning about the Twin Towers because we Americans didn’t ask for this. We didn’t want our Towers gone. But, all there is to it now is that we can’t forgive those who attacked our Country. We lost loved ones, and that’s a lot of people that will be truly missed and loved, R.I.P 9/11. And to all the families that lost loved ones, you are in my Prayers. R.I.P 9/11 – You are truly missed.

  37. I can only say that 9/11 appears to be a message from the same GREAT GOD who built this wonderful nation with all it’s luxuries, wealth, and unprecedented rise to power. The message seems to be as simplistic as it is profound, yet we rarely seem to identify the real message behind the tragedy of 9/11. We have forgotten our main HERO, our main SAVIOUR and the one whom we should be turning towards when in an emergency. Instead of depending upon GOD and HIS unlimited capabilities we have put our trust into money and the corruption of mankind to deliver us from our turmoil. We have forgotten our GOD.

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