Reflections on September 11th

Around the world, many are reflecting on the tragic events of September 11, 2001 as we approach the ten year anniversary.

So much has happened since then that sometimes we forget how we actually felt on that day. It’s on anniversaries like this that we take the time to turn our thoughts to those whose lives were lost on that day and those whose lives were forever changed.

I’m sure that I’ll never forget where I was when I first learned of the terrorist attacks. My husband and I were on the island of Kauai staying at a beachfront condominium near Poipu Beach. Our wedding anniversary was on September 14th and we wanted to celebrate it on the same island where we had spent our honeymoon.

Although we were on a holiday, my husband was still staying in touch with his office in California. With a three hour time difference, he was up at 4:00 a.m. on the morning of September 11th to follow up on a few things back at work. His colleague there told him to turn on the television, but didn’t say why. I was awakened by him repeating, “Oh, my God”. I got up to see what was wrong and then saw the smoke billowing from the World Trade Center on the screen. For hours, we were glued to the television. With the sound of the waves gently rolling on the nearby beach and the warm breeze through the patio doors, the scenes in New York were surreal.

Feeling grief and helplessness, we stepped out for a walk on the beach where a few other people were also slowly walking along, shaken as we were. We felt almost guilty for being in this island paradise while such tragedy was striking in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania.

We needed to get away and try to grasp it all, so we decided to take a drive, something we love to do. It was the best action we could think of to take and it was very comforting. Along the way, we stopped at this church since it looked so peaceful and calming.

We were scheduled to fly to Honolulu just for the day on the 11th, ironically to see Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. Flights, of course, were cancelled, but resumed in time for our originally scheduled trip back home. Upon landing in Honolulu from Kauai, we saw numerous armed soldiers inside and outside of the terminal. It was then that it struck us so clearly that not only had a tragic event unfolded that devastated thousands — our world and our lives were forever changed.

Do you remember where you were when you first heard about the attacks on September 11, 2001?


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30 thoughts on “Reflections on September 11th

  1. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    I was at my parents’ home my first summer break from college. I had nowhere to be and nothing to do since my summer job was over, and I was heading back to school in a few days. It was strange to be all alone just watching everything unfold on television.

  2. Barbara - The Dropout Diaries

    My sister, who was working on a movie, texted me at some ungodly hour — like 6am — saying “turn on the TV’. I texted back “what channel?” and she replied “any”.
    I got up and turned the TV on and I couldn’t work out what I was seeing. Was this the trailer for her film? Wasn’t she working on a war film, set on the beach and in the jungle? And it’s going on a bit. Bit of a boring trailer, really — all this was going through my mind, til another text exchange confirmed it wasn’t a movie. And then the horror was so big that all I could think of was “what happened to the people on the planes?” Because the commentators had been talking for hours, they weren’t providing the basic information for people who’d just woken up. Even though I was far away, in Australia, it was still horrific and I was afraid to go to work that day in case planes crashed into highrises in Brisbane.

  3. Jeremy Branham

    I had just been in California a few months. I was asleep in bed and was woken up by a phone call and told to turn on the TV. I was shocked like everyone but after a slow morning, I finally made my way to work. The rest of the day was surreal and none of us got much work done that day. We were constantly watching the TV just getting updates on what was going on. It’s a day none of us will forget.

  4. Italian Notes

    Working at an airline in an airport, I remember it clearly along with the choas that broke out afterwards when everyone were running around trying to identify the whereabouts of all aircraft, cargo and pax, before all traffic came to a complete standstill. Must have been the same for all airlines around the world.

  5. Jenjenk

    That was exactly my thoughts on the post for this one will ever forget where they were or what they were doing…I was slowly waking up in bed. That catapulted me straight out!

  6. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    I was a junior in H.S. and listened to the radio every morning while I got ready for school. They were talking about it on the radio, but I thought it was a fake program or a joke because it was just so absurd and unreal. I didn’t take it seriously until I got to school and realized it really happened. We spent the entire first period watching the news instead of taking the exam scheduled for that day.

  7. robin

    I worked in a home for people with learning difficulties at the time and the TV was always on. Everything just stopped and we stood around watching. We saw the second plane go in. The service director was there that day and turned to me and asked,

    “What do you think?”

    “I think the world just changed forever”, I replied.

    Unfortunately I was right.

    Thanks for the post

  8. IsabellesTravel

    Yep, as everyone else, I still know exactly where I was. Meeting up with some girlfriends from college, before college would start again. We saw it on the news, and we were listening to every word they said on the radio. A day I`ll never forget!

  9. Barb

    We were at the airport in Phoenix for my husband to fly to Chicago. As they were called to board the plane another announcement was made that his flight was delayed an hour. They didn’t give a reason and we sat and waited. Then another announcement there was another delay. All of a sudden everyone was calling to all the other people to come look at a TV that got turned on in a snack area. There we saw the first tower had been hit. Everyone stayed glued to the set and watched the tragedy unfold. They then announced that all flights were cancelled and that noone would be allowed to enter or leave the airport until further notice. We finally were allowed to leave but no buses, taxis or cars could enter the airport so we were glad we had our car. I don’t know how long before people who needed transportation were able to leave. All we could think about was all the devastation and people who were losing their lives. We spent the rest of the day in front of our TV and talking to friends in other states.

  10. Lorna - the roamantics

    wow cathy! beautiful tribute. i was at uc berkeley, worrying about friends in new york, a place i love so much and had lived in just a few years earlier. none of us who heard the news that day will ever forget it i think. but i think that’s a great way to honor those who were lost. thanks for this.

  11. Cherszy

    I remembered that my mom and I were about to go to sleep that night (we are 12 hours ahead) when my godmother who was based in New York City called us to tell us about this collapsing building. We didn’t know what she was talking about because she just kept on mentioning about a pair of buildings catching fire – well, she was driving in Manhattan and stuck in traffic and panic, so she was really vague. When we told her we couldn’t understand her, she just told us to turn on CNN, and there it was – the burning World Trade Center. It was really tragic! We could barely utter a word. We just watched and were terribly saddened.

    Now it’s been 10 years since the tragedy, I still wonder about all the innocent deaths that fateful day. My prayers go out to all the victims and their families. I hope they’ve already found peace and closure.

  12. Gene Bowker

    I remember being at work and my wife calling to tell me about the first crash. Watched the 2nd plane hit on the tv downstairs in the company gym. I think the offices finally closed about 11am as they were closing the bridges around Tampa, FL.

    Hard to believe that it is now ten years later.

    It’s also changed the way that security is handled and what we deal with to photograph.

  13. Shirlene from Idelish

    I was in class at Carnegie Mellon University. Classes were cancelled. I walked out onto the lawn outside of class, not really knowing the extent of the events until I saw helicopters flying around (The other plane crash in PA) and people huddled around sobbing. It was then that I thought to myself “this is different. This will change our lives forever”. I was deeply saddened as I watched the news unfold on TV the rest of the day 🙁

  14. InsideJourneys

    Like you, I went to a church — it seemed like the most fitting thing to do. But I couldn’t escape the feeling of terror. Later, I wrote a piece on my feelings and observations which I might post on Sunday.

    I live in NYC and could see a bit of the smoke rising from the WTC.

    A few months before the first anniversary, I took an assignment near what’s come to be known as Ground Zero and had to walk past the site everyday. It was horrible. The smell, the daily reminder.

    I don’t know anyone who died, but I think about the terror they must have felt and that’s enough to bring on tears. I’d lost my mom suddenly earlier that year so I felt I could relate a bit to sudden loss.

    Every time I see the images, hear any mention I feel my body go into flight mode. So honestly, I’ve been trying to forget. I wish I had planned a trip to someplace really remote. I did last year. But I’m here in NYC.

  15. Sherry

    I was living in Seattle and getting dressed for work early that morning with the locals news turned on in the background, as normal. I heard something about a plane and a building but I didn’t really pay attention. In my mind, it was just another day, just another act of violence. I got to work very early with other early risers. None of us were phased enough to understand the gravity of what is happening on the east coast. That is of course until another colleague walked in with a television he grabbed from his garage. He asked us do we know what happened, to which we replied, “No, not really.” We all couldn’t get much work done after that as we were glued to the television the rest of the day. At first I felt kind of guilty that I was apathetic to what was happening. Then I felt afraid so much so that I wished I was at home with family back in Hawaii like you and your husband were. It doesn’t really feel like 10 years have passed as the memory of that day is still so vivid in my mind.

  16. Mark Kazich

    I was dropping my then second-grade son at school before heading to work when I heard on the radio a plane crashed into the WTC. I said nothing to my son so he wouldn’t worry, but gave him a hug. Between the parking lot and the office building, the second tower was hit. I then listened to the reports on the radio during the day, and stopped by where they had a TV and saw a replay of the first tower collapsing.

    Both my in-laws and people from work were in Boston at the time and were scheduled to fly back to Chicago that day. We were relieved to know that they were safe, and they both drove back the next day. But it did make you think what if………..

    Finally, when I got home I loooked up at the clear blue late afternoon sky that day. We live about 15 miles west of Midway Airport in Chicago and do see and hear our share of air traffic. That day it was earily silent, with all planes grounded. But then I saw a white trail of vapor high up in the sky. Could that have bveen President Bush returning to Washington?

  17. Carol

    I was sleeping in that day and my husband came in and woke me and said something horrible has happened, an airplane flew into the World Trade Center Towers in New York. I immediately got up to watch the news as the second plane flew into the Towers. I was so shocked and sickened as the realization that this was purposeful came to me. I will never forget what happened that day and I am continually proud of those first responders and how the American people rallied during the days after.

  18. Andrea

    I was working for a high profile company in downtown San Francisco and went into the office as normal that day. I knew something was wrong the second I went in the building – just a feeling and some strange activity behind the security desk. I got to our floor and there was a huge commotion. Whoever was in charge of fire drills, etc. that month came running up to me and ordered me to go home at once. I asked her what was going on and she said to just quickly go home. I got on the bus and still had no idea what was happening, so I called my mother who told me the news. The rest of the day I just watched the news and talked to a girlfriend on the phone about it. It was surreal. San Fran was in lockdown because they were afraid of multiple attacks. I remember it like it was yesterday – I have so many friends and family in New York City so I can remember being very worried. I don’t think anyone will forget where we were on that day – it’s like JFK’s assassination for this generation.

  19. Abby

    I can’t believe it’s been ten years. That day changed my life forever. I was living in downtown NYC, dreaming of being a news reporter. While I did rise to the occasion that day and covered everything that week, what I saw made me realize that dedicating my life to covering such things was not for me. Within a year, I was in entertainment, within two, I’d left NYC. I will never take anything for granted again. Thank you so much for your remembrance.

  20. AJ

    Wow, so many milestones in your life around 9/11. Couldn’t agree with you more. Our lives have changed since then, American or not. I’ve been reading through many posts about 9/11 and it’s amazing how each of our experiences is unique yet similar at the same time. Thanks for dropping in my blog!

  21. jan

    I was home in bed after a late workshift. My sister called at 7:30 told me to turn on the tv, she and I lived 12 hours apart, we didn’t hang up from that phone call for hours. We were together glued to the tv and each other. The feelings of horror and sadness overwhelming us both. I can’t remember how many times we said I love you on that day.

  22. debbie

    I was teaching my preschool class… It was a private Christian preschool and they were learning ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’ my director came to my door and called me into the hall. She told me what had happened and we said a prayer. I returned to my class were we continued our song…

    The church in your post looks very peaceful and inviting.


  23. Cathy Post author

    I’d like to thank all of you for taking the time to share your reflections on September 11th, 2001 and the impact that day had on your lives.

  24. Jim

    Been observing all the comments coming in Cathy. It’s wonderful the number of people who have such clear memories of where they were and what they were doing. Yes this day did change our lives forever.
    And the church pic says a lot.

  25. Andrew Graeme Gould

    We were living in Sydney, Australia, at that time, and were on our way to work together in the car. What we couldn’t get over that morning, and in the weeks to come, was the inconceivability of it all. A tragedy and a real turning point in world history.

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