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Where Were You on 9/11/01?:
I was teaching a morning class, in my first semester as a professor. There was no Internet access in class yet, so we found out about the attacks immediately after the class ended. Where were you?

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. 9/11 and War of the Worlds:
  2. Where Were You on 9/11/01?:
Apu (mail):
Walking to my office in SoHo when the first one hit; staring up at the towers from Canal St. trying to figure out what was going on as the second one hit. Ugh.
9.11.2008 1:32pm
tdsj:
In my third year of law school. At home. My wife called to tell me, so I watched tv for the next several hours. I had afternoon class (Federal Crimes with Steve Duke). Wasn't sure if it was still on, but went. He showed up and said that in these situations, it's probably better to go on with life, so he didn't cancel class.
9.11.2008 1:33pm
Sum Budy:
I was exiting the 1/9 subway at Cortlandt Street, trying to get into the mall in the basement of the WTC. My office was across the street and I had to walk past the elevator bank of WTC 1 every day on the way to work. I heard reports that the elevator bank exploded after the planes hit. If my train had arrived one minute earlier, I would have been standing right in front of them.

My brother was in one of his college classes. Somebody walked into the class, announced what had happened, and he went running out of the room to try and call me -- but, of course, phone service wasn't easy to get for hours afterwards.
9.11.2008 1:34pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I was moving into a new place and had no radio, TV, or computer set up, so I didn't hear the news until the late afternoon when I went to the store and heard about it over the radio over the P.A. system. Since by then it was old news, it took quite a while to understand what had happened.
9.11.2008 1:34pm
gerbilsbite (mail):
I was home, waiting for orders about shipping to Ft Jackson in Columbia SC for basic training. My mother came in my room, visibly shaken, and told me the towers were hit. I watched it unfold until about two hours after the second tower came down, then drove over to my recruiter's office to see what I could do to speed things up.

When I got there, they had bolted the door from the inside, posted a sentry, and broken out sidearms. They let me in and told me that there was nothing they could do about getting me to Basic, because they were under the impression that the relevant office was, at a minimum, evacuated (details were sketchy). So I went to the blood bank where I used to give apheresis donations, and stood in line for six hours to bleed for five minutes.

I remember while we were in line the President addressed the nation and they brought tvs in for us to watch on. And I remember a person about ten spots in front of me saying "Jesus, I hope he's smarter than I think he is."

Horrible day.
9.11.2008 1:37pm
Daniel M. Roche (mail):
I was a sophomore at USC sitting in a French class. My muslim professor refused to cancel class and was angry that the press was so eager to "assume" that the attacks were by islamic extremists. She believed it was another angry white dude like the Oklahoma City bombing . . .
9.11.2008 1:40pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
At home, with my newly pregnant and recently married wife. We stayed home and watched the coverage.

At the time, I logged on to the old Greedy Associates website on infirmation.com and and found some comfort and lots of eyewitness news &photos from fellow young lawyers. For about a week it was my central data source. Someone should get those caches and publish a little book.
9.11.2008 1:42pm
Damian P. (mail) (www):
I was practicing in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, at the time. I was in court that morning, on a family law case. When I got back to my office, I wanted to take a look at the news online before getting back to work, and I noticed that many of the popular news sites - cnn.com, in particular - were either offline or unusually slow.

After trying several sites, with no idea of what was happening, I finally saw the news that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center towers. My first thought was of that B-29 that hit the Empire State Building in 1945, and I thought - hoped - it was a horrible accident.
9.11.2008 1:42pm
Anderson (mail):
Getting ready for class while my wife was watching the Today Show. One jet hit, we're baffled as to how that could happen. Then we watched the second jet.

I remember thinking it would be hard to figure out who did it -- who would claim credit, and how could we tell? It surprised me how quickly al-Qaeda was fingered; I'd barely heard of 'em. "How did they find out so fast?" I wondered.
9.11.2008 1:42pm
Nick P.:
Driving across Ireland and planning to fly home the next day. When we arrived in Dublin, the owner of the bed-and-breakfast opened the door and said, "Come in and see what's happening in your country."
9.11.2008 1:43pm
jsm:
I was a 3L driving to the hospital to see my wife and 2 day old son. I thought it was a sick prank on the morning zoo radio show I was listening to until I got to the hospital and found my wife sobbing about the awful world into which we had brought our first child.
9.11.2008 1:44pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
putting lipstick on a pig (which the pig enjoyed).
9.11.2008 1:46pm
CJS (mail):
In Criminal Constitutional Law at Vanderbilt, which was taught by Don Hall. It was the first class of the day - 8 AM Central Time - and about 2/3 full of bleary-eyed students, as per usual. One of my classmates, who hailed from NYC, got a few pages, and went outside and didn't come back in - I didn't know why at the time.

I didn't know anything had happened until after class, when we filed out and the TVs in the law school were all tuned to the news. It was out there that I saw the 2nd plane hit the tower, on live TV. At first I thought it was a replay, but of course it wasn't. We all stood there, slack-jawed, watching the TV screens - the buildings on fire, the jumpers, the catastrophe in full.

After the initial shock wore off, everyone was on his cell phone trying to reach loved ones - in NYC and in other places. Perhaps we just needed the comfort of familiar voices; but the networks were mostly jammed, and many couldn't get through. So we talked to each other and speculated about why such a thing might happen, and what would be the response.

The images from the TV that morning are seared into my mind; I don't need a "never forget" reminder, because I couldn't if I tried.
9.11.2008 1:46pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):
Living on the west coast, I awoke to read my morning news online, and was wondering "why the heck is yahoo so slow to load?" At that point the only thing on the site was a simple statement that an aircraft had hit one of the twin towers. My first thought was, bummer, must have been like when that small plane hit the Empire State building in the 40's. Ten minutes later I found on another website with more info that 2 jetliners had hit the towers and this was no tragic accident...
9.11.2008 1:46pm
Eric Muller (www):
Stepping into the shower with the radio on, shortly before 9:00 a.m. A country music station. They said that there was a report that a little private plane had accidentally struck one of the towers. By the time I got out of the shower, they were talking about it maybe being a commercial plane. By the time I got dressed and turned the TV on downstairs, plane 2 had hit and it was clear what was really happening.

My brother called to tell me he was OK; he'd had a breakfast meeting calendared at Windows on the World for September 12.

Got in my car to drive to the law school; heard on the radio as I pulled out of the driveway about the Pentagon.

Discussion at the law school about whether to cancel classes. The dean, Gene Nichol, at first let faculty make their own choice, and then (I think) just cancelled everything after mid-day.

Horrible, horrible, surreal day.

No tears came for me until the following Sunday, though, when the NY Times started running photos and stories about victims and I had to explain to my two very young daughters what was happening in the world. Started crying and didn't stop for a half hour.
9.11.2008 1:46pm
pmorem (mail):
The Friday before I'd cancelled my Saturday night flight to Hong Kong in some panic I couldn't name.

I was still asleep (West Coast) when my girlfriend came in to tell me about it. I watched for a couple hours, and then spent the day in a scheduled meeting with the head of R&D from a major surveillance company.
9.11.2008 1:46pm
Wayne Jarvis:
I was at work in Rockville, Maryland. There was so much misinformation and uncertainty that I didn't dare take the beltway home (I lived in DC). Instead I opted to drive all the way home down Rockville Pike.

The drive home wasn't anything like the mass hysteria that you expect from watching the movies. Traffic was extremely orderly and all the drivers were polite. Aside from the image of the Twin Towers smoking, the image that is burned into my mind was looking around at a traffic stop and realizing that everyone around me was sitting---alone---in their car weeping. Surreal.

For the next days and weeks, people were courteous to each other. I knew the grieving process was complete when people finally started to treat each other like jerks again. It was actually something of a relief.
9.11.2008 1:48pm
Eric Muller (www):
Thanks, by the way, for posting this, Orin.

It is, among many things, an opportunity for us at a very divided time to remember a moment when we were all together.
9.11.2008 1:48pm
Fury:
Was in the Director of B&G office at the college where I am assigned and we noticed that the Internet was slow, very slow. Then the Director of Finance came in and said a plane hit the WTC.

We have two very large projection screens (~7' diagonal) and there were a couple of hundred people standing around watching the events. People gasped when the first tower fell, then crying. I walked through a couple of offices and every person was staring at their computer screens getting information. We eventually lost Internet access after debris from WTC 7 severely damaged the adjacent Verizon building.

People started to get scared because they were having trouble getting information on what was happening. Some people just left work.
9.11.2008 1:49pm
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
In my dorm room, studying for Japanese class. I got woken up to the RA banging on every door "DAVID?! HAS ANYONE SEEN DAVID?!"

"What's he want with David?" I asked.

"David has family in New York."

"Whaaa, whaddya want from me?"

"DAVID! CALL YOUR FAMILY NOW!"

"Why..."

"JUST F'(#$ING CALL YOUR FAMILY NOW!"

David's family was OK. I headed off to Japanese class, where half the class knew and half the class didn't. It proceeded in a bit of a haze. One of the American professors rushed in halfway through and canceled our afternoon class for the day.

That's all I remember. That and I started reading Instapundit that day, for the updates.
9.11.2008 1:49pm
RobinGoodfellow:
I was driving north on US 1 in Maine. Headed to an environmental audit at a mill on the Canadian border. The first reports on the radio were hesitant, not believing that anything sinister had happened.
9.11.2008 1:49pm
Megafirm lawyer:
I was in the office, making coffee in the lunchroom. The TV was tuned to the morning news traffic report. The traffic camera suddenly whipped around to show the WTC exploding.

When the second plane hit, I left the office. My office was over Grand Central, which would have been a logical target.

I walked to my son's school (he was then in first grade), gave him a big hug and walked him home.
9.11.2008 1:50pm
Dan Karipides (www):
I was driving to work on a country road near Round Rock, TX when I heard the news on the radio. The DJs were a couple of good Texas shock jocks. When one of them said, "I'm turning the broadcast over to a news feed from ABC. I'm just a dumb guy who makes a living telling jokes about strippers and farts--I'm not qualified to handle this," I knew something serious was up.

At work someone had put a small TV up in the lobby. A group of us huddled around it and watched as the towers fell. A little latter I drove back home to be with my GF at the time. A friend from work (from Romania) was totally freaked out. He had escaped communism and had come to this country to be free. The images he saw on the TV shocked him, as it did all of us. So he and his GF came over and we watched news coverage until we couldn't stand it anymore.

It was also the day I discovered blogs. Over at Instapundit, Glenn was posting at a rapid rate and I remember continually clicking refresh, happy to get any new information.
9.11.2008 1:50pm
Cub fan (mail):
My (then new) wife and I were sleeping in after returning the night before from our Honeymoon to Costa Rica. Had our flight been a day later, we might have been stuck there for weeks (and as a poor 3L, that would have been a pretty big deal).

I remember being paralyzed by the television for hour after hour after hour.
9.11.2008 1:51pm
theobromophile (www):
College apartment in MA. Talking to one roomie when another ran in to tell us that two planes hit the WTC. She had been watching the news of one plane hitting when she saw the other one plow into the second tower. That's when she ran out to the living room, almost in shock.

I called my mother - NY born and bred - in California to break the news. She screamed at me to stop lying, that this was a mean joke, stop lying. I kept telling her to turn on the TV - any station would be carrying it. She lost several friends who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. My aunt's brother-in-law was among them.

I had dropped my car off at the shop that morning. The woman who does the office work said that her friend put her 6-year-old daughter on one of those flights. Girl was on her way to Los Angeles to see her grandmother when the plane was hijacked. I don't know what monsters could slaughter a child in that brutal fashion, but I do hope there is a hell that they are burning in.
9.11.2008 1:53pm
ofidiofile:
i was in college in fairbanks. i'd slept in, as my first class wasn't till 10ish.

on my way to class, the atmosphere was electric, and there where excited whispers amongst students: "Did you hear what happened?" "Unbelievable, unbelievable!"

my first thoughts were: "Dear god -- someone, somewhere, has dropped The Bomb!"

i got to class, and heard the news from the prof, and the attacks were all we talked about for the rest of the day.
9.11.2008 1:53pm
genob:
Flew home to Dallas from NYC late the night before. Was at my desk early that morning at American Airlines Headquarters.

My dad called me at my desk to 1. see if I was home and 2. ask if I'd seen the television about a plane that had hit the world trade center.

My response: "There's no way that a commercial airliner could hit a building, no matter what the weather. Unless it had been hijacked or something."

The rest of that day, and the next couple of weeks were very intense to say the least.
9.11.2008 1:53pm
FantasiaWHT:
Getting ready to go to morning college classes. I never went.
9.11.2008 1:55pm
NYer:
In my office in midtown writing a brief. Heard the first plane fly south overhead (really low and loud) and distinctly recall thinking: "Man, that plane sounds like its about to crash in midtown."
9.11.2008 1:58pm
Norman Bates (mail):
Taking a day off from work, outside Boston. I checked the Drudge Report when I got out of bed and found out a plane had crashed into the WTC. I called a friend who told me that he'd just learned a second plane had crashed into the building. At that point we both knew immediately that it was an act of terrorism and began speculating who might have been behind it, what their motives were, and whether other attacks might occur. I remember the next few days seemed surreal. The only planes in the sky were military interceptors, some of which flew quite low. Only much later did I discover that a friend died on UA Flight 93. He was a very brave person and I'm sure he was among those who helped send the hijackers on that plane to hell.
9.11.2008 1:59pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
In the hospital, with my father as he had triple bypass surgery. He had the early slot, so I was with him in the prep room by 5:30 a.m. PST. I left the room at about 6:15 PST. By then I could already tell that some of the nurses seemed agitated about something. I walked into the waiting room to find the TV on, and watched the day unfold with other people waiting for loved ones to go through major surgeries.
9.11.2008 2:00pm
jc:
On a business trip in the Philippines, trying to go to bed. A colleague called my hotel room and told me turn on CNN. I stayed up watching in shock almost all night.
9.11.2008 2:01pm
Sewanee:
I was in my senior year of college. I woke up and turned on my computer to access CNN, which was kind of a morning ritual. The site wouldn't load. After a while, there was only a hazy picture and big letters in red and white: AMERICA UNDER ATTACK.

Freaky. My college didn't have cable in dorm rooms, so I went out into the common room, where the guys from my dorm were crowded around the aging tv, volume blaring. Blank faces.

At noon that day, I think, the whole school assembled in the Chapel--not a common occurrence. Even less common was that it was packed--like a convocation or graduation. And it was the most moving, most treasured church service I have ever attended. Lots of those great hymns that Anglicans do very well--"Rock of Ages" and all of that.

And my god, it was a beautiful day outside. Gorgeous and terrifying and sad.
9.11.2008 2:01pm
tarheel:
Fayetteville, NC (home of Fort Bragg) conducting interviews for a college scholarship program. Stunned kids started showing up at 9 or so.

Stood watching the TV news around lunchtime in the hotel lobby. Guy standing next to me said he had just gotten out of the Army a few days before and was heading right back to the base to re-up.
9.11.2008 2:03pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
I was scheduled to go to Washington DC to participate in a press conference scheduled by Democrats.com on the subject of the 2000 Florida election fiasco. (I'd done a lot of research on Florida election law and its evolution, as well as some analyses of the various media recounts that had been released up until that point.)

Needless to say, the press conference was cancelled....
9.11.2008 2:03pm
George Weiss (mail) (www):
calculus class in college as a freshmen

we thought it was a small bomb-no big deal.

then we started to see it was more as people who had seen in the student union gave word and the cell phone network was jammed.

life went on as normal and UMD canceled class around 12 or 1pm tthe same day.
9.11.2008 2:04pm
dr:

The woman who does the office work said that her friend put her 6-year-old daughter on one of those flights.


reading this brings back the nausea i felt then. jesus. my daughter's six now.
9.11.2008 2:07pm
MP (mail) (www):
Underground in a 4/5 train just about to enter Wall St. station when the first tower collapsed. A wave of dust that rushed down the subway entrance overwhelmed the lead car of the train and forced everyone to rush to the back. Soon the rush of dust stopped, and the lead car was able to open the train door. Slowly we all filtered out, completely clueless as to what just happened. We walked out onto Broadway, and everything was covered with at least an inch of dust. It was white dust, and looked oddly like a fresh snowfall.

Still thankful that that was the worst of it for me. I spent time that day walking up the east side with someone who saw jumpers first hand. And still, he was a lucky one. So many bad stories from that day...
9.11.2008 2:07pm
Terrivus:
In the library of one of DOJ's offices in downtown Washington, DC, doing research. The library was rarely used and usually completely empty, so I actually didn't even know the building was being evacuated until someone else poked their head in and told me to get out. By that point, it was about ten minutes after the second plane had hit.

I then joined the mass exodus out of downtown Washington DC. I usually took the Metro to work from Maryland, but it had been shut down, so like thousands of others, I just starting walking north. Like another commenter said, it was very orderly -- no hysteria or panic. Eventually I made it to a friend's place farther uptown, where I stayed for the morning and afternoon watching the news before finally making it back to my place in Maryland that evening.
9.11.2008 2:09pm
dr:
my newly pregnant wife and i woke up in LA to the sound of our clock radio, tuned to npr. the reporter was in one of the towers, talking about the people streaming down the stairwell, and it was clearly chaos.

my wife and i actually thought they were running some kind of radio play, which we thought was odd at that time of the morning. it took a minute before we figured out what was happening, then ran to the television.
9.11.2008 2:13pm
e:
An airbase at Misawa, Japan. Primetime surreality. My brother was safe in the Pentagon, but the worst part personally in the immediate aftermath was dealing with crew mates from NYC, separated from their families by about 12 time zones.
9.11.2008 2:16pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
I was a grad student in New Haven and didn't have any classes (until my first time leading a discussion section that evening). I woke up, read the NYT (printed much earlier), didn't watch TV, didn't listen to the radio. I took a shower and walked to another apartment building where I had an appointment for a haircut.

I thought, as I walked, how it was the most pleasant day we'd had in weeks -- no stifling humidity, but no rain either.

I got to the guy's apartment and knocked for a half hour before he came to the door and knew from my face, "you haven't heard!"

We spent the next half hour (12:30-1:00 Eastern) watching the various news channels in disbelief. Then he cut my hair. Didn't even jokingly flirt with the straight customer like usual.

I haven't had my hair cut since.
9.11.2008 2:17pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
I was getting ready to hop in the shower before my freshman English class in college when a friend IM'd me saying "they're blowing up the World Trade Center." I thought he was kidding me as he was prone to making wild statements, but as I walked to the shower I saw guys in another room looking at the tv. I looked and the first tower was burning. I ran back to my room and IM'd my dad, who is a biologist at a federal institute to see if he'd heard anything. He hadn't, but 10 minutes later he'd been sent home. I was watching the tv as the second plane came up from behind and hit the second tower. I ended up not showering but still went to class to turn in the paper.
9.11.2008 2:19pm
Hoya:
Went through that day in a daze, thankful that I had two young daughters to look after. The next day, Georgetown didn't cancel classes. Crossing the Key Bridge, I stopped to watch the smoke coming from the Pentagon, and went into Georgetown, which had a military presence. I wondered how I was going to teach a class for a hundred eighteen-year-old Georgetown students who had arrived not two weeks before.
9.11.2008 2:21pm
James Eaves-Johnson (mail) (www):
Sitting in Corporations, as people walked in late. My professor was not one to look kindly upon tardiness, but the news had come out that a plane had hit the WTC. We just didn't know the magnitude of it.
9.11.2008 2:21pm
Le Messurier (mail):
I was going through security at the Downtown Phoenix Justice Court as I did every weekday morning when the security guard told me what had happened. Didn't fully comprehend and went through my routine doing my business. Only when I got to my car and it's radio did I really begin to understand.
9.11.2008 2:24pm
JRL:
We were changing planes in Detroit on the way to my grandfather's funeral in Ft. Myers. Obviously we never got on the 2nd plane. By the time we figured out was happening all the rental cars were gone. Even all the Uhaul and Ryder trucks were gone. The father of an old college buddy in Toledo found us a rental car from a dealership in Toledo; another college friend picked us up in Detroit and drove us to Toledo. We drove to Columbus to get our car to start the overnight drive to Florida, but turned back after only a couple hours on the road. I remember being struck by how empty the skies were.
9.11.2008 2:28pm
trad and anon:
But what was Sarah Palin doing? I'll bet she was safely squirreled away in some safe location at the other end of the continent, just where you'd want to be if you wanted to avoid suspicion. Clearly someone should investigate this suspicious behavior.

As for me, I was reading my email in my dorm room. When I got an email about the first plane, I assumed it was some kind of accident and ignored it. When someone on the same listserv wrote about another one, I interpreted it as a bad joke. I didn't realize something was really going on until people on the same listserv started reporting in that they were alive.

Then I went to chemistry class, which was not canceled.
9.11.2008 2:29pm
Carl F. Hostetter (mail):
I was driving west on Route 50 towards the Washington DC beltway when I heard the news. As I came to the beltway I saw the thick black smoke pouring out from the Pentagon all along the southern horizon.
9.11.2008 2:30pm
GV:
My roommate (who's muslim) woke me up after the first plane hit. We sat horrified as we watched the second plane hit live on TV. I spent most of the morning trying to get in touch with my relatives, who nearly all live in Manhattan. Eventually a relative was able to send out an e-mail letting us know that everyone in the family was okay.

I think my most distinct memory from that day (other than seeing the second plane hit) was a live shot of the president's plane taking off. I can't remember where he was going or where he was taking off from. But I remember expecting his plane to just explode or something. It was weird having this sense that nobody knew what was going to happen next. Two planes had hit already. There were reports of other planes going down. It was surreal.
9.11.2008 2:32pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I had just left my house in Hudson County, NJ (across the river from Manhattan to commute to an office on the Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel. We heard the announcement of the first plane hit and were listening to the ABC News feed live of an interview with a man in an office North of the WTC when he saw the second hit. That's when I knew it was terrorism.

As our car drove up onto the HT extension of the Jersey Turnpike, we had a panoramic view of lower Manhattan and could see both towers burning.

As we approached the end of the Turnpike we could see cars backing up and assumed (correctly) that the Holland Tunnel had been closed so we diverted to local streets and got to the office.

We didn't get much work done that day.
9.11.2008 2:34pm
Ed Felten (mail):
I was in a hotel room in Minneapolis, getting dressed. I flipped on the TV and saw smoke streaming from a skyscraper. Nobody knew yet what it meant.

My plan had been to meet a colleague in the lobby and walk over to our meeting. Everybody in the lobby area was watching the big-screen TV in the bar. It's there that I saw the second plane hit.

There was nothing to do but go to the meeting. Not much got accomplished and we all spent much of the day in my hosts' conference room watching a projected image of CNN. Much later I visited the same room and found a big painting of a firefighter hanging near where I had stood that day.

(For the rest of my 9/11 story, see http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1062 )
9.11.2008 2:37pm
Dave N (mail):
My wife woke me up, telling me that a plane had hit the World Trade Centers.

I then watched television for the next several hours--blowing off work in the process (I do not remember going in at all that day). My two most vivid memories were of the second plane hitting the second tower--and then the second tower's implosion before the first tower fell.

For some reason, I also have vivid memories of the third tower imploding--the one that was not hit but became structurally unsound after the first two collapsed.

Seven years later, it just seems surreal.
9.11.2008 2:38pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail):
I was in Evidence class as a 2L taking good notes so I could later share them with my roommate who was in NYC on a callback interview at a law firm. They had put her up at the WTC Marriott. I noticed that several cell phones went off during class and a couple people left class early (which was unusual for such an early class and for it to happen in a Socratic class). I left class and found the student lounge packed but oddly quiet.

When I finally got in touch with my roommate, she had been casually watching news of the first plane on the Today Show like people across the country while she was getting ready for her interview when she realized it was happening right across the street. She wouldn't talk about what she saw when she exited the hotel. She ended up walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in her interview suit and heels.
9.11.2008 2:38pm
Muskrat (mail):
Standing in the lobby of the Old Executive Office Building (next to the White Hosue) in DC, waiting for a pass so I could attend a meeting. Suddenly, the guards herding all the visitors around started yelling (loudly but calmly) to everyone to get out. The crowd spent ten minutes standing on the nearest cross street thinking it was another drill when someone tuned a car radio to the news. There were reports of explosions on the mall, car bombs... all of which were probably based on the smoke from the Pentagon we eventually saw from across the river. I walked home to Foggy Bottom and spent the rest of the day watching TV.
9.11.2008 2:39pm
john w. (mail):
I had just arrived at work (in Central Texas) and was surfing the Internet for the morning news. I remember being very puzzled for a while that I couldn't access any of the websites of the New York or Washington newspapers.

When I found out what had happened, I drove to WalMart and bought 2 weeks worth of canned food and a few hundred rounds of Ammunition. Then I picked up my kids from school, went home, and filled the gas tanks on all our vehicles.

P.S. > I can also tell y'all what I was doing when Kennedy was shot, if anybody's interested. And my older sister still remembers what she was doing when she heard about Pearl Harbor.
9.11.2008 2:39pm
CJColucci:
I was spending two hours stalled just north of 14th St. on the IRT No. 1 subway. I had no idea what was going on, but didn't think much about the situation because, for "normal" subway-related reasons, I had spent an hour in the same spot just the day before. When we finally pulled into the station, the subway went out of service. Nobody said anything and I went upstairs, planning to walk the rest of the way to work, across the street from the World Trade Center, where I usually got out of the subway. The crowd at Union Square was unusually large for that time of day, and people were clustered around phone booths. I started walking down Broadway and heard a parking garage attendant say "they're gone." I had no idea what he was talking about, but then I saw smoke. I ducked into a bar with a television.
9.11.2008 2:40pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
I'd just gotten home from my office at the US Embassy in New Delhi, a bit before 7pm, when I got a call from a Marine Security Guard who had been tasked to call senior officers and report that a Flash precedence message had come in stating that a plane had hit the WTC. He had no further information. I, too, thought of the 1945 crash of the B-25 into the Empire State building. I changed and started to eat dinner.

A few minutes later, another phone call reporting a second plane. I had absolutely no doubt that this was a terrorist attack and that Al-Qaeda was behind it. Synchronized attacks were a known attribute of AQ to anyone who was following terrorism issues. People working in US embassies, even if their jobs didn't involve terrorism, were acutely aware of AQ following the bombings of US embassies in Africa.

I immediately headed back to the office, where I was Information Officer and Acting Public Affairs Officer. I turned on the TV to CNN-International and checked to see when the Ambassador and Country Team would be meeting. By 8pm, everyone was assembled and trying to sort out rumors from facts. Then we worked out what we needed to do to assure--insofar as possible--the safety of the Embassy, Consulates, and all Americans in the country. One of the first things, of course, was to ask for enhanced security from the Indian government and to ask that the private airport, located about two miles from the Embassy, be temporarily closed.

I'd been in negotiation with HR at State Dept. about going to Saudi Arabia on assignment later in the year. I realized pretty quickly that 'later in the year' was coming real soon. The next day I got my orders.
9.11.2008 2:41pm
r78:
Cooking breakfast over a fire in a campground in rural Canada.

A German family walked by and we exchanged good mornings and they said "Oh, you are Americans?" We said yes and they said, "Our prayers are with you and your country."

We thought that odd but didn't know what had happened until hours later when we listened to the radio.

I am sad about what happened on 9/11 but when I think of how our government has pissed away the goodwill extended to America following the attacks, I am angry.
9.11.2008 2:43pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Pretty much like Damian P -- my mother had had a neighbor who was working in the Empire State Building back when it got hit, and I figured it was a repeat.

It was as we know a beautiful early-fall day like today. We'd dropped my oldest off at 1st grade, and my wife and I went to a playground with the the other two. I got a text message from CNN (35 cents each then, or something, but I've had to keep them ever since) so we went to the car to catch the newsradio. I remember some guy claiming he'd seen a DC-3 flying down Fifth Avenue, never heard about that again. My wife was in a convenience store when the second plane hit, and I knew we were entering into bad times.
We rushed home and I remember sitting in front of the TV for the next day or two. I never saw the iconic jumpers, but I remember the live video as the towers collapsed. I couldn't raise my parents (retired and out of NY by then) but in the evening my father called to tell me.
I didn't lose anybody personally, but this was my city. My father had worked at 99 Church Street since before I was born, so I knew that neighborhood well, and I'd watched the World Trade Center going up. I'd been to the top a few times, straining to see the northeast Bronx.
At the time I'd been out of work since March. By the time it got to be mid-summer I'd given up expecting to find work until after Labor Day. I got a job with a school bus company right after New Year's, figuring I could support my family in the new order better as a truck driver than as an unskilled laborer.
I'd only been back to New York once since my oldest was born, 18 hours for a high school reunion in 1999, until last summer. Ground Zero (when did they name it that? When did "United We Stand" become the motto and "Proud to be an American" the anthem? I have the papers from that week) was a mandatory stop on my first visit back, last summer, as I was trying to figure things out after my wife died, by going back home.
9.11.2008 2:44pm
JWR (mail):
Was clerking for a 4th Circuit judge in the courtroom in Charleston, WV. Was told about the first plane, tried to check CNN.com and it wouldn't load. Kept working, heard about the second plane, then we all went over to another judge's chambers, where there was a TV, and watched the buildings fall.

My wife was in the air on a small private plane on her way to Dulles. When they landed at Dulles, the pilot told all aboard that all planes had been ordered out of the sky (they were closest to Dulles at the time), which is something he'd never heard of in decades of flying. They walked into the terminal and saw everyone in shock, and had no idea why.

My wife's boss quickly rented a car, which were soon after all taken, and they all drove back from DC to West Virginia, trying to get away from DC fast in case an atomic bomb were to go off. Does that seem absurd now? It didn't then.
9.11.2008 2:45pm
Rock On (www):
I was a junior in high school in Pennsylvania at the time. The first plane struck between class periods. My French teacher had the radio on when I got to class and briefly explained what had happened. We made some idiotic joke and then shortly thereafter the second plane hit and I felt sick to my stomach. I was in a daze for awhile. I remember listening to Opie and Anthony, who gave a truly excellent broadcast that day, at work after school and being moved by a lot of what I heard.
9.11.2008 2:46pm
KeithK (mail):
My brother called early (west coast) to tell me that a plane had hit the WTC. I'd been up half the night dealing with some personal issues and was so distracted by it that I put the world situation out of mind for a while. I guess I figured that it was just an accident or a minor incident, even though I did see the images on the TV.

Later I arrived at work just in time to see the first tower collapse. That's when the real shock hit. It had never occurred to me that that the building would fall even after a blast like that. Willful ignorance I guess.

I managed to reach my Dad in NYC on the phone pretty early on and then spent the rest of the day calling relatives to let them know that he was OK.

One of the things I remember most from the day and it's aftermath was a feeling of helplessness. I had only moved from NYC to CA a year before and just been home visiting two days prior. I felt this overwhelming urge to be there, as if somehow I could have helped if I'd only been home, almost as if I'd let people down by being in California.
9.11.2008 2:48pm
theobromophile (www):
Then I went to chemistry class, which was not canceled.

My chem class was canceled. Old prof who had fought in WWII said he just couldn't handle teaching that day, as it brought back too many memories of Pearl Harbour.
9.11.2008 2:48pm
DDS:
I had just finished a clerkship and was living at home in South Carolina for a few weeks before starting at a firm in D.C. That morning my mom had gone to her church to help with a project. I drove to pick her up from the church and take her to the hospital for an appointment with her oncologist. We heard some talk from FM radio morning show types about a plane crashing into the WTC, but it was hard to tell if they were serious or if the plane was big or anything. It was obviously more clear when we got to the hospital and everybody in the lobby was circled around TVs with the burning buildings on the screen.

The oncologist had terrible news, which was that my mom's ovarian cancer had spread to eight different spots in her brain. It was basically a death sentence, though she lived for another 18 months. For the rest of the day, I sort of sought comfort in the shared grief of the attacks to distract myself from the focused grief of knowing that this cancer was going to kill my mom, and probably pretty soon. It was horrible.
9.11.2008 2:49pm
Wallace (mail):
I was a high school student sitting in first period Biology. We were discussing meiosis vs. mitosis and my Social Studies teacher came in to tell the teacher something. The Biology teacher then announced that something had happened at the WTC. I had never been to New York City; and I couldn't imagine a "trade center." The entire thing went over my head at first. Was a trade center like a kiosk? Or a bazaar?

I went to my locker, where people were talking. Then I headed over to Algebra, my second period class, where the teacher turned on the TV. We watched the events unfold, but I, distracted, kept looking outside at the neatly trimmed basement fields. Fall in Chicago is cloudy and damp. The day was no exception. Unaware that the teacher had no plans to go ahead with our algebra test, I studied furiously and didn't mind the TV.

When I went home for lunch, my parents were watching TV (my dad had come home) and an omelet lay prepared for me on the table. What amazes me in retrospect was that I didn't know how much the world changed that day. I was just a kid with an algebra assignment to do and no interest in doing it. Often, they say, life is what happens when you least expect it.
9.11.2008 2:50pm
A.W. (mail):
I was waiting for a law class to begin. I was a student. I was in New Haven Connecticut. Alot of my friends had literally worked in the towers only 2 weeks before.

We had internet access, but I had left my laptop home. But the other people in the class suddenly started to find out that something was happening. I remember them saying, "wow, a passenger plane hit one of the twin towers." We all concurred that this must have been one dumb pilot, in other words an accident. A few minutes later, they noted the other one had been hit. We all thought the same thing. It was no accident. When the professor arrived, I told him what was happening and he immediately cancelled class. We went down the hall and crowded a room and quietly watch. When the first fell, we all moaned as one.

I got up about then called my best friend, who was from New York, to make sure she knew what was happening and that she was alright. She had only afternoon classes, so she was literally woken by the phone. The cell phones were still working. Later, they wouldn't be. It later turned out that she had two relatives in the towers that day, but they both got out. I think watched for hours, sitting in our largest classroom, with a massive screen. I was in that room when we found out about Flight 93.

I remember one idiot professor tried to have class anyway, one of my classes. it was the longest and least productive classes in my life. i don't know what he thought the point was, but oh well.

Two things stuck with me. The first was everyone there, a very liberal crowd, GOT IT. I am at a loss ot understand why they don't anymore. They were talking about nuking Saudi. They were not talking about terrorist rights. I know that is political, but its how i feel. Its all so depressing now, looking back.

And less politically, I was about an hour and a half my train away from the site. I was a stranger to the area, but almost everyone there knew someone affected directly. It took me back to when i moved to texas, just after the OK City bombing, because where i lived in Texas was just about as far away in terms of travel time. And you had that same effect. My human evolution teacher, for instance, was an expert in human forensics. He talked about doing autopsies on the children who died in the OK City bombing. I could almost feel the effects of that terrorist act in texas, and i felt the same in New Haven, CT.
9.11.2008 2:51pm
Hector:
My then-fiancee woke me up just past 6am PT after the second plane hit. I distinctly remember thinking it must be some sort of terrorist but having no idea who, of course. I was starting law school two weeks later, but at that point was still working at a local a/v store. I left for work around 9:30 PT and, at that time, had an unobstructed view of the Seattle skyline from the street in front of my house. I felt so certain that something amongst it would explode at any second. Anyway, at work we had tv's tuned to every news outlet imaginable. Needless to say, we didn't have a lot of business that day -- we just stood around all day and watched.
9.11.2008 2:54pm
PabloF:
Standing near the corner of Vescey and Church Streets, behind St. Paul's Chapel across from 5 World Trade Center. I had just gotten off the subway and was going to walk through the concourse to my office building, but some plainclothes policemen told us that no one could go into the WTC and directed everyone up to the street. Tower 1 was burning, but no one knew what had happened. All I could think was that some "Towering Inferno"-like electrical fire had started during the night and gotten horribly out of control. Then the second plane came in and I knew instantly what was happening.

RIP all those who died on that beautiful, sunny day seven years ago.
9.11.2008 2:58pm
Wallace (mail):
Hector: I'm guessing you were a Chicago student? Or did some other school start late?
9.11.2008 2:59pm
A.W. (mail):
I will add that one of the most moving thing I ever heard Bush say after the towers fell, was a story he told about visiting with pilots during the Afghan war. I am paraphrasing, but it is really close.

He saw that a pilot had written NYPD and FDNY on their bombs and Bush asked the pilot if he had a personal connection with anyone who died that day. The pilot didn't hesitate, "Yes sir. They were Americans."
9.11.2008 3:02pm
Hector:
Wallace -- UW, Seattle. Fall quarter starts at the end of September.
9.11.2008 3:03pm
Melancton Smith:
I was at the 311 South Wacker building (affectionally known as the White Castle building due to its rooftop decoration) in a job interview with Goldman Sachs.

That building is across the street from the Sears Tower which we all thought was a secondary target.

As we all fled the loop, I accidently got on the wrong 'L' train and had to turn around and go back through the loop (which meant well within the drop zone of the Sears Tower. I couldn't help wondering if the mistake would cost me seriously.

As we all know, nothing happened. I never did re-schedule the interview.
9.11.2008 3:05pm
Chem_geek:
I was sitting in the flight surgeon's waiting room; I had an appointment for a required physical before getting a private pilot license.

We went through with it, even though by that time it was clear it would be a worthless piece of paper.
9.11.2008 3:06pm
Houston Lawyer:
I was watching tv when a friend of mine called and told me to turn on the tv. They were showing the World Trade Center and talking about how a plane had hit it. Like others above, we discussed the plane hitting the Empire State Building. The announcers seemed to be under the impression that a small plane had hit the building, but the damage I saw suggested a large plane.

I got into the shower and got out to the phone ringing. The tv was showing the second plane hit. There was no doubt then that it was deliberate. I thought that the job was poorly planned because it was early in New York and New Yorkers tend to get to work later in the day than we do here.

I went to work where they later indicated that we should go home. I remember that I had to stay to deal with some tool who wanted to get some meaningless project done.

I also remember the tone of the radio broadcasters. They all stopped playing music and went to live feed full time. They are generally just entertainers, but they stepped up and did the best they could in the circumstances. I also remember thinking that somewhere in our armed forces, hard men were sharpening knives with grim determination and planning to go after those responsible.
9.11.2008 3:06pm
Wallace (mail):
Does anyone remember where they were when they heard about Kennedy or the 1987 stock market crash?
9.11.2008 3:08pm
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
At my office getting ready for class. My wife called to say that a plane had flown into one of the Towers, and my thought was that a small private plane had screwed up somehow. She said there was a huge fire, so I went to find a TV in the student center, and then I realized that it was a big jet. I thought it was pretty awful, but even then didn't think either (a) that it was deliberate or (b) that the tower would collapse. Back in my office, a short time later, I heard that the other tower had been hit, that's when it dawned on me that this was a deliberate attack. I went back to where that TV was, and watched, stunned, til well after both towers had collapsed. As Eric put it above, it was horrible and surreal. Needless to say I couldn't meet my classes that day! I am from NYC, and still have family and friends there, so I was extremely disturbed. When I heard about DC and flight 93, it just made things worse. I still can't watch youtube or rebroadcast clips of the fire and collapse, and I couldn't bring myself to watch that movie about flight 93. And everytime I'm back in NYC for visit, I see the empty space in the skyline of my city where the towers used to be and it still makes me sad. RIP all the victims of that day, and all best wishes to their survivors. :-(
9.11.2008 3:11pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Kennedy, sure. The '87 crash? Not at all.
9.11.2008 3:12pm
Melancton Smith:
Oh and my sister-in-law was on a Singapore Airlines flight from Amsterdam that go re-routed to Canada. The airline put her up very comfortably.
9.11.2008 3:15pm
iambatman:
I was in class.

"Two things stuck with me. The first was everyone there, a very liberal crowd, GOT IT. I am at a loss ot understand why they don't anymore. They were talking about nuking Saudi. They were not talking about terrorist rights. I know that is political, but its how i feel. Its all so depressing now, looking back. "

Yeah, why don't those goddamn liberals understand that the only logical reaction is to kill more brown people! Don't get mad at me for being a racist know-nothing; it's just how I feel.
9.11.2008 3:16pm
Wallace (mail):
John: would you like to narrate Kennedy?

I'm curious to hear Kennedy stories. For my generation, that's entirely surreal.
9.11.2008 3:18pm
iambatman:
You wonder why we're so divided now? It's because of inflammatory bullshit like that.
9.11.2008 3:19pm
Constantin:
My dad called me at law school to say someone flew a plane into one of the Twin Towers. The first thing that came to mind, for whatever reason, was that the Columbine murderers had some fantasy of hijacking a plane in Denver and flying them into the WTC. I turned on the TV just as the second plane hit.
9.11.2008 3:19pm
Tim Howland (mail) (www):
I was in the subway, approaching city hall station downtown, heading into work on the 13th floor of the woolworth building. The subway slowly halted- typical subway delays that you wait through every day. Except this one didn't end- we just sat there waiting to start again. After about 15 minutes one of the other riders ransacked his bag and found a little sports radio with earphones; he started waving the radio around until he could get it tuned in, and somehow was able to pick up the local news station, probably 1010 wins.

He turned pale; he said a second plane had just hit the other world trade center tower. I didn't know what he meant. We waited for the train to move.

Another half hour went by, with occasional updates from the man able to get the radio station- we looked at him in silence, nobody knew what to do. As the conductor walked by to reassure us, he said the tower had come down- it had fallen. The conductor looked at him, said "You're joking, right? My sister works for PATH in that building. Tell me this is a joke".

He just looked at her. A minute went by in silence and she started walking up the train again. Some length of time- I think an hour- went by and he reported that the other tower had fallen as well. He looked at us, said "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are at war". I thought he was a bit pretentious, but it was hard to disagree.

Finally they backed the train out to the previous station, had us get out and walk up the stairs into the beautiful September afternoon- cool, crisp, wonderful weather, with enormous clouds the color of a bruise covering the sky. The smell was what I remember most; cement, ashes, and electrical smoke. As I started to hike uptown, my cellphone rang, and I was finally able to tell my wife I wasn't dead.
9.11.2008 3:23pm
Spartacus (www):
Second day of work at a new job in Austin after moving here from NY 2 mos. earlier. First heard the towers fell and didn't believe it. An hour or so later I saw the replay and was frozen, dumbfounded, horrified. We were told to continue with work. Felt like I had abandonned my city. Tried to call my friend who worked across the street at 111 B'way, but couldn't get through. Turns out he was working polls in B'klyn that day.
9.11.2008 3:24pm
ForgotAcct:
I woke up to see Drudge report headlines, and receive from frantic IMs from friends. Rumors were rife, and one of my friends was saying that the State Department was under attack.

My first class in the morning was Turkish, followed by Islamic Civilizations, and then computer science in the afternoon.

Something I'll never forget... by the afternoon, the computer class was cancelled. Most of the students and faculty in the computer building were sitting around watching BBC news coverage as I remember. I was talking with one of the other students--an Indian grad student--who said "You should know that we Indians will stand with you Americans--we have to deal with this kind of thing from Muslims all the time."

Racist/etc yes, but rather prescient considering that nobody knew a thing by that point...
9.11.2008 3:24pm
CDU (mail) (www):
I was asleep. I lived in Arizona at the time, so there was a three hour time difference. I woke up and tried to check the Yahoo News site, as was my habit, but found it was loading extremely slowly. Eventually part of the page loaded (sans images) and I was able to figure out that something major had happened. I flipped on the TV and learned about the attacks. By this time, the events of the attacks themselves were pretty much over. Both towers were down, and the plane had hit the Pentagon (Flight 93 had also gone down by that point but it wasn't known at the time). The networks were showing the footage of the second plane hitting the tower and the towers collapsing again and again.

I sometimes wonder how this experience compares to people in the more easterly time zones who saw the events unfold in real time over the course of a few hours, rather than learning it all at once. I never really experienced the whole "what's happening" period that a lot of other folks did. By the time I learned about it it was obvious that this was a series of well-planned, coordinated, terrorist attacks.
9.11.2008 3:25pm
Michael F. Martin (mail) (www):
I had just gotten into work, my second week on the job, at a law firm in a high-rise in Chicago. I watched the first tower smoke for a while in a partner's corner office, keeping an eye on the Sears Tower the whole time. After the second plane hit, I left work and went looking for my wife, who was in the middle of interviewing as a 2L. Her stories were more interesting. One of the interviewers from Sidley (in the WTC) just went on interviewing people as if nothing had happened. Another burst into tears, turned around and composed himself, and then asked the interviewee to continue. The trains were running non-stop and the streets were jammed with traffic as everybody tried to get home to be with their families.

One interesting thing I do recall from my office -- a coworker who had served for many years in the military didn't stop working. She just kept working, although she looked upset. She apparently didn't want to go and watch or need to be around other people the same way most of us did. Made me appreciate the level of training they put people through in some ways.
9.11.2008 3:27pm
john w. (mail):
Does anyone remember where they were when they heard about Kennedy or the 1987 stock market crash?

I remember very vividly what I was doing when I heard about the JFK assassination. (I was about 20 then) But, surprisingly, I don't have any particular personal memories of the Robert Kennedy nor Martin Luther King killings. The 1987 stock market crash doesn't ring any bells at all -- but I do remember quite vividly listening to radio accounts of the sinking of the Andrea Doria, and also the Russian invasion of Hungary, and the Sputnik launch. When were those? Around 1956?

There are probably some really interesting psychological insights in the reasons why some things get indelibly etched into one's brain, and others don't.
9.11.2008 3:29pm
Wallace (mail):
What were you doing during Kennedy?
9.11.2008 3:33pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
I was a sophomore in high school, in Ankara, Turkey in 1963. My father had taken an assignment with USAID and brought the family to Ankara earlier in the year.

I was babysitting for my younger siblings when, a little after 8pm, the brother of one of my older brother's friend came by, tears in his eyes, looking for his older brother. The older brother had gone out with my brother that Friday night. He told me what had happened and then went off searching for his brother.

My parents and brother were back within the half-hour and we spent a good part of the night listening to VOA and BBC shortwave radio broadcasts to learn what we could. I remember that we got calls from other Americans in Ankara and from the Embassy warning us all to take precautions. Those working for the US military there were put on alert.

The next day was spent with Turkish newspapers and dictionaries trying to figure out what they were saying. There was no TV in Turkey at the time and international phone calls could only be made by appointment with the PPT office, so we were quite restricted in what we could learn. Stars &Stripes newspaper carried the most comprehensive coverage (only a day or so late) and most of the important visual imagery available to us. The International Herald-Tribune helped, but it was several days late. The news weekly magazines like Time and Newsweek wouldn't arrive until the following week.

School was canceled for the early part of the next week while people were trying to sort out if the assassination was part of some global plot. When it became clear that it was not, things went back to a sort of stunned 'normal'.

That day was as 'paradigm changing' as 9/11 was/is for a later generation. The world was not as safe as it had been the day before.
9.11.2008 3:35pm
John Jenkins (mail):
I was in the first semester of my junior year at Virginia Tech studying political science, sitting in a lounge at the Johnston Student Center before an international relations class with Jeff Corntassel. When we got to class, virtually everyone knew, with some people just sitting there quietly sobbing.

I don't even remember whether they canceled classes that afternoon.
9.11.2008 3:35pm
Eric Muller (www):
john w.'s last observation is an interesting one. I wonder about this too.

My first outside-the-family memory is being taken to the overpass of the NJ Turnpike near my home to see Kosygin's lengthy motorcade rumble beneath on its way to the Glassboro Summit in 1967. I was nearly five.

The next year I remember the RFK assassination, but only because my next door neighbor's dad rudely walked into our house without knocking to remove his son from where he and I were playing in front of the television, which was showing RFK's funeral. (My mom was watching.)
9.11.2008 3:36pm
theculturedredneck (mail):
I was at a west-coast military prep school that semester, earning my AFA appointment. We were all in the dining hall eating breakfast when the headmaster (Mrs. D, a woman we all loved and respected) burst through the door. On most days, she would greet us with a standard "good morning" to which we would all reply in kind and in unison. This morning, however, she looked angry. An angry Mrs. D usually meant there had been a late-night fight or someone had been caught sneaking into town. Not having access to television or the internet, we had idea why she wheeled a tv cart front and center and plugged the thing in.

The aircraft had already hit their targets in NYC. It was clear to all of us that this was no accident. The room was quiet. Those of us who had family in NYC (I do not) asked to use the telephone. It was when the towers fell that the spell was broken. The silence turned to shouts and prayers as they crumbled on live tv.

I know this smacks of melodrama. But, it was a life-changing experience for me to have this happen in those circumstances. We were all away from home. We all had hopes of getting a military commission. Each of us had reason to believe that the things we witnessed together would change the course of our lives.
9.11.2008 3:43pm
jfalk:
In the Tucson airport preparing to take a 7 am flight to JFK. I got back to NYC on Saturday.
9.11.2008 3:45pm
BZ (mail):
At home, on-line, on a beta version of a brand-new Electronic Arts Massively-Multiplayer Online Game (which are basically chat mechanisms with something attached). People all over the world were on-line. Back then real-time chat was new. Someone said that a plane had hit the tower; I don't recall anyone thinking it was anything other than an accident. Only after the second plane hit, did people realize what was happening.

Immediately turned on CNN, saw what was happening, and tried to reach my wife, who was returning from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. She couldn't get back for four days.

Went outside, talked to a neighbor as we watched the fighter planes flying CAP over D.C. "Have you ever been so scared in your life?" she, a Navy captain's wife, asked. "No," I replied, "With them up there, it's over." A dumb answer, but reassuring to us both.

Went to the office, where the smoke from the Pentagon was easily visible from my window, and completed a filing on a "fighting words" appeal in Michigan. Didn't look out the window after the first time until appeal was sent.

I called my kids' school first, but was told that it was safer for them to stay there, as the school had already put into place its shelter plan (it's part of a monastery in D.C. and they are used to staying during emergencies). I went later anyway, and almost all the parents had already picked up their kids when I got there.

Left at mid-afternoon to coach my youth football team; practice was cancelled, and the team had set up to seek contributions of blood and funds for the Red Cross. We added American flags to their uniforms for the season.
9.11.2008 3:46pm
Dale Carpenter (mail):
I was in my second year of teaching. I was at home getting dressed so that I could go to teach my First Amendment class. The television was on, and I was half watching the Today show and half doing other things when Matt Lauer interrupted the program to announce that a plane had crashed into the WTC. Everyone on the air assumed it was some kind of freak accident. Then I noticed a plane entering from the right of the screen and I remember thinking to myself, "I can't believe they're letting planes fly anywhere near this." The plane seemed to move in slow motion and then, suddenly, there was an explosion. From that moment on I was transfixed.
9.11.2008 3:46pm
john w. (mail):
What were you doing during Kennedy?

I was a Junior or Senior undergraduate Physics major, and I had an undergraduate teaching assistantship which involved being the Lab Instructor in a Science class for Elementary Ed. majors. Somebody stuck their head in the classroom door and said that the President had been shot; one of the students had a transistor radio and was able to get some news reports coming from Dallas. I didn't quite know what to do; I tried to keep my class going, but a bunch of the girls were crying, and finally my faculty adviser came in and said to cancel the class. And shortly thereafter, the entire University closed down for the rest of the day.

And of course the whole country was in shock for days &days. I still have rather vivid memories of the funeral procession on television: the caissons, the riderless horse, Caroline, John-John, etc., etc. ... Walter Cronkite narrating ....
9.11.2008 3:46pm
Jessica:
I was a college senior in Spokane, Washington. My stereo came on about 7 AM Pacific Time. Half asleep, something the DJ said about a plane crash and calling loved ones alarmed me enough to wake up and turn on my computer. Almost immediately my younger brother, still on his summer vacation, sent me an instant message filling me in on what happened. I went into the living room and turned on the TV, watching in horror. My dad called me from work, wanting to know what was going on (he'd heard bits and pieces from co-workers). By this time the first tower had collapsed, and I remember thinking how weird it would be for there to be only one WTC tower. Moments later, the second one collapsed, and my dad was speechless as I relayed the news. I went to work that morning, but very little was being done. The president of the university directed professors to suspend lesson plans for a day and talk with students about what happened.

That day, and the following days, were absolutely beautiful Indian summer days. I remember how eerily quiet the skies were, except for the fighter jets that would occasionally fly overheard on their way to/from Fairchild AFB. The Friday after the attacks I attended Mass with other students, and the huge church on campus was absolutely packed. At the time I was preparing for the LSAT and the attacks were a large part of the reason I decided to remain in the PNW as opposed to applying to law schools in DC, as I'd long dreamed of.
9.11.2008 3:47pm
Spartacus (www):
The first major world event I remember was Nixon's resignation after Watergate. It was on the TV at my grandparents' house, and I asked what was happening, and my grandfather said something like, "the President is in trouble for doing something very bad." I was 5.
9.11.2008 3:48pm
Doran Sauer (mail):
I was in an undergraduate class titled "Revolution and Political Violence." We had to document instances of political violence around the world for every calender day. It was a morning class, only one person had heard anything, and it was still speculation that a small plane had hit one of the world trade center towers. I left class hearing murmurs of "they haven't heard yet." We did not talk about it in class after that.
9.11.2008 3:48pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Kennedy - apparently I was in a stroller in the vicinity of Brooklyn College.
Martin Luther King - I was at a neighbor's, and she said "Run home and tell your parents Martin Luther King has been killed." I didn't know what those words meant.
Black Monday (1987) - I was in a software startup that was already running on fumes. I think none of us had any stock because we needed money for things like food and rent. At the time there was that same feeling of dread around the office.
(While we're at it: RFK: I remember my grandmother took to her bed. Moon landing: we came home from the summer bungalow to watch it. Mets winning the World Series: saw that on the same B&W TV later that year. Challenger: At my first job at the former Sperry Gyroscope, soon to be UNiSYS, someone had a radio. It was more WTF? than dread. Columbia: I think because of the Jews-in-space aspect I was watching for the landing when that happened.)

A friend of mine is an American of Israeli descent, and we exchange Rosh Hashonah cards. He'd sent his out early that year, and he wrote a little note about his family in Israel, and how thankful he was to live in a country where we didn't have to worry about terrorist attacks.
9.11.2008 3:49pm
BZ (mail):
Oh, and in 1963, I was in fifth grade, in school, when a teaching began running down the halls outside (it was in California) yelling "The President's been shot."

When the WTC was bombed in 1993, I was in Princeton, New Jersey, at a retreat for Republican members of Congress trying to figure out why Bill Clinton had won and what to do next. Stood watching a large-screen TV with John Boehner, then a Gringrich stalwart, now Republican Leader, as he chain-smoked and talked about it. Only a few people died then, so we went about our business.
9.11.2008 3:53pm
Angus Lander (mail):
In high school in New York City. During gym class. I was new to the school and a guy I'd pegged as a class clown came up to me and (as I interpreted it) dead-panned "someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center." I thought he was trying to tell a joke and figured the neighborly thing to do was to let out an amiable guffaw. Then I saw the gym teacher fighting to hold back tears as he tried to get in touch with his brother who worked in the upper stories of the WTC. They kept us in school, and I spent the rest of the day sitting in the library trading gallows humor with my classmates. I made my first high school friends that day. (I guess it has to be said that 9/11 was an effective icebreaker.)

It took me until mid-October to notice that things never quite felt the same as they had on September 10th.
9.11.2008 3:53pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
I neglected to mention a law-related aspect concerning 9/11 in New Delhi...

Justice O'Connor and her husband were in town to take part in a program with the Indian high court. Justice Breyer was still en route, in the air somewhere between Europe and India. My office was responsible for their visit, so we had to figure out how to deal with VVIPs in a time of crisis. O'Connor was informed by a phone call. Breyer got the news when he got off his plane.

I ended up having dinner alone with the Justices and their spouses on 9/12 as the Ambassador was busy with the Indian government and the White House. [The Ambassador was Robert Blackwell.] We sorted out a revised program where the Justices would meet quietly with their Indian counterparts, all public programs would be canceled, and we worked with DOD to get a plane that would fly the Justices back to Washington, ASAP.

There was so much going on at the time that what might otherwise have been extremely memorable--I mean, how many people get to have dinner with two Justices of the Supreme Court?--gets lost in the details.
9.11.2008 3:54pm
NowMDJD (mail):
I had just come to work from a routine medical appointment (where I had my first elevated blood sugar).

I got to my office at Bellevue Hospital and heard from some coworkers about the first plane. I recalled aloud the plane that hit the Empire State Building in the 1940's.

Then the second plane hit, and I realized that it was no accident, but a deliberate attack.

All of the doctors were sent to the Emergency Room to wait for casualties. After a few hours, none presented, and we realized that everyone either died or was not hurt badly.

They sent the gynecologic oncologists (my specialty) to the Labor and Delivery suite where we would perform emergency abdominal surgery in the cesarean section rooms if necnesary. It was not.

At some point, it was possible to smell the results of the explosion.

At 4 pm they sent us home. It took me 4 hours to get back to my home in Park Slope, Brooklyn because I couldn't drive below Canal street, and it took forever to get across the Williamsburgh Bridge. This was out of the way. In Brooklyn,there was a lot of random traffic diversion.
9.11.2008 4:06pm
Opher Banarie (mail) (www):
I have always been on the west coast, so the early news was on, probably MSNBC, as I dressed for work. I was stunned. My daughter's Bat Mitzvah had been 9/8 and I was glad no guests were flying 9/11. My new boss (I had started a new job 9/4) had flown out from New York and was trying to get phone calls to friends and family in New York. He was unable to fly home until the airports re-opened.

Side Note: In my just-previous job I had been to NYC for training in June. It was my first trip to "the city" and I took an extra weekend there to catch some tourist sights. One was to be dinner at Windows On The World in the North Tower. When I got there I found that, without reservations, it would be a two hour wait for a table. So I left, thinking (and I recall this clearly) "it will be here next time I get to New York". Ah, well....
9.11.2008 4:07pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I was getting out of my car, about to board a BART train to downtown San Francisco, when I heard on NPR that "a plane seems to have hit" one of the World Trade Center towers. I thought the "plane" was a Cessna, not a jumbo jet, and didn't think too much of it. After I got off BART, at Montgomery Street, I saw people standing in front of a television showing in the windows of Fidelity Investments, talking about how a second jet had just hit. I went upstairs to my office at the US Securities &Exchange Commission, which decided to sent everyone home for the day about an hour later. I remember talking with a colleague how it likely was the work of Bin Laden (I had just watched a Frontline documentary on him and Al Qaeda).

I picked up my daughter from kindergarten, and went home. I read in the papers the name of an attorney I vaguely knew, who was on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
9.11.2008 4:11pm
josh:
At home in bed. Near Northwest side of Chicago. Third year of law school. My dad called me from his office in the Loop (Chicago downtown). His building (the Chicago Board of Trade) was being evacuated b/c a plane had "crashed" into the Twin Towers. Got out of bed and spent the next 72 hours in front of the TV in my living room.
9.11.2008 4:16pm
gasman (mail):
I was in an OR for an all day case. Only a few snippets of information were relayed to us by the staff who could be glued to televisions in the lounges and offices. On hearing of the first plane I thought it must have been an accident, most likely a smaller plane. One hearing of the second, the possibility of a willful act still hadn't crossed our minds; we thought surely it was a rubber-necking pilot or news aircraft. Chalk that up to being simple midwesterners maybe. Or that we were willing to attribute to humans a greater capacity for stupid error than for cruelty.

With our oldest then being just 8 (plus 6, 3 and 1) we decided to stay away from television for a week and only slowly share the evolving crisis with the kids. I spent a lot of time outside with the kids and had them marvel at the bluest skies we had ever seen; only time in my life that the midwest sky was not marked by contrails from the fly-over crowd. (leaning toward my window I can see three contrails right now)
9.11.2008 4:16pm
trad and anon:
I was just a kid with an algebra assignment to do and no interest in doing it.
OK, I feel old now.
9.11.2008 4:18pm
karl newman:
I just started my new job in Baltimore. The admin started panicking and shouting that they were attacking Baltimore and I ran to see what she was talk about. She said they had hit the World Trade Center (which is a 20 story building in Baltimore). I assured her that 'they' could give a crap about Baltimore and that we were safe.

Then, having just left NYC, I worked at NYU-Downtown (Beekman) Hospital, I thought of my friends who were working at the closest hospital to the attack and my barber who worked in WTC in NY. and then I panicked. My wife was on a plane back from Amsterdam...
9.11.2008 4:23pm
ronbo:
I had just dropped my six-year-old son off at school in Greenwich Village. I was standing on the corner, chatting with one of the other parents, oblivious to the planes that were flying over my head.

As I walked uptown to my office - my back to the carnage downtown - I passed a Starbucks and stopped in. There was no one behind the counter. The barista, a kid in his 20s, came out from the back. He was black, but looked pale. "The Trade Center has been attacked," he told me as he poured my coffee. I thought he had to be wrong, but he looked so shaken that I wondered.

I figured I would settle the matter by walking past the precinct house on 20th Street. If there really was something going on it should be easy to tell. (Note that I was such a knucklehead that I didn't even look downtown to see for myself.)

Anyway, the precinct house was quiet when I passed and I walked on, satisfied that nothing was wrong. But before I even got to the corner I heard a noise behind me and turned to see the house emptying, fast. The cops jumped into their cars and took off with lights and sirens - yes, like a movie. I watched as they turned downtown, and finally saw the smoke. I hauled ass the five blocks to my office, where someone had already turned on the TV.

I called my wife then walked back downtown to pick up my son. By the time I got there some people had already walked uptown from the site. They were covered with dust, and looked stunned. No one said anything.

We waited several hours for a ferry back to New Jersey. After we got home we put our son to bed and sat on our balcony watching until long after dark.
9.11.2008 4:27pm
zippypinhead:
9-11-01. I was working for a Federal agency in D.C. that shall go nameless. Some West-Coast colleagues and I went to a morning meeting at another agency located on Pennsylvania Avenue to coordinate our respective activities on an issue of common interest.

During the meeting, the building we were in was evacuated because of the Pentagon hit and reports of an unknown number of other planes being inbound toward D.C. They forgot to tell any of us holed up in the conference room. Heard a muffled "boom" at one point that I thought was construction, but later learned was a sonic boom from F-15s from Langley going overhead toward Pennsylvania with afterburners on.

Around 10:30 the meeting ended and we wandered out. Much frantic scurrying and sound of sirens on the street; in other words, a pretty normal day in D.C. The Left-Coasters and I, still being clueless, stopped in at a coffee place on the way back to my office. We ran into a new political appointee in our agency with responsibility over the subject of our meeting. One Left-Coast manager started describing the meeting. Then to score points, he asked if the politico was going to a conference planned for the following day in NYC. The politico answered with the equivalent of "you're an F*ing idiot," grabbed his coffee, and started high-tailing it up the street. His parting words were "you're on your own!"

A bystander in the coffee joint who overheard the exchange correctly assumed we'd just emerged from a cocoon and explained what had happened. When I got back to my office, I learned more from the frantic voicemails my wife had left. The Internet was down. Turned on the radio. Heard reports of panicked people driving on the sidewalks in downtown D.C., unconfirmed reports that bombs had gone off at the State Dept. and U.S. Capital, and other assorted scary things. Decided the smartest thing to do was stay put until things calmed down. When I eventually rode the Metro home some hours later, a lot of very dazed people got on at stations near the Pentagon.

A very bad day. And rather tense days to follow -- it's unnerving to see snipers on the roof of the National Archives building as you come out of the Metro station across the street. But any stories I have pale in comparison to what my friends who were in the Pentagon at the time had to say.
9.11.2008 4:33pm
Milhouse (www):
Walking home from having voted in the soon-to-be-cancelled primary. I thus had the privilege of voting against Bloomberg three times that year: once in the original Republican primary, once a fortnight later in the rescheduled primary, and once at the general election. (Had I been registered as a Democrat, I might have voted four times, since the rescheduled primary had no clear result, and a runoff was required. But then I'd only have been able to vote against Bloomberg once.)
9.11.2008 4:33pm
Malvolio:
Just watched on TV at home (I remember thinking: they're not going to be able to repair the South Tower; they're going to have to tear it down.) After they fell, I just went to work. I had an interview scheduled and the candidate called me to ask if we were going ahead. I told him, sure, regular work day. I was one of only five people who even showed up; after an hour, we got a call that the mayor (Willie Brown) ordered all downtown buildings closed. Before I left my desk, I called a friend of mine who used to work with me at the Pentagon; I had moved to California and he had taken a job on the top floor of the North Tower. I later found out that he had been on the street outside for the collapse and just got covered with dust, but at the time, I got his voice mail, cheerful, standard greeting, "Leave your message at the tone..."

What do you say? "Hey, Mark, it's me, if you're not dead, call me back." I listened to his recorded message and just left my name and number.
9.11.2008 4:47pm
tjvm:
I went in to work late that day, and I didn't have the news on, so I drove into the office unaware of what was happening. I got into the elevator in the parking garage, and a guy came in with me. He was very animated, and started talking to me, fast and loud, about interceptor planes and security alerts and so on. He obviously assumed that I knew about the attacks, and I had no idea what he was talking about. I just smiled politely and thought, "whatever you say, crazy guy." Five minutes later I got into the office and got the news. I had to have it explained to me a couple of times before I grasped it. (What do you mean, they fell down? The whole building?)
9.11.2008 4:47pm
Milhouse (www):
I had no internet at home at that time, so I watched TV until, at about 3 pm, NY1 announced that the subways were running again. Then I went in to work so I could access the internet and email people.
9.11.2008 4:50pm
Thief (mail) (www):
I was just waking up in my college dorm room. I had set the alarm on my CNN-tuned TV to let me snooze for 10 more minutes. When I woke up, it showed the first tower on fire. My first thought was it must have been a horrible accident (like the bomber that had hit the Empire State Building during WWII.)

I saw the second plane hit as I was brushing my teeth.

I left for my work study job in the Dean's office. When I got there, everyone was crowded into the Dean's actual office watching the TV and wildly speculating. Rather than join in, I decided to go install some new computers we had gotten in the day before. I used them to keep track of the news online as I set them up. I heard about the towers, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 from auto-refreshing CNN every few minutes.

The University closed at noon. I went to a prayer service that night. I think I finally went to sleep around 1AM when it became clear that no more news or rumors would be coming in overnight.
9.11.2008 4:51pm
Kenvee:
I was in law school. I'd arrived early and was in an empty classroom to plug into the network. Someone came into a chat room I was in and said "A plane just hit the World Trade Center." Like most people, I was thinking of a little Cessna or something. I started trying to check news sites, and I ended up having to go to Sky News in England before I could access one. I immediately packed up and rushed home, and I turned on the TV at home just in time to see the Pentagon had been hit.

I called my parents, then got online for the rest of the day to get in touch with my scattered friends and family. I went back to that chatroom, and we had everyone watching a different news channel so we could compare and find out what was going on. I remember having the local news on all day instead of a national channel because I lived in the middle of downtown Chicago and I was afraid they were going to evacuate us.

I mostly remember all the misinformation that was going around. No one knew what was going on, how many planes there were, or anything. Someone came online with a "confirmed" report from one of the news stations that the Sears Tower had been hit. I looked out the window and said "nope, that one's wrong." A little later I heard a "confirmed" report that the Seattle Space Needle had been hit.
9.11.2008 4:52pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
I was at home in Norman. Got up, turned on the television, said "oh, shit" and called up my neighbor and told her that we'd had a major national disaster and she'd better turn on her television. Watched the coverage for several hours, went to visit another friend, and finally saw a movie to distract myself when it got to be too much. (Naturally the World Trade Center was in the opening credits.) Oh, and sent an e-mail to a friend in New York to make sure she was all right.

I'm less than 30 miles from the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. Fortunately didn't lose any friends in it, but was familiar with some of the buildings that got damaged.
9.11.2008 4:53pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
The neighbor used to live in the building that was torn down to erect the Federal Building which was destroyed in the Oklahoma City bombing.
9.11.2008 4:54pm
Walt Quist (mail):
My wife and I were in Tonopah, NV on 9-11-2001. We drove back to Bishop to be one tank away from our home in Oxnard, CA.

After a few days, we continued our 6 week trip to Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Glacier National Park, Banff, Canada, Lake Louise, Jasper, Canada, Kamloops, BC, and back to Oxnard. When we got the the border after exciting Glacier National Park, the Canadians, and US made us get out of the car and both of them searched our Land Cruiser.
Walt Quist
9.11.2008 4:57pm
azmolek (mail):
I was in Denver and had joined a conference call with someone in New York and London just as news was starting to come out. 2 years prior, I had spent some time helping my former employer build out a new facility at 20 Broad Street from their old offices in One Liberty Plaza (which sustained heavy damage on 9/11) and more recently had spent a few nights in the WTC Marriott as well.

Initially we thought it was a repeat of what had happened years earlier at the Empire State building, but when the second plane hit we all knew what it meant. Our NY host quickly wrapped the call and I spent the rest of the day glued to the television. The most searing image for me was taken inside a Deli I used to frequent there across Liberty Street as the ash cloud blew by, immediately turning day to night as startled customers looked out and those outside came up to the doors seeking refuge.
9.11.2008 4:58pm
kratzy:
I was at work when I walked past a medical lab in which everyone was standing around the tiny B/W TV usually reserved for the Final Four games. I walked in and someone said a terrible accident had happened in NY. Just then the second plan hit and no one thought it was an accident anymore. We all went from shock to horror and spent the next couple of hours staring at the tiny B/W screen.
9.11.2008 5:00pm
Sherman McCoy:
In an undergrad Class that started at 8am (CST), a student walked in late to class, interrupted the professor and said "I think there has been a plane crash in New York". To wit the professor snidely replied that this was class and not to worry about things out of our control. Needless to say, he felt terrible at the next class and on Thursday we spent the entire class discussing the situation.
9.11.2008 5:02pm
njones (mail):
I was in Berkeley. I used to walk to work. A little after 7:00 AM, a (seemingly) deranged homeless man came up to me laughing and yelling about how "they attacked New York City." I smiled at him and kept walking to work.

I got to work and stayed glued to my monitor all day. After a few hours, the boss came in and said we could all go home if we wanted to but I stayed and kept watching video clips on Yahoo and CNN and whatever other web sites were working that day.
9.11.2008 5:02pm
Zywicki (mail):
I remember looking out the window at the end of the hall on the top floor of the GMU law school building and seeing smoke rising from the Pentagon. I think this was before it was even reported that the Pentagon had been hit. I remember thinking that I felt like the world was ending.
9.11.2008 5:05pm
Casual Peruser:
I was a year out of college and working at a consulting firm in Los Angeles. I was in charge of training new associates who had arrived that week. I woke up shortly before the first tower fell, and our managing partner had already closed the office for the day. But the new recruits were not yet on the firmwide email list, so I had to drive into town to turn them around as they got to the office door. I remember being struck by how empty the streets of Los Angeles were at rush hour, 3000 miles away from the attack. I also remember being outraged that my fiance's employer refused to close or to send its employees home early.

Most of my college class had taken consulting or I-banking jobs in New York after graduation. The alumni network quickly set up a web-based system for New York alumni to post their names as proof they were OK. I poured over those lists the next couple of days, obsessively checking updates until satisfied that roommates, friends, and acquaintances had all survived.
9.11.2008 5:07pm
Anony:
I was in college in upstate NY. My morning class that day was cancelled in advance because the professor was out of town, so I was sleeping when the planes hit. Woke up and had about a dozen instant messages (as this was back in the day of AOL IM), and it took me a few minutes of watching TV to figure out what was going on.

Then I spent the next two hours trying to get in touch with my dad, who worked in 7 WTC. The details of which buildings were damaged and destroyed were very sketchy those first few hours, and of course all the cell phone lines were dead, so it wasn't until the early afternoon that I was able to get ahold of him and find out that he was okay.

That whole day was a daze, and the reactions where I was were noticeably different between the native NYers (like myself) and those who had little connection to NYC.
9.11.2008 5:18pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
I was an undergrad at Arizona State and I was never up at 6:00 a.m. unless I was up from the night before. However, that morning I was going to drive this girl to the airport so I was up at the time it happened. I called my buddy and he was over by 6:20. We sat there in front of the TV for about 10 hours.
9.11.2008 5:26pm
enjointhis:
In my office in Boston. Working on a motion for summary judgment. I heard the managing partner tell his secretary something about a plane hitting WTC. I assumed it was a Cessna. I checked NY Times on-line and felt sick to my stomach (this was after the second plane hit). We repaired to another partner's office with a TV and watched until the second tower collapsed. An attorney observed that it was a progressive collapse. Our office shut down, but I stayed and finished my brief. On the subway ride home, I've never felt the silence more. I remember the news being sketchy and contradictory, but I felt certain it was muslim fanatics. I feared it was state sponsored &that nuclear weapons would be deployed against Iran. Had a case gone somewhat differently, I would have been on AA #11.
9.11.2008 5:28pm
Per Son:
I was getting ready for law school (in Columbus, Ohio), having a coffee and flipped on the TV. There it was. I changed the channel thinking that it was some dumb big explosion sci fi flick. I then yelled as loud as I could for my then fiance now wife (who took longer to get ready for school). I took the most serious tone I could get when she was not getting up, and said: "get the f*ck up, and come in here now." We all know that voice when our significant other means business, and you don't ask questions. She came in and we just watched. I really don't remember anything else for the rest of the day.
9.11.2008 5:39pm
Waldensian (mail):
I was flying a small plane in central Virginia. Doing training, with an instructor, for my instrument rating. Air traffic control never mentioned it. We landed and learned about it for the first time when we saw a TV.
9.11.2008 5:40pm
AndrewBW (mail):
In April 2001 I moved from New York, where I had lived for 24 years and worked about a mile from the WTC on Hudson Street, to Cleveland. Shortly after the first crash someone came by my cube and told me that a plane had hit one of the towers. I had a hard time believing that, but when I tried to access CNN and other Web sites I couldn't get any of them - an ominous sign. I e-mailed a friend whom I knew worked in downtown NYC and she responded almost immediately saying that she her cube faced south and she had a clear view of the whole thing.

I raced upstairs to our video conference room where someone had turned on the TV and employees were gathering to watch silently. By that time the second plane had already hit. Cameras were roaming the streets and I recognized many of the buildings, the corners, the offices. I felt helpless, wanting to be there and do something - anything. Soon came word of the Pentagon attack, and of Flight 93. I barely remember the rest of the day, except for some time spent in the afternoon calling friends to make sure they were all right. Thankfully they all were, even those working in or near the Towers, including the father of a friend who was in the Tower at the time of the first attack in '93.

I think I spent about the next three or four days glued to the TV, barely moving. Every now and then as I watched it I would break down crying. I managed to struggle through work, but it wasn't easy.

Today I can't even bear to see film or pictures of 9/11 and have to turn away from them.
9.11.2008 5:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I was on the way to work, heard the radio broadcast of the first plane, and was still on the road when the second hit.
I recalled the Japanese admiral's view of the attack on Pearl Harbor. "Sleeping giant", indeed.
What I remember most was how little we knew that day. Was there any reason until afterwards to think it was only three--or four--airplanes? Were there truck bombs ready to go? Mall shooters with automatic weapons? Private aircraft with a school as the target?
Nobody knew much, and what we thought we knew was, half the time, wrong.
The next day, on business I called an office of a firm we do business with whose home office was in NYC. Asked if they'd heard anything. Nope. But the regional office was functioning. So I thought of resilience and was, strangely, comforted.
I don't cry about this stuff, but rage mightily.
9.11.2008 5:43pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
I was in the Pentagon, one wedge over from the strike.
9.11.2008 5:46pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
As for the other dates;
in 63 I was in 1st grade and came home to find my mother crying--she had met him in 60 in a coffeeshop in northern Wisconsin, and he was the only Democrat she ever voted for.
In 87, I have no idea about the stock market crash, but in 86 when Challenger exploded I was watching it while having lunch in an Officer's club in South Korea.
No idea about RFK or MLK
9.11.2008 5:56pm
Fedya (www):
I was listening to my shortwave radio at the time. The program at 8:30 AM ET was from one of the smaller broadcasters, so it was all pre-recorded material. At 9:00 AM, I switched to Deutsche Welle's German-language news program, which started off with an anodyne mention that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Like a lot of people here, I thought it must have been a pilot of a small plane who had a heart attack or something, but turned on the TV, because I figured the self-centered NYC journalist types on the third hour of the "Today" show would be covering it live. Obviously, I watched the rest of what happened live until after both towers fell.

Listening to the short-wave the rest of the day was surreal. When Radio Vilnius came on at 7:30 PM, the presenter apologized and said that because all of the English-speaking staff had been pressed into service translating material from CNN and other international broadcasters into Lithuanian, they had to cancel their regular program and re-run reports from the past several days. Radio Vilnius was followed at 8 by Radio Ukraine, which had a broadcast that sounded as though it was all recorded on the 10th -- there was no mention of what had happened in New York.

Where I live borders on a bunch of forest owned by the State of New York, and I walk the hiking trails quite a bit. The state land also borders a power-line right of way. I distinctly recall not including the right-of-way in any of my walks for several days afterwards.
9.11.2008 5:58pm
Joe Gator (mail):
I was in my last year of undergrad at UF. I had a 9:30 AM history class which had a quiz scheduled. I went to the library at 8 am to bone up on the material. As I was walking through campus I remembered hearing whispers about the "twin towers." We took the quiz (it lasted 15 minutes) and then our professor informed us that the two towers had been hit by planes, and not to "jump to conclusions." A student informed him that the Pentagon had just been hit and the towers had collapsed. He immediately cancelled class, and I walked to the student union, but the TVs were small. Florida has a lot of people with NY connections so there were a bunch of students crying, etc. I still didn't know what was meant by "collapse" until I arrived at my friends' apartment near campus. It was then that I saw the videotape and fully understood what was happening. We watched the coverage for the next few hours and finally had enough and went out for a late lunch. I remember going to the bank to get cash to donate at a special student mass, I left and accidentally turned right on a red that wasn't allowed. I was pulled over, told the cop i was "distracted" and he said, "we all are son" and let me go. The only time I've ever avoided a traffic ticket....
9.11.2008 6:01pm
Old33 (mail):
I was in my Business Associations class as a 3L at Northwestern. I had to meet a professor before class, and was waiting in the hallway when another professor came by and said she'd heard a plane hit the WTC on the radio. We both assumed it was a small commuter or sight-seeing aircraft. The professor I was waiting for never showed up.

I went to Business Associations, where no one really knew anything more. Class began before the second plane hit, and we were in a classroom without internet reception of any kind. No one came to interrupt, and we went through the entire 90 minutes. Talked about partnerships.

When class was over, I went to the Atrium, where there were two TVs set up and most of the student body watching. Both towers had fallen, and it was at the point where rumors of a car bomb at the State Department were circulating. People were crying and trying to reach family and friends who worked in Lower Manhattan on cell phones. I remember one faculty member of mine loudly asking (to no one in particular), "Where the fuck is the President?"

That night, I was talking with my fiancee on the phone, and I said that what I feared the most in the aftermath of the day's events was that some people would use 9/11 as an excuse to grab power and take away civil liberties...that this was their natural predisposition, and that they'd use this opportunity to achieve their goals.

I also recall thinking back to a line from the Godfather, about the importance of having a wartime consigliere, and thinking that maybe fate had stepped in and handed us George W. Bush. I remember thinking that Cheney, Powell, and Rumsfeld were good wartime consiglieri, or at least better than Al Gore would have had.

On those two counts in retrospect, I was right on one, and WAY off on the other.
9.11.2008 6:01pm
Fedya (www):
I forgot to add that, as I only had a dial-up account at the time, I didn't try going online at all because I wanted to keep the phone line open. My ISP at the time had a bunch of data nodes about a half mile from the WTC that got hit by dust from the towers, and failed, leaving a lot of their customers without Internet access for three days.
9.11.2008 6:05pm
Dan Weber (www):
I was in Cambridge MA, normally not up this early, but was for a few weird reasons. I was going to hop in the shower and decided to just listen to the news for some reason, and I think it was Bryant Gumbel talking about "the worst attack on American soil." So I turned on the rest of my TV and watch. Never even bothered going into work that day.
9.11.2008 6:08pm
A.W. (mail):
Iambatman

Right, its inflammatory to point out that the left seems to have forgotten everything they knew that day.

I mean, my God, I actually hear liberals say, "Iran's President would never nuke Israel. It would be suicidal." What could be a better example of failing to learn the lessons of 9-11 than arguing that a crazy Muslim would never do anything suicidal?

But I get it. You wish we could just go back to the way it was, ignoring the threat and the threat ignoring you. But the "peace" after the fall of the berlin wall was illusory. The forces of evil were gathering against us, striking here and there, becoming bolder each time. 9-11 was the result of us thinking wrongly that there was a vacation from history. There isn't.

But let me be very clear on this. Every party, and even some of our best presidents made that mistake. We didn't take it seriously enough. Certainly as far back as the iran hostage crisis, and probably more realistically, as far back as Munich. We should have known. We should have understood that something evil was being unleashed in the world and we should have confronted it when it was weaker than it is now. We didn't--and when I say we, I mean myself too—and the price we paid was 9-11. And one of the questions on the ballot this November is whether we still understood what we learned that day.

I will tell the truth. I am deeply depressed about this. I think there are enough people in denial that we will not find the will to do what has to be done. And we might wake up tomorrow to find that Israel had been wiped off the map, or that our buildings are burning again. And sadly, I have to wonder if we would all GET IT that day, as we did back on September 11, 2001.

And maybe that is too political. But the dead deserve for the truth to be told, plainly, so that we can live up to our promise: never again.
9.11.2008 6:22pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
I,with my family, was sitting in the living room of a rented house in Carova, North carolina. We had finished breakfast and packing to come home. Watching CNN discussing the possibility of a horrible navigation fault in the first plane that hit. As that discussion continued we watched the 2nd plane plow into the other tower. The knot in my stomach and the sinking feeling were nothing I'd felt before. We listined to news reports as we headed home. The Chesapeake Bay-Bridge was lined at 1/2 mile ? intervals with police officers. We had heard about the pentagon strike and also about a plane that disappeared from radar in weatern Pennsylvania. It's disturbing that some today will not recognize the danger we face ,still.
9.11.2008 6:27pm
rtrouton (mail):
I was at work in Wayne, PA for the ad agency I used to work for and my best friend/roommate was home sick. I'd just gotten my first smartphone the day before (it was a Handspring Visor Edge with the Visorphone) and had been really looking forward to getting it set up. That got put on hold when our facilities manager, who was a friend of mine, stopped by my desk and asked if I'd heard that a plane had hit the WTC. I hadn't, and it seemed a little unreal. Accident maybe? He stopped by again a little later to tell me a second plane had hit.

We'd had a client meeting scheduled in our boardroom, but instead both half the company and the client reps were watching TV on the big projector screen in the boardroom. After a while, I went back to see my boss and asked if I could go home. My boss OK'd it. I really wanted to be with my best friend, and nobody knew what was going to happen next.

The part that seemed to be the strangest afterwards was how perfect the weather was. It had been perfect that day, and was perfect for the rest of the week.
9.11.2008 6:30pm
rarango (mail):
for the poster that asked about JFK and others--I will be 67 later this month, so have been around a lot longer than most of the posters here. JFK: I was a plebe at west point and had just finished soccer practice when the news came out. The whole cadet area just shut down. That evening meal, with all 2500 cadets, was taken in total silence--it was also the army-navy game weekend (later cancelled)..you cannot imagine how it was taken among the corps of cadets. RFK and MLK were assassinated while I was serving in Germany. The squadron commander called for assembly and told us the news. Again. shock and silence. When you get older you remember more tragedies than our younger generation does. They will,unfortunately, continue to come, and it says a lot about our resilence as a society to process so many of these and move on. Thats the beauty of america
9.11.2008 6:47pm
CDR D (mail):
I was in Alameda, CA, driving my dog out to Bay Farm Island for his morning walk. The news came over the car radio.

I returned home, turned on the TV, woke up my wife, and told her, "Get up. You need to see something. Remember how they tried to destroy the World Trade Center in New York back in '93? Well, they just succeeded."
9.11.2008 6:48pm
Joe Gator (mail):
Both my parents were in grade school when JFK was killed, and they both said it was announced via intercom. However, they always felt the most surreal moment of that episode was when Ruby shot Oswald on live TV.
9.11.2008 6:54pm
iambatman:
"And maybe that is too political. But the dead deserve for the truth to be told, plainly, so that we can live up to our promise: never again."

Why don't you just shut the hell up and stop using the victims of a tragedy for your political rantings. And if you think nuking Saudi Arabia is so great an idea, such a great sign that someone "gets it," why don't you find a candidate who supports that?

I guess you'd have to write in Ann Coulter or some other nutjob, 'cuz I don't know what party has that in their platform.

In short, shut up. No one wants to hear it. You should be depressed. Your ideas are stupid and discredited. And you have the gall to piss and moan about how divided this country is after constantly questioning loyalties and pointing fingers.
9.11.2008 7:05pm
rarango (mail):
And while we are talking about a national tragedy here, I will submit its important to think about national triumphs--and for me, the most important was when neil armstrong set foot on the moon. I was in the direct air support center, and it was 3 in the AM--we had radio and heard the descent of the eagle onto the moons surface. Houston, the eagle has landed. These soldiers and airmen burst into a cheer, cried, yelled, and someone broke out a bottle--forbidden of course, but we all had a drink and toasted the United States of American.

as a petty little aside, felt pretty much the same way when the US hockey team beat the soviets in the 1980 olympics.
9.11.2008 7:06pm
NRWO:
I was teaching a morning course at a San Antonio university. A student entered my class and said two planes had hit the twin towers.

Incredulous, I replied, "Two planes?" (The student confirmed.)

I remember thinking out loud, "How could two planes hit the towers in such a short period of time? That's no accident."

I returned to my office to find a message from my wife that confirmed the incident.

I canceled a later course.
9.11.2008 7:10pm
rarango (mail):
Professor Kerr: thank you for posting this thread. This is really the stuff that historians generations later will use in their books. I hope that our collective remembrances will somehow appear as footnotes for future generations to study
9.11.2008 7:20pm
Seamus (mail):
Stuck in traffic on northbound I-395 next to the Pentagon. When WTOP-FM first reported that a plane had apparently crashed into the WTC, my first thought was how a plane had crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945. But that, I reflected, had happened because there was a thick fog over Manhattan and the plane lost its way. I looked up into the clear, cloudless sky and thought that, unless the weather was much different in New York, this probably wasn't a repeat of what happened in 1945.

But I had read that the designers of the WTC, thinking of the 1945 incident, had built it to withstand a crash by a Boeing 747. So, I thought, at least the buildings won't collapse. (I didn't realize that the planes that crashed into the towers were bigger and carrying considerably more fuel than a 747.)

Reports started coming in about possible hijackings, and then it was announced that a second plane had hit the south tower, and the newscasters started talking about how this was pretty clearly an act of terrorism, and one that few people would have the resources to pull off other than Osama bin Laden. I looked to my left and saw the Pentagon and mused that if terrorists were interested in attacking prominent targets, that would be a pretty good one. I didn't realize that Osama &Co. had already thought of that.

When I finally got to my office (on Pennsylvania Avenue across the street from the FBI), I could overhear the secretaries talking about what they had been hearing. Among the rumors was one that a bomb had gone off at the State Department, which turned out to be BS. I couldn't pull up CNN on the computer to see what was actually happening, and a little after 10 am, I got a call from my wife asking if I had heard what had happened. I told her that I knew was that planes had crashed into the WTC, and that beside that there was a lot of speculation. She then told me that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon and that one of the WTC towers had collapsed. Holy crap, I thought, this is really starting to suck.

Shortly afterwards, we were told the office was closing. My first thought was that, if terrorists were attacking, I'd be more vulnerable in my car trying to inch my way out of town than I would be in my office. (I was remembering how Mir Aimal Kasi had taken an AK-47 and shot people who were stuck in traffic at the entrance to the CIA headquarters.) But I wasn't given any choice, and had to leave the building and make my way home.

While in the car, I learned that the second tower had fallen, and that the Pentagon had been attacked as well. Traffic in Washington was awful until I got to the 3rd Street tunnel, at which point I whizzed home. There was virtually no southbound traffic on I-395 (except for pedestrian traffic--there were lots of people walking on the highway). I could smell the aviation fuel burning as I drove past the Pentagon. Back home, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, all was calm, and it was like a pleasant early fall day. Very eerie.
9.11.2008 7:27pm
Andrew Schoppe (mail):
On September 11, 2001, I was up early (for once) getting ready to head to class at the UCLA School of Law from my apartment in Pasadena.

I was trying to beat traffic, and was watching the local news channel for the traffic report when the image cut to the burning hole in the side of the first tower.
At that point, nobody knew what had happened, and there was speculation as to whether a plane had inadvertently crashed into the building, whether it had been a missile attack, an interior explosion, etc.
After a few minutes, I jumped because I saw a plane-shaped flash go from the right side of the screen to the left and strike the building behind.
The camera jumped around a little bit and zoomed back to show the explosive effect on the opposite side of the building.
I immediately felt pale-faced and sick to my stomach, and I couldn't stop my eyes from tearing up.
I had just watched the second wave of the attack on live TV and couldn't believe what was happening.
I woke up my wife and told her that the World Trade Center had been attacked; I also called a law school friend and my parents to wake them up (I think it was around 6 am).

After watching several hours of news coverage with my wife, we couldn't watch anything else and I drove to school.
On the way, I heard John and Ken, local radio hosts, report the fall of the first tower to collapse.
I cried again at this news.
I had to stop for gas, and I uncharacteristically asked a man at another fuel station whether he had heard that we had been attacked.
He had not. I told him to turn his radio on.

When I got to school, people in the halls were pretty spacy, and it appeared that people had shown up for lack of any, more meaningful places to go.
Everyone was watching the news, and it had been deduced by then that Islamic terrorists were to blame. We also started to hear about a plane en route to Camp David, then the Pentagon plane, then about a fifth plane which never actually materialized, about Air Force One flying the president away from his then-known location for safety, people jumping, the collapse of the second building, etc.
Lots of people were visibly upset and crying periodically that day, including me.

My afternoon class was Contracts with Professor Korobkin.
If I recall correctly, Prof. Korobkin opened up the class by asking if we wanted to talk things over, which I thought was great.
One professor-- Yeazell?-- acknowledged the attack but said that we just didn't know how to deal with it just then, so we went into questions of jurisdiction instead.
Most people in Contracts were very upset, as we had a large New York contingent in my class and people were trying to track down friends and loved ones.
One thing I remember best was one girl- a noted leftist- saying "But we've done so much to them."
"Them" to her meant Arabs generally; to me it meant "Islamic terrorists," and so I actually became quite upset with her immediate reflex to the effect that it was all "our" fault.
She was otherwise a likeable person, but I have to admit I've really hated her for that ever since.

Since then, I turn on the news every morning with a slight hesitation, as I'm convinced that one day I will wake up to an even worse attack.
I've been thrilled to see nothing of the sort in the seven years since, though, and- not being a 9/11 Truther/Bush lied!/Bush knew! kind of guy-- I have to give solid credit to GWB for that, whatever his other disappointments have been.

I hope that his successor is as-- or more-- committed and successful, whomever that may be.
9.11.2008 7:55pm
A.S.:
Just about to leave my apartment in Chelsea when I saw the first report of a fire in one of the WTC towers. Didn't know what to make of it, so left and got on the subway to go up to my office around 42nd and Lex. Got to my office shortly after tower #2 was hit. Turned around and went home - too scared to take the subway (which was stopped anyway), so walked home 30+ blocks. Worried about my sister, who works on Wall St., for hours. Heard she was OK, then worried about my cousin - a NYC fireman (he survived). Later in the day, I walked a few blocks over to West Street to watch the firemen and see what I could do to help.
9.11.2008 7:59pm
kimsch (mail) (www):
Driving to work. My husband was out of a job and was at home watching it on TV. I heard on the radio that a plane had hit one of the WTC towers. I called my husband and asked what he knew about it (I knew he was watching Fox News that morning). He said yes, one had, and then he told me that he just watched another plane hit the other tower.

When I got to work, I told everyone there what had happened. We turned on the TV and got bad reception with an antenna, but could see what was happening. It was the last day of a sales managers meeting. None of them could go home.
9.11.2008 8:23pm
Steve2:
I was in my morning free period between classes, senior year of high school. There were 7 of us who had that same free period (small high school, plus a weird combo of unpopular classes being required to have that particular period free), and we were in the Senior Lounge. The radio was on, and a morning show DJ said a plane had hit one of the towers. We thought it was some tasteless joke, so we turned the TV in there on and to the news, so we were watching when the second plane hit, and we knew it wasn't an accident, so we decided to split up and go knock on classrooms to interrupt classes and tell the teachers, since we thought we should let people know what had happened.
9.11.2008 8:27pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
I heard something about a plane hitting the WTC at some point as I dressed for work at Skadden's Chicago office. But my wife had been sufficiently ill (2 weeeks before delivering our second) that it didn't really register and I half-mentioned it to them as I left for the 8 am train. By the time I got to the office it was all about the e-mails to the NY office, rampaging across the Internet for real info, and running back and forth to the conference rooms to see what the TV news had. When the towers fell, we were convinced 20,000 or more were dead. Thank g-d the attack came so early, before the towers filled. That day is a haze.

What I really remember was how, over the next months, the Trib reprinted the little bios the NYT put together about each victim. I remember reading them on the train, 6-10 at a time, and crying quietly for them on the train for the weeks they took to run them all.

iambatman has provoked a debate that is painful and necessary, at some level. All I'll say is that support for the Afghan war was, and I hope IS, damn near universal in this country, and it had great support around the world. There may be differences in opinion about how best to fight against extremist Islam, but I hope not in the need to defeat it.

HGB
9.11.2008 8:34pm
Andrew Schoppe (mail):
HGB:

You are right about iambatman.
You just left out the part about him being an offensive, classless jerk as he goes about it.

Best,
ATS
9.11.2008 9:03pm
Lucius Cornelius:
I was sitting at my desk in my office at 499 South Capitol Street in Washington DC at 9:15pm when one of my co-workers peeked in the door of my office and told me that two airplanes had hit the WTC. I was unable to bring up any news sites on the internet, so I went to our main conference room to watch the tv there. Most everyone from the office (about 7 people) was there watching.

I had a 10am meeting at the Rayburn House Office building and at 9:45am I took off with our office intern in tow. We got there just as the fire alarm started going off in the building...we were ordered out. I managed to find our legislative director, along with a lobbyist from another group, on the way out of the building. We headed back to our office. As we were walking, I saw smoke to the west. When I asked what that was, someone said, "They hit the Pentagon too." I realized at that moment that we were at war.

We got back to the office and found it emptied (the boss had called in from her apartment in Arlington and sent everyone home). I turned on the tv and the image showed one of the towers still standing; they then showed video (from a few minutes earlier) of the first tower collapsing. I made sure everything was shut down, then I headed out. I heard a bang through the glass (I later found out that was the F-16s arriving supersonic).

I walked around talking with people on the street. Our office was right across the street from DNC headquarters and a lot of their staffers were in our building. Then someone came by with a loudspeaker and told us that there was a 4th plane and that we had to get out of there (by this time...10:45am...Flight 93 had long since crashed).

I stopped to get gas at a station on Capitol Street. The man in charge was frantic. He had been driving to work on I-395 and had seen the plane fly into the Pentagon. He described it as a twin engine jet airliner like a 737...from American Airlines (at this time, the radio was reporting that the plane had been a United Airlines flight). I managed to make a cell phone call to a reporter friend of mine and had him tell his story to her. Then I got on the road and headed south and took the long way back to Arlington where I was living with a friend.

I got changed and walked over to the Pentagon (just 3 blocks away). The police told me I could walk over to the Citgo station where the press was gathered. As I was walking, I saw two men looking at a busted up taxi cab. They were FBI and they were VERY unhappy that I was there. They ordered me to get to the Citgo station. I stayed there a while and took photos of the press. I knew three people working at the Pentagon. One was an admiral. I lucked out and found a Lt. Commander who knew him...she was renting his house (he had been assigned to command a submarine base in the South). Then I headed back to my place.

I went over to see my boss...she wanted a ride home (to South Carolina) right THEN. I got online to read the news and saw the report that Barbara Olson had been one of the casualties. My boss was shocked...she had just seen Olson on TV a few days earlier. We loaded up the company's minivan and I drove the boss down to the border with North Carolina...her son-in-law drove up from Charleston SC and took her the rest of the way. The boss was on the cell phone the entire drive so I could not listen to the radio news.

So, for most of the day, I was away from radio and TV. On the drive back, I listened to the news. I also managed to get another one of my friends who worked at the Pentagon on the phone. She had slept in that day and was on her way to work when the building was hit.

I got back to DC around 2am. I talked my way through the security check points and went to stay at my boss' apartment...just a few blocks from the Pentagon.
9.11.2008 9:14pm
r78:
You stay classy, Andrew.
9.11.2008 9:18pm
Aleks:
I was camping on Lake Superior in Canada that day, and I didn't get the news till the next day when I stopped at a store/trading post/tourist trap run by the local Ojibway. They had a tiny TV and a crowd was gathered around it. I must have stood there rooted for an hour.
I ended up cutting short the camping trip and headed east to Sudbury where I holed up in a hotel with the TV on. Eventually I made my way down to Toronto, where I had planned to spend the weekend anyway.
The Canadian reaction in those days was moving. There were American flags flying everywhere (how many Americans could produce a Canadian flag were the roles reversed?), churches with signs reading "God bless America", and the American consulate in Toronto was besieged with mounds of flowers. The Toronto airport was closed too, and the area had an eerie feel, like in one of those end-of-the-world movies.
9.11.2008 9:33pm
Waldo (mail):
I was a student at Air Command and Staff College at the time. That morning, I was exercising in the garage when my wife walked in and said an airplane hit the World Trade Center. The first thing I thought of was that an aircraft had hit the Empire State Building in or just after WWII, and that this was just another accident. But I still went inside to check CNN, and that's when I saw the second aircraft hit.
9.11.2008 9:39pm
Bleepless (mail):
From a tv in the coffee shop of the student union building at the University of Washington. It was then that I made sense of a half-heard comment earlier and the grim mien of the newsstand manager.
9.11.2008 10:10pm
Visitor Again:
I had been up all night at home in Los Angeles and went to bed just before all hell broke loose in New York City. I was exhausted and old, and I slept about 12 hours in blissful ignorance. On waking around 5 p.m., I listened to a telephone message from my girlfriend; it sounded incoherent, something about a plane crash at the World Trade Center. I turned on the TV just as the time NBC was showing a long repeat of a segment from the morning Today Show. That told me that two planes had hit the WTC. At the same time, I got on the Internet and found a story on the BBC that had a diagram of the WTC towers. It took some time to grasp what they meant; it gradually dawned on me that the two towers had collapsed. I was stunned. And then I learned the Pentagon had been hit, too, which was even more shocking since it underlined--with punctuation marks--how vulnerable we were.

The NBC Today Show replay gave me some idea of what it would have been like had I seen the disaster unfold live. What I remember most vividly is the quizzical tone in Katie Couric's voice after the second plane hit; slowly she realized that the unthinkable had happened and worked up the courage to give voice to it.

My mother took my sister and me to the air raid shelters in Manchester, England when we were children during the Second War, and I played in sandy bomb craters after the war. Huge swaths of rubble still dotted Manchester when we left England eight years after the war ended. We thought we had left that all behind us half a century ago. As I digested what had happened that September 11, the thought crossed my mind that that was a delusion, that it ought not to surprise me--were there time to be surprised--were I to see a flash from a nuclear explosion through my living room window. Blessed are the peacemakers.

JFK assassination: I was 20, a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. We students gathered in the old Student Union, a collection of Marine barracks left from World War II, and listened over the public address system to the radio as the drama taking place 1500 miles away in Dallas unfolded. Over the next 90 minutes, the reports got worse and worse: the President has been shot ... Mrs. Kennedy covered in the President's blood ... a report the President has been shot in the head ... a priest was seen entering the hospital ... a priest has said he has delivered last rites to the President ... President Kennedy has died. I remember Everett Dirksen, the gruff-voiced Republican Senator from Illinois, trying to reassure us: "The nation still stands, it still lives." I spent the rest of the day writing a story on what I heard and saw that day for the student newspaper; it kept me occupied on one of the saddest days of my life.

MLK assassination: I was at a meeting of the New England Resistance, an anti-war group, in Boston when a young man, almost hysterical, ran in yelling that Martin Luther King had just been killed. We knew it was true immediately; there were gasps and moans. We were devastated, but we were not surprised or even shocked. We had already seen Medgar Evers and Malcolm X assassinated. We turned to making plans to help the injured and the needy in the event there was urban unrest.

RFK assassination: It was my last day of law school and I was pulling an all-nighter typing my third-year paper for the constitutional law seminar led by Archibald Cox, who served as Solicitor General under Robert Kennedy as Attorney General. As I typed, I listened all night to the radio for the latest on Senator Kennedy's condition. He had been transferred to the Good Smaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, where my son was to be born just a year later. In the wee hours came the inevitable announcement from press secretary Frank Mankiewicz: "Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 A.M. today, June 6, 1968.... He was 42 years old." That morning I walked to the law school for the last time to turn in the paper, and picked up a copy of the one-page extra of the Crimson, which announced that Robert F. Kennedy, class of '48, had died. The following day I was back home in Los Angeles, which was now regarded as another Dallas.
9.11.2008 10:12pm
iambatman:
HipposGoBerserk:

I didn't say anything about the Afghan war, chuckles. I was responding that the nutter who was spewing nonsense about nuking countries being a good idea and why can't those goddamn liberals understand and whining about how depressed being a racist makes him needed to shut up. If you can't get the facts straight, feel free to join him, precious.
9.11.2008 10:23pm
iambatman:
Well said, r78. I'm sick of people who go around wearing United We Stand pins or what-have-you and then turning around and calling anyone who votes differently a traitor. They can go straight to hell. Say what you want about that opinion, at least its an honest one.
9.11.2008 10:32pm
John Kindley (mail) (www):
I was in Fargo, North Dakota getting ready to leave for the courthouse to try the first case of my legal career. The case was Kjolsurd v. MKB Management dba Red River Women's Clinic, a false advertising case premised on false statements by the defendant abortion clinic denying the existence of scientific evidence linking induced abortion with increased breast cancer risk. It was the first case of its kind. The subject matter, in light of the precedent I hoped to establish, was and is potentially paradigm-shattering, and it felt that way to me. Though the trial was postponed, the day was nevertheless apocalyptic, if not in the way I expected. My expert witness and I then remained stuck in Fargo for almost a week, until normal air travel was resumed.
9.11.2008 10:33pm
John Kindley (mail) (www):
P.S. The trial judge set up a TV in a small conference room so that the parties in the trial scheduled for that day and their respective attorneys, who had none too much liking for each other, could watch events unfolding. (The judge hadn't decided yet whether the trial would start that afternoon. When the scope of the attacks became clear, there was no question that the trial would be postponed to a later date.)
9.11.2008 10:40pm
Thales (mail) (www):
About two weeks into my first year of law school. I drove in to campus at 9ish in the morning, central time, with my wife, a grad student. For some reason that morning we were not listening to NPR on the car stereo as usual and had not turned on the TV while getting ready in the morning. I didn't learn anything until we had parked and gone our separate ways. I saw a crowd of students doing more than their usual milling about before morning classes, looking scared and sad. One student told me there had been a plane that crashed into each tower of the World Trade Center, and said it was an attack on the United States. Osama bin Laden's face started to appear over a news crawl and images of the crashes on a hastily set up TV in the school's auditorium. My torts professor held class a few minutes later, explaining that he didn't know what else to do, which was even more surreal than usual--he was a non-Socratic teacher and would gently prompt for volunteers, and on *normal* days almost no one would volunteer. Afterward, the other professors canceled their classes. I located my wife in her building, drove home, and sat with some friends, really other new students we barely knew, and watched TV until we were numb. No one could eat anything. Someone thought to call the Red Cross to ask to give blood, only to learn that so many had shown up they couldn't take any for weeks.
9.11.2008 10:45pm
Casper the Friendly Guest:
I was at a resort on the Red Sea in Egypt attending a two week seminar on international intellectual property law. There were no Americans there -- all Egyptians and Germans.

The resort's BBC feed had gone down but I happened to be clicking past a Spanish-language news channel. I saw the second plane hit, live. From what little I could make out, I gleaned that the Pentagon had also been bombed. At that point, I was 100% convinced that the United States was under military attack, but from whom, I had no idea.

I ran to find some of my German colleagues. We found a German news channel and they were able to translate for me. After we figured out that it was just four hijacked planes, I was pretty relieved. The Germans, on the other hand, were all totally freaked out and convinced that German cities were also going to be attacked.

Suddenly, Egypt seemed like a much scarier place for an American to be. I managed to get back to the United States without incident around a week later, but I did not enjoy the rest of my trip. Even though I had been quite the international traveler, I have not left the country since September 2001. My passport expired in 2002 and I never bothered to renew it.
9.11.2008 11:04pm
Allan (mail):
Landing in Denver, flying home from my last visit to my grandmother before she passed away with my 2-year old son by my side. He was born a month after Columbine, my daughter was born a month after 9/11. We landed and saw a tower on TV I told my wife (who was able to meet me at the gate back then) that I was not going back to work (at the Federal Building) and drove straight home, very happy that I had not been stranded in Albuquerque.
9.11.2008 11:45pm
A.W. (mail):
Iambatman

> Why don't you just shut the hell up and stop using the victims of a tragedy for your political rantings. And if you think nuking Saudi Arabia is so great an idea, such a great sign that someone "gets it," why don't you find a candidate who supports that?

A tragedy? No, an attack. Don't dishonor their memories by pretending it was no different from a tornado.

And "getting it" wasn't my way of saying we should nuke Saudi Arabia, but at least on that day they understood there was an enemy to be fought.

> And you have the gall to piss and moan about how divided this country is after constantly questioning loyalties and pointing fingers.

And now you are hallucinating about me.
9.12.2008 12:18am
Lior:
I was sitting on an airplane at Heathrow, for a flight to Newark (NJ) that was supposed to take off at 3pm (10am US time). As we were getting delayed, fellow passengers with a cellphone learned that "a small plane has hit the WTC" from their son who lived in the US. We never left the UK, of course.

I spent a week living pubs near the airport before US airspace reopened and the airline had a seat for me.
9.12.2008 12:55am
scooby (mail):
I was doing some work in a chemistry lab at Drexel (in Philly) when someone told me a plane had crashed into one of the WTC towers. I went into the lounge and watched the live feed; I saw the second plane hit live. I think I saw one of the buildings collapse live, too, but I was also reading a lot of news on the Internet.

There were so many rumors flying around. We heard there were snipers or something like that at the 30th Street Amtrak station or the big post office across the street.

One of the guys I worked with was obviously Arabic, and named Mohammed and I walked with him to the train station. I remember a driver revved his engine as Mo crossed the street.
9.12.2008 1:11am
iambatman:
A.W.:

An attack obviously can't be a tragedy as well. What a lovely semantic game you've invented, sweet-cheeks.

Or maybe it's not a tragedy to certain folks because they were able to make so much political hay of it and those killed were from New York. Y'know, what the wingnuts call "East Coast elitists." But let's just ignore all the New Yorkers who are mad as hell at the know-nothings exploiting the deaths of their fellow citizens. Ignoring facts is a time honored tradition by bigots, cowards, and fools, after all.

The only hallucinations here are your own. First, you and a couple of your buddies have been attributing to me opinions I did not voice. All I said is you're fearmongering ideologue looking for scapegoats. You said people who wanted us to nuke some generic group of brown people, and I quote, "GOT IT." Now, surprise surprise, you're trying to wash away what you said on this very page. You're sick. And you're right to be depressed. Because most people, thank God, aren't sick like you.

People get smart. And bad ideas have a tendency to die out. You can fool yourself, but you can't fool all the people all of the time.
9.12.2008 1:11am
Amador LuLu (mail):
I was on my way to work in San Francisco with my daughter who was doing an externship at the California Attorney General's Office. We stopped off to get coffee in the basement cafe in the State Building and the employees there told us a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We then went to my office and ran up Fox News on the internet and saw that a second plane had hit. We decided to go home to the East Bay and picked up my daughter's husband on the way. His I-Bank had a small office in the World Trade Center and the parents of its employees had been frantically calling the SF office to see if anyone had heard from their children.
9.12.2008 1:16am
scooby (mail):

In short, shut up. No one wants to hear it. You should be depressed. Your ideas are stupid and discredited. And you have the gall to piss and moan about how divided this country is after constantly questioning loyalties and pointing fingers.


I also remember how the left went from pre 9-11 hateful to briefly quiet post 9-11 to utterly and absolutely deranged. Cindy Sheehan was one of the more bizarre examples, but she was merely an extreme example of a common phenomenon. She knew she was being exploited but accepted and embraced being exploited, and in turn rampantly exploited her dead son's memory. It really was, in my brief memory, American liberalism's darkest hour since the cult of identity surrounding Clinton.
9.12.2008 1:32am
iambatman:
And yet, it's conservatism that's getting spanked by the American people.

But don't take that as any message that your tactics are stale and weak. By all means, keep trotting out the bloody flag and Giuliani's nonsense. Don't mind the majority of us; dig yourselves a little deeper.
9.12.2008 1:42am
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
I obviously don't know what was going on with A.W.'s crowd in the Yale Law School, but across the street in the Hall of Graduate Studies there was no talk of "nuking Saudi" (and yes, A.W., you did say that above). There was shock, and a desire to find out who had done this and to punish them. It was a desire to deliver justice, and not vengeance. Surgery, not amputation.

But what discussion there was that day in HGS was minimal. Mostly we were silent, sadly looking out, and looking within ourselves to try and make sense of what had happened, and what was to come of it. It was a time of sober introspection, with no sign of the invective A.W. recalls from his classmates in YLS.

I want to join rarango in thanking Professor Kerr for trying to create another space for communal introspection; one where we can look into a part of ourselves that none of us finds easy to examine, and safely share it with each other, and maybe with history.

Anyone who reads what I usually say knows where my sentiments lie, but that is not the point here. Everyone -- on either side -- who brings their petty bickering to even this hallowed space had ought to feel ashamed of themselves.
9.12.2008 2:01am
A.W. (mail):
Iambatman

> An attack obviously can't be a tragedy as well.

The left always wants to pretend it is just a tragedy.

> Or maybe it's not a tragedy to certain folks because they were able to make so much political hay of it and those killed were from New York.

Oh, so now you imagine that Americans with (r)'s after their name were glad it happened. Lovely. Perfect example of how the left has done much more dividing than anyone else.

> Ignoring facts is a time honored tradition by bigots, cowards, and fools, after all.

More like ignoring the unhinged lunacy of people like you who say such hateful things. Hell, you are exactly what I was talking about.

> The only hallucinations here are your own. First, you and a couple of your buddies

Um, its hallucinatory to say I have any "buddies" here.

> All I said is you're fearmongering ideologue looking for scapegoats.

Well, first, you didn't say that. You said this:

> And you have the gall to piss and moan about how divided this country is after constantly questioning loyalties and pointing fingers.

And if you had said what you are saying now, that would have been equally a hallucination.

> You said people who wanted us to nuke some generic group of brown people, and I quote, "GOT IT."

You interpreted what I wrote in the worst possible faith, and I have already straightened you out about what I meant.

Bad faith, toward a fellow American. So who is dividing us right now? You are, with your decision to intentionally apply the worst possible interpretation of my words, by hallucinating motivations and even friendships for which there was no evidence.

Or maybe what really got you so overheated and angry was I hit a little too close to the truth.

> And yet, it's conservatism that's getting spanked by the American people.

And there is yet another example of how divisive your rhetoric is. Defending this nation should not be the principle of one American movement; it should be the one of all. And it *was* a mere 48 years ago, when Kennedy was sworn in. And advancing human freedom should not be the principle of one American movement, but of all. And it *was*. Kennedy spoke of bearing any burden necessary to see freedom advance throughout the world. Democrats, liberals used to believe that. But somewhere between Kennedy and Carter they lost their way.

Saying America should not lose in Iraq should never be a Democratic or Republican principle. It should be an American principle. Saying we cannot allow the Iranians to complete the holocaust and hold the world hostage with nuclear weapons should be every good American's cause. And yet today the "liberals" sound like the Southern Democrats just before the Civil War and their Copperhead Allies up North. Michael Moore declares that the Iraqi people were happy to be enslaved. People actually say that the principles of the Declaration of Independence, that all persons are created with an equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, only applies to Americans, just as Roger Taney claimed that the same document only applied to whites. To borrow from Lincoln, when you say that you don't care if a nation is ruled by a tyrant, or free, you "blow out the moral lights around us." When you declare "a policy of 'don't care' on a question about which all true men do care" such as when Barack Obama declares that he is determined to leave even as he states that doing so would probably lead to genocide, you give up what it means to be an American. American defense, and the spread of freedom cannot be the cause of one party or one movement.

And I weep for my country that it seems to be exactly the case. If there is only one party that believes in these things—and the way the democrats excommunicated Joe Lieberman suggests it is—then I am a one party man. But I didn't create this situation, this division. Every liberal who lost faith in what America was about did.

And if your ignorance and your bigotry toward those yearning to be free is ascendant, then I will be depressed.

But then it's the warrior who is leading in the polls right now, isn't it?

Scooby

Amen.

John

> and yes, A.W., you did say that above

I didn't deny it. I just said it wasn't that I wanted Saudi to be nuked, but they actually recognized it was serious. And they did.

> was a time of sober introspection, with no sign of the invective A.W. recalls from his classmates in YLS.

Well, if on 9-11 you never said, at any point in the day, "this is war" then you are among the people who apparently never got it.

> Everyone -- on either side -- who brings their petty bickering to even this hallowed space had ought to feel ashamed of themselves.

And if we as a country cannot find the will to stop the next 9-11, or worse, than all of that tragedy is for nothing.

When Lincoln came to Gettyburg, he didn't just quietly reflect, etc. He gave a rousing battle cry. He said we had to take from the dead the grim determination to ensure the survival of democracy and a new birth of freedom—or else those union soldiers who died would have died in vain.

And when Martin Luther King spoke at the graveside of four little girls murdered in the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church, he didn't merely quietly reflect. He stood at their graves and extolled the people of this nation that those who hate must stop hating; and those who know it is wrong to hate, had to find their conscience and courage to rise up against it. Either that or those little girls would have died in vain.

I am not as eloquent as Lincoln or Dr. King, but we dishonor the lives of every person who died on 9-11 if we don't learn from that day and hold those lessons in our hearts. And frankly not everyone has done that.
9.12.2008 2:29am
iambatman:
Yeah, I'm sure Dr. King would be a huge fan of the Iraq war.

I also love how you associate anyone who disagrees with you on Iraq with Michael Moore. What's the matter, Snookums, did calling the other side Nazis go out of style?

"But I didn't create this situation, this division. Every liberal who lost faith in what America was about did. "

But teacher, I wasn't fightin'. It was that stupid liberal kid I kept hittin'.

And talk about bad faith interpretations: my reference to your "buddies" was obviously a colloquial way of referring to a couple of other posters here.
9.12.2008 2:40am
Casual Peruser:
John Armstrong said:


Anyone who reads what I usually say knows where my sentiments lie, but that is not the point here. Everyone -- on either side -- who brings their petty bickering to even this hallowed space had ought to feel ashamed of themselves.


Hear hear.
9.12.2008 3:08am
zippypinhead:
Thank you, Professor Kerr, for inviting VC readers to write about where we were on the morning of 9-11-01. I found many of the comments posted on this thread to be both moving and enlightening - for example, I don't think I fully appreciated how much immediate impact the events of that day had in faraway places that weren't directly targeted (I assumed my reaction was skewed by proximity to the events, the fact that I worked in a city that had been targeted, and that I knew two KIA and one wounded at the Pentagon).

This thread is worth its weight in gold [pixels?]. I am pretty sure others will also learn something from it. Although I do hope Professor Kerr cleans up some of the mean-spirited trolling, bickering and personal attacks that seem to have infested the comments of late, as he has done in the past on threads for some of his other posts.
9.12.2008 11:17am
Major Undertaking:
I rose early — the habit of a lifetime —that Tuesday. At not yet six in the morning, I was preparing to do business from my home office in Northern California and listening to a talk radio show on which I had often been a guest. My screens were coming up and my TV was showing the news on mute as I poured coffee and went in to sit down. I just happened to catch the very beginning of the coverage of the first attack. I called in to the producer of the radio show to tell her about it; they had had no inkling.

It was heart-wrenching, surreal, eerie, shocking and all the while ineffably sad and yet evocative of deep anger against those who had perpetrated this unforgivable perfidy, We all heard their gasps and sobs — mostly stifled, sometimes not — over the air from my two good friends, the man and woman who co-hosted the show. As they watched the TV in their studio, they tuned back and forth to stations I, too, was watching. They shared the experience with their audience, so very many of whom were in their cars, their kitchens, their offices or otherwise away from a television on that terrible morning. They were their eyes, watching this horror unfold, as we all witnessed in our various ways this unthinkable tragedy made all too real.

I remember wondering if our attackers had picked that bright, clear morning and the media center of the country (if not the entire world) in order to ensure that as many people as possible, all over the world, would see what they had done to our country. As I realized I would never be able to forget those images, I wondered if that was exactly what they wanted: their evil triumph seared into the collective consciousness of all who would ever see it. Bin Laden, as we have learned since, is on audio tape as far back as 1986, clearly naming the USA as his greatest enemy, and specifically identifying our economy as a target because of what he perceived was its effect on Muslim countries. The idea of striking the WTC may have been in his mind that long ago, but I think the knowledge is also critically important that he had committed to attacking us long before our troops entered Saudi Arabia to push Iraq back out of Kuwait
9.12.2008 11:57am
JosephSlater (mail):
Like Orin, I was teaching an early morning class. I didn't get the story until class ended. Our school cancelled classes for the rest of the day. My first thoughts, honestly, were for my friends in New York City.

There are only a couple of "I will always remember exactly what I was doing when I heard" moments in my increasingly long life, but that's one of them.
9.12.2008 12:15pm
A.W. (mail):
Iambatman

> Yeah, I'm sure Dr. King would be a huge fan of the Iraq war.

I didn't cite Martin Luther King for supporting the war, but for talking about the inherent value and appropriateness of honoring the dead with action, not just say, "gosh, ain't that too bad."

But to meet you on that point, Martin Luther King is more of a pacifist than I am so he might hate the war just because it is war. But then again, he did say this, about a man (Bonhoeffer) who helped in an assassination attempt on Hitler: "if your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer."

Saddam didn't have a conscience, so Bonhoeffer would seem the most rational example to follow, if we are going to apply Martin Luther King's principles. But what he actually would have done faced with that circumstance is a matter of rational disagreement.

But Martin Luther King is a good example of how the left has abandoned its own principles. He said injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere; but the left seems to think that you can keep millions of Muslims under a dictator's boot and it won't bite us in the ass down the road. Most of us should have figured out the folly of that approach on 9-11.

> I also love how you associate anyone who disagrees with you on Iraq with Michael Moore.

I didn't say you were necessarily in his camp, but clearly modern liberals are. I mean do you think it was conservatives who bought tickets to his lame propaganda, especially Fahrenheit 9-11? And I certainly don't recall too many liberals complaining about it afterword, with the obvious exception of a few principled liberals like David Zucker and Joe Lieberman.

> But teacher, I wasn't fightin'. It was that stupid liberal kid I kept hittin'.

Most teachers recognize that the person to punish isn't the kid who fights back, but the kid who hits first.

> And talk about bad faith interpretations: my reference to your "buddies" was obviously a colloquial way of referring to a couple of other posters here.

And of associating me with actions I did not take, know of, or express approval of. But nice try attempting to turn it around.
9.12.2008 12:19pm
iambatman:
Am I supposed to believe this guy went to Yale? With this sort of shoddy argumentation, that's one overrated sheepskin.

"But what he actually would have done faced with that circumstance is a matter of rational disagreement. "

No, Candyboy, ain't nothing rational about what you're selling. You just like complaining about "the left" but then trying to co-opt the language of liberals who are dead and can't call you on the nonsense. There is no doubt whatsoever if Dr. King were alive today, the know-nothings would be denouncing him as a dangerous radical, but since most folk view him as a hero, they have no choice but to try to paint him as one of their own.
9.12.2008 12:44pm
iambatman:
King believed in redistribution of wealth, for Godsake, and we're supposed to believe he's some sort of neocon, not to mention his vocal opposition to the Vietnam war.

But we're supposed to believe he's some kind of neocon. And yes, Precious, you did cite Dr. King to try to justify the war. That was your whole fucking point.

What a 'tard.
9.12.2008 12:48pm
Disgusted:
A.W. and iambatman -

Put. Down. The. Keyboard. And. Step. Away. From. The. Monitor. With. Your. Hands. In. Plain. Sight.

The folks who posted gentle suggestions that others should have a more reverent tone were talking about you. This is not intended to be a debate thread, let alone a name-calling thread. Your bickering is not appropriate here.

If you were in a pub, the bartender would say "take it out back, guys." And if you didn't heed the barkeep's request, the bouncer would unsheath his baseball bat and give you a little assist in departing the premises.
9.12.2008 12:56pm
iambatman:
I'll call out bullshit wherever I see it because that's what being a patriot means to me. I'm not gonna give anyone a pass on suggesting that just a little genocide is OK because they happen to say it on 9/11.

If OK doesn't like it, he can delete my comments. But you ain't the barkeep.
9.12.2008 1:19pm
A.W. (mail):
iambatman

> There is no doubt whatsoever if Dr. King were alive today

No doubt? There could be nothing more foolish than to claim that there would be no doubt on a topic so utterly subjective.

> but since most folk view him as a hero, they have no choice but to try to paint him as one of their own.

First, he was a hero. He was akin to a soldier gone off to war. He knew he could be killed on any day, and if you read his autobiography he had moments of weakness where it really got to him. But he found the strength to keep on fighting. You can disagree with him on a range of topics and still admire him as a hero.

Think of it like John McCain. Undeniably a living hero, whose demonstrative patriotism is humbling. But that doesn't stop me from saying he was wrong on immigration, wrong on campaign finance reform and so on. And I will go out on a limb and presume you have some policy disagreements for him, too. The only work the "hero" thing does in debating him on those policy difference, is make sure that there is absolutely no question that his heart is in the right place.

Now, as for Dr. King, he clearly delineated in that quote between opponents with a conscience, such as American racists, and those without a conscience, like Hitler and the larger Nazi movement. With the former, he preferred passive resistance, and with the latter, he endorsed violence of some unclear dimensions.

Further, Dr. King also felt the freedom and well-being of all of humanity mattered, with that whole "injustice anywhere" quote. So if he endorses 1) violent action against those without a conscience, and 2) a concern for the rights of all people, not just Americans, then there is nothing at all unreasonable for me to say that Martin Luther King might have approved of us kicking down Saddam and the Taliban, if only for the human rights angle of it, to say nothing about national security and so on. I am not going to say anything foolish like "Martin Luther King would definitely be on my side" but there is a plausible argument to be made.

> And yes, Precious, you did cite Dr. King to try to justify the war. That was your whole fucking point.

Au contraire mon fraire, I cited it for the point that when people die, either giving their lives willingly for a cause (Gettysburg), or are merely the victims of violence (16th St. Baptist Church), it is altogether appropriate to take a lesson from those death and to preach that lesson when honoring the dead. If anyone back in 1963 criticized Rev. King for "politicizing" their eulogy, we don't see that behavior is inappropriate, to defend my very right to make the kinds of comments I have been making here.

Very much like those 4 little girls murdered by klan types in 1963, those who died on 9-11-01 were killed by a hateful ideology that we must confront and address. On that September morning in 1963, Dr. King hoped that the confrontation could be non-violent. But non-violence will not work on bin Laden.

And if it could be ever proven that Dr. King would not have supported violent resistance against AQ, then so what of it? Martin Luther King was a great man, a brave man, but he was an imperfect man. He can be rightfully compared to Jesus by Bono, but he was not actually Jesus, and thus fallible.

> What a 'tard.

Mmm, more of that tolerance from the left. Clearly following the example of Dr. King.

Disgusted

Nothing would be more disrespectful to those who died on 9-11 if we don't remember the lessons we learned that day. iambatman just doesn't like it when anyone points it out.

I am sick and tired of dealing with people that seem bound and determined to forget them, to make another 9-11 inevitable. So on its anniversary, I felt compelled to say something, because we owe them. And all of those soldiers who have died to prevent another 9-11, we owe them, too. And if annoying you and others is the price of it, that's fine, but someone has to say it. We are forgetting. We are seeping into a 9-10-01 mentality, and I can't just sit here and quietly watch it happen.
9.12.2008 1:41pm
iambatman:
"If anyone back in 1963 criticized Rev. King for 'politicizing' their eulogy, we don't see that behavior is inappropriate, to defend my very right to make the kinds of comments I have been making here."

You definitely have the right to spout whatever kind of nonsense you like, Precious. Thank God we live in a nation where the jingoists and know-nothings have not taken that right away. And my "tolerance" as you call it is this: I will not seek censorship of your provenly racist, cowardly, and foolish view. But I will always say that morally, you should shut your lying yap.

Because you *are* a racist, Precious. You openly applauded the notion that we should nuke the brown people because some *other* brown people attacked the US (and you'll note I have no problem using that word, *or* calling it a tragedy, though now I suppose you'll cravenly whine that I didn't say "super-duper attack" or some such). Not only that, but you apparently think nuking the brown people would be for their own good-- talk about White Man's Burden! (And I'm sure you enlisted in the Armed Forces to save those brown people you claim to be so concerned for.) And now you try to hide behind Dr. King. How pathetic. How weak. How cowardly.
9.12.2008 2:31pm
A.W. (mail):
Iambatman

> Thank God we live in a nation where the jingoists and know-nothings have not taken that right away.

Well, last time I checked it was the Democrats pushing for the euphemistically entitled "Fairness Doctrine."

> your provenly racist

Wow, I am a racist for wanting to keep fighting our enemies. Good to know. As for cowardly and foolish, I am not the one calling for retreat, or believing that being nice to terrorists will make them stop hurting us.

> You openly applauded the notion that we should nuke the brown people because some *other* brown people attacked the United States

I have explained what I meant by that, and if you choose to ignore my words and hallucinate the worst possible intent. As usual you provide your own indictment of your ideology. We are Americans. We are not supposed to leap to the worst conclusions about each other—but here you are, doing exactly that.

And last I checked the Saudis were not brown; bronze at most. Nor is the difference between the average Saudi and myself merely of color. There is the whole business of being the birthplace of the virulent version of islamofascism that struck on 9-11. As you lefties are fond of pointing out, a large number of the people who attacked us on 9-11 was from that country. So don't pretend they are not a large part of the problem. I would have favored invading us first, except that having mecca in it, it would probably have triggered a new world war. What I favor instead, is to kick down all the dictatorships around it until they are the only one left, and then see if they are still a problem. They might not be, by then, and if they are, well then it would be easier to take them down.

That country has spread the most virulent, most backwards, interpretation of Islam possible for decades and all you can see is their skin color. You judge them not by the content of their character, but the color of their skin. It begs the question of who is the real racist here.

Which isn't to say I support nuking the country. That would be an overreaction. I prefer liberating it. But it isn't racist to label that country our enemy any more that it was to say that of Japan in 1941.

> Not only that, but you apparently think nuking the brown people would be for their own good

When did I say nuking was for a person's own good? More hallucinations, I guess.

> And I'm sure you enlisted in the Armed Forces to save those brown people you claim to be so concerned for.

Ah, the chickenhawk argument. I'll make a deal with you. I will join the army after you immigrate to either Iran or China. After all, what is the argument in the case of the chickenhawk canard? "Its easy for you to say you want war, you don't have to live with the consequences." Well, okay, but I can turn around and say, "its easy for you to say you don't want a dictatorship toppled. You don't have to live under that dictator." So an even exchange. You go to Iran or China, and I'll join the military.

Nevermind that every time a "liberal" uses the chickenhawk canard they spit on another important American principle: civilian control of the military.

And, by the way, when have you served and in which branch?

> And now you try to hide behind Dr. King. How pathetic. How weak. How cowardly.

Ah, so having run out of argument on that point, you simply call me names. Gotcha.
9.12.2008 2:53pm
A.W. (mail):
Minor correction:

> I would have favored invading us first

to

> I would have favored invading Saudi first...

I think i need more caffine to keep away the typo fairy. :-)
9.12.2008 3:00pm
iambatman:
In other words, no, you never served one day in your life. And you have no plan on doing so. I did, and Army, to answer your questions. And since I don't support Iran or China I have no reason to move there (it is far outside the point of this thread for me to point out how a chickenshit armchair general has no conception of the consequences of war with China, but I am sure all reasonable people get the point). You, however, do apparently support the war in Iraq.

I also love the doublethink. "It doesn't matter what Dr. King would have thought. Oh, but he would have agreed with me, so that proves my point." It would be hilarious if it weren't so Orwellian.

"Wow, I am a racist for wanting to keep fighting our enemies. Good to know."

You are racist because you choose to define our enemies as a faceless sea of brown people at ground zero of our nukes.

"As for cowardly and foolish, I am not the one calling for retreat, or believing that being nice to terrorists will make them stop hurting us."

No, you're just lashing out at a faceless sea of brown people. That's cowardice. And bigotry. Another face of evil, which 9/11 lucidly demonstrated exists.

"And last I checked the Saudis were not brown; bronze at most."

Last I checked black people weren't technically black. Oh well, guess I had better issue a correction to anyone who uses the term.
9.12.2008 3:15pm
A.W. (mail):
Iambatman

> I did, and Army, to answer your questions.

Well, apparently you were asleep on the day they taught you about the value of civilian control of the military. Either that or maybe you are another poser, because I have never met a real veteran who used the chickenhawk trope before in my life. The vets I know get angry when they hear that as another betrayal of our founding principles.

But hey since you want to create an oligarchy run by the military a la starship troopers, where the only people who can support war are those who fought in one, why don't we hold the next presidential election solely in our military and see how it comes out? The claim that the war is only supported by people who didn't serve is belied by the fact that our military overwhelmingly does support the war. Take this man for instance: http://www.beldar.org/beldarblog/2008/09/credibility.html

> And since I don't support Iran or China I have no reason to move there

The point is, you would impose suffering on others you would never suffer yourself. If you think living under a dictator's boot isn't so bad, why don't you do it?

> the consequences of war with China

I didn't say we should invade china. Really, try reading what I write more than once before you formulate a reply.

> I also love the doublethink. "It doesn't matter what Dr. King would have thought. Oh, but he would have agreed with me, so that proves my point."

Its called arguing in the alternative, and one would think someone who posts on a legal blog would be used to that approach.

> You are racist because you choose to define our enemies as a faceless sea of brown people at ground zero of our nukes.

No, that is your hallucination of my intent.

> Another face of evil, which 9/11 lucidly demonstrated exists.

Ah, so you don't want to fight the actual people who killed our fellow citizens, or their fellow travelers in the broader islamofascist movement, but you want to attack me (hopefully not physically) because you hallucinate that I am filled with a different but similar evil.

Mmm, wow, a dictionary definition of transference.
9.12.2008 3:35pm
blm28 (mail):
I was working in a group home in Iowa, trying to explain what had just happened to three moderately mentally retarded men. Challenging.
9.12.2008 3:47pm
iambatman:
Wow. What. A. 'Tard. You seem to have me mistaken for Robert A. Heinlein, Neckbeard. And you say I'm hallucinating.

And for the record, the vets I know, me included, don't care for chickenshit neckbeards who have no idea what they're talking about. I never said you can't vote or can't speak. I just think you should assume some responsibility for your beliefs. Dr. King sure did. But I guess you'd rather hide behind a hero than do anything to emulate him.
9.12.2008 3:49pm
iambatman:
Also, learn what "beg the question" actually means, Sunshine. The only thing that's begging is you.

(To be called a moron.)
9.12.2008 3:54pm
A.W. (mail):
Iambatman

> Wow. What. A. 'Tard.

More of that famous liberal tolerance.

> You seem to have me mistaken for Robert A. Heinlein

If you mean I was referring to the book, honestly, haven't read it, but I suffered through the godawful movie they made out of it (supposedly the book isn't godawful), and well, that is what you are aiming for when you say civilians can't declare themselves in favor of war.

> who have no idea what they're talking about

Hey, same with me. How many totalitarian regimes have you lived under?

And frankly that statement is so contrafactual now I know you are full of sh-- about serving. I suppose you were with John Kerry on Christmas in Cambodia, 1968. Heh.

> I never said you can't vote or can't speak.

Actually that is exactly what you said.
9.12.2008 4:00pm
iambatman:
You can state any opinion you like. But it doesn't mean you're not a miserable hypocrite and morally bankrupt. Unlike you, Neckbeard, I believe morality should not be legislated. But as a private individual I sure as hell will point it out.
9.12.2008 4:04pm
iambatman:
Waitasecond, did blm28 explain the 9/11 attacks to you, A.W.?
9.12.2008 4:06pm
iambatman:
Final thoughts, there are two kinds of pussy. The kind soldiers like, and the kind that A.W. is.

Never the two shall meet.
9.12.2008 4:27pm
A.W. (mail):
iambatman

If you are out to prove who is more childish, you win. But as for the argument, you have lost and the lack of subtance in your last three posts and descent into pure name-calling is the proof you lost. You are filled with venomous hate, devisive and in deep denial. A perfect example of what I was complaining about in the first place.
9.12.2008 4:47pm
iambatman:
No, you complain because you're a pussy. And a bigot. And a liar. And a coward, but that goes back to "you're a pussy."
9.12.2008 4:52pm
iambatman:
Oh yeah, and if you still want to pretend you're interested in taking the action you claim will help the brown people you now tell us you don't want to nuke, please visit goarmy.com and look up a recruiter.
9.12.2008 4:55pm
Even More Disgusted:
Wow, iambatman and A.W. -

We need to put your pictures on the Wikipedia page that defines "Internet Troll." Has either of you figured out yet that you've become low-comedic parodies of yourselves (not to mention having completely wrecked a good thread)?

Hope neither of you intends to keep the same user name on any future Volokh thread where you might hope to be taken seriously.

This thread now is home to the worst series of juvenile troll-posts since before Mary Katherine Day-Whazzername was banned from VC. Congrats. You've earned it.
9.12.2008 5:02pm
Major Undertaking:
Having hesitated until now because I am a newbie here, I find I must essentially second what Even More Disgusted has to say, and what other posts have said in a similar vein. I have seen other places disintegrate over such behavior, and would rather not see it again. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to how typical such behavior is here.
*
One of you, entirely apart from the merits on both sides, has let yourself be baited and provoked by sordid, juvenile, name-calling idiocy into what has devolved into essentially a poo-flinging contest. One of you should have evinced the requisite maturity to have refused to have been baited and provoked, let alone into responding in kind, even in the least degree, and should have walked away long ago, IMHO.
9.12.2008 6:32pm
Ian Argent (www):
As with many others in the eastern time zone, I was at work. Someone came into the tech bay I was in and noted that they had heard reports of a small plane hitting the WTC. I opined that the designers had forseen the possibility, etc. I may have referred to the Empire State Building incident. Then we heard the news of the second plane. But the flashbulb moment for me was standing in a doorway listening to a radio when the news came that a plane had hit the Pentagon. "My mother works in the Pentagon!" were my words. (One the other side, in a basement - she later said she thought it was a transformer explosion until she got to her assigned marshalling area).

Then the rumors of a car bomb at the State Dept; and I couldn't remember if my father was working at Main State, or in Crystal City.

I have a friend who worked (and still works) for a law firm literally across the street from the WTC complex. Normally she went in for work at 10 am, so I figured she would have been stopped in New Jersey. That day she went in early, and ended up being caught in the dust cload of the towers collapsing, and walking from downtown to the 34th st ferry terminal.

I stayed a work for a few hours before drifting home; I was fairly metnally off kilter the rest of the day.
9.12.2008 11:58pm