What Were You Doing September 11th, 2001?

It’s always strange how a tragic event can sear into your mind exactly what you were doing at a particular time.  In some cases people even remember what they were wearing and what smells were around them.  On any other given day, you probably would not even think about what you were doing at 9am EST on 9/11/01.

I remember my mom telling me that she was in a biology class in college when the announcements were made over the loud speaker that JFK had been shot.  I remember coming out of a ride at Disney World with my family and my dad saying,”Look kids!  There’s the shuttle take-off.  Wait, that doesn’t look right.”  Then back in the hotel room we saw everything unfold up close with the Challenger explosion on TV.  I was at a picnic with friends when we heard about Princess Diana’s car crash and death.  A TV was brought out on the lawn to watch the events.

So, where were you on September 11th, 2001?  Well, I was a teacher in Oklahoma, and strangely enough I was at a science in-service with other teachers learning about our science kits on “flight.”  We were making paper airplanes an using different amounts of papers clips and other items as weights to see if it changed our planes flight paths and/or distances.  Teachers had to attend these 1/2 day in-services for every different science kit before teaching them to students.

As we were being told to see who could fly their plane the farthest and who could hit the wall on the other side of the room, the principal came in to the library and stared at us lined up with our airplanes.  Her face looked panicked.  She said, “I wasn’t sure if I should disturb the in-service or not, but anyone that has friends or family in NYC or DC might want to know that some tragic events are happening.”  My heart sank.  I felt sick.  Yes, my entire family and husband’s family happened to be in the DC area where we both grew up.  I knew my sister was scheduled that morning to have an interview in Crystal City near downtown DC.

I raised my hand.  Other teachers looked around too.  Learning about this science kit was no longer important.  Everyone wanted to know what was going on.  The principal decided to just bring in a TV to watch the coverage of the events.  We were still supposed to be doing what we needed, but everyone was too upset to continue.  Once the TV stated that, “America was definitely under attack,” we were released to go home early to try and get in touch with our loved ones.

When I walked into my apartment where my husband was sitting and watching the coverage, he told me the towers had just fallen.  We watched it over and over again on the news.  We tried to contact people back home, but with the number of calls going around we were unable to connect for a long time.  We finally found out everyone we knew happened to be safe.  That was a relief to hear, but we were both in shock and felt sorrow for those who were directly affected by people losing their lives.  At this point we both realized that life as we knew it would be changing forever.

What were you going September 11th, 2001?  Share below in the comment box.  I’m sure you remember!

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Kristin Wheeler