SEPTEMBER 11 = 9/11: What Were YOU Doing That Day?

Betty Mallard, UT Austin School of Music:

I remember exactly where I was and what I was thinking on 9/11/01. I had gone to school early to pick up something. I walked past Charles Ball’s office and he had his TV on. I glanced in and SAW a plane fly into the building and thought he was watching a movie. Then went back home, Harry was working in the garden and Dani (Danielle Martin) called me, hysterical, with the news that we, the USA, had been attacked. TV went on and there was the horrifying news. Later that day we had an Executive Committee meeting. It was interesting hearing the differing reactions of the faculty regarding holding the meeting on that day. Rose Taylor spoke about how she felt we were not showing proper reverence for what had happened by holding the meeting–a justified view-point. I think it was Don Grantham who said he had wanted to have the meeting to keep things going–since the people that did this were after disruption of our country.

 Jennifer Mc Donough, San Francisco, California:

I remember Jim woke me up very early in the morning 6:00 am (He often gets up early and turns on the news and reports back to me about anything crazy that is going on, usually I would rather get some sleep, the news can wait!) or so, turned on the TV and said “Look what happened!” I was lying with our 2 month old baby Quinn. We both watched ,stunned. Every channel was covering the news!

Donna Messerle, Cincinnati, Ohio:

My story for that day is probably sort of boring. That’s why I didn’t respond to your question. But I’ll share it with you anyway and you can be the judge!

On that horrible day, I was a stay at home mom. My kids were at school, husband at work and I was at home cleaning my house.  My husband called and told me to turn on the TV stating that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. Not having a TV in his office, he was relying on me to be his eyes. I remember seeing that and instantly feeling ill as I described to my husband the scene that was before me. As I was talking to him the second plane then hit. I screamed into the phone what had just occurred. My husband didn’t believe me. He thought it was just a repeat of what had already happened with the first tower. He stayed on the phone with me as I cried and described the horrific scene. A bit of time had passed I remember telling him, “It’s going to fall.” He said, “No way that building is going to fall” I said it again, “It’s going to fall. I’m telling you, It’s going to fall.” He really didn’t believe me.  Honestly Brian, I don’t think I was “right” for a couple of months. I remember nothing “felt” right. I couldn’t find a place that “felt” the same. Negativity was everywhere. I’d never experienced that feeling before or since.

Amy Alexander Power, Cincinnati, Ohio : 

On that horrible day, I was teaching school—Norwood Middle School—6th grade. The school I taught in was not affluent, but we did have old television sets in each of our classrooms. That morning, as my students and I were working on reading comprehension activites, an announcement came over the PA to turn on our TVs as we needed to see an emergency news report. We were also told to stand by for Code Red—which means “teacher talk”—get ready to move students to safe grounds. I had no idea what to expect, and certainly did not expect to see the horror I saw unfolding on the television. What made it particularly terrible for me was that I was watching it with my students—ages 11-13years of age. I will never forget their faces as they watched the planes, the smoke. It was surreal. At first, many of the them, thought it was a movie of some sort. I watched them realize that this was all for real and many began to cry and shake. They asked me what they should do, where should we go. Would there be planes coming for us? Unbelievably, I was able to calmly reassure them that we were together and that I would make sure that nothing happened (although I was not sure of this myself). I began to worry about how I would get to my own daughter who was at her own school. What about my mother? So many things flash through your mind at times like these.

As they day unfolded, with more horror and more information on what was really happening, revealed,  I wondered what is happening to my America? I am proud of how the we, the American people, came together during this tragedy. I am proud of how President Bush responded to the situation. I particularly loved his “Ground Zero” speech to the rescue workers! We are a great and resilient people! Good will win!

Hope Barnett, Mason, Ohio:

I didn’t have to work that day, so I slept in. I got up and turned on the radio and heard the

djs talking about what happened. I then turned on the TV just before the second building collapsed. I was all alone except for my dog. Mom was in Colorado (where my sister, Penny lived at the time) babysitting for a month while my sister and her husband were in Manhattan on business. He traveled the country teaching seminars and had to be in New York for that trip, and Penny went with him. When I saw what was happening, I called Mom immediately and said “Where’s Penny?” and she said “I haven’t heard from her, but Ryan’s secretary called and said she is okay.” Penny was able to get through to her because it was a 1-800 number and they were not clogged up like all the other lines were, so she called her and asked her to call Mom to let her and her kids know she was okay. Penny said she was in a hotel that was right next door to the Empire State Building, and heard the first plane go by. She was in bed and thought to herself “Wow, that sounded low!”, but she didn’t get up to look at it until later. We didn’t get to hear from her directly until later that night and she was walking around the city and it was a ghost town. The city that never sleeps was like it had never been before – still and quiet. As for me, here at home, my dog followed me around all day – she never left my side. She could tell something was terribly wrong and she wanted to make sure I was okay. I was having anxiety attacks just thinking about what happened to us as a nation. I couldn’t stop watching the footage. I was a mess, as we all were!

Marilyn Williams, Indiana:

On the morning of 9/11/2001 my husband and I were in the office of our Eye Dr. We were preparing to leave, when the receptionist got a phone call. It was obviously from a friend or family member, and not a patient. All of a sudden her conversation went from being friendly and upbeat to being VERY SERIOUS. We could tell from the look on her face, that she was being told of something very horrible that was going on. When she hung up, she hurriedly went to the back room of the office and turned on the TV set. She told everyone in the office the news of the first plane crashing into the tower and we watched for a few minutes. We left the office and hurried home to watch the 2nd plane fly into the second tower and were riveted to the TV for the rest of the day.

Carlann Evans, Fort Meyers, Florida:

Normally I have the TV on to the NBC Today Show. But I decided to have a quiet morning, do some cleaning (as I was 8 months pregnant!!) and then the phone rang. No. It wasn’t about the attack, just yet. It was my mother-in-law from England. She was deciding on a date for when she should come over after the baby was born. I had so much on my mind with this being our first child that at that moment in time, I was in my own world until….

Then I can’t exactly remember how, or who told me, but I was in the living room of my Ft. Myers apartment. I think my husband Alan called me and told me to “Turn the TV on, there’s been an attack”. The enormity of it did not immediately sink in as I was trying to figure out what was going on. Then, my father called me from Cleveland. He was visiting my brother there – a rarity for him to travel let me tell you. In a strange way, I was glad he was there and with family. Not on his own like he normally is.

It all seemed too surreal that all we did the rest of the day was watch the TV. I can’t really remember much after that as it was more of a feeling – the deepest kind of foreboding, and sadness. Here I was about to experience what should be the most joyous event in anyone’s life, and all these lives had been cut short in front of my eyes. Literally. I could hardly bear to watch, yet, watch I did. And I cried. The emotions are so strong that you can’t think you can feel something that deep….and to think of the pregnant women who lost their husbands on that day made me worry that if I got too emotionally involved I might somehow hurt my own unborn child… was all too much.

We are commemorating this event in our orchestra. I know that I will feel some of those same feelings again, even while on stage, and it will be hard to contain myself, yet I don’t care. We should weep for these people who lost their lives. Who steered the plane away from homes. For all those growing up without a parent, son, daughter, mother, father, wife or husband. Time helps, and we do have joy in life, but we should also remember.

Chris Lee, Cincinnati, Ohio

I was asleep. Got a call from my Grandmother in NY city saying the city was getting bombed. My

parents are from NY city so I have a lot of family there. It took me a minute to digest what she said so I turned on the TV and saw the smoking towers. Get this story:

My Mom had an accountant out there that handled my Grandmother’s (who passed away in 1997) accounts. My Mom had to call him about stuff when that happened and couldn’t get hold of him all week… As it turns out… he overslept for the first time in like 30 years, thus missing the train that took him to work at the WTC. So oversleeping saved his life. Everyone in his office was killed. Another story: My Aunt had a job interview in the WTC the week before and also had another job interview closer to home in the Bronx. The WTC job paid more but as I said, the second job was closer to home. My Aunt decided to take the more lucrative job in the WTC. The weekend before, my Mom calls her and says “You know…you should probably take the job closer to home.” My Aunt took my Mom’s advice and wasn’t at the WTC when it went down.

Carol S., Troy, Ohio: 

I was a manager for McDonald’s at the time. I worked the very early shift and that day happened to be my short day that week. I got off of work at 9am. I was just finishing things up, reports and telling the manager relieving me all the important information you exchange at shift change when a customer came in and said an airplane had just hit one of the twin towers in NYC. We were not very busy so I continued to stand at the counter, speculating what sort of plane and talking with the customer about that poor pilot. We all assumed that the plane was one of those small planes that had somehow gotten too close or gone off course.

As we stood there a few other customers came in and said they had heard the same thing. Then one came in and said it was an airliner, not a private plane. I called my husband and asked him if he’d heard. He worked second shift and had been sleeping. He woke up and as we talked about it, the second plane flew into the other tower. He was in shock. I passed along this information to my co-workers and hurried home. I only lived five minutes from home. Our children were in school and it was so surreal as I sat on the sofa watching everything unfold before my very eyes.

I remember when the first tower collapsed. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like something out of a movie, but this was real. They kept showing the planes flying into the building from different angles as they received them from people that had been recording for one reason or another. The stories started to pour in. Some true, some not. I can’t remember if the second tower collapsed before I heard about the Pentagon or after, but I remember my heart racing. Knowing this was not a coincidence. That we were under attack.

I remember the video of the president being informed and I recall thinking, our lives have changed forever on this day. The day just got worse at every turn. Then we then heard about the flight in Pennsylvania crashing into a field and knowing this had to have something to do with these other attack. Everything was a blur the rest of the day, but I can still vividly remember sitting on our sofa, not budging. Afraid I would miss some important information. Hearing those alarms go off from the firefighters that were buried under the rubble of the buildings and hugging my children extra tightly when they came home from school that day. We watched late into the night and for days afterward. I will never forget that day as long as I live. 

Larry Noak, Cincinnati, Ohio: 

It was a Gorgeous morning in Cincinnati,Crisp,sunny and wonderful. I was sweeping the Anderson branch Library parking lot,a task that I loved. A patron drove to the book drop and, rolled down his window and, asked if I had heard the news. I promptly went inside the branch and told Judy Hollweg Hatfield. She went across the street and got a 13 inch TV. All of this occurred in time for us to watch the second plane hit live. At that point we were all INSTANTLY aware of the significance of the events. I would say we were all rattled and unsure of the future… some have tried to downplay the importance of this day…I find it criminal

Esmail Khalili, UT Austin School of Music:

Woke up with my roomie and listened to it on the radio driving to the music building. I didn’t really know what was going on till we got to campus and saw people watching it on the TVs by the green couches (in the foyer of the UT Austin School of Music). Classes were canceled. I spent the rest of the day just watching and making phone calls. I had quite a bit of family in NY.

Patricia Knueven, Cincinnati, Ohio: 

My father picked me up from college and was driving me to the bank. We heard the news on the radio. I had no clue what this meant. Until that day I didn’t even know about the World Trade Centers and not even that much about New York City. Once I arrived back on campus, I flipped on the news and in horror watched a video stream of the plane impact. I knew it was significant. I didn’t cry though. I believe I was in shock and felt like I was watching a horror movie unfold. It totally did not seem like reality to me for a long time afterwards even. I was a Junior that year. I clearly thought that our lives as citizens of the United States would forever be changed from that moment on.

Cecilia Barker, Cincinnati, Ohio: 

I was 6 months pregnant when 9/11 happened. I was getting ready for class at home in Clifton with CNN on in the background. At first, I thought the first plane was a tragic accident and then when the second hit, I knew something was up.

I never made it to class that day at NKU and instead was glued to the tv in anticipation of what was to happen. The following days were the worst. My, then husband, became really paranoid about anthrax and other scares to the point that I was not allowed to bring the mail into our apartment. This lasted until our son was born. Then, my husband, became worse and insisted we needed a fire arm to protect ourselves (he and I are both pacifists, so this was difficult to swallow) and our new son from harm. It was a very stressful way to introduce this new life to the world.

David Bird, Cincinnati, Ohio: 

I had been asleep for about 30 minutes, having worked the night shift at the aircraft brake plant in Walton. My youngest son Andrew (11), who had stayed home from school with a sore throat, exploded up the stairs and shook me wide awake by yelling, “Dad, dad, an airplane just hit the World Trade Center in New York!”  

Now wide awake with heart racing I inquired in rapid succession, “What kind of airplane? Was it an accident?”

He shot back with, “I don’t know.” on both counts.

We hurried down stairs to the living room and watched the TV images of a smoldering tower, in shock, but with great interest for several minutes. My questions were answered when we watched the second airplane hit the other tower a few seconds later. It was horrible, but it was infuriating. Somebody had done this on purpose.  The rest of the day was spent in front of the TV and on the phone calling family and friends just to check in and share the horrible events and of that day.  Many thoughts and images come to mind: the Twin towers collapsing, dust clouds, bodies and debris falling from the sky, people running and grieving, the Pentagon, where is the President?, evacuating the White House, armed F-16s in our skys, airplanes grounded, people celebrating in Gaza, the thought that somebody’s gonna pay dearly for this! , I wonder if the Marines will take me back after all these years?

I called my oldest son at Purdue University who reported that some “foreign students were celebrating opening on campus”.  They apparently dispersed after an angry crowd began to form.

It also occurred to me late in the afternoon “I gotta get some sleep so I can go back to work and make more airplane brakes”. That, I decided, was my part in the battle that would surely follow. My company produced brakes for the USAF C-17, which would ultimately deliver the troops and millions of tons of weapons and materiel that would even this score. 

David Wyatt, North Carolina:

On 9/11/01, my wife & I were working 3rd shift, so obviously we were asleep when it all happened. But, I awoke at 11:41 AM, & I can’t tell you why I remember the time but I do, & went to the restroom. I saw a message was on our machine, so I thought I might need to check it out. It was my Dad, all worked up, saying that the Twin Towers & the Pentagon had fallen to terrorists. Still a little groggy, I figured he must have been mistaken, but he said to turn on the TV, which I did, & as they say, the rest is history.

Before that time, again, I really don’t know why, but I had enjoyed noticing how many planes I could see in the sky at the same time, & I had often counted as many as 6 at once. But that evening as we drove to work, of course, there were absolutely no planes in the air, & it is hard to describe the eeriness of that sight. I also began to think of my relationship with the Lord even more, & though I was not walking as close to Him as I should, it was a joy to realize that would I have been in either of those buildings & had my life snuffed out on earth, I would have immediately been in the presence of my wonderful Savior due to His perfect sacrifice on the cross for me. Working at BBN, the Bible Broadcasting Network, also brought opportunities to share the Gospel with others, & listen to the concerns of others with their fears ,  heart cries. Thanks for this opportunity to share these thoughts bro. Brian. God bless.

Tracy Espejo:

To begin with, I was in NYC the weekend before 9/11. I went to a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. On Saturday night, we ate at an Italian Restaurant in SoHo. We ate next to two guys who were in town on business. One stayed at the hotel Millennium that was destroyed. We drove back to Boston (where I was living at the time) on Sunday 9/9.

I went to work on 9/11 like everyday. I worked at a charter school in Lynn, Ma and was there by 7:30. I taught starting at 8, took my students to specials (10:30), and I saw a fellow teacher crying the hall. I asked what happen and she told me. I called my husband (ex), Mike. He told me that a plane had flown into the twin towers and they fell. I called him a liar because I was watching a taped (Live) news cast. He told me that it happened two hours ago. I asked about his cousin, who lived in SoHo, but worked in Jersey. Mike told me that he watched both towers fall out the window of his work. He worked across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan. His girlfriend was supposed to have to have a meeting at WTC Tower #1 at 9:00. He finally got a hold of her at 3:00 P.M. because of the overloading of the phone lines. She was fine, but was on her way to the meeting when the first plane hit. As far as the gentlemen we ate with them, we don’t know what happened to them. I spent the afternoon trying to explain what happened to my 6th grade students. It was difficult because we didn’t know much at that time and on top of that, I had a Muslim student too. That evening, Mike’s family got together to watch all the news, we spent it with another cousin who lived in New Jersey, but happened to be in Boston that week. It was hard to wrap my brain around what happened.

One month later, we were back in NYC and tried to get as close as were allowed at the time. There was still smoke rising from the debris, and there were windows blocks away that happened to be blown out by the falling of the the towers. By that point, there were hundreds of flyers that were still up for missing people. Pictures, names, info about missing loved ones. All around Manhattan, there were make-shift memorials to those who died on that day.

Kim Moore, Cincinnati, Ohio: 

I was at work that morning wehn a co-worker said her husband called with news a plane had hit

the WTC . We assumed it was a small plane. When news came of the second plane we became aware that it was a deliberate attack. We turned on radios to listen in and heard about the pentagon and then Shanksville PA. I felt like my world was spinning. Things have come “right” but have never been the same. I have never been more proud of my countrymen than on that day.”

 Maurice Russell, Denver, Colorado:

I was getting my 4yr old stepson ready for school when first plane hit. When I took him to school, my then-wife called my cell telling me a second plane hit. I walked back into the school, and pulled my son out and came back home..I was freaking out and crying

Mrs. Sara Batangi Cuthbertson, Sydney, Australia:

On 9/11… I was asleep when it happened and when I turned the TV on before I went to school. It was all over the news and for that day at school it’s all anyone was talking about, who did it, conspiracy theories etc… but after about a week it wasn’t really mentioned again, down here

Jessica Guilliam Valls, Austin, Texas:

I had just arrived at a middle school in Austin, TX, to teach a few lessons, and heard about the first plane on the radio. They thought it was an accident at that point. When I left the school 2.5 hours later, I heard all the terrible news and arrived home about an hour after the second tower fell. What a sad, sad day it was. 

Amy Osweiler Thompson, Cincinnati, Ohio:

I was sleeping when the first plane hit. Woke up when my dad came in from looking at cars…he raced home…the first thing i thought of it was a cargo plane that got lost or something. I know that sounds weird but at the time….hind sight and all…I just couldn’t believe it. I do think they need to show the planes hitting the buildings on the anniversary. Too many people have forgotten it. But the news media wont….their afraid it might offend the Muslims…well what about us Christians!! 

Mary Anne Bruner, Flagstaff, Arizona:

I was here in Flagstaff, getting ready for classes. A friend caught me on the phone, said “turn on the TV”, and hung up. I sat, mesmerized by the unbelievable, unthinkable acts. I taught my afternoon class, but sent out an email blast that we would be talking about “the incidents”, and anyone who felt uncomfortable or unable to join in would be excused. More than one of my (college) students asked to be excused, so they could go donate blood. It was an incredible outpouring of caring, a need to DO something. The irony for me is, I was on the 92nd floor of the South Tower in late July.

Annette Benevides, Austin, Texas:

I was sleeping in before my first class my junior year in college. My land line rang and I

immediately thought, “who the hell would call me this early on my “late day?” It was my mother, who told me to turn on the tv, that planes had hit the world trade center. I put the tv on and sat there in shock staring at the replays of the towers being hit. Hearing all of the panic, the misinformation, the radios and tvs were filled with so many shaky voices. It was the first time in my life that something truly awful had ever happened, and I had no idea what was going to come next. I think that’s the day I “grew up.”

Merilynn Rose, Cincinnati, Ohio:

I was in the living room with the kids when it came on TV. I was shocked. The boys and I watched not knowing what was really going on. We hugged and said thank you God for all of us here. Right after that, my sister called and said Jenny (my niece) had been in the tower the day before applying for a job. What a difference a day can make in a family’s life. We were so grateful that she didn’t choose 9/11 to go there. We were saddened at the loss and pissed at the same time at the responsible party involved. I never wished anyone dead, but at that moment I wanted our forces to find the S.O.B. and the rest of his posse and do them in.

Amanda Daniel, Austin, Texas:

I was a senior in high school on September 11, 2001. I was in my first period class when the teacher next door came into our classroom to tell my teacher something with a scared look on her face. We tried getting service on the classroom tv, and we all started logging onto the Internet. It was very scary. I went to Del Valle High school, so we were pretty close to Austin Bergstrom International Airport, and we were on lockdown. I’ll never forget that day, and watching live on tv the World Trade Center tower collapse. That whole day all we talked about was what happened, and watched it all on tv. It was a very scary day! God bless all the men and women that were lost that dreadful morning.

Judith Camps; UT Austin School of Music:


As for 9/11, it was my mother’s birthday; however, I was at work and Francesca or someone heard it on the news and Elaine (Law) found a TV and we watched it off and on in the conference room up here. Being September everyone was still busy with beginning of the semester stuff so we just watched the TV off and on. We couldn’t believe it. 

Associated Press/Justin Lane

Robert Peraza, who lived in Mason at the time of the 9/11 attacks, pauses at his son’s name at the North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial before the 10th anniversary ceremony on Sunday Sept. 11, 2011, in New York


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One thought on “SEPTEMBER 11 = 9/11: What Were YOU Doing That Day?

  1. I was at a physical therapy appointment, prior to beginning my workday. A radio played pop music. Intermittently, the music was interrupted with brief reports about “something happening” in New York. The reports came more quickly. The music stopped. The news began. Words. Everyone listened. My appointment was terminated. I left. As I stepped out the door, the clear blue, morning sky revealed five, maybe six, U-shaped contrails, the jets proceeding the “other” way. I drove to work, Milford to Blue Ash. There were more U-shaped contrails in the sky. Something was urgent. What’s up? I arrived at work. A TV had been rolled into a conference room. Fifteen to twenty people were watching CNN. We were from all over the world: North America, Latin America, East Asia, South Central Asia, Middle East, and elsewhere. Grim faces watched the loop of planes striking two towers, and the confusion on the streets below. Reports of events in D.C. and Pennsylvania came in, sketchy. What’s up? The towers collapsed. A colleague came by and said the office would close for the remainder of the day. I left. A friend called. Her store had closed. We got sandwiches at Breugger’s. We took them to Sharon Woods, and ate them on a bench by the lake. We were alone. We talked. My friend was angry. I was concerned. “What’s new about this?”, I assuaged. I knew what was next. It was a beautiful day, and I spent it with my friend. We did not watch the news. We knew what was next.

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