9/11

On September 11, 2001, I was hunkering down for work on a special issue of our magazine, when I got an e-mail from Bill, our New Orleans reporter. He mentioned almost off-handedly that one story he was working on might be in jeopardy because the company’s headquarters were at the World Trade Center in New York, and he’d just heard a report that one of the WTC towers had been hit by a plane.

When I got his e-mail, I immediately turned on the radio … just in time to hear that a second plane had just hit the other tower. Within seconds, Bill called on the phone: “It sounds like New York is under attack!” he said.

Like everyone else, I knew instantly that the second plane meant that it was a terrorist attack. And also like everyone else, I didn’t get much work done the rest of that day, although I tried. News was hard to come by; the Internet news sites slowed to a crawl, so I had to rely on the radio. My wife Jean, a teacher, was in her classroom, and the district had told teachers not to turn their classroom TVs on, so the only news she got was what I could feed her via e-mail. I still have copies of the e-mails we sent to each other that day in which I described what I could of the progression of events as I was hearing them on the radio.

So much of that day is burned into my memory: the shock of learning that the planes were hijacked passenger planes; trying to imagine what the collapse of the towers looked like, because I wasn’t able to see the videos until that evening; the numerous false reports that came out, like the car bomb at the State Department; and the eerie silence that evening and for the next few days, with no planes in the sky because of the indefinite and unprecedented “ground stop.”

Since then, I’ve read quite a bit about the events of September 11. The best books were the 9/11 Commission report, Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke, and 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn.

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3 thoughts on “9/11”

  1. This was inspired by my friend Vickie, who posted her remembrance of that day on Facebook. What do you remember about 9/11/01? Where were you when you heard and what was your reaction? Feel free to post comments below.

  2. Angela called and woke me after the first plane hit. I could see the towers from my terrace. I saw the 2nd one hit live on Tv. That was a holy S@#t moment i would never care to repeat. At some point I walked down to 65th street to get Indy out of school. The subways and buses were OUT and they wouldnt let even the high schoolers out without their parents coming for them. I remember walking past the RED CROSS with indy and a kid and his mom who we knew from baseball. There was an incredibly long line of people to give blood that was never needed. I only knew one person (barely) who worked in WTC and didn’t know about her dying for a least 6 months. She was the wife of an editor that I used to be an assistant to. He died a few years after she did. Of a broken heart I’m pretty sure cos he was way too young to go. Worst day of my life.

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