Where were you eight years ago?

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Ned Flounders
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Where were you eight years ago?

Postby Ned Flounders » Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:56 am

Where were you eight years ago this morning?

I was working at my then-office on Dayton St. The first I heard of anything was when one of the other guys poked his head in and asked if I'd seen the news. I had no idea what he was talking about, but we dug out a TV from somewhere and set it up and watched for about half an hour, utterly shocked. Gradually all the other people in the office wandered in and we all started talking.

At some point I went back to my desk and tried to get back to work, but it was totally pointless. Then my wife called, and I decided to just take the rest of the day off. We drove out to the countryside beyond Verona and sat around under a friend's apple trees, trying to make sense of how such horrible things could be happening on such a beautiful, peaceful day (anyone else remember what a gorgeous, crystal-clear blue sky we had that day in Madison?)

In the days that followed I spent way too much time watching, listening to, and reading the news, but on that first afternoon of the 11th I was just grateful for the ability to turn it all off and go away from the rest of the human race for a couple of hours.

How about you? What do you remember?

[Hope Jason doesn't mind having this here. It's not really about "International Affairs" and I'd like to keep it away from politics. If there's a better place for it we can move it.]

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby Bwis53 » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:32 am

Sitting in a Jewish Deli, eating breakfast, watching Good Morning America. All of a sudden, the look on Charlie Gibson's face changes. Video of the event soon follows. I knew we were fucked and somehow complicit. (Osama denies responsibility.) Deli owner walks through the place, like he's lookin' for his oozie. I go to car, turn on WBBM and cry, because I see the immediate waste and our young people who follow and are wasted. Most businesses close before end of day. I call my church, they don't know anything. Two hours later, they call us all for a vigil. I fall into arms of vet friend, crying:I never thought we'd have to go through this again. Next year, our highschool parents object to armed forces recruiters calling their sons.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby Henry Vilas » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:56 am

I was teaching a social studies class for high school seniors. We were watching a documentary on Stalin (the assigned reading at that time was Orwell's Animal Farm). Our principal came to the door to tell me about the first plane hitting the WTC. The teacher in the next room turned on the classroom TV and soon the second plane hit. I ended the movie and moved my students into the other classroom. The school staff spend the rest of the day trying to convince our students that the Wisconsin Capitol wouldn't be the next target.

I knew my wife was at home by herself so I tried to call her. The phone lines were jammed and I couldn't get through. When I finally got home, we watched the news all night and wondered what was going to happen next.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby rabble » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:06 am

Um...

Now that you mention it, sitting right here at this workstation, looking at the same photos on the wall. The computer and monitor have been replaced several times and I have a new chair and there's a few new pictures and some of the co-workers have changed, but it's the same view out the window.

Somebody in the hallway said a plane had hit a building in New York. We all thought some guy in a Cessna had a heart attack or something. Till we googled it.

I don't remember much after that except there was something broke that I had to fix and I spent the rest of the day talking to people who said they wanted it fixed but were too distracted to answer questions. I remember I got it working about quitting time, whatever it was.

And I remember the next day when the Onion headline read "A Stunned Nation Looks Around for Somebody to Hit."

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby Adam Powell » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:27 am

I was in San Francisco, about to walk out the door to head for the airport.

thebookpolice
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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby thebookpolice » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:56 am

Standing at the circulation desk at the correctional treatment facility in Winnebago, WI, handing books back to inmates. My assistant came around the corner a few minutes before 8 and said a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I think I said something like, "Jesus." Not thinking that it could have been deliberate and aggressive, she left the room and I went on with business.

Cut to 15 minutes later or so. We're still operational, but rumors are flying about bombs in box trucks on Pennsylvania Avenue and fires at the Capital (DC, not Madison: things weren't that crazy). This is what happens when you work in an environment where information technology is second to gossip. By 10, we were already in a vacant classroom, inmates locked down, watching the towers fall.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby boston_jeff » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:57 am

I was at Boston University checking my email and reading the Boston Globe online. There was already a photo of the first plane hitting the tower on the web. Eventually, we figured out that a second plane had hit, and someone set up a television in the conference room in the Department so that everyone could watch the nightmare unfold. Myself and many of my students and colleagues had friends and family in NYC. I would later find out that one of my close friends was teaching in his classroom in lower Manhattan not far from the World Trade Center when the planes hit. Luckily, his school was quickly evacuated, and he was able to walk home across the Brooklyn Bridge to his apartment near Pratt Institute. I can only imagine how terrifying that day was for him. To this day he has a lot of trouble getting on an airplane. None of us could get through via cell phone, so it was a pretty harrowing day and we could not be sure when the attacks in NYC and in other parts of our nation would end. I believe classes were canceled that day. Because the hijackers took off from Boston, at one point there was a hotel raid that turned out to be a false alarm (guest was guilty of being "brown" from what I remember). Sadly, this kind of response would become more the norm in the ensuing weeks, months and years.

Although September 11th was a terrible day in our nation's history, most of the aftermath has been regrettable and embarrassing. Between Bush' fumbling response, the two wars, the Patriot Act, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, terror alerts, Arab profiling, John Ashcroft penning terrible tunes, Rudy Giuliani and every other NY pol and celebrity vampire wearing NYFD/PD paraphernalia as if they could ever relate, Bush's re-election, Halliburton, etc. nothing positive really came out of it. In November of that year, I visited NYC to see Ground Zero and visit friends in the city. The sheer size of the hole and the damage was difficult to appreciate until I was there. Even more impressive was the overwhelming camaraderie amongst New Yorkers and the great support they received from people all over the world. At one point in my visit, I saw a fire engine stopped at a light returning from a call, and I was blown away by the love that people in the streets showered on those guys in the truck. That was the good stuff that came out of it. The coming together and the support, not the exploitation of 9/11 that the vultures used to justify a bullshit war as well as the political and economic opportunism that came along with it.
Last edited by boston_jeff on Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby m0rrigan » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:58 am

I slept through it. I still feel strange about that, but fact was I was in college and didn't have class until 1pm that day, so naturally, was sleeping in. Around 9:30 one of my roommates knocked on my door and frantically told me that we were "under attack."

That woke me up pretty quick. We all gathered around the TV and tried to puzzle out what the heck was going on. We stayed glued there for a couple of hours, and then I went to campus for class, which our teacher promptly canceled. I remember hearing that several fellow students who were in the National Guard and the like had already gotten calls, some in the middle of class, ordering them to active duty. It was very surreal.

Went to work that night and they'd closed the place (without calling employees to tell them, of course), and drove down the Beltline gawking, stunned, at all of the flags at half mast and the empty skies.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby Laboratory » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:16 am

I do remember how clear and blue it was that morning. I had arrived at work unusually early (because I was up unusually early) and quite tired (we had a six-month old at home who didn't like to sleep at night) and happened to notice the sky as I walked into the building.

By the time I got to my desk, the first plane had already hit (I overheard people talking about it as I sat down) and I immediately thought that it wasn't an accident (which is odd, because I don't recall being concerned about terrorism at that time).The company I worked for at the time had its headquarters in Boston, so I do remember some folks in HR at both sites scrambling around in a bit of a panic (via email) trying to find out who might be traveling that out of Boston (no one was the answer).

When the second plane hit (and there were a bunch of planes still in the air), I decided that I'd rather wait for the end of the world at home with my family (I took a friend with me). As we were driving, the reports of a fire at the Pentagon were first coming across the radio and I recall looking out the window of my car expecting to see a plane headed my way.

I was only planning on working a half-day anyway as I had a friend coming up from Chicago to meet the baby (and he was freaking out over his cell phone because there were concerns about the Sears Tower being a target and people were scrambling to get out of the city). We have some interesting videos from that night of him playing with my daughter (she is roaring with laughter), but in the background you can hear (and sometime see) the TV recap of the day's events.

This part of the story isn't about my experience, but it is still interesting. My father lives in Ohio and he was golfing in the Akron/Cleveland area that morning, so he had no idea what was really going on. However, he had been a pilot when he was a younger man, so he knew all of the flight patterns/approaches in the area... so he saw United 93 make its U-turn back east. He first noticed it was too low and in the wrong part of the sky, then the turn, but he didn't think too much of it at the time. I want to say that he saw a couple of low flying, very fast fighters go over a few minutes later, but I don't know if that is something he told me about, or question that I had asked him (there seems to an inconsistent record about jetfighters and United 93). It makes for better story, but I'm not sure that last bit is true.

And a final bit... my wife's best friend from grad school (at the UW) was in D.C. that morning with her family on vacation (they lived in Seattle). They saw the Pentagon that morning on the way to the airport and when their flight was forced to land they ended up in Madison of all places. So they stayed with us for a couple of days. I think we took them to the airport (and picked them back up) at least twice (maybe three times). They kept being told to come back to the airport because flights were going to resume, and then a few hours later, they would be told that flights would not be resuming... I remember feeling a bit nervous out there because of all of the police and National Guard present--I was worried that if they were jumpy and somebody did something stupid it could get ugly fast...
Last edited by Laboratory on Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby pulseCzar » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:18 am

I remember it being a nice, sunny day and that I was unhappy to be working in the cubicle farm. A woman who sat by me came in late and told us she just heard on the radio that a plane hit the World Trade Center. I was thinking she meant a small, private plane and that maybe the pilot had a heart attack or some medical emergency. Sadly, over the next 15 minutes the details started emerging and my work didn't matter anymore.

Someone rolled a TV from one of the meeting rooms into the break room and people crowded in to watch the news. I remember hearing gasps and other sad, shocked reactions when the first tower collapsed. Some people hugged and I remember having a cynical thought that one of the HR sticklers would probably have them in their office to remind them about sexual harrassment policy. Nobody knew what to say. Nobody among the leadership dared tell us to get back to work. After the second tower collapsed, I saw the senior VP standing at someone's cubicle speaking into the phone. He called the loudspeaker number and told us that our company had an office in one of the towers but there was no news so we should keep them in our thoughts and prayers. He told us that he was clsoing our office and we would figure out our work dilemmas at a more appropriate time. We stayed closed the day after. When I left the office I was driving down Pleasant View Road and I was overcome by everything and I pulled over and cried a bit. I rarely cry.

Another aspect about that day that has stayed with me was finding out that a friend was doing business on the phone with someone in the first tower when the plane hit. He heard the noise over the phone. The woman in the WTC made a comment that whatever it was didn't sound so good and begged off the call. Fortunately she was on a lower floor and got out.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby Ned Flanders » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:23 am

Had the TV on at home, which was strange since I hardly ever watch TV in the morning. Heard Perky Katie say that a plane had hit the WTC. Took the dog for a walk and came back to the second building being hit.

Against my better judgement, I drove downtown to my job in one of the upper floors of a high rise building. Coworkers were already watching the horror on TV. We tried to contact our NY office to no avail. Tried to contact a friend who worked at one of the outlying WTC buildings to no avail. Most of the rest of the day is a blur.

In the following days I got more inside information than I wanted from a friend who was getting information from a NYC cop. Our house was/is in the rotating MSP flight path and the skies were eerily quiet for days.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby thebookpolice » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:32 am

Laboratory wrote:he saw United 93 make its U-turn back east. He first noticed it was too low and in the wrong part of the sky, then the turn, but he didn't think too much of it at the time.

One of the most eerie, chilling moments of the hours and days that followed was a graphic on one of the news channels, which showed the four planes' flight paths in real time relative to each other. They all take off normally, then all wheel back around in the opposite direction, all at the same time, like predators flanking their prey.

Ned Flounders
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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby Ned Flounders » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:38 am

Laboratory wrote:[...] my wife's best friend from grad school (at the UW) was in D.C. that morning with her family on vacation (they lived in Seattle). They saw the Pentagon that morning on the way to the airport and when their flight was forced to land they ended up in Madison of all places. [...]


Wow, it must have been something to be in the air while that was happening.

I had to go on a business trip a couple of weeks after 9/11, including flights through O'Hare and Logan. My wife was pregnant at the time and it was pretty clear that she didn't want me to go (for that matter, I didn't want to go, either). It was seriously disturbing.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby donges » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:41 am

I was telecommuting at the time and had a bad habit of having CNN on all day next to me while working. So I watched with disbelief from the beginning. Needless to say, more CNN viewing was done than work that day and for many days thereafter.

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Re: Where were you eight years ago?

Postby Laboratory » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:46 am

Ned Flounders wrote:
Laboratory wrote:[...] my wife's best friend from grad school (at the UW) was in D.C. that morning with her family on vacation (they lived in Seattle). They saw the Pentagon that morning on the way to the airport and when their flight was forced to land they ended up in Madison of all places. [...]


Wow, it must have been something to be in the air while that was happening.

I had to go on a business trip a couple of weeks after 9/11, including flights through O'Hare and Logan. My wife was pregnant at the time and it was pretty clear that she didn't want me to go (for that matter, I didn't want to go, either). It was seriously disturbing.


I don't specifically recall talking about it with them (there wasn't a lot of talking in general), but I don't think they were told what was going on as they were landing. I'll see if I can find out.


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