Remember 9/11 With Your Story

I was 22 years old and still working as a Judicial Marshal at the time.  It was the morning shift and we were waiting for the prisoner transportation van to arrive to take the morning’s arraignments to the courthouse.  I was still getting their property ready to be taken along with them.  I don’t remember who it was that got the initial call, but there were talks among us that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings.

At that time, no one knew what kind of plane or how it happened.  We had more of a sense of “wow, that’s weird, who hits such a big building with a plane”, as though it were an accident.  One of the Marshals got word that there was suspicion that it was a hijacked plane, but we still didn’t know.  Still unaware that it was an airliner, one of us casually went looking for a radio or television.  Before we found a television in the bail commissioner’s office and plugged it in, the second plane had already hit.  We had heard of the second plane before we  got the television working, and we all said, ‘that’s on purpose’.  With the antenna, we were able to pick up a news channel where we watched in awe of the images of the smoking towers.

We started making calls to the higher-ups but were told to sit tight while it was determined what to do next.  All we could do was wait…and watch.  We got the call that the courthouse would not open, and was being evacuated.  We were instructed load the arraignments on the prisoner transport van to bring to the jail.

We told the prisoners why they were not going to court, and there was an eerie silence where a lot of talking is usually heard.  Everyone was quiet.  When all the prisoners were out of the facility, we all surrounded the single 19″ television and watched the rest of the story unfold.  I don’t remember anything more from that day.

Where were you, what were you doing?  Do you remember your feelings and emotions?

Comments

  1. Terrance H. says:

    John,

    Like you and all other people concious at the time, I remember where I was. It’s just something I’ll never forget. Not ever. It was a terrible day.

  2. I was home alone due to kids being off to work and wife in town. My daughter called me from work to say they heard something about an airplane crashing into one of the towers and wanted to know if I could check in with work to find out about it (I was an air traffic controller due to go on duty at 3PM) I called the tower, who verified it, and then I turned on the TV. Shortly after I turned on the TV I saw the second plane hit. My immediate thoughts were that the first might have been an accident but with a second it was obviously intentional. I never considered the towers would fall and my immediate thought was “those poor people” who were in the plane and the sections hit. But when the towers fell my thoughts were just what a tragedy it was and I was stunned. I could only watch in shock. By the time I went to work the aviation system was shut down and we essentially just worked emergency flights and nothing else, and watched the radar for any targets that didn’t belong. It was a day of everything seeming surreal.

  3. I was in the shower, getting ready to go to work. My spouse came running in, screaming something about Washington being under attack. I rinsed the shampoo out of my ears and grabbed a towel and ran to the living room. CNN was on and it took a while to make sense of the images and sounds

    it seemed unreal, like a kalidoscope constantly shifting. Details became clear, the 5 planes were hijacked, buildings were struck

    I remember being sure that world war III was beginning, nothing was the same, nothing was safe. I called into work with a migraine, leaving a message that left no indication of awareness of the news of the day.

    I wanted to be with family, not at work. There was nothing in my mind that I could accomplish with being at work.

    I saw the second tower collapse live on the air – this was after seeing people jumping to their deaths before someone at CNN realized what they were broadcasting and stopped showing people – aware the entire way down without the merciful passing out that I remembered speculating way back in elementary school.

    We flipped between CNN, BBC and Canada news programming – all live, unedited – live video of fire, dust, fleeing.

    We went for a walk – I was unable to understand the day was sunny, moderate temperature, the lack of planes flying overhead Vancouver BC made the nature noises so much louder – something was so unnatural about the sounds of nature – the lack of urban noise was nothing short of the collective holding of breath.

    I remember watching a jet fighter escort a plane to Vancouver International Airport – raising all kinds of speculation and fear across the phone lines.

    I remember watching a crew of workers putting a new roof on a house, the dazed quiet in the grocery store – people going through the motions of a regular day, grappling with the implications of what the event meant, without any clue as to why it happened, who did it, who failed to prevent it, why why why why

    I think that it’s harder to be vigilant against attack, because you have to fend off every attack – whereas being in the position of attacker – you often only have to succeed once

    but the measures we’ve taken since, do little to deal with the problems at the source and really are only against the means that those attackers use

    and it’s time we took more meaningful measures

  4. I was here on the other side of the planet in a train when I got a text message, from a relative who told what had happened. First I thought it was some sort of weird joke, but as I realized it was not, I remembered the words of an Algerian freedom fighter in the fifties, when a french reporter asked him, how dare you use such methods as suitcase bombs, and the algerian replied: “Give us your jet fighters and bombers, we are quite willing to change them for our suitcase bombs.” I remember thinking that it was inevitable that one day even the US would get its share of the terror it has been spreading around the globe.

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