What TV station were you watching when the first plane struck?
I was asleep. I woke up and turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit. I called Nina at work and told her, and she in turn passed it around the office. I felt as if I were in a dream the whole day. I was aware of what was happening, and yet it all felt so unreal. Disassociative feelings I know, but still it was a very bad crazy day.
We were just 'coming out' of the org at the time, and my wife still have a little armegeddon-itis. She was having a brunch with her very-much-IN mother. I was asleep, and she woke me up from her mom's cell phone - she was nearly hysterical "Turn on the TV, This is it, this is going to be armegeddon, it's just like they said, etc, etc". I managed to calm her down some, drove to work, and we (at the office) pretty much stayed glued to the TV all day, waiting for more attacks.
It's weird, but at the time, I kept thinking that this really wasn't all that bad. I mean, huge loss of life, yeah, but a meaningless attack. The Pentagon hit worried me more at the time - it meant the capitol was under attack, but even then, the damage was not severe, and no other buildings were successfully attacked. You'd think, with this supposedly well-funded, global, network of terrorism feeding on religious hysteria, helldent on destroying the US, they could have managed better than 3 'hits'.
Not to trivialize it, but in perspective, there have been many, many greater disasters in human history. Hell, even a 'mere' industrial accident at Bhopal resulted in more deaths.
It's one of those things, you must argue with those suffering armegeddon-itis. People always die. Sometimes a lot of people die at a time due to accidents, wars, famine, disasters, etc. Governments or countries may react to retaliate, help, repair, etc.
It's just an endless cycle. People die, people are born. Entire civilizations come and go with the winds of time. The world isn't ending, this isn't even some kind of 'turning point' in human history like the media would have. Just another page in the history of the world.
I had been working nights so I slept during the day. That morning my cell phone kept ringing, so I finally turned it off. I woke up about 11am and checked my messages. My friend said we were under attack, and to get a hold of him immediately. I turned on the t.v. and the towers had already collapsed by then. My roomate was out of town and I was home alone. I was stressed, so I went to the gym. (i know, not exactly the thing to do when you're under attack) It was a ghost town, and every t.v. was turned on. When I got home I decided to call my family. I hadn't talked to parents in over a year. My mom said it was the start of Armaggedon and I should be very afraid.
I remember, the night before. A good friend of mine arrived back from New York City (Monday night). We spoke on the phone for a bit about her visit etc., and then I finished up some work I was doing (publicity for a Vancouver-based punk band).
I went to bed around 4 a.m. EST.
Next day, it was gorgeous...just absolutely beautiful. The temperature was about 25-26C (75-77F) and sunny.
I make my coffee. The TV is on in the room where the bird is. I go in, but do not pay attention to all this 'World Trade Center' talk. I go about making my coffee and getting the mail.
Picking up the phone, I hear the intermittent dial tones, meaning: there are messages. So I listen to them. First one is from my buddy in Cleveland, Ohio. He simply says with some anxiety in his voice: "Ray...it's D***, CALL ME!" - that was it. He never calls during the day.
Second message is from a newspaper in southwestern Ontario. Since I was doing publicity for this band from Vancouver, the woman who writes for the entertainment section called me back...."Hi Ray, this is S**** (long pause, I can hear a TV in the background) - oh I was just watching this thing about the World Trade Center, call me at 519-***-***, bye"
Hmm? The next call was from my friend who was in NYC the night before. She simply said: "oh my god Ray, turn on your TV" - that was it.
What the hell is going on?
So I call my buddy in Cleveland, and well...he was almost breathless. He asked me right away...'are you watching the TV' and I told him no, because the telephone cord was not long enough. So he tells me, that there was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and another plane went down in western Pennsylvania. I'm like: "WHAT?"
He proceeds to tell me that it's really bad. At this point, I can only hear the TV in the other room, so I somehow manipulate the phone in such a fashion that I can practically leave it dangling suspended in the air as I keep the cord taught. I watch with astonishment. At this point, it's well into the noon hour. The towers have collapsed by then, but when I look @ the TV, they are playing repeats, so all I see is planes hitting the towers, and lots of smoke. It's horrific!
My buddy in Cleveland is rapidly feeding me the info, and tells me that both towers are gone.
I'm like: "What, both towers...the World Trade Center?" he screams: "YES, they've collapsed!"
I can't believe it. I'm like, this is a bad dream.
So I tell my buddy in Ohio, I'll watch the news.
THEN...I see the collapse and I remember saying out loud: "OH NO!"
That day was weird. Planes were circling overhead just prior to my coming upstairs to make my coffee just before noon. I don't think anything of it. Planes do go out over Lake Ontario, but this was different, but in retrospect, it makes sense. All air traffic on the continent of North America was being grounded.
That day is one I will never forget. My neighbour, a Canadian war vet from the Second World War, kept shaking his head: "this is bad, there's going to be a war" - he asked me how old I was (conscription etc.) and of course I was 38 at the time. He says 'war is ugly'.
That night on my evening walk, I listen to AM radio stations eminating from New York City, just to get a sense of what is going on from a LIVE standpoint. That night was so eerie. No planes overhead, not too much road traffic. It was so quiet and so still.
I hate watching the replays today. Once was more than enough.
A day that shall live in infamy.
So here we are, 18 months a bit later.
I was sitting in the hospital waiting room as my husband underwent a cardiac catheterization. (The family doctor had sent him straight to a cardiologist the day before for a stress test and he in turn scheduled B. for the test first thing in the morning.) In the waiting room I was a bit uncomfortable, as also sitting in this waiting room was one of the elders from my former congregation (I had DA'd in March of that year). Of course, the TV was on in the background, but the two of us were reading with uncomfortable glances back and forth.
All of a sudden, a technician walks in, goes over to the TV set, and changes the channel saying, "I just heard on the radio that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center." Not sure if it was CBS or ABC, but it was a regular network, not CNN that we were watching. So he flips the channel, we move across the room so we can see the TV set, and there the second plane is, heading straight for the second tower. So, I saw that live. Sickening. There is confusion on the network. There is scrambling for information, including info on where President Bush is. That photo that you posted above looks like it was shot by a photographer from Agence France-Presse (see the "/AFP" after the photog's name?).
About 9:20 the cardiologist comes looking for me, and asks me to follow him to see my husband. He tells me he has some good news and some bad news. I ask him, "Did you hear about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center?" He brings me back to the subject at hand, "The bad news is that your husband has at least 4 arteries that are clogged anyw3here from 80-95%; the good news is that he's not dead from a heart attack yet."
So the national hell just turned into my own personal hell. It was godawful. I was already shaking and upset over the live crash I had witnessed, and now the father of my children was going to have open heart surgery THAT AFTERNOON!!!
I scrambled to contact friends and family, all of whom were, of course, wrapped up in the drama unfolding in NY and Washington, D.C. I had to make sure someone was home with the kids eventually; didn't want the older ones to know before their swim meet, but wanted someone there in the know, so they could be told as soon as their events were over. My mother-in-law doesn't speak English, and I don't speak Mallorquin medicalese, so I had to phone my sister-in-law the RN and have her tell her mother, even though I felt badly that she didn't hear it all from me....
So my husband got transferred from our little community hospital to the one with the good heart surgeons via ambulance, and I followed. When I arrived at the hospital's emergency entrance, my bags were hand searched by security personnel who were vetting each and every visitor. Talk about stress piled on top of stress.
I finally find my husband on the men's surgical ward and actually have to explain WHY he's there (hubby isn't sure just WHAT KIND of surgery he's supposed to have)... don't ask me what the ambulance personnel told anyone!
Moot point, anyway, by the time the physician-assistant gets there, we are told that Beaumont-Royal Oak is a National Trauma Center and hubby won't get his operation anytime soon. Since he wasn't actually having a heart attack, his surgery was elective, though a priority, but the blood in the bank and the operating theatres were being reserved for emergency surgery only, as they expected to air lift victims out of NYC to National Trauma Centers all across the country. More stress.
Of course, we all know now that there pretty much weren't any badly mangled survivors. Most people either got out early or didn't get out at all. :( Nonetheless, as triage was performed in NYC, my husband had to lie perfectly flat on his back as he already had the catheterization stent in his leg and it was deemed silly to take it out and have to do it all over again "any minute now"! Well, 48 hours later, running from hospital to home and back again, always with the tragedy of the World Trade Center playing out in the background, B. had quintuple by-pass surgery and survived.
I did, too. But those few days in September 2001 were definitely the very most stressful in my life and I hope it NEVER gets any worse than that! The actual chronology of the chain of events those hectic days often gets muddied up in my mind, so the fact that President Bush didn't get it exactly right doesn't scream "Conspiracy!" to me.