Cami Zimmer, Political Strategist/Business Owner, Minneapolis, MN
“I was getting ready for my second day of a new job and feeding my toddler breakfast when the morning news show made the announcement of the attack. I watched in utter horror half ignoring my hungry child.
My job was at the International Building in downtown Minneapolis. It was evacuated in case attacks were planned for other large buildings across the nation.
Being a new mom, I felt a complete sense of horror over how quickly “life as we know it” can be taken away from us. Now a mom of three children, I am grateful for those who fight for us to be free. I’m grateful for those who have lost their lives, so we can live the lives we do.”
Angel Guma, U.S. Army Specialist, Serviced in Afghanistan
“I was in my high school computer lab when I heard of the attacks. The first thing that struck my mind was the level of denial in many of my classmates. Many were downplaying what was happening saying things like ‘It has to be a practical joke.’ or ‘They meant to target globalization and business, not the US.’ The one thing no one at that moment wanted to consider was we were indeed attacked by people that wanted to kill Americans.”
Sue Allen, Photographer/Business Owner, New York City, NY
“My first reaction was ‘Oh my God!’ Then I cried. I worked in the exact area and used to take the path to the WTC. I just didn’t happen to be there that day. I thought of the homeless man I used to give money to when I had time to go into the book store.”
Raeann Hofkin, CPP, Philadelphia, PA
“On the way to work I heard about the “accident” of the first plane hitting the building. I honestly didn’t think much about it. But as I was parking my car, I heard about the second plane hitting the other building and I immediately knew it wasn’t an accident. Something was wrong.
At work, the news of the second plane hitting the second building had people scrambling to find a TV. I saw a reporter talking about the WTC but was in DC and had the Pentagon in the background reporting an explosion behind them. They didn’t say it, but I had a strong feeling it was another plane.
I continued to finish up the payroll, so everyone would be paid on Friday. I then left to pick up my daughter from daycare and heard about the plane crash in Shanksville. I remember crying on the turnpike. I was crying for all the Americans that were in danger.
At home, I was glued to the TV and every now and then, my daughter would come over and hug me. She saw me crying but didn’t know why. I tried to tell her what was going on, but she didn’t understand. Now 13 years later, she understands what happened but not why it happened.”
Leon M. Strausser, Jr., U.S. Air Force Retired, Senior Master Sergeant, Salt Lake City, UT
“I was in San Jose when I saw the news report of the first plane crashing into the WTC. I never imagined it was anything other than a terrible accident. When I saw the footage of the second plane crashing into the Twin Towers, I knew it was clearly an attack. I was overwhelmed with both anger and sadness that an act of this magnitude could occur on American soil.”
Lesley Lane Woodring, Data Information Executive, Scottsdale, AZ
“I was traveling on business in San Francisco and was participating in a conference call with a company in the Midwest. I had the TV on to a morning news show and muted. During my conference call, I asked if the Sears Tower was on fire.
Then they said it was the WTC. We wrapped up our call, and I saw the second plane hit the second tower live. It was surreal. Most people in California weren’t up yet and didn’t know.”
Darrell Galloway, Chairman at GAGOP 11th District, Atlanta, GA
“I was over the Atlantic ocean flying back from a 20th Anniversary trip to Paris, France. I had to spend a few days in St John’s, Newfoundland and fly across the Atlantic twice in twenty hours to finally get back into the U.S. at midnight on Friday/Saturday. KLM was awesome!”
WB Freeman, Executive Consultant, Des Moines, IA
“It started off as any ordinary day. I began work at my desk at 7:30 in the morning with CNN running on a big screen in the background. I saw the ‘Breaking News’ banner flashing, and the announcer was excitedly reading impromptu copy. He described accompanying video of a horrendous scene of a plane crashing into the North Tower of the WTC.
I was mesmerized that morning in front of the TV as the live accounts of a second plane careening into the South Tower went by in a flash. I was absolutely captivated as I watched additional reports of two following plane strikes, first at the Pentagon and then in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. America had been changed forever.
Like most viewers, I made little sense of the first crash of the American Airlines jet into the WTC’s North Tower. Once the United Airlines flight crashed into the South Tower, however, it was readily apparent to me that the U.S. was under siege. By the middle of that afternoon, I was prepared to accept the conclusion that America was the victim of jihad by al-Qaeda.”
Ajay Kaul Sr. IT Manager, San Diego, CA
“I was in bed when I turned on my radio and heard the news. I jumped up with a start hoping that it was a prank being played by the local radio. I turned on the TV and froze on my couch when I saw the first visual.”
Jennifer Wise, Consumer Goods, Spokane WA
“I had spent the night before at my mom’s house on the west coast and woke at 6:30 AM. She told me to look at the TV. Reporters were saying a commuter plane had crashed, and I realized they were not seeing the footage.
The gaping smoking burning hole was nearly the width of the WTC. Then another plane hit, and I knew for sure we were being attacked. I was on the Observation Deck on 9-11-2000. What difference timing makes. God Bless us everyone.
Also, I had an uncle living in Labrador, Canada. Many U.S. bound flights landed there, and those great Canadians played the role of gracious host to stranded travelers unable to land in the U.S. for about a week. Thanks again to Canada and friends from around the world.”
Mark Kalinowski, Hospital Safety Coordinator, Buffalo, NY
“I was at work, at my desk, and my boss’s wife called him to report a plane had hit the WTC. Several of us then got on the Internet and watched the situation develop. We fanned out across the building searching for various departments with televisions and watched the day’s events unfold in horror.”
Barbara Bach, Senior Instructor, Dallas, TX
“I was in car on my way to a meeting. My very first thought was, ‘Oh no, we are at war, and it is in our country.’ I thought someone was going to attack all the high rise buildings in the major cities. Then Pearl Harbor came into my thoughts. I was very frightened.”
Laura Fanelli, Legislative Aide at State Senator Len Suzio, PR Executive, Hartford, CT
“I was on my way to work sitting at a stop light ready to turn into the parking garage when I heard the report on the radio. I thought another private plane had hit accidentally. Because I worked in a government building, Capitol Police sent us home immediately.”
Like the rest of America, I sat in complete shock for the rest of the day watching TV, crying for the loss of life and devastation, and cursing the bastards that dared do this. I could not imagine the amount of ignorance, anger and hatred these acts took to do. My thoughts went to what a way to squander God’s gift of life.”
Kurt Hehmeyer, Healthcare Technology, Cleveland, OH
“I heard about the first plane hitting on a news cast on a local sports talk show while I was on my way in to work. My co-worker who shared space in our offices had his TV on. We saw the second plane hit live.
The rest of the day we all gathered around the TV and watched the events. Unbelievably to us, a Muslim doctor cheered when one of the towers fell. He was escorted off premises and lost his position within a few days.”
Randy Thomas, Sales Executive, Scottsdale, AZ
“That morning my neighbor phoned me at 7:30 AM. She was crying as she told me of the terrible attack. I remained in my chair that day and into the night staring at the television in shock.
I wondered how something like this could happen here in the U.S. I never felt so helpless in my life or felt such anger. Never had I felt such grief and pain as I did for the innocent victims and the brave men and women who lost their lives attempting to save them.
I cried that entire day. Reliving the memory of that day makes me cry all over again.”
James Meyers, Entertainment, Boston, MA
“I was on my way to work in Los Angeles when a co-worker called me about the first attack. My heart sank, because I knew that it was not an accident. I immediately thought about how the idea for this attack came from testimony in the trial of the first WTC bomber.”
Kathy Pavelec, State of NJ, Hawthorne, NJ
“I was driving to work. I saw the first tower on fire and was transfixed in horror. As the day progressed, I found out I had lost two friends in the tragedy. Father Mike was a man who had touched my life since I was a child.
He was a kind gentle and insightful man whom exuded love with each word that crossed his lips or his gentle touch on your shoulder to reassure you in some of the most difficult times.
My other friend was a childhood friend whom was a mother and a kind and gentle soul. The silent night ended with a lone NYC taxi taking a woman home while I was sitting on my stoop.”
Scott Catino, Business Owner, Chicago, IL
“Ironically, I had a client meeting with the Aviation Department at O’Hare Airport. My partner called me to tell me to turn on a TV. The moment I turned it on, the second plane hit the second tower.
My heart sank, for I knew immediately this was no accident. I was in shock. Then it turned to grief. Two years later I found out a friend from high school died in the first tower.
It still hurts to see the footage. The anniversary will always be tough, but let’s remember how America came together and all of the heroes that died that day.”
It is said those who forget history are destined to repeat it. We must not forget. And let’s say a prayer for those who lost their lives on that day, for those who rushed to Ground Zero to help, for our country, and for our people.
Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared on Women’s Voice Magazine and is featured here with permission.