10th Anniversary of the 911 attack

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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How did you hear about the attack? What was your day like? What was your week like? How did the attack affect your life?

Tsu was in Virginia for a seminar and saw some of the air response up close. She called me at about 7 AM pacific time to let me know what had happened. I had the day off and spent most of it glued to the TV. With all flights cancelled and no idea when life would return to normal, Tsu hijacked her rental car and spent the next three days driving home [Oregon].

One interesting subnote for me is that I was on one of the first flights out of Portland when air travel resumed. Security wasn't in place yet and no one knew what we were supposed to be doing. After we had boarded the plane, the pilot came on and explained that we are all in the dark and just have to manage. If someone presents a threat, take the initiative and subdue him or her. He even suggested that laptop batteries make a highly effective weapons! There was a sense of being in the wild west. It was the strangest flight I've ever been on. Everything seemed surreal.

I flew to Huntsville on that trip and had quite a time getting on the return flight a week or so later. By then security was coming into place and Huntsville - the US rocket center - had military personell with machine guns EVERYWHERE! It felt like I was in some third-world country. Then I made the mistake of pointing out to the check-in attendant that I had a suitcase full of test equipment and electronics. This seemed to give the impression that I was a threat [confusion and mild panic still dominated the security system]. I was interrogated for a time and then followed throughout the airport. They had someone watching me until I finally boarded the plane! But it was easy to understand the reaction.

From there I was pretty much on the road until just before the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. At that time I took a long vacation and spent most of my time watching the invasion on TV. I even got up at 4AM each morning to listen to the Pentagon briefing for the day. A few weeks later, just after we took Baghdad, I joined PF. :smile:
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Saw the attacks on CNN. Got blasted with the scenes around a hundred times *mehh*. Then, went to school. Was a bit young to understand what happened.
 
  • #3
jtbell
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I was standing in line with other faculty at my college, dressed in our academic regalia, preparing to march into the opening convocation for fall semester. One of my colleagues hurried into the line, out of breath, and informed me that a plane had just flown into (one of the towers of) the World Trade Center.

During the convocation, the college's president said a prayer for the victims. It wasn't until after the convocation ended that we saw the news on TV and online and fully realized what had happened.
 
  • #4
turbo
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I was at work at the auction house, and the operations crew set up the huge projection TV. Not a lot of work got done.
 
  • #5
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I was on site at the Proctor and Gamble paper mill in Trafford Park, Manchester. It was already mid afternoon here in the UK but the early stories I heard already knew that it was a terrorist attack but seemed to suggest that the aircraft had somehow been stolen. Of course that seemed very mystifying, and it was only that evening when I got home and saw news reports on the television that I understood that it was actually commercial airliners that had been hijacked and that innocent passengers were on board at the time. The television news reports just showed the film of the two towers collapsing again and again. It was something that even for an intelligent adult was beyond proper comprehension. The full enormity if it all just could not be consumed in one moment.

I was already aware, before that day, of Osama Bin Laden, because there had been significant discussion of his involvement in the bombing of the two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. As I remember, there had been significant speculation about a further significant attack on US interests involving him. So when I first heard the reports I had said something about this being an attack that had been spoken about, and mentioned Osama Bin Laden. None of my colleagues had ever heard of him. By the next morning when the news reports were all full of his involvement, my colleagues were all accusing me of complicity in the attacks. Hey, it’s at least as credible as the idea that the US government did it to their own people.
 
  • #6
Borek
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I don't remember where and how I found the information - I guess it could be through some internet news site. I do remember there were workers at our home, building chimney for the fireplace. I rushed to switch on TV, but it was not possible to watch it, as workers were making too much noise, so I moved TV set to our bedroom. I spent next two days watching CNN.
 
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  • #7
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I was an undergraduate. I slept over a friends house because we studied late. That morning the phone kept ringing for 30 minutes straight. I finally picked it up and it was my 1st sergeant telling me that our unit was just pre-activated and we were just put on stand by and had to report to company headquarters. Being in a flight medical unit, attached to special operations, with newly acquired Black Hawks was not fun, and meant deployment was just always on the horizon. I was furious because we had just come off a 6 month deployment in Bosnia and it was suppose to be my last semester in college for the third time(deployments have a way of making tasks much longer). I remember that morning distinctly because it was the first day we had a cool front come in. Being in Louisiana, the first cool front is always memorable because it's the first break of the simmering summer heat.
 
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  • #8
Astronuc
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I live along the flight path of one of those aircraft. We had thick fog that morning, and I was going to work later than usual. Listening to NPR, I heard some early reports about a commuter plane had crashed, then may be an airliner.

I thought that some poor control tower person at LaGuardia had sent an air craft into a building. I was assuming that NYC was foggy like up north along the valley. I didn't realize that the city was clear.

It didn't surprise me at all, since I had been expecting some kind of attack since 1999 based on the the noise from al Qaida and sympathetic organizations, and various travel and security alerts being issued. However, I only anticipated one aircraft, not a set, and more likely from overseas, as opposed to domestic. I had indicated this possiblity (in conjunction with poor airline security in the US) to some people, but my idea was summarily dismissed.

I wasn't surprised that the Bush administration was blind-sided. They were focused on invading Iraq.

Two people in our company were on travel. One got stranded on the west coast for several days. The other was in a taxi on his way to an office near WTC for a meeting. His taxi emerged from one of the tunnels just after the second plane hit the building. Ordinarily, he would have been passing through the WTC (he would normally take the subway to WTC) about that time, but he couldn't get his preferred flight so had to go by taxi from a different airport.
 
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  • #9
turbo
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I was training at a nuclear plant in Oswego when the Lockerbie plane went down. I didn't know if I'd ever get back home by air - security at Syracuse was quite tight.
 
  • #10
Pyrrhus
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I was a senior at the time in High school outside the US. I was in recess during such time an exchange american professor started telling about the attacks. I guess he was as baffled as everyone about such occurrence. Later, when I got back home, almost every TV channel was following the event.
 
  • #11
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I was a very young kid, (3) and I obviously didn't understand what exactly happened, but not long after, my mom tells me I said, "Osama Bin Laden is the boss of all the bad guys!"
 
  • #12
Pengwuino
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I was in high school at the time and we were actually on a late start day so i was sleeping in. My mother woke me up with what every teenager barely starting to understand important things on a global scale wants to hear "They've bombed New York". I was still groggy and when I turned on the TV, I saw smoke billowing out of what was later 'ground zero' and had thought the russians had nuked us.

It took me a few minutes to realize that's not what a nuclear weapon would do...

I thought it was kinda silly when people were like "do we keep our kids out of school?". When I got to school and we got into class, teachers had the tv on and pretty much for the rest of the day absolutely nothing was getting done. I don't even think we bothered to go to our next class when the bell rang.

Did anyone see the NG interview with Bush about the day? I can only imagine what was going through his head. Apparently him and his wife were woken up in the middle of the night by armed guards and rushed into a bunker in the white house because they thought the white house was about to be hit. It turned out to be an air force fighter coming in to land at a nearby base, though. Talk about a false alarm!
 
  • #13
wukunlin
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i was 11, still in primary. Had no idea how bad things were
 
  • #14
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I was sleeping and didn't care about it.
 
  • #15
Ryumast3r
I was in the 4th grade, had just walked into the class (early... bad weather conditions so I started walking wayy earlier than normal but then it cleared up) and the teacher turned on the news just after I had put my backpack on the rack. The first thing I remember thinking was "Wow, I should come early every day if we get to watch movies before school!" - then it turned to the 1st building burning and I was like *O_O* and the teacher explained what was going on as well as the newscasters... I pretty much immediately though of Pearl Harbor - my mind flashing to the pictures of the Arizona and Battleship row just on fire and black smoke everywhere.

You can tell how ingrained into my head this image is, can't you? D:
 
  • #16
S_Happens
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I was in my first semester of college on campus. They cancelled classes after the first building was hit and I was back home in time to see the second plane crash live.

It was the day before my 18th birthday, and that worried me more than just a little.
 
  • #17
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I was in the 3rd grade, probably very sleepy. The day started normally, and, from the impression I got, ended normally, too. However, I was in a catholic elementary school. The first thing I remember is the teacher marching us off to the church across the street (and I suddenly think I remember it raining/foggy. Hmm... I guess that's my attempt at reconstructing a memory xD). It was unusual, I recall. Afterward, the priest, otherwise an extremely enthusiastic person, gave what I thought was a horribly long speech (bah, it's that part halfway through the mass, whatever it's called). I was more worried and anxious about being at the end of a pew (which entailed doing some routine during the communion I was always too shy to want to do) to care about anything the priest was saying.

Afterward, we returned to a nearby class (the plan, I imagine, was to cram as many people together to disperse the few TV's the school still had working). The large lot of us, huddled together, shivered as the heater slowly turned on (then promptly became irritated as the room became too warm!). I was still confused as to what the adults were worried about. Then, someone carts one of the school's old CRT TV's, and we're treated to scenes of giant buildings falling apart. I thought it looked pretty cool, what with bits of things falling everywhere and breaking off in all directions. I noticed some of the older students, as well as the adults, crying, something which confused me as I didn't get why everyone was so emotional about a couple of buildings breaking apart. (Yeah, I guess other people consider(ed) me an odd person xD....) At some point, my class moved to the 8th graders' class (integrated middle/elementary parochial school, I think most are that way... dunno, also, 4 TV's concentrated in that class), at which point I became even more confused as to why all the older kids were so focused and serious. Evidently I was too young to understand thousands of dead and dying bodies flying from/smoldering in two gigantic towers != totally awesome. (Although, there were no bodies shown, or else I don't recall seeing any....)

The only real image I remember is a short segment of some on the scene journalist running as fast as he possibly could down a road, opposite of one of the towers collapsing, smoke and debris billowing out and chasing his cameraman and himself down the street.
 
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  • #18
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I had a dental appointment that morning so I came into work late. As I was driving in, I heard on the radio that a small aircraft had crashed into one of the WTC buildings. Then later they reported that a second small plane had also crashed into the other building. The first plane seemed like the usual unusual story that makes the news, but the second one seemed too strange. Then the crash at the Pentagon was reported and even the news reporters realized that something was afoot. I worked for a large news reporting company myself so there were TVs everywhere in the building and around each one was a gathering of people. I arrived at work just in time to see the first building go down. As I watched it I said to myself that I was watching 10,000 people die though of course, the actual number turned out to be less. A while later after it became clear that the attacks were caused by terrorists, we were told that if we wanted to we could go home. I stayed at work because I thought if everyone stopped working it would cause more damage than what the terrorists had done. Later in the day we were told to go home. I got home and watched TV which as I recall just showed the towers coming down over and over again. When my kids got home I turned it off and explained to them what had happened and why they didn't need to be worried.
 
  • #20
arildno
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My mother phoned me and said "Something terrible has happened in New York".

Since then, I have forgotten when and where I got to a television set, I think it was on some cafe.
 
  • #21
Dembadon
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I was a senior in high school. My mother woke me up and said, "We're under attack. There's been an explosion at the World Trade Center." I watched the news until it was time to leave for my first class.
 
  • #22
rhody
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I thought I would mention, national syndicated radio talk show host Mike Smerconish has teemed up with Steven Singer Jewelers for the third consecutive year to create a 911 Memorial pin. I posted a thread https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=427976&highlight=Smerconish" last year (with Greg's blessing).

I thought it would be fitting to mention it again http://ihatestevensingeronline.com/detail.aspx?ID=608":

I was at work that day, a beautiful crisp clear fall day, as we watched the events unfold, (we had a small TV at work), I felt shock, disbelief, and then anger. I distinctly remember it wasn't until a week or two after, while sitting quietly alone at home, and something being said on the TV triggered it, I lost it for about five minutes or so, until I was able to regain my composure.

On a positive healing note, the new memorial grounds with elevated trees, and endless water fall are IMHO awesome. Too bad it has taken ten years on infighting to finally build a suiting memorial to everyone who was affected that day. I plan to visit the memorial and pay my respects in the near future.
Steven Singer has teamed up for the 3rd consecutive year, with 1210AM's radio host Michael Smerconish to create the 9/11 Never Forget Pin.

For a $10 donation, you will receive this 9/11 Never Forget Pin to help show your support.

In 2011, 100% of the profits will be donated to the Flight 93 National Memorial Fund.

In the past, we've donated 100% of the proceeds and successfully raised over $200,000. In an effort to produce over 100,000 pins and raise over 1 Million Dollars, Steven Singer Jewelers will donate 100% of the profits in 2011.

Click here to read more about the Flight 93 National Memorial Fund

”The Flight 93 National Memorial will be a place for individuals to learn about the events of September 11 and to find meaning and inspiration in their experience.”
Rhody...
 
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  • #23
cristo
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I was in high school, about the end the day, and the word got around that the world trade centre had been hit by a plane. My first response was "what's the world trade centre?" Things kind of carried on normally, then I got home in time to sit in front of the TV and see the first tower fall.
 
  • #24
Ivan Seeking
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One thing that changed a good bit, obviously, was airport security. I had been travelling a great deal before 911 and did even more so afterwards, so the changes were obvious and highly relevant for me. At the worst point, I think, the airports were recommending that you arrive three hours before your flight. National Guard personnel were seen wielding automatic weapons at most major and regional airports, and the security lines were often painfully long. But it didn’t take long to adjust to the routine: Shoes, belt, keys, change, pens, phone, etc in the bin. Laptops had to be out of their case.

Often they would make you turn things on to see that they functioned as expected. Then came the chemical swabs and portable analyzers and the sometimes all too friendly pat down. For me the biggest issue was always the extra suitcase full of electronics. That almost always required an explanation at check in. From there I had to put my luggage through an additional scanner for closer than normal scrutiny. At times they would take out various instruments or hardware and ask what it was. I always found it amusing that simply providing a name was sufficient. It couldn’t have any meaning to them as this was all specialized equipment for industry, but just providing a name – servo controller, protocol converter, inductive proximity sensor – seemed to make them happy.

On the first anniversary of 911, a day when security levels were at their highest since the days following the attack, I was shocked and appalled to find that I made it all the way to my gate at O’Hare airport without ever having my ID checked. Normally it would have been checked at least twice before making it to the gate. Being the troublemaker that I am, I called a local news station to report the incident before departing on my flight. No idea if anything came of that or not, but it seemed like I needed to tell someone and was afraid that making an official report might create more heartache than it was worth. But given the climate at the time and the fear of an anniversary attack, this was really quite unbelievable. The guards and security people were generally distracted and disinterested in what they were doing. Strangely, that was the only time that I ever witnessed such a blatant disregard for security at any airport. Generally the security at all airports seemed pretty tight.

I did have to get cleared by security for a few customers after 911. Places that I had been visiting for years now required an additional background check and a birth certificate or a passport, before access was granted. That was a bit of a pain., but again, perfectly undertandable.

I also saw huge gaps in security in industry. Over the next couple of years, the number of vulnerabilities that I observed over a range of industries, was quite disturbing. It would be so easy to... often came to mind as I walked or drove around industrial complexes.
 
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  • #25
DoggerDan
I didn't have to work that day, and was sleeping in when my ex woke me up. We watched in surprise at the first one, thinking it may have been a pilot's suicide. When the second one hit we knew it was no accident or suicide.

We watched a while longer, then went for a walk in the park to clear our heads. Wasn't much fun, as everyone's mood was rather somber.
 

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