27 March 2006

Where Were You?

As you know, I just began reading Americans Remember the Homefront: An Oral Narrative of the World War II Years in America.

It begins with a "Where were you?" question regarding Pearl Harbor.
That made me think of where I was when I first heard about the Pearl Harbor of my generation: the September 11th attacks.

I heard about it rather piecemeal. In Arizona, a state which does not observe Daylight Savings Time, we are three hours behind New York. According to a CNN timeline, the first plane crashed at 5:45 a.m. PDT (California and Arizona time). When my alarm went off at 6:42 a.m. -- nearly an hour later -- the anchor on NPR was saying something about a plane hitting a building in New York and people falling out of the building. I remember reading about the jet fighter that hit the Empire State Building in 1945, so I really did not think much of it. And, between getting ready, and keeping one eye on the Weather Channel (as usual), I did not get the full details.

At about 7:15 a.m. I went in to say good-bye to my still sleeping significant other. I woke him and said: "There's been a plane crash into a building in New York. Some people have died. I haven't heard all the details, but I didn't want you to be concerned when your radio alarm goes off and they are talking about it."

During my very short drive to work, I heard a lot of news fragments that really made little sense. As I pulled into the parking lot at work, the anchor on NPR was interviewing a woman across from one of the towers. She was saying that the building just collapsed. I thought she meant a small part of the building fell away (where the plane hit). The anchor interrupted her to say that the Federal Aviation Administration had just issued an order that all aircraft, commercial and otherwise, were to immediately land where ever they were or risk being shot down.

Still not fully understanding what had happened, I got out of my car and started across the parking lot to work. I looked up and saw a giant commercial jet flying over our building. We never have commercial aircraft flying over our building. I fought the urge to get back in the car and go home; rather, I hurried into work. Able to listen uninterrupted to the radio, I quickly began to understand what had occurred.

Where were you? Please tell me what you were doing and how you first heard of the airplane crashes into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, or Somerset County, Pennsylvania. I am especially interested in hearing from people living in other countries at the time.

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