Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where Were You?

Where were you? Chances are that you know the song by Alan Jackson, which poses the question "Where were you when the world stopped turning"? I was only 15, and had no understanding of what had happened. But even in rural PA, I remember returning home from school and staring at the news all night and the days that followed.
No one explained it, but you somehow just knew that something momentous had happened. It didn't fully make sense for me until years later, when it just clicked. The loss that America felt, and the tangible fear of the unknown that the world felt.

Today I am sick home from work. I haven't spent an entire day watching the news since the towers fell in 2001, and so as I watch the Today Show and the family members dropping carnations into the pools at the plaza, it doesn't feel real.

This might be hard to watch, but I wanted to see it. This is when the news broke.
September 11 2001 As It Happened - CNN Live 8.40am - 10.11am
The raw news feels real. I can feel the late 90s/early 2000s in the commercials in the beginning. And I can see the irony that the New York stock exchange report has just ended, detailing Nokia's sinking stocks. And the faces of the the newscasters, trying to calm hysteric New Yorkers calling in, giving details of what they're seeing from delis and other office buildings in Manhattan.

I hear what Tom's mother saw, as she was shopping in Brooklyn. Cars everywhere, traffic backed up. Smoke made its way into the borough, and burning money fell from the sky. For the days that followed, she taped off the windows to prevent ash from seeping into the house. It's a horrible story to hear, but it's not exceptional. It was life on that day for those living here.

I was 15 years old, in biology class, in a small class of 12 in rural Pennsylvania. I had no clue. 

So tell me...
Where were you? 


  1. I was home in Northern NJ, getting ready to drive down to Rutgers, since I commuted my first year. My mom was stuck on route 80, headed East, and never made it into work that day- she just sat on the highway, listening to the radio, with thousands of others. My dad was in the firehouse that he worked at at the time, waiting to hear if they would need to go in. I watched the news unfold on a tiny tv in my bedroom, and saw the smoke out my back windows. No one believed it was terrorism at first, it was surreal, just like you mentioned.

    1. The reporters were trying their best to not say the word 'terrorist', because up to that point, they'd probably have to explain what that meant. Rte 80 must have looked just like the belt parkway and city streets here, a complete standstill. Such a different impact it had on you, your father and family.

  2. Touching Post Farin. The moment is easily brought to harsh reality from TV clips and other news information. And, we as a country have all been paying for it ever since, in our privacy, travel, and overall small things indicating life will never be the same in the USA. I was the Director of a nonprofit in Philadelphia in a popular location on the 17th floor, confused if we should stay or go, wondering if we could be next, we left. God Bless All Those and their Families in the many losses of this day. Never Forget.

    1. It's discouraging to hear people complain about the xrays and getting powder placed on their hands (I get it every single time) to test for explosives. But, good! Imagine having lost a mom, dad, spouse or child, and hearing those before you complaining about the inconvenience of removing their shoes.

      I think at this point we all know to leave the buildings, but at the time the idea of terrorism must have been so abstract. Now, if anything happened on the Eastern coast, everyone would evacuate, no doubt. Even the vibrations from the earthquake a few years ago brought everyone downstairs, and they all remembered the attacks and thought it might be more planes.


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