I was a freshman in college in Greenville, SC. I normally wouldn’t be up that early, but we had a soccer game in Atlanta and had to be on the bus for 9:30am, which meant we’d better be at the field house by 8:50, at the latest. As I walked up, Pickens (one of guys from the men’s team) called out, “Have you seen?! We’re under attack!” I laughed at him, he was always joking about something. “No, seriously, someone’s bombed New York.” It was still hard to believe. Attacked? New York? What?
As I stepped in the field house with the rest of the team, we stared at the tiny tv as the second plane hit. Somber. None of the usual laughter echoed through this familiar space. We stood in absolute fear and shock. We KNEW people there! We had friends, family in the military. This was home. This was unprecedented in our lifetimes. WHAT WAS HAPPENING?
Our match was cancelled that day, along with most of our classes. No one knew what was coming next. If there were more targets. How to contact all our loved ones. Cell phones were still relatively new, calls were hard to get. Something broke in us that day. And yet, something grew too. We sat in somber dorms, chapels, and classrooms that day. But we rose again, ignited as a nation, we rose like a Hydra. We grew strength from that fear, we learned lessons that day. And for so many of us, this became our Pearl Harbor — a day etched so vividly in our minds we’ll never forget the details of that day.
Where Were You?
“Speech class, 9th grade – so 13ish? I was very confused, didn’t know what the World Trade Center towers were, didn’t know about Al Qaeda, didn’t know about terrorists. It was also my little brother’s birthday, so poor thing had an awful day.”
” I didn’t know what the World Trade Center towers were either! I remember feeling embarrassed about that at the time.”
“I was a sophomore 15-16yo? in chemistry class. The entire school was moved into the common area and there was a prayer service. Very prolific. I can place myself there right now.”
“7th grade science in Las Vegas, NV–we watched the News all day. We didn’t change classes. I was scared and riddled with anxiety for my dad who was a pilot and was flying that morning.”
“I was in my 11th grade English class. Our principal came on the PA and told all of the teachers to turn the news on our TVs. I thought it was just a terrible accident. It wasn’t until later, in math class, when the Pentagon got hit that I was scared. I ended the school day with my Am His class, and all we did was talk about the attacks and then all of a sudden, it got real quiet bc we heard a plane flying over. You could see the fear in my Teacher’s face. But then she quickly remembered and reminded us that it was Air Force One flying through. As scary as that time was; one positive thing that I remember thinking during the months that followed was seeing SOOO many American Flags everywhere. I think it might’ve been one of the only times I can remember the country being so unified.”
“Freshman year of college. Living in East Laville dorm. I walked downstairs to the lobby of the dorm on my way to class and the giant TV was on. The second tower was still standing and a guy I’d never seen before said did you hear? And he told me. I didn’t know what to do so, I walked to my class (political science) the instructor literally ran in and said I can’t do this, go, we all need to go watch TV.
I still remember it so clearly.”
“Second year (sophomore) in college – done with classes for the day (nerd alert). My dad was in NYC that day, headed to the WTC. Thankfully he is here.”
“First semester of grad school in Hammond, was having coffee with a sorority sister from out of state when we heard the news and was getting ready to leave for my internship. I was scared to even drive to Covington because I didn’t truly know what was happening.”
“10th grade Art class. We saw the second plane hit. It played on every TV throughout the school all day. Very somber and quiet day. At the time, I believe we were the largest high school in Louisiana so normally VERY loud. We had over 900 students in my freshmen class.”
“First year of OT school, lived uptown, roommate came home crying saying “turn in the tv”, we watched the second tower. Went to class where we were supposed the be dissecting a brain…we were all in such a frazzle they sent us home.”
“I was a Sophomore and was in a Civics class. As the class ended an older guy met up with me in the hallway and started talking about the towers. I had NO CLUE what he was mentioning and said, “Wait, Nick is this what y’all talked about in History?” Thinking he was coming from that class. And he said, “No sweetie, it is very much present day.””
“16, Junior Year, AP US History class. My teacher who never yelled screamed at me and a friend to shut up. Stopped us dead on our tracks and we turned to see the news coverage of the first tower on fire.”
“Senior year, physics class, Baton Rouge. The entire school stopped. TVs were rolled into the rooms as we watched the second tower come down. School dismissed immediately and my mom and I sat on the couch watching the news in tears the rest of the day.”
“I was a sophomore at LSU. My roommates had just left for their 7:30 class and I turned on the TV as I was getting ready for my 8:30 class. I never turned on the TV, but I started flipping through channels and saw a building on fire on CNN and for a moment thought I was watching some action movie. They were reporting that it may have been a malfunction of the plane’s tracking system. I continued watching as the second plane hit. Against my better judgment, I left a note in front of the TV for my roommates to watch what was happening and went to class. When I got back just over an hour later, they were sitting there sobbing — the towers had just collapsed and they’d seen it all. That evening, I went to evening Mass at the Catholic Center on campus. It was PACKED. It was the first time in my “adult” life that a tragedy had happened and I was away from home, and all I knew to do was lean on my faith. I’ll never forget the feeling of being in church that night. So much sadness and fear and uncertainty all in one place.”
“I was a sophomore in college. I had actually just returned from a trip to New York with my mom. I was getting ready for my history class and had the today show on when they broke away to report of what they thought was a plane accidentally hitting the tower and watched live as the second plane hit. I just remember screaming in horror and calling my parents telling them what was going on.”
“First year/semester at LSU. I slept through my class. A friend called to tell me to turn on the news. I remember classes being cancelled. Walking through the dorms in silence. Calling my mom crying that I was so scared. I remember the pride of being American then and the unity we experienced as a nation.”
“Freshman year at NYU. We saw the news that morning but no one knew what was going on yet so my roommates and I went to our first classes. Buildings evacuated shortly after. My dad had been visiting the weekend before and flew out of Newark that Sunday. Memory of that day is kinda clear but also not.”
“I was sitting in bed at my parents’ house. I was crying because I didn’t have a job yet. I had turned down all out of state offers because my mom was fighting cancer. I had just graduated from college that spring.”
“I was a college senior in upstate NY during 9/11. I had friends and family living in NYC at that time. It was completely overwhelming. One of my roommates’ parents was supposed to be working in one of the towers that day but took a day off (she found out later).”
“I was 21 and lived in Mandeville. I was getting ready to head to class when I was watching the Today Show. Watched the second plane crash. That moment is deep rooted into my mind.”
“I was 17, and a senior in high school in midtown Manhattan.”
“I was in 8th grade math class and we were called down to the lunchroom where a tv was playing the news. I remember so vividly one girl was crying really hard, everyone else was quiet and I felt so confused. Lots of news intake and heartbreak those next few days. Plus fear of —what city will be next? We just had no clue what to expect since it was so unprecedented.”
“I went to NYC and ate lunch at the WTC 9 months before the attacks. We talked about that at my PawPaw’s funeral (he took me on the trip for my 15th birthday).”
“That was my 16th birthday, and it is the reason I don’t like to make a big deal about my birthday. I remember how people in my high school reacted pretty vividly.”