Sunday, September 11, 2011

I will NEVER forget. My Memories from 9/11/01

I wrote this journaling on 9/12/2001, ten years ago tomorrow.  I saw a timeline of the attacks and aftermath from the AP newswire and interspersed my own activities and reactions from that day.  From my undergraduate studies in memory and cognition, I've learned that a person's memory from traumatic events can often be wrong over extended periods of time, but this was written within 36 hours of the event and hadn't time to decay with time.


Where I was when… Tuesday, September 11, 2001 “9-11”

Note:  times will look strange because I kept NYC time for the attacks and PST time for what time it was in my time zone and life.
8:45 a.m. (times in blue are EDT): A hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it afire.

9:03 a.m.: A second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes. Both buildings are burning.

6:10 am (times in red are PST): After hitting the snooze alarm twice (which may seem like a lot but is actually a record low for me), I roll out of bed, eager to get to work early so I can clean the last few items off my desk before vacation. It’s my last day in the office before a nearly month-long vacation to Australia! We’ve been planning this trip for months and it’s hard to believe it’s finally just a day away!

9:17 a.m.: The Federal Aviation Administration shuts down all New York City area airports.

9:21 a.m.: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey orders all bridges and tunnels in the New York area closed.
9:30 a.m.: President Bush, speaking in Sarasota, Florida, says the country has suffered an "apparent terrorist attack."
9:40 a.m.: The FAA halts all flight operations at U.S. airports, the first time in U.S. history that air traffic nationwide has been halted.
6:45 a.m.: I emerge from the bathroom and head downstairs and gulp down my “in-a-hurry” breakfast, a glass of milk and a few vitamins. I’m in such a hurry to get to work that I don’t turn on the television, as I would usually do.

9:43 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles crashes into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke. 58 passengers and six crew members were aboard. Evacuation of the Pentagon begins immediately.

9:45 a.m.: The White House evacuates.

6:55 a.m.: I get into my car. If I hurry, I can get past Sunset High School before the teenage traffic gets too heavy. As I flick on the radio, I hear a news-like voice on my normally jovial morning show, Mark & Brian. The Pentagon’s on fire? What? A plane crashed into the World Trade Center? “This must be a horrible joke, and it’s not funny at all,” I think. I switch over to “The Morning Zoo” and listen to a few minutes of comedy.

9:57 a.m.: Bush departs from Florida.

7:00 a.m.: The Zoo breaks for a commercial and I switch stations back to Mark and Brian. I realize that the news is still on and listen more carefully. It’s not a joke. From what I can understand, a plane has actually crashed into the World Trade Center, and another plane has crashed into the Pentagon, which is now on fire. I imagine, in my mind, two small commuter planes. What the heck were they thinking? Idiots! And what a coincidence. Then I hear the words hijack, terrorist, Boeing 767 (a large jet).

10:05 a.m.: The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris forms and slowly drifts away from the building.

7:05 a.m.: I am at a stoplight, in the middle of traffic on the Murray overpass, waiting to turn onto Highway 26, one of the three freeways I travel on my commute. The radio announcer says, “I’m sorry to announce that the south tower of the World Trade Center has just collapsed.” I am stunned. The light changes and I have to move, turning onto the metered onramp to wait for the freeway. I begin to cry.

7:06 a.m.: On the metered onramp to highway 26, stuck in a line of cars, I call Clint on my cell phone, telling him to get up and turn on the television because there’s been some sort of attack and the World Trade Center has been destroyed. He’s on sabbatical, so he’s still asleep. I debate whether to turn around and go home. In some sort of shock and disbelief, I drive to work.

10:10 a.m.: A portion of the Pentagon collapses.

10:10 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh.

10:13 a.m.: The United Nations building evacuates, including 4,700 people from the headquarters building and 7,000 total from UNICEF and U.N. development programs.

7:23 a.m.: Still driving, crying, listening to the news, unable to understand. This is an unbelievable act of not just terrorism, but of war.

10:24 a.m.: The FAA reports that all inbound transatlantic aircraft flying into the United States are being diverted to Canada.

7:25 a.m.: I arrive in the parking lot at Mentor Graphics. As I prepare to turn off the engine, I hear on the radio that the remaining tower of the World Trade Center is leaning.

10:28 a.m.: The World Trade Center's north tower collapses from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.

7:30am: I reach the fourth floor where my office on the tax and legal wing resides. It’s early, so there aren’t too many people in yet, but as they arrive the mood is somber and quiet. I join a cluster around Monte’s office. She’s always the center of information as well as gossip.

10:45 a.m.: All federal office buildings in Washington are evacuated.

7:45 am: Still clustered in front of Monte’s office, someone comes down the hall and says that the other tower has just collapsed. In the next hour, I called Clint twice more, and my travel agent twice, leaving messages with each call. I worked quietly, frantically, because I didn’t know what else I could do.

10.48 a.m.: Police confirm the plane crash in Pennsylvania.

10:57 a.m.: New York Gov. George Pataki says all state government offices are closed.

11:02 a.m.: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay at home and orders an evacuation of the area south of Canal Street.

11:18 a.m.: American Airlines reports it has lost two aircraft. American Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard. Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington's Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, had 58 passengers and six crew members aboard. Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.

11:26 a.m.: United Airlines reports that United Flight 93, en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, has crashed in Pennsylvania. The airline also says that it is "deeply concerned" about United Flight 175.

8:30 am: I don’t want to see it, but I have to see it. The tax department wanders sadly across the walkway to the Commons. A crowd is surrounding the television, watching the horror. Everyone stands as far away as possible, but close enough to see. No one wants to see it, but they must all feel as I do that they have to. It’s so strange to see coworkers, normally so professional, in tears.

11:59 a.m.: United Airlines confirms that Flight 175, from Boston to Los Angeles, has crashed with 56 passengers and nine crew members aboard. It hit the World Trade Center's south tower.

9:00 am: I return, sadly, to my office. I call Clint again and finally get through. He’s as stunned as I am and asks me to come home. I have a few things to wrap up, then I can go home. We don’t talk about our vacation, but we know we’re going to have to.

12:04 p.m.: Los Angeles International Airport, the destination of three of the crashed airplanes, is evacuated.

12:15 p.m.: The Immigration and Naturalization Service says U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are on the highest state of alert, but no decision has been made about closing borders.

12:30 p.m.: The FAA says 50 flights are in U.S. airspace, but none are reporting any problems.

1:04 p.m.: Bush, speaking from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, says that all appropriate security measures are being taken, including putting the U.S. military on high alert worldwide. He asks for prayers for those killed or wounded in the attacks and says, "Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts."

1:27 p.m.: A state of emergency is declared by the city of Washington.

1:44 p.m.: The Pentagon says five warships and two aircraft carriers will leave the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, to protect the East Coast from further attack and to reduce the number of ships in port. The two carriers, the USS George Washington and the USS John F. Kennedy, are headed for the New York coast. The other ships headed to sea are frigates and guided missile destroyers capable of shooting down aircraft.

2 p.m.: Senior FBI sources tell CNN they are working on the assumption that the four airplanes that crashed were hijacked as part of a terrorist attack.

11:00am: I finally finished work and at 11:00, I told my boss I was going to go home and see what had happened to my vacation.

2:30 p.m.: The FAA announces there will be no U.S. commercial air traffic until noon EDT Wednesday at the earliest.

2:49 p.m.: At a news conference, Giuliani says that subway and bus service are partially restored in New York City. Asked about the number of people killed, Giuliani says, "I don't think we want to speculate about that -- more than any of us can bear."

4 p.m: CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor reports that U.S. officials say there are "good indications" that Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, suspected of coordinating the bombings of two U.S. embassies in 1998, is involved in the attacks, based on "new and specific" information developed since the attacks.

4:10 p.m.: Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex is reported on fire.

4:25 p.m.: The American Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange say they will remain closed Wednesday.

5:20 p.m.: The 47-story Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex collapses. The evacuated building is damaged when the twin towers across the street collapse earlier in the day. Other nearby buildings in the area remain ablaze.

5:30 p.m.: CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King reports that U.S. officials say the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania could have been headed for one of three possible targets: Camp David, the White House or the U.S. Capitol building.

6 p.m.: Explosions are heard in Kabul, Afghanistan, hours after terrorist attacks targeted financial and military centers in the United States. The attacks occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time. Afghanistan is believed to be where bin Laden, who U.S. officials say is possibly behind Tuesday's deadly attacks, is located. U.S. officials say later that the United States had no involvement in the incident whatsoever. The attack is credited to the Northern Alliance, a group fighting the Taliban in the country's ongoing civil war.

6:54 p.m.: Bush arrives back at the White House aboard Marine One and is scheduled to address the nation at 8:30 p.m. The president earlier landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland with a three-fighter jet escort. CNN's King reports Laura Bush arrived earlier by motorcade from a "secure location."

7:17 p.m.: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says the FBI is setting up a Web site for tips on the attacks: He also says family and friends of possible victims can leave contact information at 800-331-0075.

7:02 p.m.: CNN's Paula Zahn reports the Marriott Hotel near the World Trade Center is on the verge of collapse and says some New York bridges are now open to outbound traffic.

7:45 p.m.: The New York Police Department says that at least 78 officers are missing. The city also says that as many as half of the first 400 firefighters on the scene were killed.

8:30 p.m.: President Bush addresses the nation, saying "thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil" and asks for prayers for the families and friends of Tuesday's victims. "These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve," he says. The president says the U.S. government will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed the acts and those who harbor them. He adds that government offices in Washington are reopening for essential personnel Tuesday night and for all workers Wednesday.

9:22 p.m.: CNN's McIntyre reports the fire at the Pentagon is still burning and is considered contained but not under control.

9:57 p.m.: Giuliani says New York City schools will be closed Wednesday and no more volunteers are needed for Tuesday evening's rescue efforts. He says there is hope that there are still people alive in rubble. He also says that power is out on the westside of Manhattan and that health department tests show there are no airborne chemical agents about which to worry.

10:56 p.m: CNN's Zahn reports that New York City police believe there are people alive in buildings near the World Trade Center.

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