SURVEY SAYS: Where Were You on September 11?

September 10, 2010 ( – Tomorrow marks the ninth anniversary of the 09/11 terrorist attacks. 

Some have “moved on”, or tried to, over time.  Thousands, of course, will never be able to – the loss of a loved one a scar that can never heal.  For most of us, the pain of that day is not quite that sharp – but it’s a day that, IMHO, we should never forget.



From 2009: Should 09/11 Be a Holiday? 

From 2008: Will Your Workplace Commemorate 09/11? 

From 2007:  Will Your Workplace Commemorate 09/11?


This week I asked readers where they were when they heard the news.

Nearly half – 47.4% – said they were at work at that time, another 15.5% were on their way to work.  One in ten were at home, and another 7.2% were travelling. 

The remaining one-in-five were someplace else; some were still in college at the time, others at conferences (I happened to be on my way to a conference in California that morning), some were at other commitments (jury duty came up a number of times), some were running errands, and at least one was in the lobby of the second tower at the World Trade Center. 

Here are some of the stories:

I was at a compliance meeting with about 50 other reps for Royal Alliance. We were in a hotel conference room when a friend, late arrival, leans in and said a plane ran into the tower. A few moments later the second tower being hit was announced to the group. The Attorney conducting the meeting adjourned the meeting and we all went into the lobby to watch the televisions.

My husband and I were in [my home town of] Richmond, Virginia - I, waiting in the car and listening to the radio as my husband was in a local grocery getting some beverage items for our trip back to North Carolina from just having attended his daughter's wedding in Nantucket . . . I heard the broadcast and was totally perplexed as at first it sounded like mumbo-jumbo.  When my husband got in the car, I asked him to be quiet and to closely listen and asked if he could make sense of what was being broadcast.  Needless to say, we were both shocked, horrified and deeply angered by what we heard!

Sitting in the breakfast room at the Charleston Embassy Suites (original Citadel, actually), and turned to see smoking buildings on the big screen tv.  The room slowly became silent as everyone became riveted in disbelief.

At work in break room watching TV coverage

I was out of town to close down one of our subsidiaries - sitting in the HR office when we were interrupted to hear about a plane hitting the World Trade building.  We went to see it on TV just as the second plane hit.

In the parking lot walking to the court building for jury duty.  Someone else arriving for the same jury was watching it on a TV in their van and waved me over saying a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers in NYC and there were incoming reports of a second impact.  We went to the jury room and were provided updates from the bailiff until a couple of hours later when they cancelled court for the day after it was becoming clear what was actually going on.

Firestone waiting on tires.  I was the only person in the place watching the news.  I couldn't believe it... in fact, at first I thought it was a hoax.

In class

I was in California eating breakfast and watching FOX News. 

I was in Boston, attending a benefits conference and caught it live on tv as it happened.  I held return tix Logan to LAX, same flight number as the doomed flight, 24 hours later.  When we finally got to leave Boston (Saturday, the 15th), I held the flight attendant's hand (she had the jump-seat across from me) during take-off because we both needed courage and strength.  Everyone on board cheered when we landed safely at LAX.

It was my birthday and I was bringing in treats for my co-workers (donuts and cookies) when I walked into the break room and the Twin Towers and pandemonium were on the Television. Some birthday.

I was at the CALAPRS Defined Contribution Conference in Savannah, Georgia (I'm from California).

I had driven into lower Manhattan for a business meeting (and was supposed to fly out of town that afternoon).  I was walking from the parking lot to my meeting when it happened.  I spent the rest of the morning standing in lower Manhattan, covered in ashes and debris, watching the buildings burn and fall.

Heading to my first morning class at college...saw it on the news outside of the cafeteria.

On call for jury duty - court closed for rest of the day.

My alarm woke me with the news.  I had to turn on the TV, and I never turn on the TV in the morning.  I was transfixed.  Almost didn't make it to work.

I was on my way to work; running late that morning, for no specific reason.  In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't get to see live coverage of the planes hitting the Towers.

Telecommuting--working at home.

I also asked readers if they had any thoughts and/or remembrances about that day.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to share – and to those of you who will remember through their eyes.  However you plan to remember the day – peace.


We should never forget what happened that day. I still remember how eerie it was not having any planes in the air for days. And as far as the mosque is concerned, no one would ever have suggested it be put there right after 911 happened. Why should nine years passing make any difference? Find another location!

I was in the same chair and looking out the same window I am now. At that time, my mom was still alive and very sick and I used to call her around 9:00 every morning to check in. Right before I called her that morning, I heard from others in my office about the first plan hitting the towers and I thought what a terrible accident that was. While I was talking to mom, she told me that a second plan had just crashed into the towers. That's when I knew something was terribly wrong.

I really enjoyed Fred Alger, lost a lot of friends that day. Too bad America forgot so quickly. Here in small town USA (north jersey) there are more than a few still trying to cope with the loss. Mothers looking for sons, wives and kids looking for dad. Some could never bring themselves to go back to work, some work as if in a stupor. In March of 02 a visitor from Texas asked me what holiday we were gearing up to celebrate with all the flags displayed. He told me nothing like that was being done in the six states he'd just traveled. Our son, still on active duty, noted that outside the base, no one knew we were under attack or at war six months later.We all lost our innocence and our belief (however misguided it might have been) of invulnerability. I wish those whose lives were most affected could receive a hug from all of us that stood watch with them. May the road rise up.......Dear Lord, may they rest in peace. Absolutely, never forget!

I was in a computer training class and came out to check my emails while on break.  My assistant told me to go to the computer and look at the news.  I couldn't believe me eyes.  This was just after the plane had also crashed in PA.  I left my home state of CT when I was 20 and moved to PA.  The twin towers were always my marker that I was almost home.  It was unbearable to see the empty spot in the sky.  I have a lot of history with the towers.  Someone who was dear to me lost his life to the terrorists who attacked the towers in 1993.  Sadness overshadowed the hours and days following this terrible event.  Yet, my husband and I, who had been engaged and just couldn't find the right time to get married, chose to join together that Friday, September 14.  It was right and fitting to make that outward commitment  to each other at such a time of uncertainty. We were married in a civil ceremony by a woman wearing one red and one blue shoe and red, white and blue clothes for the Day of Remembrance.  We already had a weekend planned at Chincotegue so it became our honeymoon.  We were steps from the Coast Guard station with its newly installed barriers and Defcon warning on a portable sign and across from a military base where we could see vehicles searching the perimeter all night long.  We met people who had been working next to the Pentagon when it was attacked and heard their story.  And in contrast, searching for some kind of peace and normalcy, we saw the wild ponies and walked beside the crashing sea.  I will never, ever forget that day and the days that followed.  For me, it is my mother's Pearl Harbor, the horrible tragedy of my generation.  I pray daily that there will be no more days like that... You may say that I'm a dreamer,  But I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will be as one.  John Lennon 

I remember calling my husband when I heard on the radio about the first tower being hit.  I told him to turn on the TV and he did just in time to see the second plane make impact.  At first he thought it was footage being replayed, but then realized it was actually live footage of the second impact.  I was pregnant with our first child at the time and remember thinking about all the families who lost a loved one because of this.

Disbelief...fear...anger...reconfirmation that there is good and evil in this world.  And later, as my children asked "why", I told them, although we must not change our core values around personal freedom, we also must be constantly vigilant against those who abhor these values and continually work to destroy them.

I did not believe such an act could be accomplished in the US.  Then I saw the news clip on tv and knew I was wrong.

Hard to believe it has been 9 years already.  The day should never be forgotten.  Those who lost their lives must always be remembered.

I'm truly appalled by the lack of interest and/or memory my fellow Americans exhibit about what happened that dark day.  Is our whole country suffering from memory loss or what?  If memory serves me well at all, I recall that OUR NATION WAS ATTACKED BY TERRORISTS at several locations and that there was massive damage done; especially emphasizing our nation's breech in Security.  And how about the thousands of families who suffered loss of a family member or memberS?  What about them?  How can we, as a people, as a nation, act as if this never happened?  What will it take for us to ensure that this kind of thing will never happen to us again?  That's what I remember -- the fact that we got caught in a moment of weakness [which still pains thousands who DO remember].

God Bless America.

I will never forget that day.  I was driving to work and my husband kept calling me on my cell phone telling me that another plane hit the WTC and then the Pentagon and then a field in PA.  It was like a dream.  I felt our innocence die that day.  When I got to work, we turned on the TV in our CEO's office to keep up with what was happening.  We had factories in China and Manila so we had people who were in the air and we tried frantically to find them and connect with their relatives (in the end we found them all).  When the extent of the tragedy finally set in a few hours later, we closed the facility so our associates could be with their families.  The weird part was we were very near the main airport in our city and once the planes were grounded, the silence was deafening.  A week later we had a flag raising ceremony that included associates from every one of the Armed Services.  It was very moving.

I received a phone call right after the first plane hit from someone with a COBRA question. I couldn't believe anyone hadn't heard about it and could be so thoughtless as to ask such a stupid question.

"i was at work - wow how times have changed in 9 years - i didn't have the internet on my PC so I was getting all of my info from my  mom who was home watching t.v. - at lunch i went to a local mall to watch tv for myself - today, we would get a minute by minute update on any # of electronic gadgets.  Since I live in CT, it affected a lot of people that I know and there were a lot of anxious moments waiting to hear from them.  I have not been able to go back to the site - too many good memories of times gone by in the city and that's how I want to remember the twin towers.

May we all never forget!"

Praying for peace and tolerance.  Anything but burning the Koran.  While I heard some American religious leaders state that spectacle would be Un-American, I would state that it is more than that.  Christianity is about love not hate.  So the spectacle in Gainesville is un-Christian and I hope that a sign from God is received - maybe the heavens will open and it will rain so hard that a fire cannot be sustained.

Sad that it happened. It was our loss of innocense. Grateful for the way we all pulled together afterward, sad that it has not continued.

Who will ever forget the horror of watching those planes go into the tower that the media felt they needed to play over and over and over and over and over.......

First thought was fright and sadness for the people affected.  Then, anger - because some terrorist decided to attack us and it changed our life as we knew it.  We never had to take our shoes off at the airport before that, plus we never had all of the other security nuances we now endure.  Why can't these people stay in their own zone and mind their own business instead of blowing up other people.  I don't get it.

We were on vacation in Disneyworld, with the t.v. on, getting ready to go out in the morning.  Needless to say, we never left the room that day and the t.v. never went off.  I thought the terrorists were going to fly down the East coast, bombing all the major symbols of American freedom and capitalism, ending with Disneyworld. I called my mother and in-laws, just in case that was the last chance I had to speak to them.

I always feel extremely sad for all those innocent people who lost their lives on 9/11.  I also feel very sorry for all the loved ones they left behind.  It's important to always remember these people and the horrific events of that day.

We were on vacation in Charleston, to see the history of this area, and had been scheduled to take the ferry to Sumpter's Fort that day.  We put that off to continue watching current history as it unfolded.

For the next three years after the attacks I was always flying on that day due to business.

I had just dropped off my twins who were about 18 months old at their daycare center and was driving to work. Watching the coverage and hearing the stories, all I could think about was the same thing I thought when the Columbine attack happened (we were living in the Denver area and struggling mightily with infertility at the time...obviously we got around that one :-))  "why would anyone want to bring children into this world?" Thankfully I continue to see there is much more good going on in the world than bad. I have been truly blessed with 2 amazing kids and I have great hope for their future!

"I was out-of-town, in a suburb of Boston, starting a three-day presentation, staying not far from one of the hotels where some of the suspects were thought to have been. Many attendees did not attend all three days. I had a relative in New York, who was safe, but a chill came over me until I knew that. The Boston area was never so quiet. No planes, few cars!  I ended up having to drive home, half-way across the country.

A scary situation I will never forget, and unfortunately, too many Americans have already forgotten!"

I remember how beautiful the weather was that day.  The sky was so blue that if this had been a movie, I would have assumed someone painted the background.   I walked into work and saw everyone gathered around the guard desk watching the TV.  I stood there and watched the second plane hit.  I felt the urgent need to go home -- not sure why -- no one was there -- no one I knew was in New York at the time -- but I needed to be home.  I watched the rest of the drama unfold from home.   I'm a very sociable person -- to this day I can't understand why I wanted to be alone rather that share the experience with others.  Of course, when I decided to go home, I couldn't possibly fathom that the horror would escalate like it did.

I worked in NJ and the Twin Towers were visible from our office windows.  Although I was not watching I could hear the cries of my co-workers when the Towers fell.  Our office closed at around 11 that day.  Because of work responsibilities I had to work until almost 3.  Since the office was so close to NYC the roads are some of the busiest in NJ.  When I finally left work mine was the only car on these heavily trafficked roads.  It was a trully eerie experience, one I hope to never have again.

Making that announcment was the first time I'd heard a DJ who was not on a religious station pray on the air.

"The shocking notices on the highway...the dept of transportation used the huge overhead signs that are generally used for traffic notices to say, ""All airports closed.  National emergency.""  That was chilling. 

I remember that I was in one of those LONG do nothing meetings when the first tower was struck and had gotten out after it happened but didn't know anything about.  Tried to check e-mail but the system was slow. Went to the restroom and noticed several coworkers huddled around a portable TV watching coverage of a building burning.  That's when it hit me.

I had one callous colleague who insisted we should all stay at work when none of us could concentrate.  He even said, ""shouldn't we focus on work instead of that tragedy.""  And I replied that what was happening was war, and I wanted to pause and reflect on that and most of all, I wanted to be with my family.  At that time, we didn't know how extensive the attacks were or could end up being.  I just wanted to get home.

Disbelief.  It stopped work for the whole day.  We brought every TV in the area and turned them on.  Internet streaming at work was not like it is today.

My 10-year old son asked me the other day if I was alive when 9/11 happened.

It disturbs me that this guy in FL is planning to burn the Quran at a place called the "Dove World Outreach Center".  I've always associated a dove with peace, and the word outreach with helping others.  Go figure?  If he wants to make a difference he should invite all faiths to pay their respects by worshipping together and praying for the families of those who lost so much and for peace in this crazy world.  I'm a Christian and it's offensive to me that he would willingly and knowingly provoke others to violence.

I was living in Washington DC at the time and it was the worst day of my life. I'll never forget the terrifying uncertainty of that morning, being scared that more planes were coming, and where they might hit. The streets were bumper to bumper filled with traffic as everyone was streaming out of the city to the safety of the suburbs. At the time, I was living in Arlington and I caught the Metro every morning at the Pentagon. Of course, that station was closed, so I spent most of the day just trying to get home. By the time I saw the charred and smoking Pentagon in person, it was already so familiar because I had seen it on the news in every shop I passed with a TV. But still, I was horrified because I saw with my own eyes that it really happened. It wasn't just some CGI movie effects.

The sadness that hit me that someone could do this to innocent people who just hours before had been hugging and kissing loved ones and saying see you later tonight have a great day!  My heart cries out for those who lost loved ones in 9/11 and I pray as a people we never forget those people who died or those that caused this pain.

"I had a meeting scheduled with business reps who were flying in from Boston. I remember looking out of my office window and seeing no aricraft in the skies. Our office building was near an entry air path to one of the nations busiest airports, it was eerie to say the least.  I was concerned for the reps. and hoped they were not on any of the flights. I was relieved to get a call from them about an hour later telling me they were fine and that the airport has been shut down prior to their flights boarding. 

I also remember how incredibly nice/countless  people/other drivers were on the drive home that day."

I was listening to the Mike & Mike Show on ESPN radio and I will always remember Mike Greenberg stating that a plane had just flown into one of the towers of the World Center.  At that time Mike Greenberg thought it was a small plane and nobody knew what was happening.  Then he came on a few minutes later to say a second plane had just flown into the other tower of the World Center and it was at that point he reaklized that some awful was happening.

I was at home, getting ready to head to the airport that morning.  A friend called and suggested I turn on the television...

After first plane crashed, I went over to 7-11 for milk for the kids' breakfast.  It was when I reached home just in time to see the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower, that we KNEW it was purposeful terrorism.  Truly a day that lives in infamy.

The security and joy and comfortable feeling I had in life up until the morning of September 11 is gone forever.  I grew up that day and now understand the horrors others have felt when their countries are/were attacked. I cry for the innocents and heroes who lost their lives, and for their families.  September 11 will always be a huge ache in my heart, but it has enhanced my appreciation for a simpler way of life, for enjoying the time I have to spend with family and friends.

Every Birthday since then I can't help but getting a rush of emotion for the people who died on that day. I do not understand why so many good people died that day, but I am proud of the hero's who without any regard tfor their safety surfaced when our nation and her citzens were under attack.

Flying back was eerie as the airport and airplane were virtually empty.

On my way to work each morning, I always listened to Howard Stern on the radio.  When he began talking about a plane going into a building in New York City, I knew by the tone of his voice that he was not joking and it was obvious that the events of September 11 took the Stern radio crew totally off guard.  They quickly got themselves together to diligently and respectfully report on the tragic events.

We all stood together around the TVs in the cafeteria in the dark.  All the people who had loved ones in the towers were collected by HR and taken somewhere else.  We were sent home early but all the main highways were closed near the NJ Turnpike and we had to drive through towns and neighborhoods to get to open roadways. When I walked my dogs at night, you could smell the smoke for days afterward and I live about 45 minutes from the city.

I will never forget the look on my coworkers faces - the disbelief and devastation that something like that could happen in the United States.  It all seemed very surreal.  I'll also never forget how odd is was not to see airplanes flying by my building to land at the airport and then the surprise and unease I felt when I saw the first plane go by after flights were resumed.

I remember being totally stunned, as if I were watching a Spielberg movie.  I made a point of looking at the faces of the people around me.  The expressions varied from fear to disbelief to confusion.  Having previously worked at a company on the 101st floor of 2 WTC, I was concerned about my former colleagues.  I couldn't get my car back out of the parking lot it was in, so I walked from lower Manhattan up to mid-town.  Everything seemed so quiet.  There were no words to express our feelings, only a shaking of the head.  Store owners and merchants that I passed on the walk up offered assistance in the form of drinks, use of their telephone or just a place to sit and rest.  I waited near Penn Station until the Long Island Railroad announced they would be sending trains out to Long Island.  The train ride was as quiet as its ever been and my daughters, who were in high school at the time, were waiting to pick me up at the train station.  At my Long Island office the next day, we hardly got any work done.  We couldn't stop talking about our experiences and our feelings.

I remember hearing about the first plane and thinking it must be one of those pilot errors/mistakes that can happen.  It was such a beautiful day though, it was hard to imagine how it had happened.  When riding the elevator up to my floor, my co-worker told me about the second plane.  That's when it started to sink in that this was something different.  We had televisions on some work floors and they were all turned to CNN.  Everyone was in such a state of shock.  My team started calling companies in NY that we did business with to check on the people who at that point were being evacuated from their buildings.  Working in financial services, we put in a full day just trying to cover out clients needs even though we all wanted to be at home with our families.

Will always remember the comradarie, patriotism and resilience of everyone in New York and back home in California following 9/11

I remember while running that afternoon I was listening to Congress sing the National Anthem playing over the radio.  I remember calling all of our fellow associates that were traveling that day, and I remember being on a call with our ERISA attorney & him getting the news that one of their partners died on the plane going to DC.

I was at a marketing conference on the East coast.  Everyone was in shock, of course, but the memory that stays with me is how the hotel set up chairs in the lobby near the televisions for guests to watch the coverage.  Every available chair was set out, wall to wall, and every chair was filled.  Nobody wanted to be alone in their room.  I finally made it home at 3 a.m. Friday on a Greyhound bus.

Like the Kennedy assassination, this is a day that is indelibly imprinted on my mind almost minute by minute.  I was struck by how quiet it was -- there was almost no traffic and everyone I encountered during the day spoke softly.  I do a lot of online genealogy research, and I was overwhelmed by messages of support and shared grief from many other countries that day.  One that particularly touched me was from an elderly contact in Germany saying that the United States had helped rebuild Europe after WWII and now it was their turn to help us.

"I was sitting on a plane in Houston on my way to Boston.  We had been sitting at the gate for some time when the pilot finally announced there was a mechanical issue and ""for your comfort"" we're going to deplane.  That should have been my first clue that something was wrong - when's the last time they've deplaned for the passengers ""comfort""?  An off-duty flight attendant was sitting beside me and immediately said something was wrong.  We made our way back to terminal to find all the television screens blacked out.  Flight attendant said that was done in case any terrorists were inside the terminal - with the TV screens blacked out they wouldn't know if their plans had been successful.  Once everyone was off board - it was announced that all flights were cancelled.


My husband had driven me to the airport.  It took me several calls to locate him and ask him to pick me up.  He was eating breakfast at a local restaurant and told me the news.  It was the scariest 30 minutes of my life not knowing what was happening (or was going to) at the Houston airport.  I went home and remained glued to the television in disbelief for the remainder of the day."

I had just woken up with my radio alarm when the news station reported a plane had just crashed into one of the twin towers.  They were reporting it as an accident.  Then came the report of the second plane hitting.  That's when I turned on the TV and began to watch as things unfolded.  It was very eerie and extremely unsettling watching the horror unfold.  Needless to say, getting ready for work that day took longer then usual.

was at work at 5th and 40th....heard co-workers looking at newsbroadcast which at the time sounded like a small plane crash into North tower.....a short walk out to 5th avenue to observe fire confirmed the worst....

9/11 is for younger generations what the Kennedy assassination was for older generations. When I was younger, I never could understand why everyone remembered where they were when they learned of the Kennedy assassination. It was not until 9/11 that I began to understand how a single event can impact a nation and its place in history.

Tears and disbelief; wanting to hold and hug my family members for a long, long time; realizing that this would be the event my children would remember (like I remember Kennedy assassination and like my parents remembered V-E and V-J days) as 'where were you when you heard' when talking with others in the future.

The weirdest thing was that night.  I lived more "in the country" then, so we could see a few more stars than the city folks.  We usually saw a steady flow of airplanes on their way to one of two regional airports in the area.  But not that night -- just silence, darkness and stars.

We were on vacation at my Mother-in-law's house in Tampa watching her favorite cable program, "Little House on the Prairie".  Since it was a pre-programmed show, the station never cut in.  My wife's best friend called us to let us know and when we switched the station, I my first thought was we are under attack, it's like Pearl Harbor.  We were with our grandson who we promised to take to the beach that day.  It was a popular beach and yet you could count the number of people there on two hands.  It was also eerily quiet as it was near Tampa International Airport and naturally no planes against a beautiful sky.  Also, our return flight home happened to be on the first day flights resumed.  Very unnerving.

We truly lost our innocence that day.  Unfortunately I have also come to realize that you cannot reason with an irrational person, and when that person is in charge....woe to us all. 

When I think back on the horror of Sept. 11, I always think of how we all felt on September 12 -- united in our desire to fight the cowardice of terrorism, appreciative of all the freedoms we have in America, and courageous in recognizing the dangers of radical Muslim fundamentalism.  Just nine years later, we're too busy being politically correct to recognize that the danger we faced on September 10, 2001 still exists.  If we can't name, face, and fight our enemy, we risk a repeat of September 11 or worse.  We must never forget that the enemy is Muslim extremists, and we must not be afraid to fight that ideology for all it's worth.  We weren't afraid to decry the horrors of Nazism or Communism - why should Muslim fundamentalism be any different?

How long the drive was back home from the business trip I was on and what we would encounter coming back East from the MidWest on that long drive.  It was so surreal and the quiet the next day as we reeled from the shock.

I was listening to a radio station that occasionally has fake news, so I didn't realize until I was almost at the office that what had happened was real - it was just too unbelievable.

I was at home getting ready for work - putting on my makeup and curling my hair with CNN on in the bedroom.  It was my normal routine but nothing was normal about the news that morning.

We were in Florence, Italy and happened to see news reports on a hotel lobby television.  An English-speaking gentleman translated for us, and noted our country was now "at war", which made no sense immediately.  The locals were incredibly kind -- the outpouring of sympathy was staggering.  A few days later, in the Nice (France) harbor, they had a special American flag raising ceremony.