Share Your 9/11 Memories


We all can remember where we were when we first heard about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We all remember the first images we saw of the destruction. We all remember how we felt that day and in the weeks thereafter. We all remember how we were changed by that one morning.

Where were you? What’s your story? Share your story via the comment section below.

We encourage you to be respectful of others when submitting your story. Please note that all comments submitted will be reviewed by eTorch for appropriateness. Any submission with uncivil, disrespectful remarks will be deemed inappropriate for publication on this page.

Thanks for sharing your story.

You may also like


Chuck Corum September 14, 2011 - 9:07 am

Where was I on 9/11/01?…Knoxville Tennessee. I was scheduled to testify as a witness in a civil case and was at the Knoxville City County Building. When the first plane went into the building we all went into a courtroom and watched the scene on a tv, where we saw the second plane hit the building right before we had to clear the room for the case to start. As I left the courtroom I remember saying “The first could have been an accident but the second……” I spent the day outside the courtroom watching SWAT teams searching the building and hearing wild rumors of what was going on. Not able to get ahold of my wife or my mother I worried about what they were going through. When I finally got home I was in a stupor that lasted for days. Only then did the full extent sadness and the anger kick in. We can never forget that day, nor should we.

Brian September 14, 2011 - 9:19 am

I am the Chief of Medical Physics at a hospital in the suburbs of north Philadelphia. I remember the shock and disbelief of what we were witnessing on the television of the patient waiting area. Many of our patients were in tears, and our staff seemed frozen with the inability to comprahend what they were seeing. We quickly got our team refocused on what was important at that moment – to make sure the patietns knew they would get great care during this tragic time. we immediately got a call fro mthe Chief of staff as the number of injured and dead rose to halt all elective surgeries indefinetely in order to have blood available for victims in New York. we were also placed on alert that we would be a possible site for victims to treated if the health systems in New York were to be overtaxed. It was suriel being 100 miles from the event, but having our workflow completely changed. It was a realization that the events that were unfolding were largr than anything else that had happened in my 10 years in the field.

Mike Jacobs September 14, 2011 - 9:36 am

I was working at my office on Independence Avenue in Washington when the attacks took place. We had a television in our office and watched the aftermath of the New York attacks. We felt a slight concussion from the Pentagon strike within the hour. Everyone was released from work shortly thereafter, and I had ashes landing on my patio for days from the Pentagon fire. I lived a half mile from the Pentagon at the time and about 3/4 mile from Reagan National Airport. The airport, due to its proximity to the White House and Capitol, did not reopen for several weeks until a securit plan could be implemented. It was eerie not hearing any flights except for F-16’s patrolling the skies during the period.

Doug Poole September 14, 2011 - 9:38 am

It is interesting to me that UT wants this story. I went to UTK but live in Colorado. I had signed up for News Alerts from the Knoxville News Sentinel, but mostly for UT Football updates. I received an alert on my computer screen that said I had received an e-mail from Jack Lail. I opened it, and it said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. My first thought was it was an accident and how horrible a tragedy like that would be, but I never thought of terrorism. Then a few minutes later I got another e-mail from Mr. Lail, and it mentioned the second plane. Then I knew something was seriously wrong. We all went to the break room and looked at the devistation, and we were all sent home not long after that. My kids at the time were 7, 4 and 4, and I had no ords to explain to them what had just happened.

Victoria Ostermayr September 14, 2011 - 9:39 am

I was walking my dog, Tony, at 911 and noticed that at our housing the flag was at half mast. I said a quick prayer for our President and raced inside and turned on my TV. All I could do was cry and I was in disbelief at what was happening–I just saw the plane hit the second tower and then the pentagone. It was the worst thing to happen to our country and I wished that I could trade my life for one of our heros that had families because I don’t and someone would miss them a lot more. I was filled with grief that day and every day it comes around I cry and just can’t believe it was 10 yrs. ago. I am glad they made a memorial for the families and for us and the rest of the world. America will never be defeated; even though that day will live forever in my thoughts and mind. I think and pray for their families every time the horrible anniversary comes around. God Bless America V.O.

Kathy Warner September 14, 2011 - 9:40 am

I am a Tennessee alum living in New York City for the past 13 years. At the time of 9/11, I was working in Manhattan on the 23rd floor of an office building at the corner of 34th Street and Park Avenue. We saw the events unfolding from our office windows. I recall people running through our building and others screaming. It didn’t make sense at first as I tried to get my head around what was happening. After I realized it was a terrorist attack, it was difficult to concentrate on anything.

We were given the option of leaving the office to go home, or if we couldn’t get home, we could stay at the office. The rumor was that all bridges and tunnels, plus subways were closed or not running. Given we were very close to the Empire State Building, I decided to take my chances and walk home. Luckily, the Queensboro Bridge was open going out of the City. It took me about an 1 1/2 to walk home. After getting home, I called my parents to let them know I was OK, then proceeded to contact my friends in NYC to find out if they were OK.

In the weeks after, it was like sleepwalking around the City. I recall the smell of 9/11 being something that lingered for several weeks. It was hard to take. I saw the posters from those trying to find their loved ones, the memorials at Union Square.

Some have questioned why I still live here. For me it’s home and I refuse to let terrorists determine my life.

Peter D. Van de Vate September 14, 2011 - 9:41 am

I was born on September 10, 1960, at Rochester, NY. My grandfather was vborn in Harlem in 1898. We are German. He and his father and brothers owned a plumbing supply concern in New York City. As he approached retirement around 1979, the Port Authority condemned a warehouse his family owned in Lower Manhattan so that it could build the World Trade Center. I slept in on September 11, only to wake up to the first plane having hit. Being a New Yorker, I was thinking “Hech five planes have hit the Empire State Building; what a bad accident”. Then the next plane hit. Well, at that point it was obvious what was going on. A fellow who owned a store around the corner from me was a retired fighter pilot.. It took four months for them to get enough DNA to say that his brother perished in one of the towers. He was apparently on a floor that took a direct hit from one of the planes. What a far reaching tragedy.

Ross Greene September 14, 2011 - 9:42 am

I am a 1962 and 1963 graduate from UTK in the college of engineering. I have posted an article “9/11…REFLECTION AND PROJECTION” on my memories of 9/11 on a Knoxville website, . It can be reached at

Peter D. Van de Vate September 14, 2011 - 9:43 am

Correction. Granddad retired around 1970. The buildings went up a year or so later.

Leo Hilzendeger September 14, 2011 - 9:45 am

I was at my second semester at UT out of my home country of Brazil; I remember like it was today. It was a Tuesday, I didn’t have classes in the morning but did have an Engineering Fundamentals 101 test that afternoon.
I woke up to study as the phone rang and my father was asking me if I was OK, and telling me that what was happening was just crazy. I was still half asleep and confused about what was going on when my roommate walks in and as he turns on the TV he says “New York City is under attack”;
As we could see the picture on the TV we saw one of the towers collapse and from then on it was chaos as I watched the news non-stop and was getting e-mails and phone calls from friends and family back home.
Unfortunately, the College of Engineering did not cancel classes that afternoon and did not cancel our test. My whole section had to take our scheduled test during our lab. That, in my opinion, was very inconsiderate.
The next few days were scary as I saw my dorm, Hess Hall get empty as people were going home to be with their loved ones. Myself and other students whose homes were abroad or not within driving distance from Knoxville were stranded due to all airports being closed.
What happened the following days was heart warming, as the blood donation lines were huge in the Hess Hall lobby, more than one candle light vigil was held at the Hess front steps and there was a very tight bond all over campus.
I’ve been living in the US for 10 years now and am working towards my citizenship but part of me automatically became an American, right then, on September 11th, 2001.

L. Ralph Atchley September 14, 2011 - 9:54 am

I spent my whole career with Martin Co./Martin Marietta/Lockheed Martin in Orlando, Florida. At the time of 9/11, I was the Program Director for the Patriot Missile Program. On that date, I was on one of my many trips to Greece in support of our building Launchers and Missiles there. I was walking into the Hilton Hotel in Athens when my wife called. She asked me if I was where I could watch TV and then briefly told me about the first airplane. I rushed up to my room and tuned in CNN International and called her back. Together, we watched the second plane hit the tower in NYC. I had a very sinking feeling, not only for what had happened to may thousands of lives and to our great country, but because I was out of the USA and knew that returning would be difficult.
I finally excaped Athens to London via British Air and waited for Delta to resume service. I made it on the first Delta flight out of Gatwick when flights to the USA resumed on Saturday morning. As we approached NYC the pilot flew slightly to the west of the city, such that we could easily see the smoking rubble from the twin towers. Then he did the same as we passed Washington, DC.. Again, we had a very clear view of the damage at the Pentagon. Both sights were overwhelming and will be burned in my memory forever

Laureen Hooker Moyer September 14, 2011 - 9:55 am

I, at age 55, was sitting in my dorm room at Virginia Theological Seminary studying when the plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11. There had been a series of explosions in DC recently whereby pothole covers would explode off the sewers because of a buildup of methane gas. I presumed that that is what had happened. I sat there waiting for the emergency sirens to begin…and begin they did: they came from everywhere. Then the jets, flying low, screeched over head as our national security kicked in. The noise was deafening and terrifying. And then we found out what really had happened…

Luke September 14, 2011 - 9:56 am

I was two weeks into my freshman year. I woke up in Hess Hall, blurry eyed and ready for a shower. A friend from high school sent me an AOL Instant Message (remember those?) alerting me about a plane in New York City. Two things stand out from that day: the scared and confused looks on student faces all over campus and the fact that some professors decided NOT to cancel class. After a day of realizing that life is so short, I made a courageous first phone call that night to the girl that is now my wife.

Rebecca Smith Morrison September 14, 2011 - 9:56 am

On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was watching the Today Show and waiting on my husband, Ken, to return from getting gas for our trip to Knoxville. We live in Tampa, FL and my mother had died the night before and we were heading to Knoxville for the funeral services. I recall that when the first plane struck the tower, Kati Couric made a remark which I have yet to hear repeated that there must be a problem with air traffic control, not knowing yet what was actually happening to America. I recall us leaving shortly after that and as we drove toward the interstate we saw the aircraft one after another landing at TIA. We actually learned from the radio the devastation that was taking place in New York. God Bless America!

David P. Wilson September 14, 2011 - 9:56 am

I was living on 56th Street on New York’s West side. I had turned on the television to see Channel One’s “In the Papers” that always comes on between 8:45 and 9:00. A news reader announced that a runner, doing his daily run downtown had just seen a tire land ahead of him in the street. It was then announced that there was a fire at the World Trade Center. Cameras soon focused on the Towers and, as they did, we could see the second plane’s approach. My son then phoned me to say that this might be only the beginning of a terrorist attack. As the events of this horrific day played out I was among those prepared to give blood. It was devastating to later learn that there were no survirors.

Jean Gibson, PhD, RN September 14, 2011 - 9:57 am

My husband and I were visiting our daughter Tara just across the bridge from the WTC in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn when we received a call about 9:30 a.m. from our son Nick, who was on a geology field trip in California. “Are you guys okay?” he asked in a rather concerned voice. We were still sleeping, having been up talking till about 3 a.m., and had no idea anything was happening. He told us, and with horror, we like everyone else in the country turned on the TV. Some time later, we went up to the roof, only to see the smoke of the collapsed buildings and burned paper floating through the air around the apartment building. We were all in shock that day, as Tara’s friends straggled in, dust covered, to her apartment one by one, having walked home across the bridge from Manhattan. One of the young women she worked with at Santa Fe Grill restaurant (that was during her acting days) came to work that evening, having heard just minutes before that her brother and father were alive (each worked in a different tower). Many restaurants were opening and providing complimentary food, demonstrating warmth seldom seen before by visitors to New York, where people often seem distant, in an effort to protect some personal space. Firefighters getting off their shift came in to the restaurant shell-shocked. The fire station near her apartment and restaurant (she lived over the restaurant) was the closest to the twin towers (just through the tunnel). Gordon (my husband who is a retired physician now) drove to the nearby hospital to offer help and was told there were no incoming casualties. While there, he saw and offered assistance and a ride to a dazed, dust-covered man walking home to Coney Island, miles away. He kept asking if he had made the right decision to send his workers and himself home from his office just next to the towers. Gordon assured him he did the right thing and encouraged him to now take care of himself and just be with his family..

Within a day, the Red Cross had set up shelters and processing stations throughout the city. Gordon and I volunteered to help. He and a team of other physicians went house to house in the WTC neighborhood, checking on people who had decided not to leave their homes. I, as a psychologist, was sent for a couple of days to a school in Manhattan, which was housing people who had been stranded in the city (no planes leaving). I had to travel very early in the morning in the dark, by subway, then by bus, followed by walking through a scary neighborhood with homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk. Having already tripped and fallen down the concrete steps as I left my daughter’s apartment, I was feeling pretty fragile myself by the time I arrived. The anxiety of the people there needing support erased that fragility in me very quickly, and I was immediately immersed in my reason for being there.

A couple of days later, I was assigned to work in the Family Service Center, set up in one of the ports on the west side of Manhattan to accommodate the needs of the families of the missing persons from the WTC towers. It was amazing how the place had been converted to look like a convention center hotel, with beautiful furniture and live plants. Offices were set up for all the companies and organizations which had been in the WTC, for a satellite mayor’s office, as well as for massage areas, computer rooms, children’s play area, dining rooms, etc…. Each area was separated by drapes or temporary dividers. I was assigned primarily to the coffee shop, where I simply sat and talked to people coming in for coffee and/or a snack. One day, I was assigned to ride the buses between “ground zero”, the hotels housing families and the family center. Sounds simple enough, but it wasn’t. It was so much more difficult than being a flight nurse in Vietnam. In fact, I would say it was gut-wrenching. Everyone with whom I had contact had lost someone-spouse, parent, child, sibling. We were trying to help them feel some sense of purpose and control by putting up posters and contacting hospitals and employers, etc., while still holding out some hope for survivors. Some were already starting to realize their loss and to grieve, and with them, we did grief work.

One day, a family member from Europe, told me he had been down to the WTC site looking for a hospital, and because he was wearing a family badge, the workers allowed him in to see the area. He said he wanted his other siblings to go there also, because seeing the area helped him realize his sister was really gone. We went to the mayor’s office to ask but were told no. The next day another entire family to whom I was providing support asked to go. Still, the answer was no. Then, in one of our daily briefings, the announcement was made that anyone suggesting a trip to ground zero would be “fired”. I had not suggested this to anyone, but since several people had requested to go, I rather meekly enquired as to the objection to such visits. “We don’t have enough people to go with them,” was the answer. All I could think was that that was not an adequate reason. The next morning, I heard that a woman who was going home had been allowed to visit the site. Later that day, as I was talking to a woman who had lost her 32 year old daughter, the mayor came in. The woman rushed to him for support. As he embraced the tearful woman, I walked over, waited for an appropriate moment, and very quietly thanked him for allowing someone to visit the site. He looked at me and said “Really? I wasn’t sure if that would be a wise thing to do or not.” Risking my “career” as a Red Cross volunteer, I said that I thought that it would not be appropriate to push people to go, but that if someone wanted to go, it could be very helpful in providing not closure but some sense of the reality of the loss of their loved one, thus facilitating the process of grieving. Within a day or so, boats began taking family members who desired to go down near the site, and those who wished to disembark were allowed to do so. The families were accompanied by chaplains, of whom there was an abundance.

We were required to debrief with a mental health worker daily, to be sure that we were handling the stress without suffering what we call compassion fatigue. After just under two weeks of volunteering, I knew that I needed to leave. We continued our planned vacation to see the leaves turn in New England. And like everyone in America, we grieved.

Anthony Howard September 14, 2011 - 9:59 am

On the morning of 9/11 – 2001, I was working at the Ford Motor Company Technical Center in Dearborn, MI. What started out as a typical day with the usual hustle and flow of activity, quickly changed. I remember hearing the undertones of people talking about a breaking news story being reported on the internet; “A passenger plane strikes the North Tower of the World Trade Center”. Immediately after, the undertone turned to an overwhelming sense of nervousness. As the speculation over the fact that this incident and the subsequent strike on the South Tower may be an act of terrorism, all seemed to go eerily silent. I remember switching on one of the television monitors in the hallway of the engineering building I was in and tuning to the live broadcast of ABC News. It was at that point we all came face to face with the stark reality of that morning’s events. An unimaginable tragedy has just occurred. Many of us, huddled around that television to see and to feel the effects of cruelty and hatred unfold, only to witness the sunken emptiness as we watched the first then the second tower collapse. On the faces of many of my co-workers was the blank stare that said, “What just happened?”, or “What do I do now?” Being at Ford, you are impacted by the Middle Eastern culture. You see Dearborn, MI has the largest Middle Eastern population outside of the Middle East. Many of them work at Ford as well as interact with Ford employees through community involvement or economic avenues. Because of this daily interaction with the people and the culture, I was left with a shared perspective as an African-American, as that experienced by my Middle Eastern counterparts; the pain I felt as an American; the fear that they themselves would become targets for retribution. Soon after this event The Ford leadership felt that for the safety of all employees, that all of its’ facilities would close for the day. I felt that at that time it was critical that we as non-Middle Easterners NOT pull away, but rather continue the open dialog that we have always shared. Over time, I have been able to continue some valuable friendship. Through conversation, I have discovered that there are many shared hopes and fears in the all of the population. We just have to be brave enough to open ourselves and listen.

Jim Richardson September 14, 2011 - 10:05 am

The first time I saw the World Trade Center up close and personal was in 1986 -a year after graduating UT- when I had gone to NY to do a play with some fellow alumni. One of my former classmates took me from the airport directly to lower Manhattan where I looked straight up and saw no end to the massive structures. Before that night, my only image of the WTC was seeing King Kong astride it in the 1976 movie version. I never dreamed that the image forever burned into my mind was seeing it crumble before my eyes on television 15 years later. Working for a law firm, I was in the Knox County court house that morning of Sept 11th, and I recall a woman on the elevator casually mentioning that a plane had hit the twin towers. I imagined a small engine plane like the one that crashed into the Empire State Building in the thirties. Then I heard someone use the phrase “terrorist attack.” By the time I got back to the office, most of my co-workers were gathered around a small TV staring in disbelief at the events unfolding before our eyes. I remember literally pinching myself on the leg to see if I could wake myself from the nightmare when I witnessed the 2nd tower crumble. No one in the room said a word; shock and dread and numbness overtook everyone. When I see the footage today, the same feeling comes over me. It’s especially disturbing yet fascinating to me to watch footage of the planes hitting the towers, and to wonder what the last minutes of the innocent passengers’ lives were like. My father is 90 years old, and has lived through two horrific attacks on American soil: both Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks. It’s hopefully the last one my father will live through, but I doubt it’s the last one I’ll see. It’s realizing things like that that assure me life goes on, even when the world seems like it’s ending, and that our country can endure and go on. I’m constantly amazed at the resilience of the human spirit. Not long ago, an acquaintance over the phone told me he thinks of the world as forever changed by 9/11, but I’m not so sure I agree. I have always realized that America is the teenager of the world, and we can be naive about our vulnerability and our position in the world. 9/11 has changed us in that regard. Looking back on 9/11, the thing that may have changed in me is the amazement that comes from realizing just how people can show bravery and strength in the most dire circumstances, whether it’s rushing into a collapsing building to save someone, or wrestling a terrorist to the floor of a crashing plane, knowing you aren’t going to survive but it’s time to step up to the plate. It’s things like that that make me proud and help me realize we can live on and endure.

Dee Reynolds September 14, 2011 - 10:25 am

Mid- afternoon on September 11, 2011, I was walking back to the hotel in Stockholm, Sweden after a rainy, shopping day in the old area with cobble stone streets and I noticed the very strange, worried looks on the faces of some of our travel group of US bankers and spouses . They explained, “America is under attack ! “. I fell into shock with my spouse and fellow bankers at the TV showing live the attack of the 2nd twin tower occurring around 4pm and realizing it was mid-morning in New York City at that time. When the plane crashed into the Pentagon our group grew full of dread and disbelief. Sweden is perpetually gloomy and rainy, but the New York day was a crisp, sunny day. It is a vivid memory of fear and unbelievable grief in not being at home in Tennessee with my two young daughters . I realized how much life priorities can shift so quickly. The airports closed and none of us could go home and we felt stuck and isolated watching the only English language TV channel CNN for hours and days on end. I read the Swedish /English bible there in the hotel room. The next day headlines of the newspaper were in Swedish but the pictures and bold writing were clear. Our travel group were advised to remove any evidence that we were American and not to talk about anything political , although we were hungry for current news. I listened to some radical discussions in the hotel bar about the arrogance of Americans. I also encountered many faces of Swedish comradship who flew their flags at half -staff in respect. About ten days later we finally got home to Tennessee and I saw all the cars flying American flags and it made me cry.

Chris Pabon September 14, 2011 - 10:28 am

I was living in DC and getting ready to go to work. All of a sudden my housemate called up to the attic where my room was to tell me a plane had crashed into one of the Towers. Then the other plane crashed. We were listening to a live report from the Pentagon when the plane hit it. The sounds of chaos and then silence were very sobering. Over the next few days as I went to work I could see army personnel armed to the teeth on the streets and tanks on select corners. The most dark reminder of all was the gaping, smoldering hole in the Pentagon. I still live in DC but those days will forever remain vividly etched in my memory.

Penny Johnson September 14, 2011 - 10:40 am

I was having a mammogram. On returning to my car I noticed that NPR was still running the morning news and wondered why WUOT was not playing classical music. Returned to campus to find everyone in the department watching TV. As things became clearer, I seemed to be the only person not surprised by the attack – after all, most other countries in the world have been attacked at some time, so why not the USA, with all the enemies our foreign policy creates? On my way to the library, I heard the hot-dog seller ranting about “bombing Islam” – and I despaired. Despaired that no one seemed to be asking the question “Why?” All those innocents – at Lockerbie, in New York, in London, in Madrid, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine, in Israel. Every life equal – every life worth a memorial. Sober reflection seemed to me more appropriate than the jingoistic knee-jerk reaction that followed. But then there was Bush and his cronies stoking the flames. The rest is history.

Joshua Griffin September 14, 2011 - 10:41 am

We Shall Never Forget

As I sit here on this day, the 10-year anniversary of the falling of the Twin Towers, I reflect on that unforgettable day in my life. From the moment my roommate burst in the room, just weeks into our freshman year of college, I knew that it wasn’t going to be a typical day. The next few hours, days, months were spent in complete disbelief of what had befallen our great nation. With a bang, Tony threw the door open and said, “We’re going to war, man, we’re going to war!!” I was still groggy eyed by being suddenly awoken, when I said “What the hell are you talkin’ about?” “They bombed the Twin Towers,” he replied, still slightly ignorant to the facts of the situation, “they blew up the Pentagon, we are going to war!!”My reply:


I didn’t know what to think, what to believe; “This guy is NUTS!!” So I got myself ready for class, walked out of my dorm room in North Carrick, into the crowd of students bustling and hustling to get to class, but wait….. “Where is everyone??” The normally busy Presidential Courtyard was almost empty. Now only a few people, all with gloomy looks on their faces and that look, the same look as mine, of being half awake and shocked of the news, were all to be found straggling to class.

As I walked across campus, it was the same everywhere I looked. No flocks of students hurrying out of Hess Hall, no one rushing to cross the street and beat the traffic near the Hodges Library and McClung Towers. Only a few students were out now because most classes had already been cancelled. Upon entering the University Center, I was SHOCKED to see the amount of students in the building as I headed to my 300+ student class. The few TVs mounted to and hanging from the ceiling, all reporting the same story; the terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.Each TV surrounded by some 30 or more students and the normally, free-flowing, hallway was packed with students standing, dumbfounded at the sites on the screen.

After a few minutes, I made my way into the classroom and found my normal seat next to my cousin, Candace. The room was unusually loud, as everyone was discussing the events of the morning. Instead of continuing into my daily ritual of sitting down, signing in, an assuming the best sleeping position that I would usually get in to help pass the time, my cousin and I began to chat about what had happened and suddenly deterred our thoughts to my aunts that lived in the D.C. area, each of whom had previously worked at the Pentagon. As class began, the professor announced that she had a nephew that worked in the Twin Towers, in New York, and requested a moment of silence. A few moments later class resumed and the professor began the days lecture. I had already stopped listening as did a majortiy of the students. You could hear the voices slowly begin to mumble and rumble as the professor continued. I looked to my cousin and simply said, “I can’t be here anymore, this is all to insane… I’ll call you later.”

I headed out the door, I was already grabbing my phone to call and begin trying to get in-touch with my aunts. As I pushed through the crowds of students, I could hear the recording on the phone “All circuits are busy, please hang up and try your call again.” (I later heard on the news to not try to call the area because the lines were needed to be used for emergency only.) I continued on my way back to my dorm; calling my sisters, calling my parents, calling family. I remember that as I crossed the courtyard, and I can still hear the song as if it were only yesterday, Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” was being blared from a dorm room near the top floor of Reese Hall. As many times as I have heard that song in my life, it never seemed as beautiful as it did on this day. Almost as if adding a surreal soundtrack to a day that will always be remembered by so many people, the song rang across the courtyard, echoed between the buildings, right into the ears of the students as they sat on the benches and in the grass, all silent, listening to this beautiful song. Even as odd of a feeling that we all shared already, this song gave the moment the most euphoric feeling that I have ever felt in my life. It had such a strong emotional pull on me, that I stopped in my tracks and glanced up in the sky, something I hadn’t done at all that day because I was walking with my head down the entire day, reminiscing on my visit to New York just four months earlier, and viewing the Twin Towers from atop the Empire State building. As I gazed up, I looked into a baby blue sky, painted with fluffy clouds and warm from the late summer, midday sun. I felt my throat begin to knot, my stomach began to turn, and as my eyes began to water. I sat down and continued to stare at the sky for the next fifteen minutes, as the song continued to play on repeat, and I cried and thought to myself, “What a wonderful world!” I shall never forget the date, September the 11th, 2001, the day that changed our nation and our world.

Josh Griffin 9/11/11

Lewis Chilton September 14, 2011 - 10:41 am

At the time of the attacks, I was attending graduate business school at Columbia University in Manhattan. While I have many memories of that day and the weeks that followed, I’ll share one anecdote that demonstrates the unique mood of the city during that event. After the second plane hit and before either tower fell, not knowing what to do I left my apartment and started walking towards the university. At 114th & Amsterdam, a guy comes up to me and grabs my arm: “I’ve heard there are more planes out there. Have you heard that?” Normally in NYC you’d be freaked out by a stranger intentionally touching you but for some reason this was different. He was certainly excitable, but not crazy. I said no, thanked him and then went on about my way. Turns out of course he was right … there were two more planes out there but not headed to NYC. The guy wasn’t scared or panicked, more concerned. He seemed to be not only sharing his fears but also warning me. Those days and weeks that followed saw an incredible city brought together in a once-in-a-lifetime way. September 11th was a terrible day but it shows how great America is that it made us stronger, one person at a time.

SUSAN DAWSON September 14, 2011 - 10:51 am

I am a 1965 UT-K graduate and have been working in Washington, DC ever since graduating. Because I was working at the headquarters building at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Washington, D.C., I heard about the terrorist attacks much sooner than many others did and left the building soon after hearing about the plane going into the Pentagon. I walked down Independence Avenue to flag down a taxi to get me home In Alexandria, just across the river because I was being cautious not to take the subway – but to no avail. Finally, after turning my ankle and giving up on a taxi, I headed back to the FAA building.

A woman in a car was stopped at the light at a street beside the FAA building. I knocked on her front passenger window. When she rolled down the window, I said, “Are you going home?” She said, “Yes.” Without asking where “home” was, I said, “May I come with you?” And she said, “Yes, get in.” We were complete strangers to each other, although I suspect that we “knew” that each was an FAA employee because of the location of the incident. She was gracious enough to let me use cell phone to call my husband in Alexandria. We took an alternate route out of town with no problem and went through the southeastern part of DC (Annacostia) where things looked pretty normal – nothing like the chaos on the other side of the river.

Since the driver’s home was in Fort Washington, Maryland, she dropped me off at a Maryland shopping Home Depot where my husband was able to come and pick me up. We actually got to the parking lot faster than my husband did, as all traffic leaving any where near the Pentagon was at a standstill (and we live a couple miles from the Pentagon). I was so grateful for my driver’s generosity that I sent her cut flowers the next week. Truly an instance of strangers helping strangers during a disaster

Alexander Trevino September 14, 2011 - 10:59 am

I was in Washington DC on Monday, September 10th for an audition with the Air Force Band at Bolling Air Force Base. Having flown to DC for the audition from Texas, I was to return the afternoon of the 11th, flying out of Dulles. It had rained all day on the 10th, so as I lay in bed in my hotel across the river from the Pentagon near Bolling, I thought I heard the rumbling of thunder, and began to revaluate my arrival time at the airport (I did not want to be late, and wasn’t sure what the rain would do to my travel time to the airport. The clock radio alarm turned on and they were talking about plane that had crashed into the WTC, so I immediately turned on the television–what I saw was a small picture insert in the bottom of the screen of the Towers burning, but the full screen was showing a large fire and the banner read “Helicopter crash at Pentagon”
After figuring out what was going on, I made a call to the rental car company and let them know I wasn’t bringing the car back today, and that I was driving to Texas with it. After several minutes, the representative relented and changed my contract to a one way to DFW in Dallas. Having never driven in the area, I filled up with gas, bought a map, and tried to get out of DC before the next inevitable disaster occurred (nobody knew if there were more planes, Air Force One was missing, and as I drove across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in heavy traffic, I could see the smoke rising from the Pentagon.

As chance would have it, Ed Powell, at the time an assistant professor of Music at UT Knoxville and a very close friend of mine from Texas offered for me to stay with him that evening (exactly halfway between DC and Dallas, it would seem, was Knoxville). Ed had been trying to convince me to apply for graduate school at UT and work with the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. After arriving late the evening of September 11th, I was able to call my family and friends to let them know I was ok (everyone know I was supposed to be flying that day, and because I did not have a phone charger with me–my trip was only to be for 24hours max) I had to keep it off all day to preserve the battery power remaining, only turning it on every hour to check for messages).

the next morning, Ed convinced me to come to campus to meet with Gary Sousa and discuss the graduate assistantships offered by the band program. As there was little chance of me actually visiting UT under normal circumstances, due to the distance and my job at the current time, Ed convinced me to tai advantage of the fact that I was there in Knoxville and meet with Gary. That something fortuitous as this could come from something so horrible, I can’t even begin to understand much less explain. But I did meet with Gary, and we had a great talk, and he invited me to audition in the spring. I did, and was accepted into the Masters program at UT. I graduated in 2004, and because of the experience gained at UT and working with Gary Sousa, Don Ryder, Ed Powell, and the Pride, I was immediately accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Washington, graduating in June of 2008 with a Ph.D. in music education. I am currently the director of Athletic Bands at Old Dominion University, serving since 2007.

I drove the rest of my trip to Texas alone, listening to the radio reports and when my heart seemed to be the lowest it could be, I would think about the chance that was presented to me in the middle of a disaster beyond all imagining. I think about this every time the anniversary comes around–I still have the painful memories from that day (spending the entire drive alone with no one to talk to or console or be consoled by I think has affected me more than actually seeing the images on television, two days after the towers fell.). But I am also grateful that somehow an opportunity of a lifetime had presented itself, and when I look at my life and the major junctions in it, 9/11 is one, not only for the obvious affect it caused all of our lives, but because I often question, quietly and perhaps selfishly, where I would be if that day had been like any other day. My time at UT was a defining moment in my life and my career, more so than 9/11 was, but that they are intertwined forever as a chapter in my life is bittersweet, to say the least. My career up until now has been supported by the experiences I had at UT–I quite simply could not be doing the things that I am doing if not for the education and experience I received at UT. That a price so high seems to have been paid for my life to be directed there is something I will have to work through, I guess. Regardless, I am thankful that I was (and always will remain) a Volunteer.

Alexander Treviño
MM ’04

Tim Kurtz September 14, 2011 - 11:02 am

I was a United Pilot and military reserve pilot. Needless to say my life was greatly impacted.

The College of Law readmitted me after a long absence. I am now a practicing attorney and am eternally grateful for the help they extended to me.

Jennifer Pucci Starr September 14, 2011 - 11:28 am

On 9/11/01 I was working in Manhattan. I was running a little late this morning so I was on the subway when the first plane hit. I got out of the subway at Union Square, 14th Street, and saw lots of people looking up and south and pointing. I joined the crowd and someone said “the World Trade Center is on fire, but we don’t know why, we think a plane hit it.” Just a moment later then next plane hit, we weren’t at an angle to see that plane, but the second tower was suddenly engulfed with smoke and it definitely did not look like it could have been a cause of the first. Someone next to me fainted and everyone tried to use their cell phones but we were not getting service. I worked a block away so I rushed to the office to tell them what I saw, obviously they all saw it too. They were huddled around the computer in our president’s office. Speculations were flying and we were all periodically going to the far window where we could see the buildings. I called my mother in Knoxville and told her to turn on the news, and that I was alright. When the first tower collapsed some of us shrieked, others cried. A few of my colleagues were not there, they lived close to the site, one colleague was in a panic because her father worked down there. We all decided to go home, but since some lived in the neighboring Burroughs and the bridges and tunnels were closed they didn’t know what to do. I brought two friends over to my grandmother’s gallery on 18th street to see her and then we met my roommate went to her apartment on 22nd. Another of my roommates also worked down there and we could not get in touch with him…we decided to walk home to 75th Street…the city was so quiet, tons of people in the streets though. Periodically we would see someone covered in dust, they come from the area and were safe. We finally made it home and an hour later our roommate showed up also covered…he was fine, but he was shaken. We all were. We didn’t go back to work that week, and when we did we were all changed forever. My colleagues from that day have been posting messages to me on Facebook, some I haven’t talked to for years now, but we shared this together and we will always be bonded from that day.

John K. Patterson September 14, 2011 - 11:43 am

I used to work for Empire Blue Cross in New York. My office was on the 26th floor of WTC1. I saw the towers, smoking, from the train on the way into New York. The subway from Penn Station went no further than 14th Street. My company lost nine employees that day.

william r. delzell September 14, 2011 - 11:44 am

First of all, I am an alumnus from the class of 1980 when I received my M.A. in U.S./Latin American History.

When 9/11 occurred, I was working in Holyoke, Massachusetts, as a Telecommunications Relay Operator where I served as a “human wire” between voice-telephone users and tty-users. The tragedy occurred while I was processing a phone call when an employee on break heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Towers on the break-room’s television receiver.

A few employees were so traumatized that they had to go home to recuperate for the rest of the day.

Maybe I should have been panic-stricken too, but for some reason, I was not. Like all Americans, I was outraged at what happened and it certainly scared me, but it did NOT surprise me. I knew that our country, I am sad to say, has been guilty many times in the past of committing terrorist activities against innocent people. Blatant examples go all the way back to our persecution of Native Americans. A part of me considered this as a form of retaliation, no matter how unjustified on the part of the hijakers towards our foreign policy.

Yes, I wanted the hi-jackers captured and tried as war criminals just like most Americans, but what scared me the most about this ordeal was less the horrible crime that the hi-jackers committed than how our country’s politicians and other people in high places would respond to this crisis. Would they cynically exploit the American peoples’ fear and outrage for their own selfish, power-hungry, purposes. Would they equate all dissent with a lacki of patriotism? Would they use this as an excuse to plunge the country into a reckless war?, Would those in power try to turn our country into a dictatorship in the name of national security? Could we have cushioned the impact of this attack by reducing our over-dependence on foreign oil and on private automobiles? Couild we have made common sacrifices in our lifestyles like switching to public transportation as opposed to total dependency on the private automobile, and made the transitiion to non-fossil fuels?

I want the criminals who committed 9/11 punished, but I oppose Bush’s and Obama’s decision for a reckless military solution that needlessly endangers U.S. military and civilian lives as well as the lives of many innocent Mid Easterners. Our current approach will only make the U.S. less safe by causing all those people who were originally on OUR side into viewing us, instead as the bullies and agressors.

We need to find the perpetuators without destroying the civilian democratic institutions that made our country great and to make sure that the trials for the dependents follow due process of law instead of vigilante kangeroo court “justice.”

On the day that 9/11 happened after work, I remember how quiet things were in the city of Springfield, where I lived close to Holyoke. One saw no planes in the air, and even the people on the streets were quiet. For the first few days, I saw no hysteria that I feared–that would come a few weeks later when Bush decided on a MILITARY solution instead of an international police solution against the 9/11 terrorists. From that point on, I feared our country was headed toward disaster.

Kim Love September 14, 2011 - 11:48 am

I worked for a US Senator in Washington, DC at the time. It was a normal day, pay-day to be specific b/c I remember being able to buy a cup of coffee from the “good” coffee shop. On the way out of the office, we noticed the first plane, which was being reported as a Cessna. After getting coffee and settling back at my desk, the second plane made impact. The air around the office changed dramatically, and right away I got a phone call from my father to make sure everything was okay. I assured him everything was totally fine, and told him I would call him later. A little rattled, I walked over to the window to just look. The view was a beautiful angle of the Capitol, and the Mall which rolls all the way to the Potomac. That’s when I noticed the black smoke down the Mall, and a plane circling the top of the smoke. We were hearing reports of people setting fires on the Mall, but it seemed further down. That’s when a co-worker burst into the room to shout that the Pentagon was hit, as he was on the phone with someone there when it was hit. I knew then that we had to get out. I remember trying to keep it together and act as calm as possible, while I was about to shake out of my heels. When the Senator arrived, a stoic, larger than life character, he stood motionless and speechless as he saw what was happening on the television. We were immediately evacuated once the Capitol was secured, with the news that there was another plane in the air and it was certainly headed to DC. When leaving it was panic and confusion, then sadness and then just numb. We all watched in a local pub the events that unfolded from that moment on, and it still is unbelievable what was happening 3 miles away. I was concerned with a good cup of coffee that morning, and then terrorism & car bombs that afternoon. I cannot even explain how it makes me feel to think of the loss and devastation that happened to so many that day.

Ed Wensell September 14, 2011 - 12:53 pm

As the Operations Manager for GKN in Tallassee Alabama, I was out on the factory floor when one of my reports came running up to me with the news. I couldn’t believe it and thought it had to be a joke as something this devastation could happen in our country. I turned on the TV in my office and all the channels were broadcasting the news and I felt a deep sense of sadness come over me. It was a sadness I had never felt before as it was for the victims and our country. In silence, we meditated and prayed for the victims, their families and the rescue people. The sadness could be more aptly describribed as a depression or sorts.

As our company produced aerospace structures for major airplane companies, I wondered how it might affect our business and if we’d be faced with a slowdown that could affect my employees. I knew them all and hurt withthe feeling of how this could have long term ramifications for our town and our country. I guess it could be described as a feeling of helplessness. I wanted to help the victims and their famillies any way I could and I wanted to ensure that our hard working employees were safeguarded, but on that first day, my mind was scrambling and not finding any answers.

In some ways, I think we’ve over reacted with security measures and stereo typing people of the Muslim faith as terrorists, but I know that we’ll never be the same since that day. Just as fear and hatred eventually subsided over the Pearl Harbor bombing, I hope we eventually find some normalcy and a new closeness from all of this.

Cynthia Stiles September 14, 2011 - 2:28 pm

At the time of the 9/11 event, I was a recent PhD graduatefrom the Geology program at UTK and was still in the department as a post-doc. I recall it was an absolutely beautiful morning, clear and crisp – one could see the features on the distant Smokey Mountains. A feeling of autumn was in the air, but the warmth of summer still abided.

I had gone down to the Memorial Union to pick up my hard-back copies of my dissertation. I was so proud to be a graduate of the wonderful program at UTK and to be living in the beauty and serenity of East Tennessee. In the Union, I overheard groups of students heatedly discussing acts terrorism and consequences of war. I thought to myself how engagedthese students are, how good the instructors must be in their classes to get them thinking about such intense subjects. Then I saw the images on the televisions down near the bowling alley and, dissertation copies in hand, stood and watched in disbelief. I then hurried back up to the Geology Buildlng and watched with our faculty and staff as the buildings fell and the shared the sadness.

My cell phone rang and it was a wrong number. I later realized that the local people on the other end were trying to reach family in New York, but had failed to dial the area code. I wondered if they made contact, praying for their consolation.

The most frightening thing for me was not my own experience, but the reaction of another post-doc in the department who had recently arrived from Isreal with her husband and daughter. She was absolutley panicked – overwhelmingly concerned about her husband. “He looks like an Arab – they will hurt him if they see him – I have to find out where he is!” She was unconsolable and she predicted what would happen to this country because of the terrorist attacks. Luckily, she found her husband and daughter unharmed, as I assured her she would. People in East Tennessee are kind and understanding, I told her – more worried about our mutual welfare than targeting a person who has middle eastern features. She and her family moved back to Israel shortly after, and I often wonder how she is doing.

The day was beautiful, the skies cleared of planes were primatively beautiful, reminding us of the wonders all around us and the smallness of human beings. I will always remember feeling safe and secure in the bosom of the East Tennessee Hill, where my heart still resides.

Jim Ed Lane September 14, 2011 - 2:29 pm

Wow, I remember being awoken by one of my fraternity brothers on the morning of 9/11 saying “Wake up! Planes have crashed into the World Trade Centers!” Needless to say, I hopped out and tuned in. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on live television. Several of us gathered around the TV completely in shock. Fires raging, people jumping, news broadcasters completely dumbfounded… it was truly unreal. I don’t think I blinked for the next hour. News of a plane crashing into the pentagon, the towers collapsing, another plane crashing, every flight in the country being grounded… to this day, I still can’t explain what was going through my head during that hour and a half. I don’t think the University of Tennessee knew how to react either, as classes proceeded as scheduled. We had an Ecology class at 10:45. I still remember walking to the hill on that beautiful September day trying to comprehend what had just happened. I would say the attendance for that class was about 50%. I don’t think I heard a word of that lecture. I never will forget the look on everyone’s face on campus that day. You could tell that everyone was in shock. It was all just so unbelievable. I remember going to Old College Inn that night and it being totally packed. Songs like “God Bless the USA” and “Born in the USA” played over and over as students hugged, sang, and cried. I still can’t believe that day really happened.

Donald Bray September 14, 2011 - 3:18 pm

I was a Chief Photographer on the USS Constellation (CV-64) aircraft carrier and we had just completed a 6 month deployment to the Middle East. It was 6 am and we were about 1000 miles east of Hawaii with a ship full of friends and family who were riding us back to San Diego, our home port. I was heading to the bathroom and saw a bunch of my shipmates watching TV in the lounge. A plane had just hit the second twin tower and I asked “what movie is this” they looked at me and one of the guys said this is no movie, we are under attack. I fell into a chair and watched in disbelief. Moments later I received a call asking for my guys to set up television monitors in our hangar bay so that the 1500 extra people on board could watch what was unfolding. This last segment of the deployment went from one of fun and relaxation to one of urgency. We put the throttle down on the engines and prepared ourselves for a quick drop off our families and turn around and go back to the Middle East. Over the next few days the hangar bay was full of civilians with their military sons and daughters sitting among our jets and bombs. You could see the fear and the proudness in the eyes and on the faces of our guest as we received bombs and other necessities from ships coming along side us during our push to San Diego. It will be a time none of us will ever forget.

Mark Brogan September 14, 2011 - 3:55 pm

It was my senior year at UTK. I had just returned from my Army ROTC physical training that morning with my other ROTC buddies I lived with in Andy Holt. I was getting in the shower when my friend Greg Darden said, “hey a plane hit a building”. I didnt think much about it as there is always something sensational happening in the news. As it became clear to us and the rest of the world, this wasnt just another sensational story. Our first thoughts were, “we are getting ready to graduate and become officers in the Army, this means we are actually going have to use our ROTC skills to use”. It was quite a sobering moment to realize this. I had signed up for ROTC In 1998 long before the trumpets of war played.

That day was our “uniform” day on campus. We as others stayed glued to the screen, but also as we went other places throughout the campus that day, it was quite amazing to see how students suddenly turned to us as if to say “what are you guys going to do?” of course we were only students and not in the Army yet, but it was this first taste that told us that we would be called on in the near future to guard our country.

We all commissioned as second lieutenants exactly eight months to the day, May 11, 2002, ready to defend out nation and unsure just where that journey would lead us. I remember the thundering standing ovation we got as we were honored at the graduation as the newest members of our Armed Forces and charged with the leadership of those soldiers in the new conflict.

Ten years later, we have all gone on to military careers that have gone down many different paths. Some we have lost in the conflict. Others such as myself have been severely wounded and lives changed forever. I spent the tenth anniversary of 9-11 as an inpatient at Walter Reed national medical center because of my injuries. Looking back, the realization in that moment of 9-11 that we would be called on is even that much more sobering. I could have never imagined the journey that it would take me on. The purple heart is a medal I never imagined I’d recieve, but on 9-11-01 it became one that certainly I knew was a possibility. For me 9-11 truly is one of the most life changing and pivotal points of my life. I often wonder where I would be now if it hadn’t happened. Certainly not an inpatient in 2011 at Walter Reed with a Purple Heart.

Mark Brogan, Captain
U.S. Army ret.
OIF 05-06

Mary Lee Gift Morton September 14, 2011 - 4:02 pm

To help me move through the whole tragic event, I painted a water color of the NY Skyline in the twilight showing the vacancy of the towers.They were represented by two streams of light.However, I showed the Towers reflected in the water as a sign of hope. My son has the painting hanging in his home in New Jersey close to where the event took place.

Danny Bullington September 14, 2011 - 4:12 pm

II work with 4-H in Knox County. On the morning of 9/11 I was in the middle of Farm Day at the Tennessee Valley Fair. One of my volunteer leaders came up to me and said that a plane had just hit one of the WTC buildings. I thought that a small plane had gotten confused/lost and a tragic accident had occurred. Over the next few hours as reports kept filtering out to us, the reality of what was happening hit me. I was in the midst of 1000 happy kids and parents learning about and petting rabbits, chickens, sheep and horses and in New York a small group of Muslim terrorists were murdering 2000+ innocent people.
I got home that afternoon in time to watch the twin towers collapse.
The next week, my son Travis, a student at UT, drove to New York to work with the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief organization. He slept in the back of his truck and helped prepare 1000’s of meals that were taken down to the workers at the WTC site.

Wendy Banks September 14, 2011 - 4:36 pm

I was living on a U.S. Army base in Japan on 9/11/01. (I went to U.T., my husband is a soldier.) For us, it was late evening September 11 and we were going to bed, but we made one last flip through the Armed Forces Network TV channels… to see the smoking plane embedded in the first of the twin towers. We sat there in shock and watched, bedtime forgotten, as on live TV the second plane hit. My husband and I were up glued to the set for about four more hours.

The next day Camp Zama and our housing area were both on lockdown, gates closed and a tank with armed soldiers standing watch. School was cancelled, and our commissary, PX, and everything else were closed so that there would be no large groups of Americans anywhere as a concentrated target. My husband was “key personnel” so he was allowed to make the trek from housing area to headquarters, but I was told to stay indoors for the day. This level of threat/protection was called “Delta”, immediately up three levels from the old relaxed “Alpha” threat level.

The next day, we were allowed to carry on with our lives as before, though one tank stayed at each gate for weeks, an armed soldier watching from the top position. Our cars were searched often for bombs, everyone’s IDs were checked with each passage into the tiny pieces of America we’d fenced off within the Kanto region of Japan. This was threat level Charlie.

The Japanese people said kind and sympathetic things to us wherever we went–they are a remarkable people. Gifts poured in from Japanese to Americans left and right, little paper-wrapped kindnesses and flowers to offset everyone’s shock and pain.

Ten years have passed and we still are a Army family, though currently living in Heidelberg, Germany. Ten years have passed and though we long ago dropped to threat level Bravo (no one gets into the gate without a valid picture ID), it looks like we may never again see threat level Alpha. Ever on guard, always watching for signs that things aren’t as they should be. That’s the core of terrorism, isn’t it? Stripping away our peace and sense of well-being and replacing them with unease, mistrust, and worry.

Carol J Taylor September 14, 2011 - 4:45 pm

I was en route to London to make a customer call. When I landed at Heathrow airport the pictures were on the TV screen in every pub. I was horrified. All flights were grounded and I remained in London for an extra two weeks before I could return home. I was grateful not be be stuck sleeping on an airport bench! No communications to my home country for several days since all phone lines were jammed. A small price to pay given the many lives lost that day. The whole experience made me realize how much I love my country. I am a UT College of Engineering graduate 1982 and sooo grateful for the opportunities and privileges we have in America.

Margot Kline September 14, 2011 - 5:08 pm

One of my best friends, who grew up with me in Knoxville, has lived in Manhattan for the past 25 years. In 2001, she was the executive assistant to the dean of NYU’s business school, and she and her husband lived in Battery Park City, a block away from the WTC. Her husband worked in WTC building 7 and their son went to day care a couple of blocks away.

On 9-11, I was working at Henson Hall on the UT campus and had just arrived a few minutes before the first plane hit. My husband called to tell me about it and said, “Turn on a radio or get a news station on your computer if you can! A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” While I was on the phone with him the second plane hit and at that point we both knew this was a terrorist attack.

As soon as I hung up from talking to my husband, I dialed my friend to see if she was ok and to find out if her husband’s building was involved at all. Miraculously, I got through. She said she had just talked to her husband, that everything was pandemonium, but that he was safe and his building wasn’t involved because only the two main towers had been hit. She said she was concerned because several of the NYU business school grad students worked in the towers but that the fire department was already on the scene and would get everybody out.

This was before the towers fell.

Hard to imagine, but although everyone on my staff was aware of the situation in New York, we all went on with work pretty much as usual. We had a staff meeting scheduled at 9:00 that was delayed for about 30 minutes, but we went to it as planned.

When we got out of the meeting at about 11:00, both towers had fallen, another plane had hit the Pentagon, and a fourth had gone down in Pennsylvania. All flights had been cancelled, and ORNL had been shut down.

At that point, shock and sadness turned to panic. I remember thinking it might be a good idea to get my two kids from school and get the hell as far away from Oak Ridge as possible. The feeling of doom was that intense, and everyone imagined that any military base, capital building, or federal building nationwide might be the next target.

I tried to call my friend in New York again early that afternoon, because I started hearing the reports of people who had been in the towers talking to loved ones before the buildings fell and saying things like “don’t worry,” “we’ll be out of here soon,” “they’ll get the fire under control and it will all be all right.”

It occurred to me that my friend’s husband might have run toward the buildings to help rather than running away, and could have been crushed. Then I learned that building 7–his building–had caught fire and collapsed.

It was two days before I was able to get a phone connection through to New York again… my friend and her family had thankfully made it out of the area safely. My friend’s husband, however, saw people jumping from buildings at very close range. Their 3-year-old son, along with his daycare teacher and other small children, spent an hour crouched under desks, waiting for parents to come collect their children or for authorities to come and get them safely out of the area. Both her husband and son breathed toxic dust for hours–who knows what effects that will have?

My friends had to evacuate their apartment for weeks, because it was so close to the collapse area and had layers of god-knows-what all over everything. A week after 9-11, crews doing cleanup found a human hand in front of their apartment building. They didn’t tell me that–I read the address Rector Place in a New York Times article that described how difficult search and recovery efforts had been, and I immediately knew where that was.

Before 9-11, I used to visit my friend in New York at least every other year. I remember having drinks at the Winter Garden, walking along the esplanade and pushing the baby in a stroller along with other New York moms, and loving the spirit of the place. I haven’t been back to New York in 10 years, and I’m not sure why except that the idea fills me with dread.

Back in the 90’s, I would always get off at the World Trade Center subway stop to go see my friend. When you exited the platform and went upstairs to get outside, you first walked through a huge shopping mall that made up the ground floor of the trade center towers. It was pretty much like any other mall, with places like Banana Republic, Crate and Barrel–all the expected shops–and restaurants and bars. There were lots of trees outside and it was an altogether lovely, bustling, fun place to be.

It seems so hard to imagine that none of this is there anymore. I can hardly imagine how horrible it must be for people who actually lived through the terror of being there…

This was a very personal thing to me, and I watch the shows about that day now with a sense of tragedy that is as fresh as it was on the day that this happened.

Brian Woodroffe September 14, 2011 - 5:20 pm

I was working like many Americans, as I heard the news we rushed to the corporate breakroom. The first thing I said to myself as I watched the tower #1 collapse was IMPOSSIBLE that a tower with 28 – 32 steel beams each one thicker than the house you live in could cause a building to do a free fall. How about the BBC reporting building 7 falling before it fell. HMMM who was their sources. Jet fuel does not burn at a high enough temp. to melt steel. One thing that can melt steel in seconds is Thermite. Any way it was a sad day that 3,000 Americans lost their lives and it is also a sad decade that over 100,000 civilian deaths men, women , and children have lost their lives in Iraq, because we made a wrong turn looking for Bin laden. That’s a true Christian society. Maybe we should fund a Memorial in Iraq. The U.S. Military fell asleep during Pearl Harbor and 9/11, but we didn’t forget how to become a country of Nation builders around the world. We cannot downsize Military spending just yet, because weapons are about the only thing we still manufacture in the U.S.. Thank your snake oil salesman oh I mean your politicians. What happen to the plane wreckage in shanksville, Pa never saw any did you? I saw a hole in the ground. That’s a first. Read Debunking 9/11 Debunking by David Ray Griffin. Maybe we should go back to fearing the Soviet Union the evil empire. No why go back we can fear the Taliban with boxcutters. Well I got to go, I have to stand in line at the Airport so I can get scanned. Well it did create jobs and we did not have to raise personal income tax. Ron Paul has the best idea on mainting the military and decreasing defense spending. Decrease Nation building. We are not the Roman Empire. More military personnel 51% have donated to Ron Paul including all candidates democrats or republicans. Maybe we should have a tea party with some of our military men and women, because their view may be way different than you think.

Jim Favre September 14, 2011 - 7:09 pm

I was and still live across the river from what was the WTC. Many people in the area who lived higher up on hills and such – or who worked in tall buildings – could see what was actually happening real time. I was driving to work in NJ – already 20 minutes late – and heard the traffic reporter taliking about the first plane hitting the WTC. I immediately thought about the accidental plane crash into the Empire State Building in the 1930’s By the time I arrived at work they started talkng about the second plane. We all knew what that meant. One of my staff wanted to know if she could leave to pick up her daughter at a school even closer to ground zero – in Jersey City. No one knew how widespread the mayhem would be.; I told her to do what she thought best. She left. Wow !
Two years before I went to UT I had worked at 1WTC, floor 72, when it was first opened. I remember one day when the local elevators were not all fucntioning. The 72nd floor was serviced by a bank of elevators – “local” -that ran from the 70-79 floor, up or down to floors 1, 44, or 88. At quitting time one day the elevators that were actually working were always full when they opened on the 72nd floor. Some co-workers and I decided to walk down 72 floors. Twenty minutes later we arrived at the 44th floor where there were express elevators to the first floor. We decided to take a chance on these and were able to get into one and get to the first floor. It would have taken another 30-40 minutes to walk all the way down and my 23 old bones were already very tired ! That’s what hit me first, how could these people climb down all those stairs filled with smoke, dark, and very crowded ! I remembered looking out the windows from my office and not seeing the streets directly below. I had no thoughts at that time
of terrorists flying into my office ! And I still don’g know if some of my colleagues from that time were victims. Lastly,
I never thought that such an event would have touched the UT community as much as it obviously has. Thank you !

Kathy Baldwin September 14, 2011 - 8:30 pm

I was in my second year of the MSSW program and was leaving the School of SW after an early meeting, heading toward my internship with Cherokee Health Systems in Morristown. As I crossed the bridge, I met a classmate who told me about the attacks. At Cherokee, there was a TV in a back conference room and we all checked that TV throughout the work day. I think that one of the psychologists had a friend or family member who worked in or near the Twin Towers, and she was unable, at first, to reach anyone who could tell her if that person was safe. It was on this day that I realized what it meant to be a therapist…I wanted to go home and spend the day quietly, concentrating on the news throughout the day…but because I was a therapist (in training, at that point) my place was at work. At least one of my clients that day was afraid that Oak Ridge would be targeted next.
I’m 62, and I know that my memories of 911 will stay with me as clearly as those of the day the Challenger was lost, and the day that JFK was assassinated…days when we all felt connected and in shock.

Ellen beck grad September 14, 2011 - 8:57 pm

On sept 11th We were on our way into NYC from mamaroneck, NY, which is about half an hour outside the city. We were on the FDR highway when ambulances and fire engines started flying by our car in such large numbers we could barely stay on the road. At one point we looked up ahead and saw a huge stream of black smoke across the sky in front of us. We couldn’t see the towers yet, we were not close enough at that point. We began to hear the reports on the radio about what was happening. We were forced off an exit and told to turn around and leave the city. We did. On the way home we started to think about all of our friends that work everyday at the trade centers. Then a sick feeling came over us as week made our way home to get to a tv to see exactly what was happening. It was such a difficult day. As I went to pick up my kids at school there was a terrible silence. No one was speaking. We all had friends and family in those towers. There was no way to communicate with anyone, no way to find out if they were dead or alive. If they did get out they were just walking as fast as they could north away from the towers. One friend hadn’t heard from her husband. I was on my way to her house when she called to and said he was safe. I pulled off the road and started to cry. It was such a relief. But he was the only one who made it out ok. Friends lost husbands, brothers, fathers, and children. Nothing has been the same since that day for so many. My heart breaks for all the families that are left without their loved one because of this unbelievably cruel act of violence. Even ten years later it’s a sad sad day.

Bill Pleasants September 14, 2011 - 10:32 pm

A retired engineering grad, I was at home when a friend called. “Turn on your TV.”
I saw smoke coming from the first building hit and people on the roof. I thought “Where are the helicopters, there are supposed to be helicopters. Surely they will arrive in a few minutes.” Never to come.

Then I saw repeated videos of a plane striking the second building. With my private pilot experience I was surprised to see the large aircraft bank to maybe 60 degrees in the second before impact.

A while later, the smoke started to diminish, especially from the second building where it was a fraction of its original volume. I thought “at least the worst is over.” Then a huge cloud of dust exploded out around this building near the top. And the top could be seen falling vertically down into this cloud. And the dust cloud expanding and the building falling…all the way down. “This can’t happen. It looks like a controlled demolition. So very strange.” Then the first building went down in a very similar manner. “So very strange.”

Later that day was shown a third building (WTC 7) which collapsed vertically down to the ground. Prior to which, it had not been hit and no smoke was coming from it. “So very strange.” There was a brief interview of, I think, the owner of the WTC. He said this building had been damaged and was dangerous and had to be demolished (paraphrase). I had seen video documentaries of similar building demolitions. It took days for a professional team to equip a building for demolition after detailed planning for this intricate and precise accomplishment. And here it was done with only hours of advance notice? “So very strange.”

Over the intervening years I have seen on the web, reports from many individuals and groups who have analyzed available information and have found discrepancies with the story we are told on TV. Because of my engineering training, I appreciate the work of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Their analysis indicates that it is physically impossible for the impact of the airplanes and subsequent fires to have caused the collapse of the twin towers. This is plausible and relieves the sense of strangeness I felt on that day. And it drops me into a pit of dark questions that I might have considered unthinkable. But then maybe no more unthinkable than the disaster that did in fact happen.

Susan Dawson September 15, 2011 - 7:41 am

Because I was working at the headquarters building at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Washington, D.C., I heard about the terrorist attacks much sooner than many others did and left the building soon after hearing about the plane going into the Pentagon. I walked down Independence Avenue to flag down a taxi to get me home In Alexandria, just across the river because I was being cautious not to take the subway – but to no avail. Finally, after turning my ankle and giving up on a taxi, I headed back to the FAA building.

A woman in a car was stopped at the light at a street beside the FAA building. I knocked on her front passenger window. When she rolled down the window, I said, “Are you going home?” She said, “Yes.” Without asking where “home” was, I said, “May I come with you?” And she said, “Yes, get in.” We were complete strangers to each other, although I suspect that we “knew” that each was an FAA employee because of the location of the incident. She was gracious enough to let me use cell phone to call my husband in Alexandria. We took an alternate route out of town with no problem and went through the southeastern part of DC (Annacostia) where things looked pretty normal – nothing like the chaos on the other side of the river.

Since the driver’s home was in Fort Washington, Maryland, she dropped me off at a Maryland shopping Home Depot where my husband was able to come and pick me up. We actually got to the parking lot faster than my husband did, as all traffic leaving any where near the Pentagon was at a standstill (and we live a couple miles from the Pentagon). I was so grateful for my driver’s generosity that I sent her cut flowers the next week. Truly an instance of strangers helping strangers during a disaster

Mike Stoops September 15, 2011 - 8:18 am

I was on the 35th floor of the North Tower. I was just coming back from the lunch room with my coffee and had not even sat down at my desk, when the building started shaking. There are hundreds, if not thousands of things that I remember from that day. The amazing thing to me is that even now when I concentrate on remembering the events of that day, new memories come in to focus. The story remains the same, I walked down the staircase and out to the plaza, then away from the area altogether before getting in a rental car and driving back home to the Chicago area. Still the more detail that I try to document from the events of that day, small sometimes meaningless details become clearer. I was one of the lucky ones. I was in NYC just for a 1 week assignment with two colleagues, one of whom is also a proud graduate of UT, we all got home safely. Our suffering was pretty iinsignificant when compared to so many others.

Nicole Sanchez September 15, 2011 - 11:26 am

On the morning of 9/11/01 I was a graduate student, collecting big-eyed bugs from pepper plants at the UT campus agricultural research station on Alcoa Highway. I looked up to see our lab tech, Greg Wiggins, driving faster than usual towards the field I was working in. He had with him a copy of a news report he had been able to print off the internet. We tuned in to the radio to hear about what was going on. I went to class a little later to learn that classes in our department had been cancelled for the day. I went home in shock.

David Margolis September 15, 2011 - 1:07 pm

I was flying from Knoxville to Milwaukee with a stop in Atlanta that morning. We taxied to the runway in Atlanta and we got in position to take off on the runway. Then the pilot came on the radio and said there was a computer problem in the tower and we would hold for a minute. 3 or 4 mintues passed and the pilot came on the radio and said there was some type of system wide problem and we would taxi back to the gate. After about 30 minutes of being parked, the pilot told us there was a crash at the world trade center, and because all the gates were full we had no where to go. The pilot advised us we could use our cell phones. We sat on the plane for the next 4 hours with the pilot telling us it was the safest place to be and there were no gates available to unload. I thought I was being proactive and called Hertz and booked a car on a 1 way trip back to Knoxville. When i got to Hertz, there were hundreds of people waiting. I waited in line for 2-3 hours and when i got to the counter i asked about my rental and was told they had no idea how many cars they have and i would need to wait. While waiting, a car would become available every 20 or so minutes. A person would say I’m going to Tampa and 2 or 3 other people who were going that way would join them. Strangers were coming together in a way i had never seen before and it was my first taste of the impact that 9/11 had on all of our lives. I had previously walked outside to see the cab line was 1000 people deep. When i went back later it was empty. The first cab pulled up and I said i was going to Knoxville, TN…he asked me “where’s that”? The next cabbie said the same thing but was willing to drive me to Knoxville for $250. I got home about 10 PM that nite after leaving that morning at 6 AM. I got home and held my 7 month old son for hours as I sat glued to the TV. I don’t think I moved sitting in a stunned silence for the next few days. God Bless America, and as a former United States Marine, God Bless our Troops.

Danielle Zora September 15, 2011 - 1:31 pm

I was working for the Charlotte Housing Authority in NC. I had an inspection scheduled for 9am on a street where most of the homes were rentals and had some tie to the Housing Authority. As soon as I turned down the street I saw almost all of the residents of the street outside waiting for me (?) They told me that the WTC was under attack. We all decided to go into the home that was scheduled for inspection and watched TV together- we saw the second attack. People were shocked but less fearful when we realized it was a terrorist attack and not a continuing assault. Shortly therafter I got a call that our office was closing since we were next to the Bank Of America building another potential target.

I had spent the 90’s in NYC. I was there at the first attack in 93. A Krispy Kreme opened at the TC and I stopped there many mornings for a donut before work- but I feared they would attack again. I felt guilty being safely away.

Peter P. Costa September 15, 2011 - 2:30 pm

As a member of the New York Stock Exchange at the time I was a block and a half from the World Trade Center.
I had a meeting in the Exchange Boardroom that day and while we were in the elevator coming down, someone had mentioned that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. My first thought was that is was a small private plane, never even thinking that it would be a Jetliner carrying hundreds of passengers.
As I walked out of the elevator, the second plane hit and the doors to the Exchange flew inward with the concussion.
I knew then that something was terribly wrong.
I walked to my booth on the trading floor and as I passed the TV’s posted around the exchange floor, I watched the horror
I stood in shock as did everyone else and listened to reporters trying to make sense of the events.
I tried calling my house to let my wife know I was ok but the telephone lines were jammed. I did eventually get through and my family knew I was safe for the time being.
The confusion that overwhelmed the trading community was widespread. Some people tried leaving the floor to get home but the doors were sealed shut.
Phone lines and cellphones were not working. For a time, we felt were shut off from the world and the possibility of an attack on the Exchange seemed very real.
After an hour and a half the doors were reopend and people started to leave but by then the towers had collapsed and the streets looked and felt like some surreal science fiction movie.
One of the people that I tried helping while staying on the trading floor was Nelson Mandella’s granddaughter. She was interning at the exchange and I had mentored her about the dynamics of the trading floor. She tried to reach her family in South Africa for over three hours and when she finally did, she spoke with her Grandfather. He was relieved and grateful.

I mademy way uptown and eventually made it home that night. The nightmere and the lose from that day still sticks with me and I will never forget the people we lost.

Karen Ellis September 15, 2011 - 4:30 pm

I was teaching in the Nursing Department at UTK in September, 2001. I was in a make-up clinical that Tuesday at UTMC in Labor and Delivery. My students were observing a C-section while I graded papers with the television in an empty patients room. I watched as the first tower burned. Then to my horror watched as the second plane hit the second tower. It all seemed surreal to me. All I could think of was the safety of my family and of my students. The whole nursing unit remained glued to the television while I contacted my husband to make sure our children were okay. I felt such deep sorrow for those awaiting news of their loved ones and such dread at what lay before the United States and my children.

Christine Warrington September 15, 2011 - 4:55 pm

I am a UTK 84 Graduate. The management team at GlaxoSmithKline had flown out to Las Vegas to prepare for a product launch. I turned the TV on the morning of 9/11 to have coffee and prepare for the day. At that moment, the 2nd plane hit. I thought I was in some sort of nightmare mode from being in Las Vegas! I immediately called home to see if I was awake and looking at what was really happening!

We had 3000 plus sales people headed to Las Vegas on 9/11 as well.They were stranded all over the United States. The management team stranded at the MGM (one of the many hotels we had booked that week.) It was a strange time in Las Vegas. LIttle gambling and the most quiet I have ever seen the city. My daughter was home in Raleigh with her dad. I felt helpless. I wanted so much to be with my daughter during that time.

Part of my sales group rented a limo in TX (where they were grounded coming from Raleigh, NC) and he drove them back to Raleigh. They recorded their stops along the way and made a photo album of the event. The 5 of them became really close as you can imagine. They made the most of a rough rough situation.

Alan Metzel September 18, 2011 - 5:25 pm

On 9/11 I was sitting in my office at the Northrop Grumman facility adjacent to Baltimore-Washington Intl. Airport when I received a call from one of my people about the first plane. Like most I assumed a very tragic accident;the second plane ended that theory. We could hear an increase in air traffic as BWI was receiving a high rate of incoming traffic.
With the degree of uncertainty, our facility closed;too good of a target. Driving home to western Maryland, I had no idea what I would find as, in addition to the Pentagon, there were reports of a strike on Camp David, a few miles from my house. Fortunately, that report was unfounded. What I did find was a heavy security cordon around our local airport which services presidential aircraft, including a low altitude aircap which remained in place for several days. Like most, we could only watch and wait, hearing the military air traffic in and out servicing Camp David and the Underground Pentagon.

Tim Massey September 18, 2011 - 6:49 pm

I had just started my first semester as tenure track faculty at the College at Brockport (NY). Third week into the semester, I had just finished my morning class on 9-11, with no knowledge of what had transpired. Upon entering the hallways, sounds of crying were everywhere.

As a Tennessee native (and always will be), and an alumni of my beloved UT, I generally feel like an “outsider” residing and working in the great state of NY. But on that day, and for many days to come.. and still to come, I became one in sympathy to the residents of my new home state of New York.

Comments are closed.