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Where Was I When 9/11 Happened?

This past week was a time for reflection and remembering those who gave and lost their lives as it was the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A common question during this week: “Where were you when 9/11 happened?” This was also asked in last night’s #tweetnmeet chat led by Erica Mayer. It’s tough to explain in 140 characters the whole experience. As promised, here is my 9/11 story.

I was a student at St. Cloud State University. It was a Tuesday and I was sound asleep when I got a phone call from my Mom. She was emotional and borderline frantic and kept saying “America is under attack!” She told me to turn on the TV and then quickly let me go. I did so and had it on NBC when I saw one of the World Trade Center towers was in smoke. I woke up my roommate Josh who had recently told me he visited New York and saw the Twin Towers. We got ready for the day and watched the coverage as it was unfolding. Minutes later, we both saw the South Tower be hit with a plane. NBC had no idea it was coming, despite it being so clear on the camera angle they had. I can only imagine what the rest of the world was thinking as they saw that plane hook around the corner.

Class time was fast approaching. I was headed to Criminal Justice, which is arguably the most interesting class to have during such a historic and unfortunate event. Oddly enough, Professor Barry Schreiber had a terrorism expert in to speak to the class. The coverage was on the big screen in the auditorium. 15-20 minutes into the class, we saw the South Tower fall. There was a sudden silence followed by the ooh’s, ahh’s, and astonishment at what we had seen. Immediately after that, the terrorism expert began discussing what would come next. She was rather spot on in predicting who was responsible, air travel would be forever changed and that we would see germ warfare including anthrax become part of the mix.

29 minutes later, the North Tower collapsed.

Rumors around gas prices increasing and additional attacks began to run rampant. Even in St. Cloud, MN, people feared being attacked. I lived in Sherburne Hall, the tallest building north of Minneapolis in Minnesota. People had a fear that a plane would hit our dorm building. I immediately found that preposterous. It shows the fears and panic this event created even 1,261 miles away. Some people criticized me about my thoughts on a terrorist attack happening in St. Cloud as Zacarias Moussauri, who was later rumored as a replacement for one of the 9/11 hijackers or an attacker in a future terrorist attack, was arrested in St. Cloud in August, weeks before the attack.

Classes were cancelled after 5pm, which did not impact me. However, my freshman english teacher allowed class to leave rather quickly. I went back to my dorm and was glued to the TV. We then found out about Flight 93 and the attack on the Pentagon. I am a junkie for news. Events such as this, I was constantly flipping between NBC, CBS, CNN, and ABC. Just imagine how things would be so different if Twitter and Facebook were around along with smart phones. I truly believe that fewer people would have died had people been able to communicate at the speed we do in 2011.

Later in the day, I started getting calls from friends wondering if I was available to go with them to fill up on gas. I did this a few times and was stunned by the lines that existed throughout the city.

Many people still say that 10 years later, the enjoyment in air travel is diminished and more stressful than ever. I never flew before 9/11. All I know is the post-9/11 way of flying. Post-9/11, there is little different in the way I live and how I conduct myself. This generation and each one that follows knows this way of life as the norm.

Ten years later, I appreciate the magnitude of the event more than I did as a college student. I understood how big it was then, but likely did not fully comprehend the fall out that would and still is coming.

That’s my 9/11 experience. Care to share yours?
Jason

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  1. September 12, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    I was working for a marketing services company in Roseville on 9/11. I remember a guy coming in and telling me that a small plane had hit one of the towers. Initially we thought nothing of it. Then more people said it was a bigger plane, so we all went in the conference room and were in there for hours. The Ops manager called us all in for a meeting and we talked through it as a group and had a pretty low-key day that day. All meetings and assignments were put on hold for the rest of the week. People were allowed to grieve and such. I will never forget it at all, for as long as I live…

    Bob Stanke
    http://bobstanke.com

    • September 12, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      Hey Bob!

      Thanks for sharing your story. It is amazing how it was just assumed that it was a small plane only by looking at the fire. If social media was around, this would have been confirmed much sooner with witness accounts.

      It feels like our generation’s Pearl Harbor, a day never to be forgotten.

      Jason

  2. Matt Lane
    September 12, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    I remember hearing about it from you… went to meet up with you before criminal justice, and I had no idea it had happened yet because I was in class and it hadn’t been brought up. When you told me of the events, it took a few seconds to really register. I think we all knew that day that our lives had changed forever, and it would be that event that people will always remember where they were when it happened. I have flown before and after 9/11, and can tell you that the “sacrifices” of extra time in line, having your bags searched, etc, is a small price to pay to ensure our safety. To those who complain that it is a violation of rights, my suggestion would be to seek another method of travel.

    • September 12, 2011 at 4:58 PM

      Hey Matt,

      Now that you mention it, I did run into you! Odd that we were both going to class 🙂 I think I was still waking up and trying to gather everything in my head around it.

      I agree. Flying is not a right, but a privilege. Mr. Lane, I remember would say ‘if you don’t like waiting for a plane, drive or stay home.’ I still agree with that to this day.

      Thanks for helping me remember another part of the day.

      Jason

  3. eggy
    February 9, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    I clicked the link on your Twitter profile and came across this post… only 5 short months after you wrote it. It sounds like we had pretty similar days on 9/11/01. Mine: http://mysparklylife.com/2011/09/11/where-were-you/

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