My 9/11 Journal - A Remembrance

Curtis and Colin at a 9/11 memorial, September 2006

I wasn't going to do it. My blog is a place for the funny. But it's also a place for the relatable - and every single one of my American readers can relate to the heaviness that this day, September 11th, will always carry. We all remember where we were at the moment the first plane hit the Twin Towers, and the horror of watching the tragedy unfold, feeling powerless and scared.

I was a brand-new military wife, barely 21 years old. My husband and I had been married for just over a year, and were living at our very first duty station: Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. Curtis worked the night shift, so we were both still asleep when my mother-in-law called that morning to tell us to turn on the TV.

We were glued to the screen as we saw the smoke billowing from the first tower, and even more riveted as the news camera captured the plane hitting the second. I remember thinking, over and over, the same thing that was on everyone else's mind: all those people. Watching helplessly as victims jumped from the buildings, sirens screamed, bystanders lurched through the streets of New York City, dazed and disoriented and hysterical, covered in white like wandering ghosts through clouds of smoke and dust. All those people.

As the morning turned into afternoon, and then faded into evening, I wrote in my journal:

The World Trade Center in New York City is no more; the Twin Towers are both demolished, piles of rubble on the ground. As of this moment, there is no idea how many people have died, although the World Trade Center's capacity was 50,000 people. Two hijacked planes - commercial flights - crashed into the towers about ten minutes apart. A plane has also crashed into the Pentagon. Now there are reports of yet another plane crash outside of Pittsburgh, but no one is sure as yet whether or not it's related to the terrorist activity. I can't believe it. America is in absolute chaos. Oh my God. I am sick to my stomach ...

12:33 pm
Our base has been put under a Threatcon Delta: that means war. All buildings here on base are on lockdown - nobody comes in and nobody leaves. Planes are being prepared to deploy. There is still not even a tentative death toll, although we do know now that there were approximately 260 passengers on the four crashed, hijacked planes (two at the World Trade Center, one at the Pentagon, and one in rural Pennsylvania). I just saw on the news that the Palestinians are celebrating with parades, with candy. Celebrating! This is a crisis, amazing, stunning, unbelievable. We take our security for granted and we let our guard down because we're big, strong America and we think nobody can bother us. Even Walt Disney World is closed!

6:30 pm
It's crazy. Still Threatcon Delta. People are in a panic over gas prices; in some places it's up to $5 a gallon (it has been about $1.38). People think that if we go to war with the Middle East, gas will be in short supply. The gas stations here are packed, to say the least. People are flooding them, waiting an hour or more to fill up their tanks. President Bush is going to address the nation at 8 o'clock this evening. I'm still taking it all in, but it's a lot to swallow. Our lives are never going to be the same.

7:40 pm
This day has been phenomenal. Thousands are dead. The same people who woke up this morning and got ready for yet another day at work, or who looked forward to seeing friends and relatives at the end of their flight. As of right now, there are fires still raging at the Pentagon. A makeshift morgue has been set up in its central courtyard, scores of bodies pulled from the wreckage and covered with sheets. Hospitals have run out of gurneys. Americans are coming together in the face of this tragedy, though ... the Red Cross has extended its hours for blood donation, and last I heard, there were so many people wanting to donate that there was a four-hour wait.

I had no idea when I wrote "our lives are never going to be the same" how true that statement was. Everything changed from that point, especially regarding life on a military base. Once we were simply waved through by Security Forces on the basis of having an identifying sticker on our car; but from that point, every ID in the car was checked, and cars were randomly searched - even underneath, using big mirrors. Security was tighter everywhere. It changed the way we flew, our comfort level on an airplane.

But most of all, it changed our perception of being safe at home. Forever.

Even though many years now stand between that day and this one, the remembrance of the tragedy can still open up fault lines along my heart, bringing tears as though it's just happened. Today, I'm praying for everyone who watched it, felt it, lived it, and lost because of it - but especially for those who hated us enough to cause it in the first place.


  1. I remember that day so clearly: the enormous sadness for those involved, the outrage that this happened in our own country, my fear for the lives of my children and grandchildren....and generations to come. And it surely has changed the way we live and think; but it's also made me appreciate the strength of the American people. Once again, we refused to think like victims. We got to work cleaning up, putting our lives back together, and changing our lives to meet the new reality. Are there scars? Of course. And we'll never forget that day and those who were lost. But you're right.....nothing good ever comes from hating. Justice will always prevail, in this life or the next. And each of us finds peace in healing our own little corner of the world.

  2. I honestly still can't look at the pictures or read the posts from this day without breaking down in tears. The pain is overwhelming, even now. How much more so for those who lost a loved one. The thing is, American experienced this lost together! I was as if we all had a death in our family - and we did, we lost a piece of our safety and innocence forever.

  3. i may not be an American but what happened that day changed us all. i remember coming home from work and saw my dad watching TV. i asked what movie it was; his reply turned my blood cold.

    every year, i have masses said for these people and their families. it's the least that i can do.

    you're right. 9/11 changed the way we think. it made us feel a bit unsafe in our own homes. if it can happen to a superpower country, it can happen to any country.

  4. "Even though it's been nine years, the remembrance of that day can still open up fault lines along my heart, bringing tears as though it's just happened."
    So true... you are instantly brought back. Now I finally get it when we learned about Pearl Harbor in school and it didn't truly 'sink in'. Oh, I get it, and always will! And I promise that I will make sure my kids understand in the future.

  5. It is a day that none of use will ever forget. Please tell your husband thank you for his service. I'm not sure what he did service-wise, but it is more than I have ever done, or probably will do. God Bless America.

  6. I remember as well. I had gotten to school like every other day. All the little kids were in the gym. A teacher said to come look at the wall mounted TV in school square. I just stood there in complete shock. How could such a thing be true. Then the news of the pentagon. More shock. It was all we could do to take the kids to classes and hold it together for their sake. Such a world shattering event for the families, rescue workers, the people of New York, and the country. We truly won't be the same. Our feeling of security is forever changed. We will not be victims of hate. We will stand strong. We will fight for freedom. Ben Laden doesn't know yet what happens when you tweak the tail of the tiger, but he will.

  7. I still remember it so clearly too - and we were half a world away in Australia just watching it all unfold.
    I remember waking up from the weirdest dream that bombs were falling and when I turned on the TV I saw the planes flying into buildings.

    I called my parents and told them to get up because America was being bombed. It was so surreal to watch it unfold all day long. I'm crying just remembering it because it felt like it was the start of WW3.

  8. you're right. I'll never forget where I was, what I was doing, how it felt. Every post I've read, everything I've watched on television today - still makes me cry, and I did not know anyone personally who was involved...but we were all involved, all affected by the tragedy. I can't believe it's been 9 years, but I remember that my oldest was just a few months old at the time and I was so glad that she was too little to understand what was happening. God Bless America.

  9. As an expat in Australia, I too watched the buildings fall with tears streaming down my face and my emotions all jumbled up. I will never forget that day, ever.

  10. I think 9/11 affected the whole world. We saw many reprocussions of 9/11 here in the UK with trains, buses, and airports to name but a few being attacked.

    I remember I was coming home from college when the first tower was hit and I cried in silence instantanously. My classmates and I were terrified as we had a few friends over in the USA and nearby to incident.

    I always take time to remember and to pray that nothing like it happens again.

    Thoughts and prayers are with the famiies of those who were lost and to those who are still sufferring.

    Take care
    Kate Collings
    xx - always welcoming new followers, guests and comments xx

  11. I remember almost everything about that day too. Very clearly. What you wrote was beautiful and will be something that can help teach your children about the day when they get older.

  12. Every year, we turn on the television and commemorate those who senselessly lost their lives on that day. And every year we talk about that day to our children, what it meant to us, what it meant to our country and our world, what it meant for freedom. I tell my girls all the time, "Never Forget." And I will ensure my girls never do.

    My biggest memory of that day, the one that makes me weep every time I recount it, were all the hundreds upon hundreds of people, people whose loved ones were in those buildings, who descended upon the site or as close to it as they could get. The news media all just gave over their mikes and their cameras to those poor people who with agonized hearts and broken souls and shaky hands, held up their loved one's picture to the camera, pleading for information, as they searched for those lost souls who were destined to never come back.

    Never, ever forget.

  13. I'm glad I waited until today to catch-up on back posts, otherwise I'd have been crying all day on 9/11. Very poignant and beautifully written. Your diary said it all.


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