Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the most heinous attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor, forcing Americans back into that darkest of common ground, and into one of the hardest realities we, as a nation, have ever faced. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, including one New York first responder whose remains were only recently officially identified.
It’s hard to find a person over the age of 25 or so who doesn’t remember where they were when they learned about the coordinated hijacking of passenger planes by al-Qaeda terrorists, and the damage wrought by them. On this most tragic of American anniversaries, Twitter users united to share their memories of that saddest of days.
People who were near the World Trade Center or Pentagon offered some moving memories.
I was at work @JohnsHopkins #SAIS in a mtg when we heard a resounding “NO!”. Our team watched the news w/ windows facing the Pentagon. I will never forget our confusion and horror, or how quiet the streets were while they were filled with people walking out. #WhereWereYou
— Jennifer Goodson (@msjengoodson) September 11, 2019
— Carlos Trinidad (@TrinidadActual) September 11, 2019
I was only 3 blocks from the White House. When we exited the building, I could hear the sirens & smell the smoke from the Pentagon, but I couldn’t see anything. It took hours to Metro home. I was petrified that someone would bomb the bridges out of DC on the way. #WhereWereYou
— Katie Wanschura (@InstrTechReflct) September 11, 2019
First class @NYU. Told the country was under attack. Walked to Washington Square Park. Watched second tower disappear from the skyline. 5s call with my mom before no service. Lines for pay phones. The Dust. The man standing on a milk crate with a sign: Free Hugs. #WhereWereYou
— Brendan Bradley (@brendanAbradley) September 11, 2019
There were the people who should have been in harm’s way but weren’t … these are people who will always remember how close they came to being one of the casualties, but for one small decision they’d made.
#WhereWereYou At my desk with a blueberry muffin and oj on the 9th floor of the World Financial Center. I’d arrived early to work that day, otherwise I would’ve been in a bad spot. We all heard the impact. Saw bodies falling & flames. Heard the 2nd impact. Scattered. Lived.
— Mackenzie Littledale (@MackenzieLitt13) September 11, 2019
My son was 3. He was dragging, making me late. I was annoyed. I barely said goodbye when I dropped him off. I ran but still missed my train. I thought my day couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t get worse. I arrived at WTC at 8:34am. I went to get a bagel. I walked away. I lost 14 coworkersÃ°ÂŸÂ’Â” #WhereWereYou
— IÃ¢Â€Â™veBeenCalledWorseÃ°ÂŸÂ—Â½Ã¢ÂšÂ–Ã¯Â¸ÂÃ°ÂŸÂŒÂŽ (@Vanniivy007) September 11, 2019
18 years ago today, I had a meeting at World Trade Center 1, 15th floor at 9 AM. I woke up at 8:50 AM. Every year, on this day, I think about how my alarm didn’t go off. Missing my city today. #WhereWereYou pic.twitter.com/vlDmszTgzQ
— Heather Matarazzo (@HeatherMatarazz) September 11, 2019
Some folks will be forever haunted not by the fact that it could have been them—but rather that it wasn’t.
I was in Western MA and my mom, who had recently retired from Marsh & McLennan, was in Western NY visiting family. The first flight hit the 93rd floor of the North Tower – MMCÃ¢Â€Â™s floor – killing her former coworkers in an instant. My brother was in NYC but was safe. #WhereWereYou
— Lynn Nichols (@lynnmg) September 11, 2019
#WhereWereYou I was at work. I got called into the break room to see the first tower on fire. I was standing next to a man who watched the second plane, and unknown to us at the time, his brother fly into the second tower.
— Heliophobe (@Heliophobe30) September 12, 2019
(2/2) My cousin Ann emerged from the subway as the 2nd plane hit. She saw things no one should see. My cousin Maura’s husband, Rich Madden, was unaccounted for. He worked on Floor 100 of the South Tower. His remains were found 2 weeks later. https://t.co/gXovbZIv2j #WhereWereYou
— Kate DeWeese (@kateymac) September 12, 2019
A friend from high school was a flight attendant and regularly flew Flight 11 out of Boston. She had swapped out with a friend that day. SheÃ¢Â€Â™s never gotten over it. #WhereWereYou
— DonnaLou (@d_reynolds) September 12, 2019
So many people who are adults today were mere children then, and remember the confusion as their young minds tried to understand what was happening. The way the adults in any given room responded definitely seems to be burned into their memories.
As I get older some of the details from that day fade a bit, but for sure I will never forget that I was in elementary school, in the library and not knowing what I was watching but seeing the absolute horror on my teachers’ faces.All I knew was something very bad happened
— Hawkeye (@TheHawksEye556) September 11, 2019
I was in 3rd grade. I was young, but I will never forget how my teacher started crying. They told us what had happened, but none of us were really old enough to understand. It was a very quiet school day. #WhereWereYou pic.twitter.com/dwFjjVCmml
— Marie Laveau (@xoxolady_jay) September 12, 2019
In Chemistry,Back to isomers.ItÃ¢Â€Â™s just a plane crashAfter all.In French,We walked inAs our teacher criedAnd the towers burned.In English,A prophetess told meIÃ¢Â€Â™m so sorry,Everything is going to change.#WhenTheWorldStopped#WhereWereYou
— Sofiya Pasternack Ã°ÂŸÂÂ (@sofipasternack) September 11, 2019
I was seven years old and sitting in my first grade class. I remember coming home to my parents watching the tv with planes running into buildings. I was confused because I thought it was several different buildings that kept getting hit, because they kept replaying it.
— Sassy Teach (@datsassygirll) September 11, 2019
I remember…….I was in the 5th grade when my teacher left out the classroom then came back in, closed the door and drew the buildings and the airplanes flying into them. He said “This airplane just flew into this building….” I couldn’t believe it. I was so sad #WhereWereYou
— Kelly Marie (@KellyKelz91) September 12, 2019
Then there’s the people who saw the events of 9/11 and went to work.
I was at @TexasTech when 9/11 happened. My buddy & I played Tuesdays at @bluelightlive. I called to ask if we should still come. No one knew how to handle it. I showed up & played for 2 people that needed music too. They are still friends. I’ll #neverforget. #WhereWereYou pic.twitter.com/YuJCat3Rwx
— WadeBowen (@WadeBowen) September 11, 2019
#WhereWereYou I was getting ready for work while stationed (US Air Force) in McChord AFB, Washington. I was in shock and disbelief. My son (who was 5 at the time) and I watched on tv, then I explained to my son we could be at war and I needed to go in to work now.
— armchair critic (@cplusb19991) September 11, 2019
4th grade. The last student in my class, even my teacher left. Turns out my dad was heading to the city with his fire department as everyone else was rushing out. He will always be my hero.#WhereWereYou #September11
— Kenny (@WhatTheFusco) September 11, 2019
Many of those too young to either remember or to have even existed did participate in today’s remembrances, and not always in a compassionate way.
But not all of them.
— Diamond Song (@diamondsong42) September 11, 2019
Finally, this memory, more than any of them, remains unshakeable.
Later, at Ground O u couldn’t breathe. My skin & clothes became sticky, millions of particles glued 2 me. I thought “This is people, these r the people who died..” I walked 3 miles along the river, to give them one last day in the sun, by the water..#911Anniversary #WhereWereYou pic.twitter.com/oAZLwsjfga
— Elayne Boosler (@ElayneBoosler) September 11, 2019
Through the course of curating tweets for this diary, I came across a short documentary about the impromptu and little-known 9/11 boat evacuation, which led to hundreds of local boats hauling nearly 500,000 people off the island of Manhattan after just a single Coast Guard call for help. Narrated mostly by the unlikely heroes—with Tom Hanks filling in the gaps—this short documentary is a stark reminder of the greatness that lies within all of us, and the power possible when we unite for—and with—each other. It’s worth your time.
And when you’re ready to continue the stroll down memory lane, this thread is here for you.
Post 9/11 thread for people to post the wildest shit they remember from 01 to 06I’ll start:People thought Osama had an entire mountain hollowed out that he was using as his base and that’s why AQ was hard to find and that somehow a group of like 30 dudes arranged this. pic.twitter.com/IPGVQ1xfhs
— mugrimm (@unabanned) September 11, 2019
As for me? My #WhereWereYou story is not a great one.
I still lived in Ohio, and I’d gotten drunk the night before with my roommate, celebrating a brand-new job that, at 22, I was sure I’d have forever. My roommate, who had little interest in current events, slammed into my room at about 1:30p.m. Eastern, annoyed she couldn’t watch her soap opera because “we were being bombed or something.”
We clutched each other as we watched a near-constant loop of planes hitting buildings, buildings collapsing, fire in a field, fire at the Pentagon. Unable to process it, and without a computer in the house to help us, we called our fathers. There was little uncertainty by that late hour, so they each told us what had happened. When we cried, they independently created the same distraction—by teasing us for sleeping in so late.
By the end of the day, we’d held candles in Dixie cups at sidewalk vigils, where we sang and held hands with strangers. At my local grocer that evening, I silently removed strings of saliva out of my hair after a racist—who, like too many Americans, had let fear and hatred override all decency—hurled both racial slurs and spit at me.
By the end of the week, I’d been downsized in the post-9/11 panic that hit the auto industry, unwittingly setting me on the path that ultimately led me here.
Where were you?