10 years ago

We were living overseas.  It was a normal fall day of my senior year of high school.  We were having volleyball practice and I remember I was having such a good day.  Blocking and hitting really well.  And then, all our coaches phones starting ringing at once.  I didn’t even notice at first, I was so excited about having some free time to scrimmage and more time to practice.

But something was off.  Our coaches didn’t come back.  We were playing for a while now and no one even cared.  They started talking to each other in the gym corner.  Calling more people.  I remember thinking how odd it was that they all were so concerned with their phones rather than practice.   And it was odd that all of them had more important personal business to attend to.  I had heard something about an “accident” in the states.  A plane crash.  What was the big deal?  Plane crashes are sad, but they happen all the time.  Something about a security alert.  Very hush hush, they wanted to get everyone away from the American school, a target, without worrying us.  We were bussed home soon after, past the guards with machine guns.

By the time we got home we turned on AFN and watched the footage.   A plane had crashed into the skyscraper, that didn’t seem like an accident.  Two planes.  Planes crashing elsewhere and the Pentagon.  So close to home.  My uncle worked there.  My dad had worked there before we moved.  We watched all into the night.  I remember knowing the world changed.

We were on heightened security afterwards and had school canceled for the following days.  We had a curfew.  If we tried to lay low before, we for sure didn’t tell people we were Americans now.  I do remember wondering what it was like to live in America during this time.  They told us we were targets, living abroad.  But that attack was on our ground.  I almost felt safer being away.


During mass today, after an amazing homily about forgiveness from our Father – which he tied into personal forgiveness as well as forgiveness for our national enemies, we were saying the Our Father when we started to hear a plane.  The engine grew louder and louder as the plane flew closer as we prayed.  It felt like it was right over our heads, aimed right for our church with all the windows and doors open.  I saw panic in the eyes of the altar servers and one even tried to run.  Other people in the pews started crossing themselves and you could almost feel the panic of those around us.  The sound drowned out our praying but we kept on with the words.  The thoughts actually crossed my mind  “What if this is it?”  Immediately followed by the thought “there is not better place to be” and I braced myself and kept praying.

The plane passed, we finished the prayer and you could hear mumbles as people breathed sighs of relief all around us during the sign of peace.  At the end of mass Father mentioned the event and reminded us that during events of war it seems like our prayers are drowned out by the noises of violence and war but we must keep praying.  Love and forgiveness is the only thing that can conquer hate.  It was surreal.

We later found out it was a flyover for a memorial celebration nearby.

What a way to commemorate 9-11 and give everyone heart attacks.


Where were you 10 years ago?

9 thoughts on “10 years ago

  1. I had just moved to Ottawa, ON from France for teachers’ college. It brought my class together since so many of us were away from home. My university is very close to Parliament Hill and there was a bomb scare so we were sent home early. I called my dad and he assured me that because we were in Canada we were safe. I took him at his word and I was able to sleep that night.

  2. Wow- what an experience in Mass! I was teaching second grade when my classroom phone rang. It was my husband- he never called me at work. He told me what happened and that they think over 300 firefighters were killed. I remember telling him that had to be just a rumor in the midst of chaos. I was wrong…

  3. I was in my junior year of college, 1 semester before going abroad… and I slept through the entire thing. My family was all in NY, but since they knew I was far away in VT, no one called me right away- they knew I was safe. I finally got up for class (class was at 11am) around 10am, and my boyfriend at the time called after I had just read an email from the President of the college… it hadn’t sunk in, I thought he was telling us about a plane crash… but my boyfriend said, “Did you hear??” and when I said yes, he responded, “Well, you know my Dad works down there, right?” I ran right over to his dorm, assuming he must be concerned but not really knowing why he was so concerned… until I arrived at his dorm just in time to see the tower fall on television. I think I was in a state of shock. Most of the people in the suite were on their phones, and it took me about 15 minutes to realize, “Oh, crap, my family!!” (My sister lives in the city, my aunts and uncles work in the city, but my parents live about 50 mins north). I couldn’t get through to anyone, and it was scary. I learned later that my other sisters and my mom went to the church for an impromptu Mass, after learning that the rest of the family was ok.

    I had never felt further away from “home” before. All I wanted was to be home with my family in NY, and here I was stuck in Vermont.

  4. I remember being in 12th grade English class, which was my 2nd period class. We were waiting for class to start, and I hadn’t heard about it yet because I’d been in band practice right before. Everyone was talking all around me and I couldn’t tell what’d happened, so finally I just said, “Will someone tell me what’s going on?” and I remember a friend of mine saying, “There were two planes, and they got hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center.” At first I thought he was kidding or something because it seemed too outlandish to be real! I remember the rest of the day was sort of numb…we tried to go to classes but didn’t learn much, and most of the students and faculty spent the day in a classroom with tvs showing the footage. I remember thinking that for my generation, this would be the day we talked about. It wouldn’t be “Where were you when JFK was shot?” It would be “Where were you on 9/11?” I also remember being in awe of the people helping–the police, firefighters, EMTs, etc…covered in dust, choking on smoke, still saving lives.

  5. I was working my first job after College, and was stuck working the whole day because the boss said to keep working. I was living at home in the Suburban DC area (the VA side) and my dad was working for the government. I was terrified of what was happening to him. We just didn’t know. I heard there was bomb at his office building. Then we heard another plane was coming towards DC, but didn’t know where it would go. Thank God he was fine. His building evacuated and he was stuck for several hours in his car trying to get home.

    It took all my strength to keep working and not break down in a sobbing mess as I heard and saw what was going on.

    I’ll post more at my blog later this week. It is still so emotionally fresh, even ten years later. It is hard to think about it.

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