BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE
WHERE WERE YOU ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001? Part BW
Today, September 11, 2009, was the Beanery Writers Group regular meeting date. I presented the group with an “oral prompt,” which led to a discussion that lasted for more than an hour. The prompt contained three questions. First, Where were you when you heard about the events of September 11, 2001? Second, how did you hear? Third, how did you feel?
While waiting for the meeting to start, I presented the same questions to other Coffe Bean Cafe patrons. Their answers can be found at
…Carolyn C. Holland, facilitator of the Beanery Writers Group in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
As for myself, I was at Valley Dairy in Connellsville, taking my morning coffee break. I was told a private plane crashed in the mountains. During my drive home, I turned on the radio, seeking information on the crash. That’s when I heard the real story. I turned on my television when I reached home, and watched the repeated reruns of the crashes in New York City, then in Somerset, just a mountain removed from where I was. It was scary, not knowing if any more crashes would occur. And a concern for the victims. At the same time, I felt privileged and grateful that in our country we don’t live with this idiocy daily, like they do in other parts of the world.
Julia heard about the events while watching the news. She saw planes going into the buildings, but was unaware that the buildings collapsed because she shut the television off. The news was too repetitive, and so graphic, it disturbed her. She then went to a karaoke place, and while watching television there, she realized that the buildings collapsed. She was shocked. It probably took her a while to become disgusted, and angry that no one took precautions to stop the disaster. Then it hit her: she grew up in New Jersey, and used to play in the buildings, and was familiar with the restaurant at the top.
Joe was attending a meeting. The news was probably broadcast while he was traveling to the meeting. When he arrived he was told a plane had flown into world trade center. About five to ten minutes later, they said a second plane did the same thing. “It was then that I realized that was no accident.”
Diana had just arisen about nine o’clock in the morning. When she turned on the radio she heard broadcasters talking about a plane and a building going down in New York City. “I thought it was a joke until I turned the station and heard the same thing.” Then she heard about Flight 93, which crashed near where her son was in school. “I had to get to him,” but she wasn’t driving yet, following a car accident. She thought the country was being invaded. Her daughter’s boy friend’s mother had seen the plane go over her house, and it was loud. Another friend heard the plane while she was out horseback riding. A third friend said she had seen one or two F-14s. “I was in sheer panic… I didn’t watch it on TV for five years. I had friends in that area.”
Pat turned on her television set when she was just getting up. She saw the first and second planes, and was unsettled all day. My son was at the Pentagon, and he lost a lot of his friends. “I wanted to go to the pentagon. It was horrific.”
Peggy Jo had just entered the classroom where she was teaching in a mid-west elementary school. She and the students watched a news clip during the announcements. “I watched for about two minutes, and then turned it (the television) off.” Some teachers kept their televisions on all day. “I taught the rest of the day, and was thanked by parents, students, and others, but was criticized by some teachers who said, “It was history and that the kids needed to know.” I did what I thought was best for my students and shut the television off. I felt I had a responsibility to the parents of the students entrusted to my care. ” “I was in shock at the horrific thing that happened and became numb, it was too much to handle.” “I was in disbelief about what had happened.”
Claudette was in her living room with an elderly woman who was on oxygen. The news was turned on for her friend, and they actually saw the hit. Claudette looked at her friend and asked if she was OK, and noticed her shaking. When Claudette’s daughter came in, they saw the second hit. Claudette took the elderly woman for a ride. At Giant Eagle, the clerk let them have their item for a quarter. At Walmart women came in wearing full dress with the headdress, and walked around with smirks on their faces. The elderly woman shook for days, and said at Pearl Harbor, the country knew who its enemy was. She was concerned about who the enemy was in this event. Claudette kept thinking broadcasters would show more attacks on our country.
Ron was in his kitchen, having just gotten up. He turned on the radio while he made coffee, and heard the program interrupted. He then turned on his television. He was shocked, totally shocked, and numb. It was just unbelievable—something like people must have felt when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Debbie. We were living in Houston, where we had an office in our house. We were watching television in the bedroom when we saw a plane crash. “I called my mom in Pittsburgh, but she didn’t have the television on. I told her to call me back after she turned it on.” Houston had a lot of foreigners there who dressed in cultural outfits. It was kind of scary. Many were afraid to go out. Some of them were my friends. I was shocked when triage began, that there weren’t people to treat. I thought, “Surely someone would be alive.”
Chuck. I was at home between jobs. My wife Sue called from work and told me to turn the television on. It was early in the disaster and we couldn’t figure out what happened. We saw a background shot of another building being hit. The female announcer said there must really be something wrong with the air control system, but I knew it had to be a hit. I knew we were in trouble. We wanted new information, but the news dragged on and on. No one knew. Meanwhile, aircraft in the area (South Hills near the airport) was stopped. Then I heard a jet noise, unlike others. It was an Air Force Then I heard a jet noise, unlike others. It was an Air Force F14 Eagle. When I saw it fly over I clapped my hands because it indicated that they were trying to counter the attacks.
Sue. I’m a nurse. I was working with patients who had television sets, so I heard. I was wishing they would go to regular programming or provide new information. It was a very unproductive day. Patients were being upset. The news was generating a lot of public hysteria because it broadcast the same thing over and over again. A Pittsburgh nurse volunteered her time in New York City but discovered that there were few people to treat. I was just waiting to hear what was behind all this.