Where Were You on 9/11?

As we approach the anniversary of 9/11, one of the worst days in American history, we reflect on all the time that has passed. Many of the young men and women in boot camp right now were not even alive on September 11th, 2001. It is crazy to think that it has been 19 years since that day. A lot of people that served, remember exactly where they where on the day that changed everything. Here is my story.

My story

I was in high school when it happened. I remember there being a fuss as I approached my English classroom. Something bad had happened. As a result, students were crowded around the television, suspended in shock. This particular teacher had always been a shrewd man. However, we were dumbfounded when he told us to turn the television off. “This will be on the news for the next 10 years, there’s learning to be done now,” he remarked. We begrudgingly followed his instructions and took our seats.

A moment later, our principle entered the room, and told the teacher to turn the television on. He objected briefly, but she was not to be trifled with. He gave a nod to the closest student, who jumped up and hit the power button. She marched off to the next classroom, clearly understanding the importance of this day. The rest of that hour was a blur, and we were all besides ourselves while the horror unfolded. I had family living in NYC at the time, but this was before teenagers had cell phones. I had no way of knowing if they were OK. Thankfully, I found out later they were safe. Eventually, the bell rang, and I made my way to the nest class.

Pagers and cell phones recovered from the Twin Towers. Image credit: FBI
Future decided

The next teacher was a young man, and an Army reservist. The class murmured about this fact until everyone felt scared for him. Surely, this attack meant military action right? He taught science, and was well liked. He assured us that he would be OK, and not to worry about him. I have no idea what ever became of the young man who put on a brave face for us. As a 2nd Lieutenant, he was much closer to our age than the ancient educator that instructed my previous class. Funny enough, now I’m around the same age the English teacher was then. I thought he was so old at the time, mid 30’s being decades away for me.

The class considered and debated the dangers for our troops in an other attack. The mood was extremely tense and uncertain. Nevertheless, a classmate and I both discussed how this certainly meant military action for us. These acts of aggression would not stand. He was a year older than me, thus he left for boot camp the following summer.

Feeling impatient, I dropped out of high school on my 18th birthday and took my General Education Diploma test. The day I received it in the mail, I took the bus to the recruiter’s office. I served 12 years as an Infantry Marine, and deployed 5 times. I was on my 3rd deployment when Osama Bin Laden was killed on a raid conducted by a team of pilots and special forces. The events of 9/11 forever changed my life, as well as the lives of every other American. As we remember those we lost, we pause to ponder a simple, yet profound question. Where were you on 9/11?

Know what we're sayin fam?

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8 thoughts on “Where Were You on 9/11?”

  1. I was 12 years old, in middle school, 6th grade on that day. To this day I still remember where and what I was doing and who I was around. I once saw a picture a few years ago saying “9/11 is our generation’s Pearl Harbor.” That has stuck with me ever since.

    1. Cortney Helene Leek

      I was 21, and worked at the 3rd largest flag manufacturing company. I had just started and the first two weeks I trained in every department, mine as a customer service agent was the last place I started training. I had 4 days of training and September 11th occurred. I was at a doctors office when the 2nd plane hit, my mom and I stood there looking dumbfounded, like everyone else. My father was in DC when everything started, he had a meeting in the pentagon set up that day. We didn’t know it had been moved to later that day or the next day. We didn’t know this at the time, so we tried to call him, but the lines were busy and overloaded so we couldn’t get in touch with him. I went back to work, and I remember how quiet it was, the phones were not ringing, the fax machine wasn’t receiving any orders. My dad called me at work about 2 hours after I got there, but the receptionist didn’t tell me, 3 hours later she called him back and sent the call to me, all I could do was cry, not just because he was alive, but for all the families that would never get the phone call I was. The next day when I got to work the fax machine was full of orders, we had to get more paper every 2 hours. We had at least 100 voicemails from customers. We couldn’t keep up. We ran out of American flags on the 14th. The pride I felt that stores had run out that quickly, meaning people were coming together for those who died, the families, the men and women who raced into danger to help those that were still in the towers alive, and the 911 operators that took the worst calls they had experienced.
      We have forgotten, we have turned those heros into villans. We need to step back, as a country and remember not just 9/11 but the days, months and years, and remember standing side by side wanting to protect one a other, no matter their race, sexual orientation, religion, or other differences, we were Americans. I will never forget 9/11 and how it makes my eyes well up with tears, but we need to remind, teach and come together as a nation again.

  2. I was a sophomore in high school and that is the day I decided I would join the marine corps. Then in 2002 I shipped to boot camp to fulfill my duty of keeping America safe.

  3. I was in basic training for the Army. I believe we did the 240B range that day and one of the Drill Sergeants said they bombed the twin towers. We didn’t believe him to later that day we got back to the barracks and our DS turned the TV on and let us listen to it.

  4. I was between classes in my senior year and someone coming down the hall told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Like everyone else at the time, I thought they meant a small prop plane. At my next class, my principal came over the PA and tried to reassure us that our country was strong and would make it through this. The rest of the day was a blur of news footage and news reports in every class. That day, this day will always stick with me and had an impact on me that won’t ever be forgotten!

  5. I was working on 200 N Mannheim Rd. We were only 2 hours into the shift & the manager screamed “stop what your doing”. We were all sent home that day. Several phone calls were made to check on everyone. All we could do was watch everything unfold as the day went on. My son was six at the time. I dont know if 9-11 had anything to do with it, but by the time he turned 17, he was signed up for the USMC. He is now a Sgt. Semper Fi !!!

  6. On the day of 9/11 I was currently in Elementary, 5th grace to be exact. We were released early and the school called our parents to pick us up. Unaware of aghast had happened I was Just excited to go home early and watch the Simpsons and play some street football with my friends. When I got and turned the TV on I realized what had happened since all the channels were streaming the attack on the WTC.

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