“Who Are We Now?”: Where Were You On September 11, 2001 Open Thread

Folks, we’re not going to do the now-obligatory Blog Thing were we navel-gaze and pontificate on The Larger Relevance of September 11 in Our Modern World on this somber day. That’s not [DFO]- the site is premised on the concept that you can be an intelligent, informed, thoughtful individual on the internet without taking yourself overly-seriously (i.e. enjoying Sport and Dick Jokes).

However, we also can’t ignore the brontosaurus in the room.

Many of us were directly effected by the terrorist actions and loss of life on September 11, 2001. Many more of us have been effected by the second-wave consequences, especially the wars fought in the aftermath. But all of us have been effected and all of us need to acknowledge that it goes deeper than being forced to take off your shoes at the airport and seeing giant American flags stretched across the field before every NFL game.

So what we’d like to do is turn it over to you. Where were you on September 11, 2001? What were your first thoughts when you heard the news? Who were you then, and who were you after? Please- if you’re a lurker who’s never commented before, now is a great time. We’ll expedite comment review, because we want to hear your voice.

PLEASE NOTE: The regular rules for commenting are still in effect. This is about experience, not ideology. Be respectful, be measured, be a decent human being.


I was a Junior in college. I was on my way to my morning Intro to American Legal System class. When I got there, there were a couple of people crowded at the door and a sign saying that class was cancelled. Some said something had happened in New York. I don’t remember much else from that day, to be frank. But I remember the next day, thinking “So who are we now? How did we get here?” I ask the same questions at least once a week now.

Now you:

The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem

The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem

Feared conqueror; scholar; poet; revered holy man; professional raconteur; soldier of fortune; gentle yet thorough lover; bandit; blazing gypsy speedboat. I have been called some of these things.
The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem

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The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem
The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem
Feared conqueror; scholar; poet; revered holy man; professional raconteur; soldier of fortune; gentle yet thorough lover; bandit; blazing gypsy speedboat. I have been called some of these things.
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Low Commander of the Super SoldiersblaxabbathDon TUnsurprisedPetronel Recent comment authors
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Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

I was in 8th grade, and it was already an unusual day. My Mom didn’t watch TV in the morning and my Dad went to work early. It had been planned for a week that that day I would be walking to a friends house after school since neither could pick me up after school for some unimportant reason. I learned something bad had happened, but really didn’t know what. Most of the teachers didn’t really talk about it to my memory, and it wasn’t until I got to my friend’s house after school that I really saw what happened. The first words out of his little brother’s mouth were “Cool!” upon seeing the explosions. I can’t fault him entirely because of his age, but he was always kind of a dipshit. ANYWAY, the chilling thing is that their Dad actually had an office in one of the towers whenever he would travel to New York for work, and thankfully was not there that day.

In the weeks following, I remember seeing my 7th grade history book in the news a lot, because one of the things it taught was Middle Eastern history, including Islam. I’m pretty damn sure it got banned not long after, and I’m betting it was because it wasn’t critical of the religion and painted the people there as, well, people. That was the first time I started to really see history trying to be changed in front of me and I’ll never forget that.

10 years later, my first real job out of college was working for a Nonprofit that supported Wounded Warriors and Families of Fallen Heroes. I drove from San Diego to New York in American flag wrapped Jeeps over 105 days doing events and meeting countless Gold Star Families, veterans and active military personnel (including the man behind this incredible story.) I saw firsthand the damage the wars had ravaged on so many, and it’s given me an incredible sense of perspective and respect for our military and their families.

I left the organization a few months after returning home, not long after I discovered that the head of the foundation was (allegedly) siphoning funds from donations to himself, as well as keeping some items that were to be auctioned off or given to the very people we were doing this for. When a autographed Pro Bowl Drew Brees jersey went “missing,” it was the last straw. There is a special place in hell for reserved for that man, who, the more I hear about Trump’s “way of doing business” the more I feel like I’ve worked for him in some way.

Don T

I was in my late 20s working long days in a law firm and regularly skipping law school at night. The firm’s building had several Fed agency offices: IRS, Vet. Affairs, Social Security… We got word that we had to put on the news and saw the WTC in smoke. I called my father and asked him to put on the TV, and as he did, the second plane crashed into the WTC. Out building was evacuated within a half hour, so I went home. At the time, my then wife was visiting her mom with our 1 y.o. daughter.
I was stunned—and, being honest, somewhat impressed—that NYC and DC had been attacked. I called someone very close to me at the time to talk about what happened. The other person’s tone was celebratory, “just desserts” was used liberally, and that put me off completely.Then I went out, bought a pizza and a six pack of beer, and spent the day shut in avoiding the phone, watching the news, and feeling sad and hoping the US military nailed those terrorists.


The person you called, was he/she from 2019?


I wish the cop who burst into my dorm room, waking my sick ass up, yelling at me to get the fuck out had just shot me instead.


Safe to say Unsurprised is not our very first every black commentist.


Just another slow Tuesday morning in my cubicle. I don’t remember exactly how I found out – maybe somebody came in and told us, or maybe I was checking CNN like I used to do occasionally when I was at my desk – but I do remember the office being rather quiet for the rest of the morning. I would have called Mr. Nel – it was just before his first class of the day would have begun, and that was before our campus-wide alert system was a thing (hell, that was before many campuses had even thought about having such a thing, I’d guess).

We all sat at our desks trying to find a good news feed after CNN got flooded, before they got their temporary low-bandwidth site up. Then, F5 every minute, then every five minutes, etc. for the rest of the day. The one high-strung guy in the office (there’s always one) was freaking out a little, so some of us tried to talk him down. He may have ended up going home early, not that anybody minded that day.

That job was located near the greater D.C./Baltimore metro area, so It also seemed that, depending on what ended up happening, it was (remotely) possible that we might be caught in any splash damage from a larger destructive event.

It was all rather surreal, as if the floor had dropped out from under the world. But I also had a feeling of inevitability, as if “sooner or later” had just become “now”.


“Be respectful, be measured, be a decent human being.” Why start now?

But seriously, on topic.

I know exactly where I saw when the 9/11 Attacks happened. Sleeping in my bed.

I had the day off from my summer job and since I worked until Midnight, I slept in and missed the whole thing. I woke up and went downstairs and turned the TV on just after the plane crashed into the field. I spent the next hour watching the news almost feeling like I was watching something fictional.


I was living in LA and was woken at about 6am by a message on my machine from an East Coast friend telling me to turn on the TV. It was so surreal that my roommate and I couldn’t process how BIG a deal it was. We weren’t sure if we would be expected to go to work (we were not, which I’m still surprised at considering we both worked in film production), and I was supposed to see the Black Crowes that night and remember wondering if it would be canceled.

My parents were returning that day from an Alaskan vacation and were in the air when all planes were grounded. They wound up landing in Salt Lake City and were stuck there for three days before getting a flight back to Philly.

I’m not an emotional person (to a fault), but I remember being uneasy and not wanting to leave the house. I didn’t really go out apart from work for about two weeks. I remember sitting in theaters (before I had a cell phone) thinking that they’re essentially sensory deprivation chambers, and if something was happening outside I’d not know about it, and that disturbed me.

As the days and weeks went on, I was really disgusted at what I perceived as lots of crocodile tears being spilled; a national game of one-upmanship to see who was the most distraught. Every year when this day rolls around, I feel the exact same way.


I was in my mid twenties, living in the loft of a dot-com boom financed house in San Diego. I woke up to the sound of the answering machine going off and groggily listened to my friend’s mom leave a message about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. I leapt out of bed and ran down to the living room to turn the TV on and then woke up my roommates downstairs.

My initial reaction was of a “kill ’em all” variety. I am ashamed to have lost my head as badly as I did at the time. It didn’t take too long for me to wise up, but I am still sad to think that I would have happily joined a mob with pitchforks and torches in the month or so after the attack.


That’s nothing to be ashamed of. No one knew how to react. We weren’t sure if this was the attack or just Phase One of a bigger attack. Plus it was something we didn’t knew how to defend against.

If we were invaded by another country, most of us would probably grab some guns, form a Militia and defend our country from the invaders (see Revolutionary War (sort of), Pearl Harbor). If we were attacked by a country, we’d simply declare war on the other country and attack that country (see Pearl Harbor, Germany in WWI (sort of)).

For the first time we weren’t attacked by a country or an army. A small group of people attacked us. How do you respond to that? What is the appropriate response?


Attack Iraq and then Iran 20 years later.


Like Brick, I slept through most, if not all of it. I was freshman at WVU, and blew off my 8 AM class. I went to the 10:30 class, and noticed a lot more people talking to each other more than usual. The professor didn’t mention a thing. Afterwards, I went back to my dorm. I lived next to the RA, who’s door was open. I noticed he was watching TV, and asked him what was happening. He looked at me, and asked, “You don’t know?!” I said no, I was in class. He said the World Trade Center had collapsed, an something happened at the Pentagon. My roommate got there about that time, and we watched the news in silence for a while.

Brick Meathook
Brick Meathook

I not only slept through the whole thing, but I was heavily shorted in the market so I made a fortune that day, all while I slept, which I believe I already mentioned.


and have since been named as one of the insiders in multiple Infowars blog posts and r/conspiracy


I’ve told my story millions of times, so I’ll say this:

We lost the war against terror.
America lost the Iraq war.(Baghdad Bob was proven right)
We lost the Afghanistan war.
We lost most of our rights that we valued.

Al Qaeda and Taliban have been US allies for years and no one gives a shit.

Fuck every politician since 9/11


(nods sadly yes)

Buddy Cole's Halftime Show!
Buddy Cole's Halftime Show!

I was 11. The Jets got curbstomped by the Colts that Sunday and the Giants lost to the Broncos on MNF, I remember Rodney Williams launched a stupid long punt in the thin air.

They didn’t tell us in school, and I found out what had happened by looking at rudimentary-ass MLB.com during computer class seeing if there was any Mets news. I was close enough to NYC that there’s a county and individual town memorials for victims.

I don’t usually discuss it. It was a horrible disaster that still has tangible effects in this area.


I guess Buddy Cole didn’t enjoy that….show.


I still remember Ed McCaffrey breaking his leg in that game.


Being at work, seeing the first shot of the plane that hit the world trade center, and then our internet went down. calling all over trying to get news, remembering my cousin and her husband lived and worked in Manhattan. Going home and watching the goddamn TV, going over to my parents – and this one really hurt – seeing how devastated they were. Just couldn’t believe it happened to their country.

And how beautiful the weather was that day – surreal.

The Maestro

I was in grade school. Came back in from recess, and the teacher was completely pale and stammering – a very unusual memory I had of her, because she was a rather large woman, and a commanding presence in the classroom. When all we could get out of her was “class, something terrible has happened today – I’m sorry to tell you this, but I can’t say any more”, it really lent us kids pause. Walked home for lunch to see my mom sitting on the couch with the TV on – something she virtually never, ever, did during the day. Saw the smoke. Saw the towers. Even as a kid, in that moment, I knew the world was never going to be the same after this. I just didn’t know how much things were going to change.


Took my girlfriend-now wife-to Ottawa for a getaway weekend. We’d just had shower sex and she got out before me. As I exited the washroom a bit later she said, “You have to see this”. We had to head back home that morning but I found it very hard to peel myself away from the tube.

The drive is more than six hours and I tried to find the various CBC radio feeds as we traveled across Ontario. At one point I realized that I hadn’t spoken to her in more than an hour as I tried to wrap my head around what had occurred and said, “I’m so sorry, I don’t mean to ignore you”. She was okay with that.

A bit later a light came on in my head. I realized that every other girlfriend I’d ever had before would want to talk and talk about this thing that happened-just to fill the air. I found my partner.

/make of this what you will


“We’d just had shower sex and she got out before me.”

A woman finished first? Now I KNOW you’re lying


I was a college kid in Mississippi…

Woke up to NPR news of folks talking about how there is no confirmation that there was a car bombing at Camp David. Went downstairs to my fraternity house living room and the place was packed with folks just stopping in their tracks watching TV.


I was a Marine, stationed on Okinawa and we watched it all happen on AFN, which showed the network morning shows live in our evening. I looked at Lady LemonJello and told her “We’re going to war.” I honestly expected the phone to ring that night and be told to come in to work immediately to start deployment prep, and that I’d be in another country within days. That call never came, we went about our routine, but the bases were locked down, with armed Marines patrolling the fences, for weeks afterward. Family back home were worried for us, and we did our best to calm their concerns.

I’ll be honest; I was fully on board with going after Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, even if it meant turning big swaths of that country into radioactive glass.

I’ve deployed twice to Afghanistan, in 2003 and 2011. I’ve had friends injured and killed. It shouldn’t have taken 18 years of warfare to reach Mission: Accomplished.


I just remember going to my 8a college class and the instructor being like, “For those of you who showed up, go home and call your loved ones.” And my thoughts were like, “Why? I’m in Arizona and all this crap happened out east.” Anyways, I went home and called my mom and was like, “Hey, I’m okay.” And she was like, “Well, yeah, that stuff all happened out east.” I think she thought I was dumb. And I was, for listening to The Man.

9/11 taught me to never trust the establishment. Don’t forget that, kids.

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My brother and I flew to NYC in November ’01 to, basically, check out ground zero. Our uncle in Queens knew a guy who let us see the view from his office near the site (it was all fenced off) and, after 2 months of clean up, it just looked like a HUGE construction site. It was pretty wild to see how large a footprint in the middle of a real live city was just put out of commission by that thing.

Then, the day we were supposed to fly back and be at the airport like 3 hours early, we slept in and I was calling the airline the whole ride to the airport to see if they’d be able to get us on a later flight. They weren’t much help but, when we got to the airport, we somehow got pushed through security with only like 45 mins before takeoff. I am 100% sure it was because we were white males and it was that day that I knew things for me in America were going to be okay. Ooooh — that reminds me, I need to get my TSA Fastpass and charge the costs to my company as a tax deductible expense. #USA #ALLLIVESMATTER #KAG


America is allies with Al Qaeda and has been for years


“This is because America, we are good guys.”

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yeah right

Getting ready to go in to work that day I got a strange phone call from an ex girlfriend that told me to turn on the TV. I was managing multiple accounts back then including my current one and another at Boeing. Both are in El Segundo and the Boeing account was close enough to LAX where you could throw a baseball and hit the runway. Planes were still in the air and lots of crazy rumors.

Driving to LAX from my then home of San Pedro with impending doom was one of the hardest drives I ever made. Went to both accounts, talked to my customer contacts, got all my people released to go home then drove home on surface streets. Hit the grocery store and bought hundreds of dollars of food, beer and booze. Went home with another girlfriend, Eldest right and my son in law. Grilled steaks, drank, played a game of Risk, watched the coverage on TV and cried all day.

The thing I remember most was just how insane everything and everyone was. Every rumor felt true because planes were literally falling out of the sky.

Youngest right was living in San Diego and was in school and she was almost in hysterics because she knew how close to the airport I worked.

We have a headquarters in Irvine which is right in the landing path of John Wayne Airport in Orange County and somebody started a rumor there that a plane was heading for the airport and it caused mass hysteria.

One of the bravest things I ever saw – at the time – was my son-in-law and another mailroom worker at Boeing getting the outgoing mail from Boeing and delivering it to the post office because we had no idea when/if the postal service was going to run again.

I’ll never forget.

King Hippo

Definitely a seminal moment. I left the parking garage at work just as BBC World Service (NPR station) was reporting some nebulous “NYC plane crash” news. I cut the engine and thought nothing further of it, until I went to piss and saw a huge gathering of folks in the break room watching TV.

My then-wife was home with my young twins then, and had already gotten my oldest from pre-school. Once DC got hit, she freaked out a bit and noted that I was in the highest building (24th floor of 28) in my neck of the woods. If the attacks were domino-chaining down the East Coast, who was to say they’d skip Raleigh on the way to Atlanta?

I got the fuck out, watched news all day with my kids (though the 3-month olds didn’t take any in), answered my oldest’s questions. Then we gathered solemnly at the Methodist Church that night, and the pastor had everyone share their fears and anger, and prayed for collective wisdom and healing.

I was actually quite touched by the vulnerability the President first showed upon being told what was going on, and really did want (and tried very hard) to trust his leadership. Had he stopped with the Taliban/Afghanistan, he would have been remembered very differently.

It was the last real unifying event I remember in this fucked-up country, before the shit got really dark and ugly (especially with the racism and profiling).

King Hippo

And as a follow-up, I was never prouder of President Obama then when he made the steely-eyed decision to act on the OBL intelligence, and risk his Presidency on it (knowing the McConnell-ites would NEVER give him any credit if he was right). Then, calling President Bush first after getting confirmation of the kill.


I do remember the closeness after the fact. For such a traumatizing and world changing event, it seems all that unity was gone by 2003 or 2004, and we’ve been tearing apart ever since.

King Hippo

Indeed. Most of it was gone after the Iraq War resolution, certainly was gone for me after what those assholes did to Senator Cleland in GA (fall of 2002). Special place in hell for Saxby Chambliss.


Yeah, the roar of the crowd at Yankee Stadium for a Republican President throwing the first pitch will never, never, never be like that again.

Senor Weaselo

High point of the Bush presidency right there. Also that it was a strike, from the mound, in a bulletproof vest.


It’s kind of sad that GWB’s greatest achievement as President was throwing a strike at a baseball game.


The first sporting event in New York after 9/11 was a Mets-Braves game. Piazza hit a two run go ahead homer in the bottom of 8th. The feeling of joy over something so mundane as beating the Braves. Then seeing how happy the first responders at the game were. It was the moment that I knew, yes life has changed, but it will and must go on in all ways, big and small.

Also, for the first, and hopefully only time in my life I rooted for the Yankees to win.
The sprotsball isn’t life or death, but giving New York and especially the people working down at the hellscape of the pile showed what three hours of distraction can do for the people’s spirit and mental health.

Senor Weaselo

I was in 6th grade, in science class when I heard what had happened. I think when I heard I thought it was some sort of accident or something, because I was 9 and I probably wasn’t fully grasping it at the time. I remember being a little weirded out when I got home because the network TV channels were out, because they used the Towers as their signal. It was a bit eerie, the silence of the city, even in the outer boroughs where I lived.

My parents gave me a little more detail on what happened. It definitely hit them, we didn’t have family there but they had friends, or family of friends, either working at the WTC or as first responders. Don’t ask me how many because I’d have no idea, but even now my mom finds a monument and can find someone—she works in the medical field.

I remember wondering who did it and why, because of course I didn’t know that fundamentalism was a thing, I was 9 and a naive 9 at that. I knew there was fighting in the Middle East of course, but to think it could happen here was unimaginable to everyone, so of course it was for me.

If anything the scarier thing was the Belle Harbor crash over the Rockaways because of all of the security ramp-ups and added vigilance, and another one just two months later? It was later found out to not be that but it was still a scary week or two.

I didn’t go to Ground Zero for years, in case you’re wondering. I think we didn’t go until some of my cousins from Italy came in and we showed them downtown, and since we were in the area decided to show them where the Towers were. By then I think almost everything was clear, but it took a long time to get to that point, to find everyone, to clear everything out.

My cousin was there, he’s an EMT who’s been working in Corona, around Shea Stadium and Citi Field. And this past Christmas he told me a story about when he was at the Historical Society, and they have their piece on 9/11 of course, it’s the New-York Historical Society, and he saw an ambulance door. It said that they didn’t know which door it was and he knew immediately. Because he was on the radio with the EMTs in the ambulance with eyes on what was going on, and then dust and debris fell, and they were gone, the ambulance was gone, caved in. And that was the door from that ambulance. And someone heard him say that and brought him to the archives in the basement, because there is a ton of mangled remains that even now are unidentified, and he helped with some of it, as best as he could. Hearing that story nowish definitely does a whole lot more than if I had heard them while everything was new and fresh and raw, due to being older and being able to grasp everything more.

I feel kinda old now. 18 years means that people born after 9/11 are becoming legal adults now. All they know is the War on Terror, and that’s probably a massive schism of mindset, not knowing the Before Times.


Living in Chandler, Arizona, and getting my stepson ready for school.
The dude on the TV said something about a terrible accident. I said that ain’t no accident. The second plane hit a few minutes later.

I then kept my stepson home from school that day.


Still living at home, getting dressed to go into work about 5 blocks from the Towers. Had one leg in my pants, when I got a call from my Mom. She said, “Turn on the TV.”
“Which channel?”
“Any one.”
“Oh fuck.”
Spent the day acting as info clearing house for my family, many of whom worked in New York.

Spent the next week glued to the TV, with my Mom keeping a very close watch on me. She didn’t want me to go join the military, but never said anything about it to me.


The night before, I was planning on going to an album release thing at a Tower Records in NYC for They Might Be Giants. With a lot of time to kill, I decided to go to The Stonewall for the first time in my life, as a bit of a tribute to my Uncle.
The beer didn’t agree with me, so I went home after two. I remember walking to the Path station at the Trade Center, thinking that I could go see those globe sculptures some other time.

Next time I went into Stonewall was after the Pulse shooting. Could never bring myself to go, because of an irrational fear of what hell would break loose if I went.


I was in Chicago downtown at a highrise on Clark Street working at the crappy job I had for a year between undergrad and law school. They let us out of the office around 10:00 or so, along with most of the people in the city. It was surreal to see the streets so crowded with everyone basically looking up at the sky and towards the Sears Tower. I went to a bar with my then girlfriend for lunch, but it was depressing because all of the TVs were focused on the coverage. I remember reading all of the posts on Rolling Stone online the next day (weird, but there was no twitter or facebook) and having nightmares for two weeks. In October, I remember flying out to Atlanta to see the Bears stomp the Falcons, and they announced the Iraq bombings during the game and everyone cheered like a bunch of assholes. Good thing they found the WMDs and Osama bin Laden in Iraq, and terrorism was snuffed out for good!


Note, I was one of the assholes cheering. It was cathartic that the US was doing something, or anything, really, even though we quickly learned it was the wrong thing.

Also, the bombings in 2001 were against the Taliban in Afghanistan, not in Iraq. So less bad, I guess?


I was in high school in in CT and had surgery that morning. Mine was the last one they did that day because the hospital was preparing for a possible airlift from New York to Bridgeport. I don’t remember a whole lot about the rest of the day (Thanks general anesthesia!). I remember my mom telling me what happened and I turned on the TV just in time to see plane #2 hit. When we got to the hospital, the TV in the waiting room was on and it was the quietest waiting room I’ve ever been in. I got called into pre-op right as the towers fell.

Game Time Decision

I was working away at my desk, just north of Toronto. Remember seeing the first video of the tower getting hit online. Still scary see it today.
Mrs GTD went for a hot air balloon ride with her family that day. She would have been one of the few non-military people in the air that day. She was also pregnant with our first, and remember thinking what kind of world are being bringing a child into.

Porky Prime
Porky Prime

Zipping up a suitcase, getting ready to leave for a flight from LAX to JFK to visit my aunt. Got a phone call.

“Turn on the TV.”

Shit. “I’m not visiting anytime soon, am I?”

Woke up my family. We did what everyone did for that entire week. Just watched the news in a stupor. Never made the NYC trip. Also, never walked a friend or family member all the way to the departure gate ever again… remember when you could do that? And when there were public storage lockers in airports and train stations? Old man coming through!

Game Time Decision

This also reminds me that I used to be able to travel to the USA with a drivers license and maybe a birth certificate. Shortly there after, you needed a passport to be able to travel anywhere.


Yeah, I had flown before 9/11 with a mini-leatherman tool that I always kept in my rolling bag I used to travel. My first flight after, they confiscated it, as I had forgotten it was even there. Funny how they didn’t care at all before.