September 11, 2001.
I was laying in bed when my phone rang just before 7am Mountain Time. I was living in Elkford BC and my mom was calling from her home in Alberta. I was super groggy and confused while mom was telling me to go watch the news, something terrible had happened in NYC. She said that a plane had apparently crashed into the WTC and it was awful. I said okay I will check later, because I was tired and just figured it was a horrible accident. I was living in Germany when a plane crashed into a hotel in Amsterdam years earlier and then had to fly into Amsterdam less than a year later and was creeped out by that particular terrible event. So I knew it could be devastating. I intended to go back to sleep but then I just tossed the covers back and went into the living room. I remember turning to CNN and I believe it was Aaron Brown standing on a hill with the WTC burning in the distance behind him. It was an eerie sight.
But then he turned while listening to his ear piece and oh my god, another plane just popped into view at the right of the screen and turned into the other tower. I don't remember thinking anything other than OH MY GOD! I could not believe what I was seeing. I had maybe been awake 2 mins and I was watching an attack on the United States right in front of my eyes, live on screen. Before the second plane entered the view, Brown seemed to be talking about having no idea how this could have happened, but after he saw the second one, he turned back to say something like 'America is under attack. This is the work of terrorists.'. I mean, it had to be. What kind of funky air mistake could bring two planes into the huge WTC buildings mere minutes apart? I could not believe it. I was thousands of miles away but I was locked on the screen in shock and horror. I will never forget my feelings and shock and disgust. But for the moment it was also confusion. It felt like it wasnt even real.
I remember watching when a blurb came up and confusion erupted in the newsrooms when reports came around 740 (my time) that something had happened at the Pentagon. Then a little while later another report came of a plane 'missing' somewhere around Pennsylvania. What the hell was going on? In the meantime, US air space was closed down and flights were being either sent back to their departure points, or re-routed to Canada. My brother kept calling from Calgary because he worked in a high rise building for Telus and they were on Orange Alert. All window shades were closed and they sat in eerie silence while planes lined up over Calgary. It was unnerving because no one knew if there were more planes to be used in this attack. If they were re-routed to Canada, would they just decide to crash here instead? No one knew and it was scary. Constantly all day long they had to sit in their building and listen to planes fly right overhead to land at the airport, while they watched the news coming out of NY. So I was worried about 'what next, who's next?' at the same time as feeling just useless over what was happening in the US. Four planes? It was insane.
But what most bothered me that day was watching some news channel (I cannot remember if it was CNN or what) when a man called in from one of the 90th floors of the second tower to be hit. He was calling in because he could not get a hold of his family and wanted his wife to know he was safe, as well as all his coworkers. He said what company they worked for, what floor they were on, and that they were all okay and just waiting for help because they could not get out of their office due to the wreckage and smoke. He sounded a little rattled but mainly calm and trying to keep his wits about him. He just wanted the families to know that they were safe.
Less than 20 mins later that tower fell and I burst into tears knowing that man was gone and everyone else. They were going to be rescued - they were just waiting and trying to find a way out, but there was no way they got out of there. It was completely impossible they would have reached the bottom in only 20 mins. The newsanchor woman had to gulp and choke while trying to report that they think the tower just collapsed. I know that she too was thinking of the man she had just spoken to. I think that part hit me the hardest. I wish I had remembered his name, but I remember his voice. He was calm, and just focused on letting all of their families know they were okay.
Then the second tower fell and listening to people scream and cry while watching the live feeds on the streets was devastating. By then I knew the towers were full of rescue workers too. People on the streets who had just escaped the tower were buried under dust and rubble. The dust cloud looked like a monster from a movie, billowing down the streets in every direction and swallowing everything in it's path.
I did not leave the television for several hours that day. I felt I HAD to watch this, watch everything as it unfolded and never forget it.