September 11, 2001

I’ve spent the week leading up to yesterday’s somber date watching Rising: Rebuilding the World Trade Center. To see something rise up out of the ashes of Ground Zero has been amazing.

I am far away from NYC on the opposite coast, but I was struck dumb and filled with anger that day 10 years ago. It is one of those days that everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news.

I was asleep, moments away from the alarm clock waking me up to get the then 11 year old to school. My husband called and said, “Turn on the news.” He does this sometimes if in his job duties he has made the news. I’m half asleep and ask what channel. He frantically yells, “Any f@cking channel. It’s on all of them.” Now I’m frantic. How big can it be if it is on all the channels? We’ve already had the Loma Prieta earthquake at a time of no cell phones and couldn’t reach him We’ve already had the Oakland Hills firestorm when he didn’t come home for days.

I turn on the television and sit there stupifyed. My first thought is how stupid did the pilot have to be to not miss a giant building with a big ol’ plane? My stupor evaporated as the second plane hit the other tower. OMG, it was on purpose!

My son did not go to school that day, or the rest of the week. My husband went to 12 hour days and barely returned home to shower and sleep. I spent the week on the couch, unable to turn away from the hours of reporting.

I may not be in NYC and I don’t think I knew anyone on the planes or in the towers, but I will never forget where I was when the towers fell.

Jill James


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6 thoughts on “September 11, 2001

  1. I remember that morning clearly to this day. Like you, I was living in California still at the time. My oldest daughter came running into my bedroom to wake me with “Mom come see the news!” Okay, this is a 17 yo who didn’t have time for news if it wasn’t an article in the school paper and she was editing it. I was up. All three girls sat or stood glued to the tv. Even the 12 yo. WTH??? She’s 22 now and doesn’t usually watch the news. I sat in a stupor, thankful the couch was there to catch me. As we stared at the tv the second plane hit. I had thought the same thing you had, that it was pilot error- big time. Even after the news reported it as deliberate, my mind wouldn’t- couldn’t- absorb that information. My youngest daughter and oldest daughter had to be at school. I couldn’t convince them otherwise, and I tried. Middle daughter declined going. I didn’t argue. My husband came home early. I don’t think I left the tv for more than 30 minutes at a time for two weeks waiting for news of survivors. Wanting to go help. And then, like you, I remembered the earthquakes and fires, too. On top of that, being from Oklahoma, when Tim McVey bombed the Murrah building here, I also reacted strongly from my stuck position in California. I felt like I was betraying my home state because I wasn’t here to help physically in some way then. I spent a lot of time praying.

    • Calisa, thank you for your poignant reply. I went to sit down that morning and missed the chair completely and felt like someone was telling me my knees was where I needed to be. I think I remained that way for an hour. Praying for all the lost souls and the people trying to rescue them.

  2. My husband and I were in the car, crossing the Tenessee mountains. We left Florida the night before and slept in a motel. We were going back to our home in Cincinnati. At 9:15 the car cell phone rang. It was my son. “Mom, do you know America is under attack?” I didn’t understand what he was saying. He explained. We were petrified. I thought about my daughter, a resident at George Washington Hospital in DC and called her. She’s been mobilized in her hospital and requested to spend the whole week there. Then we called my aunts and uncles in New York and learned about the drama of my missing cousin who worked on the 18th floor at the Trade World Center. I am blogging about his story on

    • Mona, I visited your blog. That was a scary time for your family. My husband is a cop and we were terrified he would have to go to NYC. I so did not want to be alone at that time.

  3. I remember waiting at the break room at work to find out which plane my now husband was on. I new he was headed to VA or DC, that was all I new. He also did not have cell reception where he was at. It took hours to find out if he was okay.

    • Ciara, waiting is the worst. During the Loma Prieta earthquake we didn’t have cell phones yet, my husband just had a pager for work and it wasn’t going through. He was trying to call us but phones were on and off. Very scary times.

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