The 9-12 Project of Central PA

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HISTORY; 9-11 - Where were you?

9-11...

Where were you?

What did you learn?

How did this impact you personally?

swanson



How did this terror event impact you personally and your own approach to security and survival?

Here's some headlines following that dreaded day in history -



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Where -

I was in my bed with a serious headache and a touch of the flu when I got a call from a co-worker to turn on the tube. I did and turned to FOX News just as the second plane hit the South tower. My heart hit the ground and I was in tears despite my tough-guy crap. I knew we were immediately on a wartime footing, like it or not.

At the time, I was the special operations manager for a private security firm near Philly. Within an hour of the second plane hitting, I and a team of employees were dispatched to a critical infrastructure facility located in greater Philadelphia to bolster their security.

We were prepared to meet our professional commitments, but I have to tell you, the uncertainty of what might yet come was on everyone's mind like a dark shadow.

It was spooky to not see any planes in the air over Philly, damn spooky.

This is what I learned -

Even if you train, have all the assets at your finger tips, and think you are "ready" for when TSHTF, you can still feel powerless and uncertain of how to make the next move even if you have a mission and a plan. You've got to trust yourself and the men next to you.

9-11 changed the course of my life permanently.

swanson
I was at work, in my office with the radio on. I was one of the first to hear it in our office of 6, as it came across the radio, I immediately thought terror attack, although they didn't say that at first on the radio. I immediately went out to the main office and told the other staff. They sat there with their mouths wide open. I told them that it wasn't good, and I thought it could be done on purpose, but the radio hadn't said that yet. I went back to my office right away to listen to more, and by that time, they were starting to speculate that it was a terror attack.

Right after I heard it on the radio, I called Wayne at home (he had just moved to this area and was still in search of a job). He didn't have the TV on, so he had no idea. He got to watch all the events unfold that day on TV. I remember him calling me a couple times and telling me it was really bad and that we would be going to war.

We had TVs in our Weather Station Complex, so we all went upstairs. Students and faculty had already gathered around and were watching in silence with obvious signs of shock on their faces. No one could believe it. I started to get scared immediately, that there were more attacks on the way, not just by plane, but that we were going to be in an immediate war on our homeland. When they announced that a plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, I was horrified. THAT hit so close to home and I was worried I was going to start hearing announcements of planes crashing everywhere. I was relieved when that wasn't the case. When I heard of the crash at the Pentagon, I became worried again, that our nation's capital was under attack and I was concerned for a friend I had that worked at the Pentagon.

How did it change me. I was MAD. I was MAD that there was political correctness being spewed at a time when our country was attacked and that I couldn't assume that this was a terror plot until it had been investigated. I wondered how we could possibly screen people at the airports to keep this from happening again. I became very MAD in the weeks and months to follow when we were told we couldn't "profile." WHAT? This was a matter of the security of the American people and there were some who were worried about "hurting feelings"? I was proud when so many people rallied around to help and when President Bush came out and said that the people who did this will be brought to justice. What I want to know, is where is that pride from ALL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE? Like Glen said, we should feel that pride EVERY day and not just when there is an attack on our country. THAT is what has been lost in America. Too many people with too many ideas of what America SHOULD be and not enough proud of what IT IS!!! Too many people who want to CHANGE our country based on their own agendas and ideas, and not enough who realize that CHANGE is killing the principles our country was founded on.

How did it affect my ideas of personal security. Well, I now know that our country is very fragile. It wouldn't take much to send us into crisis. I look at Hurricane Katrina, and the crisis there. We had a friend who went down to MS to deliver generators. Someone tried to rob him of the generators at a gas station, and he had to pull a gun. People were desparate and it got ugly. The same could happen here if our electricity grid went down, if our water supply became polluted, or our oil supply was diminished. It would get ugly very fast. Even if our internet systems went down, we would be in crisis. It can happen here, and I think it's only a matter of time before it does.

GOD BLESS AMERICA
I could write a book on this...great thread.

The "short" version follows...

I was in my office when my mother called me, telling me that two planes hit the WTC. My immediate response was, "Wow, it must be terrorists", picturing small, single engine planes or something like that.

One of my earliest memories is of the hostages of the 1972 olympics, and I remember the 70s hijackings, the Achille Lauro, Lockerbie, the first WTC attack, the USS Cole and all of them. I assumed this was on the same scale. It was only later, when my brother told me it was two passenger jets that the magnitude really hit me.

Working at Penn State at, we didn't have access to cable, so I looked for news on the internet, and all I could get was a tiny streaming image from MSNBC, but watching the towers smouldering was still a shocking sight. I was taking a class at the time, and I went to it, not knowing what was about to happen.

In class, the students were abuzz, and I will never forget the stupid professor saying, "I know there are interesting things happening today, but I really need your attention to these important things." I quit the class right then and there and went back to my office.

When I got back to my office, my co-worker told me the buildings had collapsed, and I simply couldn't believe it. Only days earlier, I watched a documentary about the Empire State Building and how a B29 had hit it. I was simply shocked.

The rest of the day I spent on the phone with my brothers and parents, trying to find news coverage and waiting for the president to say something. My brother, active in amateure radio, was the best source of information. By the time the plane hit the Pentagon, there was no doubt in my mind that we were at war with somebody. I felt helpless. A man's instincts in time of emergency is to DO SOMETHING, but there was nothing to do.

I truly felt proud as an American when the president used words like, "we make the following demands" in his speech on the 20th. It seems that war is easily forgotten when it's somebody else doing the fighting and the dying.

At the time, I was suffereing from post-traumatic stress from a canoeing accident the year before, and the attacks that day magnified the effects. I spent the next year on medication I could write another book about, and I still choke up when I talk about it. It seems that now, my "fight or flight" response is always on, and I have little patience for suffering fools. Needless to say, that has not really helped me in my career at Penn State!

I didn't know anybody, personally, that died that day, but there were friends of friends, and many of my buddies were recalled to active duty. I went down to a recruiter myself, but he very diplomatically told me that I wasn't needed,and I had to agree with his reasoning.

While I never served in the military, I was involved with the Penn State Veterans Organization at the time, and had numerous friends in the military. After the invasion of Afghanistan and later Iraq, I helped to hold the organization together while the nearly entire membership was recalled or volunteered. I'm happy to say that they're doing just fine these days, but I digress.

On another track, my degree is in English, and I had an emphasis on Western poetry, so one of the ways I dealt with 9/11 was through poetry. I feel it's the poet's duty to record history and bear witness to future generations. I actually set up a couple of web sites for the purpose. Sadly, the response to them never met my expectations, but I suppose they're still useful. One site morphed into http://www.modernwarpoetry.org/ and the original site is at http://www.poetsforum.com/sleeping_giant/ I still get submission requests from time to time, but the numbers fell off in a steep curve after about 2002.

In the years after the attacks, I've lost both of my parents and my grandparents, and a number of my buddies have gone to war and been affected in ways in whcih I only have the slightest insights.

I find myself, these days, wondering what it would take to wake up this sleeping giant again, and I keep coming up with the same answers.
Great topic.

I was in high school (Yes, I'm a young one). I was in my civics/economics class when the teacher was told to turn on the t.v. in the classroom. We turned it on and I saw something I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams. We saw the huge hole in the side of the first tower that had been hit. I remember thinking, "That's not good, but I have a feeling this is bigger than I realize." I still didn't quite understand just how "big of a deal" it was. Then, as we watched we saw the second plane hit the other tower. That's when it sunk in for me. As I sat there watching that t.v. I realized I was watching people die at that very instant. We watched the towers crumble and I was no longer living in my little teenage isolated world. War was real. Devasation was real. Death was real. One student had a family member who worked in the towers and I remember seeing several teachers taking her to the office. Teachers were just as shaken up as the students. No one knew what to do. We all sat watching the television in every class as we found out about each attack; the pentagon, the plane in Somerset.

Being young, I did not have a real concept of war. I only knew what I had learned about but I always thought, "That happens in other places. Things like that don't happen here in America." 9/11 put me in reality. It took away the naiveté. I also saw tremedous loss. People from around the country, even the world, were impacted by this horrific event. My little school had students who suffered personal loss from the events on 9/11.

I should add, while this was an event in my life that showed me true evil for the first time, it also showed me true compassion. I saw the power of humans to join together and protect each other. In the days after 9/11 I saw a country stronger and more powerful than I had ever seen. Every home on my block proudly displayed the American Flag on their porch. Small and petty disagreements were put aside. I'll never forget the events of 9/11 and I'll always remember those who lost but I will also never forget the country we were on 9/12. 9/11 taught me the worst of people and 9/12 taught me the best of people.
Wayne and I agree that there is no need to worry about being young. It makes me feel good that there are young people who are concerned about our country and realize how important this is. It would be great if you could get more young people to join us. Maybe that should be the start of another discussion thread. How do we get more young people involved? They are our future and peer pressure, apathy, and the media propaganda gravitates many of them to the left.

Jennifer said:
Great topic.
I was in high school (Yes, I'm a young one). I was in my civics/economics class when the teacher was told to turn on the t.v. in the classroom. We turned it on and I saw something I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams. We saw the huge hole in the side of the first tower that had been hit. I remember thinking, "That's not good, but I have a feeling this is bigger than I realize." I still didn't quite understand just how "big of a deal" it was. Then, as we watched we saw the second plane hit the other tower. That's when it sunk in for me. As I sat there watching that t.v. I realized I was watching people die at that very instant. We watched the towers crumble and I was no longer living in my little teenage isolated world. War was real. Devasation was real. Death was real. One student had a family member who worked in the towers and I remember seeing several teachers taking her to the office. Teachers were just as shaken up as the students. No one knew what to do. We all sat watching the television in every class as we found out about each attack; the pentagon, the plane in Somerset.
Being young, I did not have a real concept of war. I only knew what I had learned about but I always thought, "That happens in other places. Things like that don't happen here in America." 9/11 put me in reality. It took away the naiveté. I also saw tremedous loss. People from around the country, even the world, were impacted by this horrific event. My little school had students who suffered personal loss from the events on 9/11.

I should add, while this was an event in my life that showed me true evil for the first time, it also showed me true compassion. I saw the power of humans to join together and protect each other. In the days after 9/11 I saw a country stronger and more powerful than I had ever seen. Every home on my block proudly displayed the American Flag on their porch. Small and petty disagreements were put aside. I'll never forget the events of 9/11 and I'll always remember those who lost but I will also never forget the country we were on 9/12. 9/11 taught me the worst of people and 9/12 taught me the best of people.
I was in Sociology class.

I remember a woman in the class received a phone call and rushed out, we all assumed there was an emergency at home with her children. Little did we know that it was 1000 times worse than any of us could ever imagine at that time. Her husband worked in the Towers! I never did find out what happened to him, she never returned to class.

After class I went back home and back to bed, still totally oblivious as to what was happening.

At about 10 am I received a call from my Dad telling me to call my sister IMMEDIATELY! He said there was something wrong with her fiance and she was frantic. I of course placed a call to my sister and can only describe the noise on the other end of the phone as absolute hysterics. Adam had been working inside the Pentagon that morning when the plane struck and she did not know if he was alright.

I still was unsure what exactly was occurring and decided to turn the news on. I was in shock to learn what had happened. I spent the rest of the day engrossed in the news.

It was not until about 9PM that we learned that my sister's fiance was alright. He was on the direct opposite side of the building when the plane struck. Due to security purposes no one was allowed to make a call for quite some time. My sister, who was home at that point, collapsed into my mothers arms with such relief when she received the news.

I remember being quite fearful in the days that followed 9/11. I was in college at the time, a history major, and was able to draw on what I knew of history in speculating what may or may not occur. I was anticipating a declaration of war from President Bush, it never came. I was fearful of more attacks, attacks that may land closer to home. I discovered friends whose parents worked in the towers and lost their lives. (***I grew up in NJ, about 75 minutes from NYC***)

9/11 changed the world.
I was at work at Penn State in a meeting, a co-worker was waving his arms out side telling us to come out to the break room. They had the TV’s on, we went out, I couldn’t believe it. Some of my co-workers were crying. I just stood there in shock. This couldn’t be happening. I called my husband, father and Mother, and my son. My other son was flying to California to help a friend pack up to move back to PA. All fights were grounded. I kept trying to call him got a recording circuits are busy, finally got through to him and was relived to hear his voice; he had arrived out there the day before. I heard about the plane hitting the pentagon, my niece’s husband worked there, I called other family to see if he was ok, thank God he wasn’t there at the time. I was so proud of the President and how he brought us all together, proud how the people all stuck together and helped each other. So thankful he kept us safe for 7 years after.

When looking through my pictures I had been to NY on a Bus trip 2 weeks before 9-11 with my husband, my sister and her husband. I have a picture of my sister and I with the twin towers in the back ground.

My Dad has since passed away, he was a World War II veteran, and my mom lost her brother in World War II he was shot down over the Bismarck Sea.

9-11 broke my heart; this last election broke my heart, what is happening now is unbelievable. What has happen to a vast number of the American People?

I am concerned for my children and my grand children. I pray the American people will wake up before we become a country we don’t even recognize. All the blood that was shed let it not be in vein.

There is so much more I could say but would be typing all day.

America America God shed his grace on thee
Also a young'in. I was in High school in my dad's class when a friend saw something on the internet about a plane hitting the WTC. We turned on the TV and all kinda glued to the horrible images on screen as the 2nd plane hit and then they showed the pentagon. I remember feeling like one of the only people that understood what was happening based on the surrealness of the situation. It was like turning on a movie or TV show which is what a lot of people seemed to feel from informal observation. That was probably the first day I started to get involved and pay attention to what was going on around me on a global scope. I started paying attention to the news and reading (which is not something I enjoy doing) about world events. Every time I heard a plane go over ahead for awhile I kinda shuddered and watched it fly by. Low flying planes suddenly sounded like crashing planes. Every time I looked at the clock it seemed like it was either 9:11am or 9:11pm (which was really odd). For several years this went on, a low level fear of everything around me that seemed related to the event. I've always been very interested in my own reactions to the world so I forced myself to be exposed to it all. I continue even now to go back from time to time and look at the pictures and videos from the day so I never forget. I don't just focus on the negative though. The positive imagery (some of the only positive photos of president bush you'll find oddly enough ;) ) and hope that I got from people being true heros that day and helping each other in the face of true disaster. The flags and reverence that was once again taken for our country are feelings that still carry through with me to this day.

For me I'd say 9-11 burst my bubble of naivety. It marks one of the first times I really feel like I started to grow up and begin to realize that the world isn't all bubble-gum and lolli-pops. It's helped me prepare for the future a lot more. To be more organized, have a plan, take initiative and take charge of the situations I'm put in. Often times I find myself being a leader simply because of the fear of inaction like the inaction taken in the days leading up to that event. Thank God for the first responders and everyone else to keep anymore people from dying or for those brave people who stopped that other plane from hitting the capitol / white house. It's helped me (in an odd way) to try and focus on the positives of a situation; especially in the face of so much negative.

Good Thread :)
I was at work....with no access to TV. One of my guys heard about it on the radio. I didn't fully realize the magnitude until I got home that evening. Seems like a hundred years ago....but it was only yesterday.
Oh and don't forget this wasn't a "Terrorist Attack" but a "Man Caused Disaster"

Whoever thought up this little gem ought to be keelhauled.
I was 9 months into my first job after graduate school, as a pharmaceutical representative. I was on I-80 west bound just outside of Clearfield (I still remember that day most times I drive past mile marker 119). I was listening to the Mike Gallagher show on 1390am, but getting out of range of the station, so it was hard to hear. I remember hearing a muted bang through the radio, and then a pause and Mike saying to his staff "What was that, what was that? What? (pause) We need to evacuate the building?" and then silence.
The radio show was broadcast from the Empire State Building and they apparently evacuated right after the first plane hit. Not knowing this, and being a little bitter about the dead air, I switched to another radio station where I heard about the first plane. I, of course, listened very intently to everything I could find about it, but most stations where just doing a "breaking news report" and then going back to normal programing.
I finally found NPR, which was doing coverage of the first plane, and listened to the live coverage of the second plane impact, and finally the towers coming down.

I had a lunch appointment with a physician in DuBois that day. I still showed up for my appointment, but all of the staff and I just sat in silence in the doctor's lunch room as we listened to the radio for an hour. It seemed strange to me then, and still does, that even though none of us spoke, they all seemed to be much closer to me than the virtual strangers that they, in actuality, really were.

After lunch I immediately drove home and turned on the TV, and then watched the endless loops of the second impact and the towers coming down for the rest of the day and night. The images that I had imagined, listening to the radio for the better part of the day, were so much more horrific on t.v.

I went through a host of emotions in the next couple of days. At first I was just mad. On a drive down to Punxsutawney, later in the week, I passed a house with a sign out that said "NUKE 'EM ALL, NO WARNING!", and for some reason that seemed to resonate with me. A couple of days later, on that same drive, the sign was gone, and an American flag had replaced it. It seemed that within me something was replacing the anger as well, but I couldn't tell what.

A couple of minutes later, I got goose bumps as I drove through the little town of Big Run, PA, which had an American flag on EVERY flag pole in town. They were crisp, clean, and blowing proudly. Pride! It was pride in America that was replacing the anger within me. I came home that night and went to Lowe's to buy a flag for my house only to find that they were sold out, and every other retailer that I went to for that matter. It stunned me that so many people wanted to show their solidarity and pride in America. I finally found a flag, 2 weeks later, and have had one outside of my house ever since.

I've never let that pride that I discovered on that drive through BIg Run leave me.

It was about the same time that I found my flag that 9/11 finally impacted me personally. I was contacted by a college friend who told me that one of my fraternity brothers, that I had lived with, had died in the WTC. Thomas Pedicini, 30 of Hikesville, NY was working for Canter Fitzgerald in 1WTC when the first plane hit. He never made it out.

Driving into New York city for Tom's funeral was almost surreal. Seeing the cities skyline for the first time without the looming presence of the twin tower's made me feel numb. Attending the wake, in little more than a conference room at the funeral home, with all of the other rooms full of mourners just like us, but for other victims, was heart wrenching. But what I still have the hardest time with, was seeing Tom's parents mourn their son, with nothing more that a portrait to remember him by.

Since 9/11, I've seen my older brother off to war twice. Once to Afghanistan, once to Iraq. And I've also watched as our country has turned from an American people into just Republicans and Democrats, left versus right. I'm dismayed by how polarized we, as a people, have gotten. After 9/11 we came together for the American cause. We helped, encouraged, supported and cried with complete strangers. And now, look how easily we dismiss each other based purely on party or ideology.

I don't drive through BIg Run anymore. But I often wonder, have their flags come down as well?
I was in my office in Lower Manhattan that day. We heard about the first plane on the radio and we all thought it must have been an accident. My co-workers and I were looking out the window at the fire when the second plane hit and then we knew that this was no accident. We were all glued to the radio and someone had a small television, so people were crowded around that. I worked for an insurance broker, and many of us had friends and former co-workers who worked in the towers at AON and Marsh & McLennan. We were worried about all of the people in the towers, but we were also terrified at what might be coming next. When we heard they hit the Pentagon, most of us were pretty panicked. We watched out the window as the first tower collapsed. Then our building was evacuated, but no one knew where to go or even if it was safe out in the street. Most of us believed that more attacks were coming and we really didn't want to be outside, but we were forced to leave the building. The police officers that I saw in the street looked just as frightened as i felt, but still they stood out there and directed us to just get out of Manhattan as fast as we could. The second tower fell as we were walking toward the Brooklyn Bridge and the police told us to run for our lives. It felt like an earthquake. I was pretty scared and just ran. I really believed that I was going to die that day and never see any of my family or friends ever again. I was with some co-workers and when we got to the Brooklyn Bridge, it was completely engulfed in a cloud of debris. We didn't think we'd even be able to breathe if we tried to walk over it, so we began to walk up the FDR Drive to get to the other bridges. We eventually walked over the Williamsburg Bridge, into Brooklyn, but it did take us awhile and we were afraid to get on the bridge because we thought it could be attacked. When we were on the bridge, we saw the fighter jets overhead, which gave us some sense of relief.

I was engaged at the time, with my wedding scheduled for 9/22/01. My husband (fiance at the time) worked for the NYPD. The police commissioner got on the radio and tv and said all uniformed personnel had to report. So while I was evacuating Manhattan, my husband was going into Manhattan. We spoke briefly on the phone before I left my office building and neither of us felt very sure that we'd ever meet again. So I was terrified for him as well as for myself. By the time he got to Lower Manhattan, there was really nothing left but the fires. He helped with the evacuation and he also worked those following days at the temporary morgue that was set up in the World Financial Center.

We cancelled our honeymoon because I could not bring myself to get on an airplane. I still have only flown once, for a business trip, since that day. I was so stressed out the whole time that I have not flown since and honestly don't know when I ever will again. I can't get over the thought of the parents travelling with their children that day and how agonizing it must have been for them. I can't even begin to think about bringing my children on a plane.

I still have nightmares about that day, although not as frequently as in the beginning. I continued to work in Lower Manhattan and then in Midtown for several years after that, but I never could shake that worry that we would be attacked again, maybe in the subway. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that we could come under attack like that in this country and now I live in fear of it again.

My husband retired from the NYPD last summer and we moved to State College. I do feel a little safer here and not as anxious for my kids as I did when we were in NY. But I cannot believe that our president has set out to release the prisoners in Guantanamo and to release them HERE in this country. I have to think that the people who advocate for this did not run for their lives that day, the way so many of us did. I don't think they truly understand what it was like for those of us that were there that day.

So that's my story, sorry if it was a little long.

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