9/11 attacks, 20 years later: Insiders share where they were on fateful day

9/11.
9/11. (WDIV)

With the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks this weekend, we asked for your stories -- and you delivered.

Everyone remembers where they were when they first heard what was happening that day. As an Insider, we wanted to hear what that day was like for you. We received dozens of submissions. Read through some of them below:

9/11 -- Where were you?

Savannah T. from Southfield: It was not an unusual day for me, It was my day off from work and I was cleaning the house when the news broke on WDIV. I was stunned and I turned all my attention to the news. My mind stayed frozen for days and I couldn’t believe someone would do this to us. America must stay on guard and not let this happen again!

Hope L. from Marysville: I was at work. We had WRIF radio on in the office. It was the morning show. The guys mentioned a plane flew into one of the towers, and proceeded to jest about how that was possible, it’s a huge building. I went online to find live footage. Then the second plane hit, and everything fell silent, and they and everyone realized it wasn’t an accident.

Barbara D. from Dearborn: Leaving work, signed up for yoga classes at the administration bldg. in Dearborn. It was an election day and the poll workers had the TV on. I stopped by to talk to them and asked what was going on with that plane crash I just saw. We all stared at the TV. After heading home I found out I had to pick up both sons from school because they were sending kids home early. One son was at a school near the airport and that was scary for him because they had them hid under the tables at one point.

Dennis C. from Detroit: I was in my classroom teaching when the principal came in and told me to bring the class out into the hallway. She had a large screen TV on and she had me to sit the class on the floor. I looked at the screen and I see this large building burning. It really didn’t click in until I saw the second building being hit. All I could think about was 50,000 people dead. All I could think about was my principal saying there’s going to be a war. It’s funny when one reflects. If we had done nothing we would have only lost the 2800 on that day. But, because of that day there were 2 wars 8,000 or more more dead Americans (approximately) and tens of thousands injured. And for what purpose. Is there one good result that’s makes all of this worth it? I really don’t think so.

Don B. from Dearborn: I was just parking my school bus in the yard at Livonia Public Schools when I heard the breaking news that planes had crashed into the towers in New York. The news shocked me because that day was also my birthday. Worst birthday present ever.

Steve A. from Berkley: I was at work (Ford Design Center) and noticed a crowd gathering around a central TV monitor in the common area. I stood up to look and saw the eerily quiet crowd grow from 10 to 50, to 100, to 200+. Not one word was spoken. I will never forget the looks on everyone’s faces...........sheer, silent horror.

Carol B. from Mt. Clemens: I was a 19 year old college student from MI living in the Bronx. I remember that morning getting up for class around 8am because I had class in Manhattan at 10am. I started getting ready for class and I was listening to the radio when they announced a plane hit one of the towers. I turned on NY1 to see what was going on, but like most people, I did not know initially that it was a terrorist attack. I left for school on the 4 train and headed into Manhattan. By the time I got off the train the second plane had hit and people were looking downtown. Again, I still did not know it was a terrorist attack until I got to school. That’s when everyone was talking about it. I went to class and they announced classes were cancelled. I ended up going outside and just kept looking downtown. There were pummels of smoke coming. At that point they had locked down Manhattan so I had no way of getting back to the Bronx. I just walked around that day and mostly stayed at school watching the news in a banquet room they had. I had no cell phone service as it was knocked out when the towers fell so I was not able to get ahold of my family back in Michigan. Eventually I was able to use the land line later at school to call my mom (which ironically was out shortly after the towers fell). Every time I went outside I would just see more and more people coming from lower Manhattan covered in soot and dirt. It was just a really sad day. The feeling of being completely helpless was horrible. I literally will never forget that day or the weeks after. Seeing posters of missing people plastered on every pole, fence, building in the city just added to the shock. It’s something I never want to see again in my life.

Janice W: We had just got off the boat at Mackinac Island and people were crying, we didn’t know what was going on until a lady in a store told us. She had it on her phone of the actual plane hitting, so she showed us.

Leah F. from Oxford: I was in my senior year of high school. A hall aid came in and told the teacher to turn on the TV. We turned it on in time to see the second plane hit. It felt surreal. I remember writing down notes about what was happening at what times.

Susan M. from Ypsilanti: I was at work as a high school counselor, in a meeting. My principal broke into the meeting to ask me where my Army son was serving. I told her the Pentagon. Her response, turn on the tv. The Pentagon has just been bombed. I was horrified at what I was seeing on the screen. I called my family, and we agreed to go home as this was where we would hear any news. We waited and waited, meanwhile we couldn’t keep our eyes off of the news coverage. At 12:46 pm, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but knew I had to answer. On the other end was my son. One of his comrades had his cell phone with him and was sharing with his buddies so they could call home. My son said,” I’m okay. I love you. I’ll call you when I can.” I’m sure you can imagine how we all felt right then. Dennis, now a Sargent Major 21 years service, worked search and rescue at the Pentagon for days. Since they had to wear hazmat suits, they could only stay inside 45 minutes at a time. When he was finally able to call us four days later, I asked him how he was doing. His response, “Mom, you don’t want to know what I have been doing.” He is our Hero.

Daniel G. from Bloomfield Hills: Where I was isn’t as important as where I wasn’t. On August 31, 2001, I had been “downsized” by the company I worked for in Washington DC. I was feeling a bit dejected since I was technically unemployed, until 9/11. Had I still been employed, I would likely have been on one of the planes in DC or Boston (traveling to my office in New Hampshire). The simultaneous sense of shock and relief when the story broke, is something I still can’t forget.

Amy Y. from Harper Woods: I was a 6th grade teacher at Huron Park in Roseville. I found out the day before I was pregnant with my first daughter. What a difference a day makes. All I could think was “this is suppose to be the happiest time of my life and it has turned into the scariest unknown future.” Not only was I trying to keep myself calm, but also my students. It was a day I’ll never forget. My daughter is now a Sophomore at MSU studying to be a Special Education teacher.

Shellie S. from Livonia: I am an RN, and was driving home from a night shift , west on I-96. It was about 8:45-8:50 am. I was listening to newsradio give me news updates, when Roberta Jasina “interrupted” to tell us a plane had hit one of the twin towers in NYC. It wasn’t incomprehensible. It made absolutely no sense. I called my husband already at work to tell him. I went home, woke my mother in Seattle , and told her to turn on her TV. Sleep was impossible as my eyes stayed glued to the tv, couldn’t decide whether to pick up my kids from school, and stayed on the phone for hours with a friend wondering if this was the beginning of the end. It only got worse as a plane headed for the Pentagon.

Judith T. from Ann Arbor: I was home with my three year old. I did not have TV reception or cable. My Mom called me, quite hysterical, to tell me a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. The raw pain in her voice as screamed over the phone that a second plane crashed was devastating. I rushed over to her house and saw the replay on her TV. It was shocking. My Mom was crying, my Dad was in shock, and I was trying hard not to be upset in front of my three year old. It was all horrifying- hard to wrap my mind around what I had just seen.

Sarah S. from Saline: I was working at the Atrium building in Ann Arbor. I listened to W4 Country in the mornings while I worked. The announcer had just said he was done an have a good day when he was handed an announcement that the towers had been it. His first reply was this had to be a joke. Followed by him asking what this was about. He followed that with the announcement it wasn’t a joke and the first tower had been hit. It was an absolutely beautiful fall day. Perfect temps, no humidity, gorgeous blue sky. It felt as if the world had stopped cold. Then the second tower was hit.

We were not released from work, but I called all of the family I could. Just to touch base and see that they were alright. I remember going to lunch with a co-worker and the waiter being so cheerful it was annoying. We got our food to go and went back to the office. I was so glad to get home and have all the family then living with us in the house. We watched the news for hours. I don’t remember making dinner that night. I just remember watching the pictures and worrying about people we knew who were in New York or near Washington.

When the plane went down in Pennsylvania, hearing the reports of the phone calls that the passengers had made broke my heart. Then America did what we do best. We drew together, prayed, and went to work to clean up the rubble. Hospitals were on stand by with help coming from other areas, for the patients that, for the most part never came. But we became what we were meant to be ONE Nation, Under God, focused on those hurting and needing help.

The silence in the skies afterward was so eerie. The first plane I heard several days later, leaving the Ann Arbor airport caused a stir in my building as one of the rumors we had heard included them taking out the stadium. It wasn’t just that day. It was the weeks that followed. It was the picture of President Bush in a classroom, getting the news and not reacting, which was what the kids needed at that moment.

It was the silence of the skies, the sounds on the recordings, the cries of the people and the stories of stranger helping stranger, trying to get others to safety while knowing they could all die at any moment. What a people we are when we rise above our differences, fears and worries to support those in need, who are venerable.



About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.