Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

When I was little I heard my parents talk about how they remembered exactly where they were and what they were doing when they found out the news that the US president, John F. Kennedy, had been shot. At the time I didn't understand how news could be so life changing that the very moment could be engraved upon your soul.

That changed after September 11, 2001

I was a senior in High School and I was doing my hair in the upstairs bathroom when my younger brother ran up and told me to come down immediately. He said that someone had just bombed the Pentagon (we still didn't have any idea what had really happened). I thought he was joking and told him to leave me alone. Yet when he persisted I finally went downstairs and saw that the TV news was saying the same thing. The two of us couldn't take our eyes off the TV. While we were watching we heard the news that the second plane had flown into the World Trade Center and we watched the horror unfold before our eyes. My parents were already at work and I remember feeling so hopeless. I didn't know what to do, but somehow we got in the car and drove to school.

My first class of the day was US Government and I remember what a somber feel there was in the room when I walked in. The TV was on and everyone's eyes were glued to it. No one really spoke we just watched, and watched, and watched. We knew that something life changing was happening but we didn't quite understand it. It is remarkable but somehow that moment in my US Government class was caught on film. On Facebook a school mate recently shared a news broadcast from my home town where they ran a re-run of the news broadcast from September 11th, 2001. The news clip features my US Government class (I am sitting close to one of the cameras, but I don't even remember them being there!) and it was really an incredible moment for me to go back and watch it. That moment and that class are so engraved upon my memory. When I think of where I was on September 11th, besides doing my hair and watching the news with my brother, that is the only place I remember being.

It is crazy to me to think that 10 years has already passed.

So much has changed.

Yet I loved what President Thomas S. Monson said in his essay in the Washington Post about September 11th. He said,
If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.
I think that is a lesson we are still trying to learn.

Where were you and what were you doing when you heard the news on September 11th, 2001?


  1. Unforgettable day indeed. And yet, it's strange to realize that our children don't comprehend it at all. My kids are so young, so this new world is their only reality. I love President Monson...He shoots straight to the heart of the matter.

  2. It was already going to be a hard day, being the 4th anniversary of my Katie-girl's death. I had a small private school in my home but was going to buck-up and do school anyway. My husband called me down from the shower to witness the scene on our large screen TV. Katie and the bombings were too much grief all at once. When my students began to arrive, I told them to get back in their parents cars and go home. I was in too terrible of a state for school. After a few hours of watching the events over and over, we went to donate blood. After several hours in line, the workers told us they didn't need blood. There weren't any people alive to use all the blood already collected. I appreciated what Pres. Hinckley said about it in General Conference shortly thereafter. "This is not a matter of Christian against Muslim...We value our Muslim neighbors across the world and hope that those who live by the tenets of their faith will not suffer. I ask particularly that our own people do not become a party in any way to the persecution of the innocent. Rather, let us be friendly and helpful, protective and supportive..." This has been my guiding light every time I hear someone tout Muslim mud slinging.

  3. I'm new to your blog, but just felt compelled to reply to this post. (BTW, really enjoying your blog)
    I was at a park walking with a friend and our small children. My oldest was born in Feb. of 2001 - every year I look at her and in the back of my mind I think, "You are 10 (or whatever age she is that year) and that is how many years ago that this tragedy took place."
    I wasn't any where near the tragedies, but I still felt it deeply - my family every year do something to remember that terrible day.
    Thanks for Pres. Monson's post - it is a great reminder!

  4. I was in my Logan apartment, getting ready to walk up to the USU campus when my dad called me with the news.
    It really did feel like time suddenly stood still.
    What a piece of personal history that news broadcast is for you, Heather!
    I too loved the essay President Monson wrote for the Post, and really appreciate President Hinckley's words that Ginger shared above. Such good reminders from amazing men.
    God bless America. ♥

  5. My 9/11 perspective is a little different than most. I was on my mission in Germany at the time. It was our preparation day and by the time everything was happening in the US, it was well into the afternoon for us. We got a frantic phone call from a lady in the ward sobbing something about a plane and smoke and that it was awful. We had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. When we went to our appointment that evening, we were the only ones on the street and the inactive man we went to visit only wanted to watch TV. When we got home, we got a call from the Assistants letting us know that they were on their way to us with a sweet Italian sister who had been mid-way over the Atlantic on her way to the MTC when all flights had been cancelled. When they arrived, they let us know that we were on lock down. We were not allowed to wear our nametags in public, speak English, or wear/say/do anything that would let anyone know we were American and we were not to leave the apartment unless we had an appointment. It was frightening. But I honestly didn't understand how frightened I should have been until the next Sept 11th when I was home and watched all the re-broadcast news coverage. I bawled the whole day and couldn't believe how much I had missed.

  6. That day I was in the middle of several years of family crisis. My little boy had been born with severe birth defects. He was so ill. He had to have nurses with him 24 hours a day. His little nursery had been turned into an intensive care hospital room. I had lost my job due to severe disability about one week after my son's birth. Life was so hard. I really felt alone in my sadness and misery.

    The attacks occured just as the nurses were changing shifts. We watched in stunned silence as plane after plane after plane after plane hit. We simply could not take in what was happening.

    As the months and years have passed, my own suffering was put into perspective. The wonderful talks and articles bouyed me up. My testimony has grown. How grateful I am to have a belief system that fosters hope, love and optimism. We are all stronger than we think we are. No matter the trial, Heavenly Father is ever-present. His message is always one of love, peace and tolerance.

  7. Wow what a neat thing to have that moment of time recorded for you! Must feel strange for you to see it.

    As for me... Normally, I sleep like a rock but that morning I kept waking up over and over thinking something was really wrong. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what could be wrong or if I could do anything about it. (Am I waking up late? Did I forget to finish a project? Is the house on fire? Are the doors locked? Is there an intruder?) But I couldn't decipher what was wrong, so I just tried forcing myself back to sleep. FINALLY it was time to wake up for seminary (i.e. 5:45am ;) and I rushed off as usual. (I was in CA so 3 hrs time difference to NY. Looking back at the reports, I guess I got up right at the time of the first attack...) When I got home my parents had the tv on and were staring at it so I came to see what was up. By the time I got home from seminary I guess all the planes had already crashed but I only realized 1 had crashed at first. I initially thought the pilots must not have had good visibility or something. We kept watching the news until I had to go to school. AP US History was first and we got to watch some of the news on a tiny black and white tv screen my teacher happened to have in the corner. We did have to do some school work that day, but most classes let us watch some news or talk about it for a while.

  8. I think you read my post where I wrote about what I was doing that day -- but my mom called right before Doc and I left for work. We had just had our 1-year anniversary, and we sat stunned on the couch all day watching the news with our arms wrapped around each other and crying.

    I read a comment today that somebody was sick of all the 9/11 talk -- it made me so sad because I realized that the world didn't change for some people. I guess maybe that's not a bad thing though ... I don't know.

  9. Thanks for this post Heather. This past Sunday the topic for discussion was "The Worth of Souls".
    On Sept 11 2001,it was the most beautiful day you could imagine. I work in Washington DC. I remember driving in so happy because the traffic was light and I found a great parking spot. I work in a basement office of Georgetown Univ Hospital. One of my coworkers was listening to the news on the radio and she mentioned that "another bomb had gone off in New York". A few months earlier in the year, there was a bomb found in the subway that had gone off. So of course when we heard "another bomb" we were concerned. But then my co-worker screamed for us to come and look at her computor. She was streaming the news, we saw it, a plane flying into the Twin towers. We thought it could have been a horrible accident, but then we saw the second plane and that's when our computers froze. We started calling various departments in the hospital to let them know what was going on. They didn't believe us at first. Maybe about 30 minutes later, my co-worker told us that the Pentagon had been hit. The Pentagon is not that far from us. We managed to get a news stream again and saw people running everywhere. When the news was released to the hospital staff, literally everyone left their offices and ran out of the hospital. Phone lines were totally jammed. My husband was working in West Va. I remember calling him and he was so calm. He told me to stay where I was, we would meet up at home.
    Our hospital immediately enacted an Emergency Code to prepare for surviviors. Everyone was to meet in the Emergency room to prepare for triage. We waited all day, only one survivor was sent to our hospital.
    After that we all went home. It was a very surreal day. It was the end of the world as we knew it and it hasn't been the same since.