THAT Morning.

In 2001, I was living in Denver in a miniature 400 square foot apartment. The two-story, whitewashed brick building housed six tiny apartments, but had seen many incarnations since the dawn of the 20th Century, when it was born as a corner candy store.

I felt safe in my little nest. I adored everything about it. Two years later, MP would, in fact, be conceived in that apartment.

But back in 2001, THAT morning I was waking to the sound of AM talk radio. Like any other morning. I lay in bed on my back, eyes closed, slowly gaining consciousness. Listening to the news.

And then hearing what sounded like someone reporting, “It appears as though a plane has HIT one of the Twin Towers …”

I remember bolting upright, the exact words, “What the FUCK?” escaping my lips. I remember leaping out of bed to turn on the TV, just in time to see the aftermath of the second impact. I had literally missed it by seconds. I remember sitting on the couch, the same one I sit on now as I write this, mouth agape. The collective expression of a nation. Of the world. I remember watching as long as I could, before having to shower and get to an “important” off-site work meeting scheduled at a local hotel.

As I dried my hair, I paused to listen to the latest developments, and heard something about the Pentagon being hit.

They’re confused, I thought. The Pentagon wasn’t hit. It was the second tower. I looked out the bathroom door into the living room and saw the TV. Oh my God, they weren’t confused. The Pentagon HAD been hit.

Oh. My. God.

And now I have to rush out the door to a meeting. The world’s gone mad and I have to go on, business as usual. Furiously, I raced to the hotel, finding everyone gathered in the bar, silently watching events unfold. Eventually we were herded into a conference room to commence the meeting.


There we sat, 25 of us circling a walnut board table, trying to at least APPEAR as through we were paying attention to the speaker that had flown in the day before. It was ABSURD. Every few hours we’d break and gather in the bar, getting the latest news.

“What’s happened?” we’d ask each time. We were told the first tower fell. And we went back to our meeting. The next break we were told the second tower fell. And we went back to our meeting. I remember frantically trying to get ahold of my brother, who, at the time was working in the tallest, most recognizable building in downtown Denver. There were rumors of it being a potential target. Once I got through, I begged him to leave.

Unable to get through to New York, we all worried about our colleagues in the corporate office.

And still, the meeting went on.

One year later found me in Manhattan, visiting those colleagues, who thankfully, were all okay. But the shadow still loomed, and as uncomfortable as I was telling the cab driver to take me to “Ground Zero” I felt compelled to bear witness.

In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle just a few blocks away, the area surrounding the crater that marked where the towers once stood was eerily quiet. No cars honked. No one spoke. Pedestrians paused along the chain link fence lining the street in silent deference, many leaving flowers.

And people openly prayed.

I was one of them.


Filed under Piece of History

33 responses to “THAT Morning.

  1. That day is still so surreal to me. Our parents have so many “where were you when” type moments but there aren’t many for our generation. I, too had to go to work and it seemed like such a waste of time. And I was worried that we’d get a call from my husband’s reserve unit telling him to pack up (which happened later). To say that we, as a nation, were forever changed that day is an understatement.

  2. I had just dropped off my daughter at 1st grade and my son at preschcool. Went for a run on that so called “beautiful” blue sky day. I remeber commenting to myself “what a perfect fall crisp blue sky day it is today, I live for these days” Boy was I wrong!

  3. I think everyone remembers where they were that day and what they were doing.


  4. seachange

    I was on a USAir plane leaving Boston at 7:30 am. We landed in Baltimore and learned the details of the hits at the car rental agency.

    I was doing site visits w/ 6 other team members in MD & VA. We drove by the Pentagon just after it was hit. We could not believe we were seeing the flames & the smoke.

    I agree that “beautful blue sky day” was surreal.

  5. To be in the air that day? I can’t even imagine. And to see the Pentagon? Wow.

  6. So touching. You are a powerful writer Ms. Mommy Pie.

    I was ON the radio when it happened. I was a newscaster, we were live, of course. I still have the tape of me gasping when I saw the second plane hit. I said, “This is definitely deliberate.”

    My co-host corrected me, “Well, we don’t know that yet.”

    Yeah right.

    Can’t believe it’s been this long. And I can’t believe the Republicans are still USING the attack to their advantage.

    Yes, and the sky was completely clear where I live in the Midwest as well.

  7. your account gave me chills to read. amazing writing. such a sad but hopeful day.

  8. i will never forget every detail of that day – who it was spent with, what i was wearing and the how beautiful the skies were. i was working in reston, va (near dulles airport) about 25miles outside of DC. i was at work when it happened. i was in early listening to howard stern at my desk and it happened… all of us coworkers gathered in a conference room and turned on fox news and watched the plane hit the 2nd tower. and then the pentagon. it was sheer craziness. reactions ranged from anger to tears to sheer amazement. i will never forget this day in history.

    thanks for telling your story, mommypie. 🙂

  9. You made me remember all the angry people in the bar that day. Lots of comments about bombing “Them” off the map. LOTS.

    I would’ve been terrified had I been in DC.

  10. I remember that well. It was so hard to go into work that day while the world was falling down.

  11. ehunter1979

    Your post gave me chills. I’ve been re-living THAT day all morning. That is the first “major” thing to happen in my adult life…I was in college, on my way to work and heard it on the radio. I remember just wanting to go home…and I remember being so worried that my little sister was moving to NY in a few weeks.

  12. Doesn’t it seem so strange that we tried to carry on with any kind of normal things on that day? My husband ended up coming home from work (in a high-rise). He said it was futile, nobody could work.

  13. another co-worker

    I remember that day all to well. I got to work and my secretary told me what had happened. My parents were visiting and I ran the five blocks to the cafe they were having breakfast at. When I blurted out what had happened all my fater said was, “those bastards…” I tried to go back to work but just ended up going to my parents hotel and laying on their bed while they frantically tried to reach my cousin who lives in NYC. They had just visited him the week before and had eaten at Windows on the World, the restaurant house on the top floor of the WTC.

  14. thanks for sending me your link via Twitter.

    my sis-in-law called me, told me to put on the TV, and life hasn’t been the same since.

  15. Finn

    As I was driving to work today, I was transported back to that day. The weather here is remarkably similar to ’01. I had an odd sense of the amount of time that has passed. The memories of that day are still so fresh, but possibly 1/10 of my life has been lived since then. The child whose pre-school meeting I attended that same afternoon is now in 5th grade. I’m unsettled.

  16. Pingback: What I choose to remember | Paper Bridges

  17. I was just down the road from you in Colorado Springs. Do you remember just seeing military jets?

    I was booking airline tickets at Cheap Tickets that morning. I was on the phone with a guy in NYC when the first plane hit. I posted the whole story on my blog. It was too long to leave here. Thanks for the idea to add a what were you doing post today.

  18. I was living in NYC at the time and when it happened one of the beautiful things to come of it was all the strangers holding and comforting each other…I’ll never forget that. Admist all the chaos and fear, there was so much love in the air.

  19. underthebigbluesky

    I took the day off to take my 1st daughter to the doctor, she was 6 months old. My mother called as I had not turned on the TV. I held Emmy tight as I watched the television and the tears rolled down on her.

    I escaped down to the church about three hours later not knowing what else to do.

    My life was never the same. To be a new mother and to have to make sense of the world at a time like that was overwhelming.

  20. I saw it too much, too real, 7 years ago. I still have a hard time seeing explosions and plane crashes in movies, even though I know they are NOT REAL.

    But at least (?) in NYC we all knew we were supposed to evacuate our buildings. It was a week before our office opened again, and the next week or two were “optional.” A lot of us worked from home, or what substituted for home if we couldn’t go home.

  21. PAPA and LawyerChick — There are no words. I cannot imagine how it must have felt to have been there.

  22. Beautiful. Thank you.

    I was living in NYC, as a single mom… This day made me realize that I need to move closer to family… I started to pack our bags.

    I wrote about it here:

  23. I totally get that. Family became EVERYTHING.

    MP’s father and I had been on a “break” at the time. We’d had about three months apart at the time this happened. That day changed everything, and quite possibly is the reason I have MP today. Had 9-11 not happened, we may not have come to our senses and realized we wanted to hang on to each other. 9-11 brought us back together.

  24. I remember going into the morning daycare, and a kindergartner told me about the attacks he saw on TV. I thought, what parent would let their kid watch such a violent movie? Right after that, I learned what this kid was actually talking about.

  25. I was so surprised to see the front page of our paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, completely ignoring the anniversary of 9/11. It will always be such a sad day for me. I can’t imagine ever getting over it.

  26. Thx for stopping by my blog earlier & reading my memories of 9/11 and thanks so much for sharing YOURS too mama!! I’m glad to see so many bloggers & Tweeps taking some time today to reflect. Cheers, @jasperblu~

  27. I visited Ground Zero about three years after the attack. It was humbling. This was an amazing story. Thanks for telling it.

  28. I was sitting in the Jeep today, writing a check for Imp’s Montessori when it occurred to me *what* day it was.

    I was on the air when the first plane hit. A Ty Herndon song was winding down, and I should have been getting ready to ramp down and ramp up into the next song, and bump the station whilst I was at it. I stood there and stared at the studio monitor as it replayed the impact.

    The program director rushed through the door and looked at me, tears in her eyes and looked towards the monitor that hung on the wall in the studio. We weren’t supposed to have the volume up on the monitor when we were on the air. That rule was broken that day, as were many others.

    I hit the “On Air” button with Gail standing at my side, and then we saw it, the second plane crash into the next tower. Gail grabbed my hand and squeezed it. The harder she squeezed the faster the tears fell. I slid my headphones off my ears, took a deep breath…I wanted to say something, but what? What does one say when the world is falling apart?

    I opened my mouth and hot dry air escaped my throat and across my lips. I felt the immediate sting of tears in my eyes and looked at Gail who was shaking with silent sobs. At that moment Clear Channel switched us over automatically to the EBS and CNN took over.

    Gail and I stood there, unable to move, holding one another, a constant stream of tears and running mascara rolling down our faces, and prayed.

    Today, the tears still fall when I think back to that day.

  29. It’s really touching to read all of these stories. I can’t believe it’s been 7 years. I’m happy none of us are forgetting where we were and what that day meant.

  30. So much about that day comes flooding back – the disbelief, the horror as reality set in, the desperate need to talk to family, the anger. It was an incredible day.

    I hope against hope that our children never have a day like it in their lifetimes.

  31. I went by Ground Zero about a year later, too! I lived in Pittsburgh at the time. (I lived in Denver in ’96 – ’97.)

  32. Out on the west coast we were just getting up. I watched it with dull eyes, my mind not comprehending. I take hours or days to process things, always have, so this was not unusual.

    Went to work at my then-job, working in a screen printing shop with one other guy, my boss. He always had a.m. news radio on and was in and out. After lunch, though, he was gone permanently, and I realized I needed to hear NPR. I switched the dial over and have have hardly turned the radio off since.

    While it may sound callous, living in the country with no threat level and knowing no one who was at one of the sites, this tragedy didn’t have the impact on me that it did on many other people. It moved me deeply, but stirred no fear. Still, I became an NPR junkie that day, with almost no patience for music. Strange.

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