Everyone has their story own story of what they remember about 9/11. I’d like to share with you how my day went on 9/11/01.
9/11 started as a very normal day for me. My kids were very young and we were getting them ready for school and we were getting ready to work. My husband and myself both worked in Downtown Denver in high rise buildings and at that time was no big deal for us. My husband was in a building about 20 stories high and I worked at the Republic Plaza, which was the tallest building in Downtown Denver, at 56 stories high. I was on the 26th floor at the time. Ironically, the Republic plaza looks very much like the World Trade Center in New York City, but being a single building and not having a twin tower.
As I was getting ready to leave the house and was literally opening the front door to step out, my husband said “Look at the t.v., something is happening in New York.” So I stopped. There was a commercial so I waited until they came back and then we saw the footage of the World Trade Center on fire. Just as the newscaster was saying that a plane had hit the World Trade Center another plane came into view on the screen and I said “Look there’s another one.” And I pointed with my finger and followed it as it smashed into the other World Trade Tower. As our eyes widened and our mouths dropped in horror, my 4 year son started yelling “Why did they do that to your building mom? Why did that plane crash into your building?” The thoughts in my mind immediately were “Oh my God, oh my God ~ dear God, dear God, dear God.” I explained to my son that it WAS NOT MOMMY’S building and after he was reassured, I went off to work.
As I drove to work I called my mom from my cell phone to tell her what was going on. The radios by this time were all reporting on what just happened and so I listened intently the entire way. As I got to work and entered the elevator, I remember running into a co-worker and asking how she was and she grumbled something about being at work another day, and I told her “You don’t know what just happened do you?” And she said “No what?” As we got on the elevator with another gentlemen to go to our floors, I started telling her what had happened and both her and the man just stared at me like I was a crazy person telling them how two planes deliberately drove into the tallest buildings in New York City. And as we got off on the 26th floor, the other man in the elevator with us, held his hand out to keep the doors from closing and said “You mean like a small little aircraft right?” and I said “No, like a 747.” Then the elevator doors closed with him just standing there in shock as the elevator took him up to his floor.
By the time we got to our desks, our supervisor had her small t.v. playing and I could hear the news coming through. We were the early birds of the office, so there were very few people there at 7:30 a.m. Denver time and we all started to congregate and talk about what just happened. As we talked, the first tower began to collapse on the small little t.v. that we were all watching. Again all of us were in disbelief.
Not even thinking that we were in danger in Colorado, our manager came into the office in a state of alarm and started telling everyone “Go home! Everybody needs to leave!” And we really had no idea why. She had not yet gotten word from the building to evacuate but she didn’t care, she just said “I don’t want any of our employees in this building today.” Her wit surprises me, even today, that she had the wits about her to evacuate, when you hear stories about the people in the World Trade Center who were not evacuating even as their building was on fire. So we all gathered up our things and headed out to the elevators to leave the building.
It was the oddest feeling. It was 8:00, maybe 8:30 in the morning and by this time, several buildings were starting to evacuate their employees. There were literally hundreds of people walking back to the parking garages as others were just making their way to work and looking at everyone leaving in total confusion. I remember the quiet of that morning. Aside from my manager demanding everyone leave, it was relatively quiet. Everyone walking quietly to their cars and when someone asked what was going on, they would say in almost a whisper “They are evacuating the buildings. You should probably go back home.”
As I drove home, I made the decision to pick up my kids from school. I pondered the fact that they are just kids, and that they should have a normal day, but in my mind I kept saying “This is NOT a normal day, and I want my kids to live this day out in their home with me.” As I picked up my 4 year old from preschool, the teachers were very much confused as I and many other moms were there taking their kids home. And trying to whisper and not alarm the kids, they were asking what was going on. I remember whispering to one, that by this time both towers collapsed and the pentagon had been hit. I remember feeling bad for the teachers, because if not all parents came, they had to stay at work with the kids who were left and they had no outlet to hear what was going on, and even if they did, they didn’t want to scare the children by having it on.
I left to the Middle School to pick up my older son. The office told me where he was and that it was ok to go get him myself. Which that alone was unusual, but I suppose so many parents were coming that they didn’t have enough student volunteers to fetch the kids any longer. So I made my way to his classroom. As I went in the rowdy teens and pre-teens were in an uproar and charged me with questions. “Is it true planes crashed into buildings? Are there more planes out there crashing? Can you take me home with you?” I don’t remember what other things they were asking but I do remember that I didn’t answer them, as I saw the teacher watching and giving me a look, not to say too much or anything at all. So I just said “Sorry I can only take MY kid home.” And they all groaned.
In the car I explained to my kids the best I could what was going on and how they evacuated us from the buildings downtown. Their dad however worked for the phone company, and they did not allow their employees to leave. We’ve tried for years to see both sides of that. While we understand how vital it was for phones to be operating that day, we also had a fear that the terrorists would target the Communications industry for that very reason – to keep us from communicating. We half heartedly laugh, because his supervisors simply went around closing the blinds on the windows, as if that would comfort any employees there still working.
At home I was glued to the television and relaying information to my husband what was going on since he had no way of knowing. But after hours and hours of watching, my 4 year old started crying and saying “I don’t want to watch the burning buildings anymore Mommy! Turn it off.” And so we found some videos of Barney for him to watch the rest of the day. This made it difficult when his daddy came home and wanted to see more footage of what had happened throughout the day and my son was still refusing to have it on the t.v. It was too disturbing for his 4 year old mind to comprehend and from that point, we only watched when he was occupied elsewhere.
We had received a call from our pastor that he was going to be on a local station and to tune in and for all of us to be on our knees in prayer. We watched and prayed just as he asked. Though I had been praying that entire day, from the very first attack, until the billows of smoke in the darkness were still rising from the ground.
Our lives from that moment changed. There was a fear now that was never there before. Just going to work the next day and all the days ahead that I had to enter a high rise building, there was a fear. We had plans to go to Disney World in October, and there was now a fear to travel and get on an airplane. There was a fear to enter a very public venue.
But though there was this never before fear in our lives, there was also a great deal of prayer. A continual prayer of thanksgiving, for the lives that were spared, a prayer of comfort for the families who lost loved ones, a prayer of compassion and peace for those who lost their lives, a prayer for strength for those working to find survivors, a prayer for love, that hatred would not consume those left to grieve and rebuild and a prayer of repentance, that those who had lost their way, would find their way back into relationship with God.
As I said before, I was very impacted by 9/11. The next day as I went back to work I remember that EVERY SINGLE computer had an American Flag taped to the back of it. As you walked anywhere in the building, every desk had a flag hanging in remembrance. From that day on, evacuation plans were not only implemented but heavily enforced in the building. Twice a year we did FULL evacuations and had to make the walk down the 26 flights of stairs and to our evacuation points. Any time I am EVER in a stairwell, I always think of the people who went down, not just 26 flights, but some 50, 60 or even 100 flights. And then after their legs felt the pain of that walk, had to run from the building that collapsed around them. How horrifying.
My heart breaks for those innocent lives lost that day. My heart breaks for their families. My heart breaks for the survivors. The innocent people who boarded the planes that day. Innocent people who just went to work that morning. The innocent people who had to jump from the burning buildings hundreds of stories to their death. My heart breaks for all of you.
I wrote the song “We’ll Always Remember 9/11” as a way to share my grief as an outsider who just observed from my home in Denver, Colorado. Knowing that those directly impacted felt it much deeper. But we all were affected, and this song is my way of saying – I will NEVER forget that day. God was there that day, and He is still healing today. Trauma can last a lifetime, but God is a HEALER.
9/11/01 was NOT a normal day for any of us. I was able to come home from work that day, when so many were not. I am so deeply sorry for the loss of so many innocent people and their families. My prayers are always with you.
Please watch my video feel free to share on your Social Media pages if you still remember 9/11 and were as deeply impacted as I was.
You may also find the video on my website directly –