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This is that moment in our Lives

ken barber

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If you ask My grandmother if she remembers December 7, 1941, her response will be "Pearl Harbor? Of course I will never forgot it." She will then tell you exactly what she was doing when she heard the news broadcast over the radio.


Ask My Mother if she remembers November 22 1963, Her response will be "The day JFK was assassinated. Of course I remember, like it was yesterday" She will share how she was in school and they made an announcement and everyone started cry.


Ask me if I remember September 11, 2001. Yes I remember that day. The attacks on the World Trade center. I remember waking  up early and going to a part time job and fighting with my boss. (This part is fuzzy) He either fired me or I quit. I remember being so pissed off I stormed home grabbed a cup if coffee and turned the TV on. CNN was on and I sat there with the news on cussing my boss out. Until that moment when it happen. I sat there in shock not understanding what was going on.  Was this some bizarre accident? But no that would have been wishful thinking. Accidents are hard to accept but accepting that someone did this on purpose is impossible to accept.


That day changed our generation forever. We lost our innocence that day.


By noon my little apartment in New London Connecticut was filled with all my friends. Very little was said, I do know we had to send someone out for more coffee supplies. We just sat there watching the news coverage over and over again. Hoping for some explanation, hoping it was all an accident, hoping it was hoax, hoping for anything other than the reality


Yes I still remember that day and yes I still get tears in my eyes from the overwhelming emotions. I will never forget it and I will never forget those we lost that Morning.


Ken Barber



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I was working that Tuesday morning.  At that time I was living north of Boston and worked at a Head Start program.  The kids were running around in the playground and the other teachers and I were talking about what our lesson plan for the afternoon was.  This was about 10 AM Eastern Time, and it was the scheduled moment when the afternoon teachers come in so we early morning teachers could take a break.  It was a sunny day, with a few clouds kicking around, chasing the river just south of us.  One of the teachers, a wonderful lady of Dominican heritage named Maxima, came out and told us, in a stage whisper "planes are dropping on New York and Washington."


We all thought it must be a horrible accident or something.  Part of me wanted to think it was some kind of bizarre coincidence.  The lead teacher in my classroom, Connie, immediately got a worried look.  Max went on to say that some of the planes came out of Boston.  Connie's husband was due to leave out of Logan Airport in Boston that morning.  A very close friend of the family was also supposed to be flying that morning out of Logan; a pilot who had been in the Navy with my father.


It was surreal, but we knew that we had to keep it together.  The kids had no idea what all these crazy things happening might mean.  I told Connie to go, find out about her husband and family.  She was a wreck and the kids could sense it.  I had brought my guitar that morning and we had all the kids go into one classroom and we did the Hookey Pookey, and Yellow Submarine, and a bunch of other songs.  I led the kids through a "lion hunt" hand play until we got the word that the school would close early.


When I got home, like many of you, I watched over and over as the buildings pancaked inwards.  I was transfixed hearing the reports of the other planes.  That image, of lower Manhattan engulfed in that heavy white powdery smoke.  I was stunned, but also so angry.


Later that night, after the state of Massachusetts shut down the highways, I took my young cousin out to the coast.  It was surreal again.  The city lights around the beach town were all out.  The darkness was almost heavy as we watched lights moving up and down the coast through the air.  I couldn't believe it.  Here in America we were watching as our Air Force was flying Combat Air Patrols over the New England coast.  "Our world is forever changed, ain't it?" he asked me.  All i could do was nod.


We had many many questions from the kids two days later when classes at our Head Start center restarted.  You can only tell 4 and 5 year-olds that you don't know the answers so many times before you start to feel useless.  The looks in their eyes told me volumes.  Fear.  Lack of understanding.  Anxiety.  Every time a big truck went by outside the building, several of the kids looked around, scared visibly.  That naptime was very strange as the kids lay down and tried to rest, but were all staring up at the ceiling, wondering if a plane was heading for them, too.


I don't think we'll ever forget all the crazy events after that day.  The anthrax scares, the sudden ramping up of air port security (Flying out of Logan later that year was like I imagine going through the Berlin Wall Checkpoints must have been like).  That horrible suspicion of anyone who looked remotely Middle Eastern, even if you knew them before the attack and were friendly with those people.  You have to realize that the Boston area is a huge melting pot of cultures, and there are large populations of people from all over the world.  There are places you can walk six blocks and find restaurants from every continent.


This one event changed us.  It made us reactionary.  Almost willfully ignorant.  We took so much for granted then.  We gave in to hysteria and mob mentality.  It has taken us a long time, not only to bring about justice and rebuild, but to learn to trust again.  To learn to build walls as well as bridges, to defend while still reaching out.  I feel that while we've taken a hard hit that day and in the dark days after, we've grown from it.


Hopefully we've learned from it as well, so this never happens again.  And maybe, just maybe, the wisdom to treat each other properly. 



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Guest Eric Aune

As Ken mentioned my parents and grandparents had similar rememberances about those two dates, Dec 7th and Nov 22nd.  I have only vague remembrances of Nov 22nd as I was very young then.


I was getting ready for work when everything started, it was 0546 for me.  It wasn't until I was on my way to work that I heard the reports on the talk radio station that I listened to while driving to work.  As soon as I got into my office I pulled up the news reports on my computer, including live video feeds and I became the connection for the admin area that I worked in and what was going on all day.


At home that afternoon, I turned on the news reports and continued to watch them all day.  I talked to others of my family and friends on the phone about it and we all wondered who and why.  Well once we found out who, we knew the why.  Then we started getting pissed off.  We wanted revenge.


The worst part about all of this is that so many things have changed in this country because of that day and not necessarily for the better.  People no longer feel as safe as they used to feel.  When people are scared, they sometimes make some bad choices and unfortunately we made a few.  It is better today, but the results of some of those choices are still with us today.  I believe it will get a better as we move forward, since the US always seems to make it through adversity, but it will never be the same as it was on September 10th, 2001.

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I was working for a company that provided the backbone for NYSE trade processing.  I was sitting at my desk working on a software upgrade when a lady several aisles away shrieked as though she was in mortal pain.  Many of us ran over to her desk to make sure she was okay.  She was not okay.  She was nearly catatonic in that all she could do was to point toward her small screen TV set on her desk.


All I could think of was 'what the fuck!  What the fuck!' ... and then a few short minutes later the second plane hit.


One of the system resource monitor people came over to announce that all communication with the NYSE was lost.

Most of the attitude was 'Oh. My. God. What. The. Fuck.'


Shortly after the Pentagon was stricken, I went into news blackout mode.  I couldn't watch the repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat of what I'd seen real-time.  I still can't, 13 years later.


Some moments in life are indelibly etched in memory.  November 22, 1963 is one of them.  The births of my children in 1971 & 1976.  My cousin's death in 1979.  My wife's death in 2000.  911.


You know what really pisses me off about those events?

What really pisses me off is those no-good sorry son of a bitch religious zealots who proclaim that the disasters are the result of God's wrath.  Their diatribe is more detrimental to the American soul than a thousand 911's, in my opinion.


Although written & produced years before 911, Lee Greenwood sang a fitting tribute to America: God Bless America.  Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E


Love you all.

Joe Writer Man

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I live on the west coast, three hours behind.  The first I heard about it was when a friend starting talking at the bus stop about the airplane crash.


Then I got to school.  I habitually visited the library every morning, and that's where the real scope of events began to sink in.  Most of my classes were, for all intents and purposes, canceled.  We just... watched the news.  My math teacher tried to teach class that day, but I think she was the only one who even tried.  (Not sure about Gym, though...)


What I do I still remember was the moment that flight 93 was announced.  I was in my NJROTC class, and Captain Zinswer immediately announced -- without a shred of doubt -- that had been done by heroes.  I don't remember the exact words he used... but I do remember he was right.  Without evidence, without proof, he was right.  Heroes had brought their own plane down to thwart the bastards who would turn them into living weapons.


I also remember the bus drive home that day.  It was hot -- very hot -- and worse yet, the fifteen minute drive took closer to three hours.  I lived on base at the time, and not only had every single military serviceman been recalled to base right now dammit, they'd gone one step short of a complete lock down.  Every vehicle was being completely inspected, every individual was being compared to their military ID cards -- and God help those who didn't have their cards with them.  Which, by the time the bus moved to the front of the line, turned out to be half the individuals on the school bus.  When the gate guards came on board they had no respect for this being a school bus.  Normally just one would poke his head in, check the driver, then jump out.  This time, several of them came in loaded and ready for any and all trouble.  Even for military brats, seeing gate guards toting rifles around as they inspected every bag, compared every face against it's ID -- and escorting off any individual who didn't have their military ID -- made a huge impression.  


I had band practice that night, but couldn't go.  For all intents and purposes, band practice was canceled.  No way our parents were letting us out the front gate, and I think -- not sure, but I think -- band practice itself was canceled as a security precaution.  I do know that no one cared about who did -- or didn't -- show.


Transport was bad enough that I don't think anybody who lived on base even bothered with school the next day.  That's how tightly they had the base locked up.

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As with all those from 'my generation', September 11th, 2001 will be a day I remember for the rest of life. For my parents it was Kennedy's Assassination, for my grandparents with was Pearl Harbor. Things like this will remain for us forever, to the point that you can ask almost anyone, and they can tell you what they were doing at the time they first heard about it.


That is what this thread is about. Sharing our memories, our pain, and our anger. Yes, many 'professionals, say we should let go of the anger. Personally, I say fuck that. Anger is what allows us to act. Letting go of it makes us thoughtless sheep. But then again, thats what many in the government want. But that is another topic.


Where was I when I heard about it? I was sleeping after a long shift, got a phone call form my brother in law telling me that I had to turn on the TV. So I did. From that point until I had to leave for work, I spent in front of the TV, and on the phone.


At that point in my life I was very active in emergency services, both Volunteer Fire Dept, and Volunteer Ambulance crew. It's almost funny since, the weekend before, we had a multi department training scenario on an MCI (Mass Casualty Incident). But let me tell you here and now. All the training in the world does not prepare someone to see what happened on that September Morning.


Two days later, I was in New York City. Not at Ground Zero. I was a bit away from there. MY job was to be part of the 'rehad team'. After a rescue worker was at ground zero for a certain amount of time, they had to come to us to get looked over, and a decision made if they were allowed back in. The clearest memory I had was almost getting into a fist fight with a worker who I had to tell that they could not go back.


He would NOT stay away form the effort to find his friends. He would NOT relax and let others be there, digging through the rubble looking for the people he knew. He went back in against what I said, and later on, he pulled me aside. "Yeah I know I shouldn't have done it. I know you medics are the ones responsible for making sure we don't get hurt more, but I just couldn't...." And then he broke down.


The memory I will carry with me for the rest of my life was this man, in his turn out gear, covered in dirt, soot, and soaking wet from sweet and water, clinging to me as he cried for his friends that he'd lost. Knowing that some were still alive, and he could not get to them.


Still to this day, it brings tears to my eyes, and pisses me off. But above all of that, it makes me realize that humans, no matter where they are from, are capable of unspeakable evil, and at the same time unimaginable kindness and caring. If I remember nothing else form that day, THAT is what I want to keep with me.

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Thank you everyone for sharing so far. And yes David it inspires and anger and to hell with those that tell us to let the anger go. The Music Videos are a fittingre tribute and if I may here is a link to a video from the 9/11. Its very emotional so if you don't have tissues handy you might want to skip it.



Every year on this day I reflect on what happened that day and how much the world has changed since then, Eric you are right some of the changes have been for the worse but I believe most have been for the better. We have learned to heal and grow as a nation and one day each year we let the wound open back up to remember the pain, the hurt, the suffering, the shock, the loss, and the utter disbelief. 

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I live on the West Coast and on that Tuesday morning, I was turning onto Highway 1, going into a stretch of hilly country on my way to work at 5:48am.  On the radio came a news flash of a small plane had smashed into one of the towers!  And I lost the signal.  Driving, trying to catch any news, finally getting onto Highway 101, and the radio was live and it was a passenger jet now.  When I made it to work, one employee had a small B/W TV and we all clustered around it, watching the fire.  Did I see the second plane go in? I can't remember now.  But we watched the towers fall and held each other in comfort. The other employees had family and friends in the New York and Washington DC areas.  They were frightened.  I called my son, who had a late college class that morning. I needed to hear his voice.  Later that week, a local news story covered a runner of Middle Eastern origin, jogging, who was attacked and the men tried to throw the jogger off an overpass, for no other reason than the person's apparent ethnic background.  Senseless violence should not begat more senseless violence.


I was in 5th Grade when President Kennedy was shot.  Our world came to a halt that November in 1963.


I was retired from the Air Force when terrorists attacked the United States of America that September in 2001 and our skies emptied.  


That is what I so remember, the empty skies for days.  


And I mourn the men, women and children who had their lives changed forever that day, and for the days afterwards in the War Against Terror that is ongoing.


May you all find peace in your hearts.



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That morning I was driving from my barracks building to the comm center at North Island NAS when the radio switched to the news report. I remember thinking this can't be real, and the way the broadcast sounded it was almost like it was a replay of some past event, and not live.  Then when I finally got into work at the comm center, most of the rest of the electronics techs that had made it in to work were gathered in the main lounge area and on the tv in there we were watching on CNN as they replayed the clip of the two planes impacting interspersed with live footage of the towers. 

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Likewise, I lived alone in California and was lying in bed listening to Morning Edition on NPR when it was announced  that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, at that moment not clear it was an attack.   I also remember hearing the announcement of Flight 93 crashing, and not a moment later than your Captain Zinswer, I said to myself as my first thought, "the passengers crashed that jet, a jet full of heroes."


The two chiefly identified heroes of Flight 93 were Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham.  Todd Beamer had been a student at our local university and after whom there is now named a lovely new public park with especially nice playground equipment for kids.


I have always had very few people whom I've regarded as heroes, but Mark Bingham sits atop a very short list.  It is he, Beamer, and the others whom we can thank that either the White House or the Capitol are still standing, as their intentional crashing of Flight 93 prevented that carnage.  By evening on the West Coast it had become known the identity of Mark Bingham and that he was a Cal graduate (University of California at Berkeley) and a rugby player and San Francisco entrepreneur. I searched the phone directory of his home town and was fortunate to find the then listed telephone number of Mark's uncle whom I called to offer my condolences and tearfully tell him what an American hero was his nephew, to which he acknowledged with a broken voice.  I probably was the first person outside of his family to have done that.  The Bingham Cup is awarded to the winner of the global gay rugby clubs' competitions.  He was an amazing man and one our Cal alumni of whom I am most proud, a great Golden Bear.




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I posted in Ken Barber's story "September Morning" last week about what I was doing on September 11th 2001 before I knew that this thread was here.  Like I posted before I was off of work for my birthday.  It was around 8 am here in Indiana and it was before we changed our clocks again so we were actually on central standard time.  I woke up and turned on the news and they were talking about a plane that had hit the WTC and it was on fire.  They had views from other buildings and helicopters and it didn't look good at all.  I watched for a while and like everyone else I was completely stunned as the second plane hit the other tower.  I knew then we were under attack and also knew that Osama Bin Laden was responsible for this underhanded dirty attack.  I continued to watch and got a call from my sister who was at work and she asked what the heck was going on.  I told her that we were under attack and about then the report about the pentagon came in and it was confirmed by the media we were under attack.  My sister hung up and I continued to watch and what happened next really hurt when the south tower collapsed.  I broke away form the news not being able to watch anymore but turned it back in just before the north tower collapsed.  Once that happened I couldn't help it but begin to cry.  We had lost the World Trade Center the mighty symbol of America plus thousands of innocent lives.  About then my sister called again for a update and all I could say was they are gone the towers are gone and again broke down in tears and of course my sister followed suit.  By then I couldn't bear to watch anymore and once I got cleaned up left and went for a drive.  I remember hearing Lee Greenwood's song God Bless The USA and this of course started the water works again (as it still does).  I pretty much made it thru the rest of the day and we somehow my sister and 2 of my nieces went out for a depressing birthday dinner. 

A little about me.  I am a 20 year retired veteran with 6 years in the Marines and 14 in the Army.  I spent my only combat tour with the Marines in 1982-83 in Beirut Lebanon.  I was on the USS Inchon and with the helicopter squadron.  My father was also a Marine and a 3 war Veteran WWII, Korea and Viet Nam.  He was also a fire fighter on top of being a Marine.  This is where my love for the fire service comes from I guess.  I am also somewhat happy my dad was not around when 9-11 2001 happened.  Like me my father loved our country and it most likely would have killed him. 

The most important thing now is we must never forget because it we do it will happen again and be much worse.  We must also deal with the growing unrest in the Middle East before it finds its way here. 

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