Monday, 5 September 2011

What were you doing the day the Twin Towers fell?

KzAkabueze via Flickr
Ten years ago this week. What were you doing when the World Trade Centre came under attack? Do you remember?

The sun was shining that day in 2001. I was about four months pregnant with Boy Two and working as night editor at the Daily Star of Scotland. 

I was late for work, so driving around looking for parking space while half listening to the news telling me something about a plane and the World Trade Centre. My imagination conjured a single misguided fool flying a little aircraft - I think someone landed one in Red Square the previous week. 

But the minute I arrived in the newsroom I knew this was different. My colleagues - we shared an office with the Scottish Daily Express - were standing silently watching the TV screens suspended from the ceiling. The sky was blue there too as we tried to digest what we were seeing. 

There are few journalists that don't love to be at work on the day of a big story - however hideous the facts. But for us that day, in truth, there was little to do but watch. There was nothing Scotland could offer that would come near the importance of what was happening in America.

Our colleagues in the London office set about clearing the newspaper of it's usual content and deciding how to present this monumental story. In Glasgow we read the stories as they came in on the news wires and watched developments on the TV. 

Pictures arrived on our computer screens and we gazed at them in shock. Then with a sickening jolt, I realised that wasn't debris tumbling from the building, it was people - cartwheeling, freefalling living people. I put my hand to my belly where a new life was growing. 

I will never forget the weight of that day, but, in the main, my life went on more or less as before. The new life I was carrying is nine and finds Doctor Who too scary to watch all the way through. 

But spare a thought for those whose lives changed for ever on 11th September 2001. Remember the dust lady, Marcy Borders, snapped, stunned and with her office clothes and pearl necklace coated in yellow dust. She has fought addictions and lost custody of her children. It took her to this year to be able to board a plane again. 

What were you doing on 9/11?


  1. Really interesting post Ellen. I was in tears trying to feed my eight-day-old son. As you say, life carries on but what a weight. I remember talking in the first time mums group about how we all felt that our babies' births were shadowed by such a momentous event. (Saw this on your twitter via @ForTheBurds...)

  2. The story so far, I was similarly affected by the contrast between my children and all these unnecessary deaths.

  3. I was working on an advice line at the time and I was on a call to a distressed carer. My manager came in and I heard her quietly tell my colleague not to take any more calls and to come and have a word with her. Then I went online to look up some information for my call, and the news came up on my homepage. I'm not sure if I gave the person I was talking to the right information as the rest of the call went by in a blur.

    My now-husband worked upstairs for the same organisation and there was some fear that there would be a similar attack on London so the office was closed and we all went home. R and I decided to walk and the streets had that eerie calm / panicked feel about them.

  4. Interesting post. I remember the day so well. My youngest daughter was about 10 weeks old at the time. She was lying in her pram asleep whilst I was watching the television when all of a sudden I saw one of the planes crash into one of the buildings. As we started to hear more about the events of that day I started to feel incredibly emotional that here I was, a new mum for the third time, with two other young children. I couldn't help but feel painfully aware that whilst my family was growing other families were being torn apart. Even now I look at my family and realise how lucky we are to have each other.

  5. I was in work at a special school, one of the teachers had a TV set up in his room (some sporting final was on - can't remember what?).
    I was rushing to leave and a member of staff told me the news, I dismissed it. In fact, I took little interest in the whole thing come to think of it. I now realise how depressed I must have been, and how bad things were in my relationship to put such a major news story to the back of my mind.

  6. Jo, I can imagine how strange it was in London that day.

    Deb, we are lucky. x

    Luce, I hope you've moved a long way forward since then.

  7. I was working in London, near Canary Wharf. We watched all the events unfold live on the television we had a work. It made me feel sick. I just wanted to get home. I really didn't want to be in the middle of London of all places. I just wanted to be home with my boyfriend (now husband). The trains were packed on the way home. Standing room only. And I remember being terrified and actually thinking that this could be it. This could actually be the beginning of the end of the world. It was a very surreal and scary day.

  8. Photopuddle, it was scary and surreal. I remember thinking the world felt very small and vulnerable.

  9. We had just moved into a rented house and my daughter had turned two the previous week. OH was in Paris that day and I was trying to call him and order him onto the next Eurostar home. We felt no large financial cenrre was safe. He works for a bank and several of his counterparties were housed in the WTC and thus wiped out.

    He had, a couple of years previously, not gone for a transfer to NY which would have seen him working in the WTC. I felt he had had a lucky escape.

    So many people in our community in Suburban London knew people, friends, relatives, clients who had been killed or injured. I could not look at the pictures and avoid them to this day.

  10. I had taken a long lunch break to visit a mortgage broker, it was the defining day in getting a property and I came back to the office very happy. My two office colleagues were watching agog at their computers, and I moved beside them to see what was so enthralling. Working on the web, we often called each other over to see some YouTube clips we'd found, but they didn't speak to me as I walked in and it was moments after the first plane had crashed and the buildings were still standing.

    It wasn't long before the internet ground to a complete halt, and most of the news websites were unable to serve the tragic news unfolding.

    I just remember thinking what an incomprehensible and pointless waste of life.

  11. I was at work. My husband phoned me and I couldn't comprehend it. The pictures are still surreal today.

  12. msalliance, I don't think it serves us well to dwell on the what might have been.

    Marc, it still is incomprehensible and pointless.

    Erica, I was looking at some over the weekend and they are still shocking.

  13. I was about 50 blocks away, on my way to the twin towers. Will never forget that day.


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