2001 September 11 Attacks

When did this happen? September 11, 2001
Where did this happen? New York City and Washington D.C. metropolitan area, USA
This event has 31 Memstories
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Where were you when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred?

Quick Facts about 2001 September 11 Attacks

coordinated attacks
26 days
until War in Afghanistan

2001 September 11 Attacks: What happened?

The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th, or 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Four passenger airliners were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists so they could be flown into buildings in suicide attacks. Two of those planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within two hours, both towers collapsed with debris and the resulting fires causing partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the WTC complex, as well as significant damage to ten other large surrounding structures. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense), leading to a partial collapse in its western side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was targeted at Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers. In total, almost 3,000 people died in the attacks, including the 227 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard the four planes. It also was the deadliest incident for firefighters in the history of the United States.


  1. Predge

    That day I was with a co-worker working on a big heating system in an Audi-dealership located in Lausanne, Switzerland. My colleagues mobile started ringing; his wife told the story to him and he went quite pale… After that phone call we continued working while talking about the weird and rather shocking news.

    Later that afternoon we arrived after a quiet and silent drive at our hotel and we straight went for a telly! There and then it was clear this was HUGE! Almost unbelievable and to big to comprehend. It really made an big impression on us.For me also because my brother lives there in NYC. Later we even heard that he was assembling some equipment in(!) one of the WTC-towers the Saturday before!

    It truly was a world changing event. One that, party due the conflicting stories and the wars started because of it, will have a effect that will ripple on and on and on…

  2. Daisy

    I was very young and fragile and not very experienced with life. I worked at the state attorney’s office across from the capitol building in Topeka, Kansas. I got into the office early, and got straight to work. I came out a short time later to see my coworkers huddled around a small television set near the reception desk, the twin towers large on the screen. There was a lot of smoke in that scene, and something was terribly wrong.

    But I didn’t process it, perhaps unable to mentally or emotionally grasp something of that magnitude. I went back into my office and continued working, my subconscious refusing to acknowledge what was going on. Next thing I knew, we were being evacuated, as we were too close the state capitol and precautions were being taken. I came out of my office to see the twin towers reduced to rubble as the coverage continued. I still didn’t understand. Panic didn’t set in until I was driving home and began to see the lines 20 or 30 cars long lined up at every pump at every gas station. It suddenly became unavoidably real to me. To this day I can’t believe how long it took for me to react to news of the tragedy.

  3. Sietse

    I clearly remember coming home from school to immediately take control of the family PC, as always. I was 16 at the time and actually went to visit my brother in New York the year before, glad to have seen the World Trade Center the way it was.

    Anyway, sitting at the computer, playing a game or something, at about 4pm (I live in the Netherlands) I hear my mom running up the stairs yelling about an airplane that flew into one of the Twin Towers and she wanted to use the computer so she could try to get in touch with my brother and his wife via Yahoo Messenger or what have you. I went downstairs to watch it on tv and it was all a bit unreal watching it all unfold on CNN and informing my mom by yelling up the stairs every now and then. It was the strangest thing to actually watch the second plane fly into the tower on live television. Terrible.

    I don’t remember the exact timescale, but I guess CNN had been on for the rest of the afternoon and evening, with the constant thought of what might come next. Luckily, my mom had been able to be the contact between my brother and his wife in NY through internet chat, as they couldn’t get a hold of each other directly because the phone network was all stressed-out.

    Crazy times and I guess we all know that the world has changed since that day.

  4. Jack

    I remember when I was in Junior Kindergarten and my teacher randomly brought a TV into the classroom and flicked it on to the news. She actually had relatives who worked in the World Trade Center so she was crying. I didn’t really know what was going on, but I still remember the day.

    • Jeremy

      I had the same experience. I’m from Canada and was very young back then about 11-12. My day started very early. Left the house, walk to school, it was a beautiful day. During this time, I had no idea what just happened in New York. We didn’t really have smartphones, social media and all that so it was kind of hard to get updates on current events. Anyways I walked to my friends house and we walked to school together. I considered it a very normal morning walk to school. No discussion about 9/11 or anything. When we got to school, I went to my classroom and the teacher wasn’t there. All of us were really confused as the teacher was never late. Anyway, me and my classmates were just doing the usual things, waiting for the teacher to come. When he finally came, he had a shocked look. I had no idea what was going on back then. But I still remember that look on his face. It was a serious look. Hard to explain. He started talking about what happened. Obviously we were too immature to really understand the significance of the event. The teacher also put on the news and we watched it all morning.

  5. Mike

    I was sitting in a local emergency room watching this unfold on a little 12 inch screen. My heart and pain that I was physically feeling went away when I saw this.

  6. B.M.

    I was doing some work in the upper level of the townhouse I was living in when I heard my roommate start screaming from the living room below me. I went downstairs and saw the news.

    I knew quite a few people that were in the area at the time, but the strangest one was somebody that I didn’t meet until a few months later. I had just moved back in a few weeks before 9/11 after having been abroad for 6 months on a job, and my roommates had had somebody else move in for the first 3 months I had been gone. One of them mentioned that somebody should tell him there wasn’t room to move back into the apartment near the end of the semester, so I took it on myself and even tried to find somebody looking for a roommate. When he got back to town that December, he was angry with me for moving back into my apartment (I think) and claimed that I broke a contract with him and threatened to sue me (again, this was the first time I met him and had only spoken with him on the phone once or twice) and then also blamed me for the 9/11 crashes. I never quite worked out exactly why he thought I was responsible, but assume it was due to post-traumatic stress or something along those lines.

  7. Jamie

    It was about 6am in California, and I was sleeping in my college studio at UC Berkeley, when my dad called to tell me the news. I didn’t quite believe what he was saying. When I turned on the TV, it was just in time to see the second plane fly into the second tower. I watched the towers collapse, and was filled with horrified shock. It did not seem possible that such an enormous American landmark could be attacked so brazenly. For the first time, I began to feel like the US was in danger, which was certainly eye-opening for me.

    I went to my classes that day, and expected to hear sadness and anger from my professors and fellow students. Instead, many of the students, and one of my professors in particular, expressed to the classroom that they thought the events were upsetting, BUT that they also thought it was “good” that America was finally experiencing terrorism on its own soil…as they we had been too far removed from it in the past. This was beyond sickening to hear on such a tragic day for thousands of people.

  8. Eduardo Capanema

    I was sleeping in my parents room and was suddenly awoken by my brother screaming that the 3rd World War has started! It was very strange listening to his words and not understanding what was going on. I thought someone had dropped an atomic bomb somewhere and that many other atomic bombs were being launched by that moment. Then I rushed to the TV in the living room where he was and saw the first scenes of the buildings burning on fire. Strangely, I felt a sort of relief when I understood what was going on because by the time my brother woke me saying that the whole world was at war, I really thought something much bigger was going on.

    I must say, understanding, later on, that it was all planned and executed by the american government was really much more shocking to me as the incident itself.

    PS: What an awesome idea this site is! Congratulations!!

  9. Jan Erik Moström

    I was at work, sitting in front of the computer at my office here in Sweden when something (radio/web site … I don’t remember) alerted me that something had happened in the US. I went on some web site where there was a video streaming from what was happening … I was looking at the video when the second plane crashed into the second tower.

    This was the first time I was watching live streaming video …

  10. Justin

    I was a young baby that day. I was asleep but I was woken by Mom screaming. Must have been because she saw a plane hit the other tower on TV.

  11. Tim Woodard

    I clearly remember I was driving to work around the 610 loop in Houston Texas when the story broke over the radio about the twin towers being attacked. When the first one was hit, everyone thought it was just a horrible accident. When the second plane hit is when the radio announcer started talking about a terrorist attack.

    I turned around instantly and went home to watch the coverage on TV. I remember watching the footage live when the towers came down. Nobody asked me why I was late to work that day. Nobody cared.

  12. Josue Cornier

    It’s odd to think that I’m currently residing more than 1,000 miles from where I was when this tragedy happened. I’m 23 right now. I was 11 when the Twin Towers fell.

    It was also my first year being in a private school. We had just finished our math class when our homeroom teacher picked us up and looked in complete shock. She paused for a moment and then told us the news. The Twin Towers had fell. We were released early that day since there was fear of another attack on New York. We lived 6 hours away from NYC but New York State was still worried since we weren’t sure what would happen.

    I came home. My mother asked me if I knew what happened. I told her I did. She said she just found out a few minutes ago. For the first few months, everyone seemed scared to get on a plane. We boarded a plane when my grandpa passed away a few months later.

  13. Lynn O'Connell

    I was in Alexandria, Virginia when the Twin Towers fell. I had just flown home from Canada the day before, and my husband went out to pick up a prescription. When he got home, he turned on the TV saying “I think they said a plane hit the Twin Towers.” (He was from New York and we had friends, relatives, and clients in the city.) We watched the coverage in shock for the next hour.

    Then, we heard a horrible explosion. We both started towards the window because it sounded so close… we thought maybe there had been an accident on our street. Just then we heard the reporter say that they were getting reports of a construction accident at the Pentagon. We looked at each other and knew, instantly, that this was no construction accident. We live 10 MILES from the Pentagon and the explosion sounded like it was in our front yard.

    It was chaos in the DC area and we needed to go into our office as our staff didn’t know what to do or where to go. Cell service was down, overwhelmed by the volume. On the short drive in, we could see the smoke and the flames from the Pentagon. When we got to the office, everyone was panicked — the news was reporting other planes, rumors were flying about planes about to be shot down, and no one knew what to do. One young mother was in tears because her baby was at home, near Dulles Airport, and she was afraid they’d shoot the plane down over her house. What do you say? As a group, we decided the best thing to do was to stay at the office, and to work — as best we could. In retrospect, I think we were trying to cling to normalcy.

    It sounds absurd now, but I remember calling a client and suggesting that maybe we should delay the email blast scheduled for that afternoon. We actually had a conversation about whether that was the right thing to do or not. It was and we did, but the surreal part was that in the midst of this horrible, horrific event, we weren’t quite sure what to do. Shock, perhaps. I talked to another client in New York… she had dropped her son at school a block from the Twin Towers. She saw the first plane hit, but still took him in. As she came out, she saw the second plane hit and then decided she better take him home. She raced him home, then got on the subway and went to work, apologizing profusely for being late. Even hours later on the phone, she was apologizing for not responding to an email. It was just so BIG… our minds couldn’t really process it as it happened.

    Living in DC changed forever that day. Commercial planes were grounded, but the military jets were everywhere. As were tanks and troops and anti-aircraft guns. A few days later, I remember driving by the Pentagon and realizing that a gigantic weapon was pointed at my car. Surreal.

    Hearing the stories of friends and neighbors was equally bizarre. My neighbor worked at the Pentagon, but was temporarily in offices in Crystal City while the Pentagon was renovated. The plane struck right where his new office was located… and he watched, knowing that one week later he would have been in that office. Another friend lived in an apartment overlooking the Pentagon. She had been out running, hadn’t seen the news, and went out to her balcony for coffee. She saw the plane fly in and just … disappear. She insisted that we come over to hear her story and see the fires. From her balcony we could see into the burned out shell and realized how extensive the damage was… so much worse than you thought from seeing it on television. It’s an enormous building and it is hard to explain how it felt to see so much of it burned.

    And, then there are the small details. We had just returned from an Alaskan cruise and my husband had caught salmon and halibut, which were shipped to us. Of course with flights down, the fish went bad sitting waiting for flights to resume. We didn’t think to warn our receptionist and she opened the package. The smell!! Obviously an insignificant loss compared to the tragic events of that day, but still… the smell!!

  14. William Lazdowski

    I was at work when the news came over the radio. Of course there was disbelief at first, thinking another prank was being run by the DJs. We did not have television at the store so I called my wife to turn the news on and she confirmed there was a crash. I shot home on my bike and arrived to watch the second attack.

    A stenographer I know was working a block away. She said the building she was in shook from the first explosion. Everyone went to the windows to see what happened. They witnessed the second plane crash.

  15. Nu

    When I was young, my father told me he could tell me every detail of the day Kennedy was shot. I told him that I didn’t have a day like that in my life time. A few years later, I would have that day.

    It was my senior year of high school. My first “block period” class had gotten out and I was heading to my English class. I stopped at a friend’s locker, “dude, did you hear? We’re at war.” He said. I shook my head, he was the least informed of my friends. I asked what he was talking about. “Some embassy or something got bombed.” I figured it was some minor event like what happens at embassies all the time, nothing major.

    I walk in to my English classroom to see the television on, CNN, the second tower had just been hit moments before. “If it was one you would say it’s a bad pilot, but two – there’s definitely something going on.” But questions were unanswered. The principal came over the PA, asking teachers to turn off their TVs – my teacher muted it, carried on with class for about half the normal time, and turned it back on. “This is an historic moment, you all should be seeing this” she said, she would deal with consequences later if they arose. I remember an electronics class in the afternoon. If we could fix the busted TV in the classroom, we could watch the news. I remember going home and flipping through the dial on the TV – every channel was tuned to CNN, a handful on Fox News or MSNBC, but 90+% of every channel in my cable package had directed their feed to CNN. It was surreal, and I remember it all like it was yesterday.

  16. James Campbell

    I was a cab driver in Las Vegas who had just got off work. My routine was to come home, relax turn on CNN and see what was happening. I turned on just as CNN was reporting the first tower being hit. At first they thought it was a small plane and not much was really visible. As they were talking I saw the second jet hit the tower live. Just was stunned at that point. Then the 3rd jet hitting the Pentagon. All of this as I watched. Of course they stopped all air traffic. So that night at work I was dealing with stranded conventioneers. I remember that there were about 80,000 in town that week. By the 5th day people were getting very panicky. They rented all the cars that could be driven out of town. There were buses from LA coming up to give people rides back to Southern Cal. Limos and cabs were hired to take people as far away as Maine. Then the town was empty. 8 months no one came in any real number. I went down to making $200 a week. Spooky. All due to that damn attack.

  17. michael

    I was at home off from seminary. It was a real shock to get the phone call to turn on the tv to see the burning building…then to see the second crash and the collapse.

  18. efpierce

    When I first heard about the 9/11 attacks, I was in jail. That’s right, jail. I had missed a court date that I hadn’t even known about and was arrested at work and thrown into jail. They told me I would be out by dinner, so I didn’t think to call a lawyer. Well, I wasn’t out by dinner and I woke up the next day to learn of the attacks. It wasn’t a good feeling to be locked up when our country was under attack and that made me even more concerned for my family.

  19. Gary

    I had just arrived at a friend’s house, where I was house sitting. I turned on the television as I opened the house and took care of the cats. Hearing the breaking news, I was frozen in place and glued to the unfolding story. So many different emotions arose that day, that changed my life to do more for others and to awaken to my gifts to make the world a better place.

  20. Jim

    I’m a US resident now but I was still living in my home country England at the time. The first I heard of the attacks was when a co-worker came into my office to tell me a plane had crashed into the world trade center. I told him I would look at the BBC website when I had finished what I was doing. Like most people we just thought it was an accident at first, but then my colleague came running back into my office a few minutes later to say a second plane had crashed into the towers. Needless to say we didn’t get much work done for the rest of the afternoon. When I got home I put the TV on and sat in a daze watching the news reports over and over again still struggling to take in the shocking scenes I was seeing. I had been in the World Trade center myself a few years earlier on a trip to New York so I could visualize all too well the scenes inside.

  21. jim mccann

    I’m in the UK and work from home designing and building websites for small businesses.

    I was working at home just before 2:00 pm listening to the radio and then started to hear the first unconfirmed news reports coming through of a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. I then rushed through and switched on the TV and sat for the next countless hours in shock watching the terrible picture unfold from NYC.

    Its a sad day I will never forget, even though I was thousands of miles away from the tragedy.

  22. Jagadish

    I had just completed my college and gone to my hometown. It was shocking and could not imagine that sort of massive attack and thought the world has began to fall.

  23. kimstebbins

    I was in bed after an early morning workout and taking the kids to school. My husband called and said, “Turn on the TV NOW! I was flying ( he had a plane) and I just got grounded.” And he hung up. I watched all day.

    The day prior to 9/11, my son’s homework (due 9/11) in his math book had a picture of the Twin Towers on one page and on the other page was an American Airlines Boeing 767. Weird.

    The day after 9/11 , I went to the photo shop to pick up some photos I had dropped off to be developed. It was a bunch of what I call “end rolls”– you go on a trip and didn’t use all of a roll of film, so you add to that roll and throw it in a drawer. Finally I had a slew of these rolls and decided to get them developed. Obviously, this was before everyone had digital cameras! My camera had a feature on it for “panoramic ” photos and sometimes my camera was on that setting by accident. When the photo shop employee came from the back with my pictures, she was crying. She pulled out a long. “Panoramic” photo . It was my 13 year old son on Liberty Island with the Twin Towers in the background. Everyone in that shop had tears.

  24. vanessa

    I was home on the lying on the a couch watching coverage of it on a TV in our living room, at 16, simply disconnected from/uncertain of the significance. I remember watching people plunge headfirst from the smoking high rise on live TV. Surreal.

  25. Jim Liston

    I was at work and watched it on TV. I remember thinking that we were under attack and that things were happening fast. Then the second plane hit and they talked about the third plane headed for the Pentagon. There were rumors about rationing and everyone seemed to go into panic mode, There were long lines at the gas stations and grocery stores.
    Things haven’t been the same since that day, but I think we’ve shown what a strong country we are and that we can ban together under a common cause.

  26. Ann

    I know I am not the only person who will ever mutter the phrase, “I’ll never forget how I felt that day”. I remember that it started out as a very routine morning for me. I was eating a Pop Tart and drinking my morning coffee when I turned on the TV and was immediately bombarded with the devastating news. I was watching the news feed live as the second plane crashed into the Towers.

    My shock and sadness was immediately replaced by worry and a sick feeling in my stomach. At the time, my best friend’s sister worked in NYC, and in fact she worked right in the vicinity of Towers.

    It seemed like an eternity before she was able to get a message to her family that she was OK.
    From that point on, my most poignant memories are of watching the images on the news for weeks and weeks. The entire country was in mourning & I was no different.
    So, no… I’ll never forget how I felt that day.

  27. Jen

    I still remember where I was when this fateful day occurred almost 14 years ago. The more distance it spans from the calendar day, the more we should remember those who sacrificed their lives so we could live ours today. I had been going to work at a casino and they had to shut down. State police were outside of the casino when I arrived for work (at this point, I had no idea what had happened), and they were telling everyone to go home, be with their families. It was only after I got into my house and turned on the TV that I realized the devastating news in NYC. CNN played back the towers being hit by the planes and I lost it. While I haven’t any NY connections, I felt deeply connected to everyone there that day. I couldn’t help but fall to my knees and pray for the families.

  28. Geaniemarie

    I had just come home from dropping my kids off at school. As always, I clicked on the Today show to see what was going on in the world – and got a shock. I sat down on the sofa with my eyes glued to the television and didn’t move for three hours. My first inclination was to rush to the school and gather up my children so they could be safe and sound with me at home. I had to shake that one off thought since they were all in high school and wouldn’t have appreciated the gesture. I’m not one who’s used to disturbing images. I’ve never been in a war, driven an ambulance, or gotten used to seeing people in terrible trouble, so this awful event left a bitter impression. I see now that we’re not immune to evil, and that we need to work hard to try and change those evil people who will ruin our society. I also loved how America pulled together as one nation under God, for a while at least, after the attacks.

  29. Andrea Robinson

    It was early. My roommate got a call and said, “That was weird. My daughter just called from New York and said, ‘There was an accident, but I’m okay,’ and hung up.” My roommate then said that she tried to call her daughter back, but all the circuits were busy. We thought it was strange, but didn’t think too much about it.

    We turned on the news as we got ready for the day, thinking that we might find out the nature of the accident. And we suddenly realized the magnitude of what had happened. I was in a total state of shock and I guess I wouldn’t be lying if I said that my roommate was, too. Since she knew that her daughter was okay, it wasn’t as if we were in a state of panic about her well-being. We were just stupified as to what was going on with that burning tower and the report that an airplane had crashed into it. The replays seemed bizarre, even impossible. Within minutes, a second airplane hit the other tower and now I can honestly say my stomach was turning. We screamed. We were frozen in front of the TV set, staring at complete pandemonium. And thinking that this was no accident.

    As we monitored the TV, she continued to get ready for work, and I started asking myself what to do. I had arranged for the day off so I could go to the Marjaree Mason Center in Fresno for the day. It’s a battered women’s center, and I was scheduled to spend the day in training as a transport volunteer for women needing to get out of their homes immediately – and discreetly. Was the training still even going to happen? Our whole country seemed to be grinding to a halt, mesmerized and sickened by what we were experiencing.

    A call to the Center confirmed that in spite of everything, we were going to go ahead. I won’t quote the exact verbiage, but the sum of it was, “We won’t let the blankety-blank blankeys stop us.” But said in a very professional way, as I recall. Probably more like, “Stopping it is probably what they would want to do. We’re not going to stop.”

    When the building collapsed and we lost over 200 firefighters, I thought, “My God, we CAN’T lose that many.” I was crushed. As an ex-EMT, the weight of each loss was overwhelming. Each rescue worker is incredibly vital. No community can survive losing that many in one incident. The overwhelming grief of the families was just beginning to emerge and I couldn’t handle the thought of that many families and friends in such pain. I couldn’t imagine how New York was going to handle the loss of all those people and the aftermath of so much misery.

    I spent the whole day in Fresno, learning about the Cycle of Abuse, and learning what to say and what not to say when transporting a battered person to a place of refuge. In the meantime, as an ex-EMT, I couldn’t imagine what rescue workers in New York were going through. It was a tragedy all the way around. And it’s still hard to think about it today.

  30. Amy

    I was at work and felt like collapsing. I was completely panicked and all of us were stunned. It was the moment I decided I didn’t want to be married to my husband anymore. He didn’t call or check on me even after he’d learned all about it. Not one word till I got home. Even then he didn’t care about my feelings. And, by then, it was too late. He had lost me. Why would I want to remain with someone who wasn’t there for me during one of the most devastating things that have happened to me??


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