September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Story:September 11, 2001 was the second full day of a two week backpacking trip to Scandinavia. It was my third trip to Northern Europe, and my girlfriend at the time, Autumn, her first experience out of the United States. We had landed early on the tenth and were enjoying a beautiful afternoon(remember that we were six hours ahead of the eastern United States)strolling along the Str?get, a collection of five streets that makes up a large, traffic free pedestrian shopping area in Copenhagen, Denmark. The day was gorgeous and many shops adn stores had their doors opended. As we walked near a clothing store, I overheard the voice of President Bush. I remember saying that it sounded like the President and we entered the store to see fifteen to tweny people staring up at two large television monitors. The President was addressing the nation and in the television image was the burning World Trade Center. We had only caught the final moments of the boradcast and hurried to a payphone nearby where an American girl was on the phone. After she finished talking we asked her what was going on and she told us that terrorists had flown a plane into the World Trade Center, and that there were many highjacked airliners in the skys. She told us of a nearby pub with CNN on and we hurried over.

The pub, The Dubliner on Amagertorv, was packed with people staring up at a large television screen. There we sat and watched as the towers fell and images of the burning Pentagon and the crash site in Pennsylvania flashed on the screen. We could do nothing but hold one another and cry. It was a terrible feeling to be isolated from your country and people, and to watch the horrible images unfold. It was worsend by the fact that we live not more than an hour or so outside of Manhattan and many people in our community work in New York City and at the Twin Towers.

September 11 was a long day for both of us, and we frantically made several attempts to contact our families in the United States to let them know that we were alive, and to see what was going on. When we finally got through it was a big relief to hear loved ones voices and let them know that we were alive and well.

The day after September 11th we boarded the train a day early and headed north to Stockholm, Sweden, where I felt that we could be safest. As Americans abroad at that time we had concerns for our safety and I figured that the further north the better (we were planning on hitting Sweden and Norway before ending our trip in Finland). On the train ride a Swedish man tok the time to explan some headlines in the newspaper and summarize some stories. A clerk at a paper store in Stockholm did the same, translating stories and telling us some of the news in the USA. I have two Swedish newspapers from September 12 framed in my home office to remember that event. On a bridge to the Old Town section of Stockholm, Sweden, was a makeshift memorial of handwritten messgaes and candles. Apicture of that adorns my scrapbook. I left a message that day for all of our fallen countrymen who died on 9-11.

For the remainder of our trip the events of Septmeber 11 were never far from our minds and hearts. After travelling to the far north of Norway (Narvik) we had the chance to spend the night in a hotel (as opposed to youth hostels or sleeping on night trains) and had the first chance to watch English language television. It was the BBC and it was the images startled us - of people jumping from the towers, the struggle on flight 93, the images of the planes hitting and towers falling.

Coming home nearly two weeks later on half-empty flights to Newark (where highjacked flights originated) brought the trip to closure. As we drove away I looked to see where the towers were, but in the darkness saw only emptiness. We lost a FDNY member from our city that day, as did so many other surrounding communities.

My Scandinavian trip of 2001 was supposed to be memorable as I was sharing it with my girlfriend and her first time outside of the United States. While we made the most of the trip under the circumstances, September 11 was the pivitol event and I know that this is something I will be telling my children and perhaps their children someday in the future.


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