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The September 11 Digital Archive

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Smithsonian “September 11:
Bearing Witness to History”

     Story of September 11
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Contributed by: Suzanne
Contributor's location on 9/11:
Contributed on: 21 August 2002

How did you witness history on September 11th?

I was in my car at the Greenbelt Metro parking lot, annoyed that I couldn't find a parking space so I could get to class on time. There was something strange just announced over the radio, something about a small plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center buildings. Of course I thought it was strange, but my mind was on getting to class on time. It was about 8:50 AM on September 11, 2001. I called my mom, who lived nearby and asked whether she could give me a ride to the Metro since I couldn't find a parking space. She said of course, but sounded distracted. So I drove to her house. I turned my radio back up, and listened. All of a sudden, they announced that another plane had crashed into the other tower at the WTC! What was going on? It couldn't be conincidental that two planes would accidently crash, could it? My mind reeled. As I was parking in front of my parents' house, I was no longer concentrating on the radio. The last words I remember hearing were "terrorist attack" and I jumped out of my car just as my mom came running out the door. My husband is an Arlington, VA Deputy Sheriff, and he was at work at the Arlington Courthouse when I heard the news. At this point, I had thought little about any danger in the Washington, DC area. However, as we watched the plane hit the second tower over and over on the news, the newscaster broke in with news of an explosion at the Pentagon. The first thing I said to my mother was "James (my husband) has to come home!" And her response was, "He's a police officer, he's not going to be allowed to come home." I think I lost it then, although what I remember was pushing redial every 15 seconds in an attempt to get through to his cell phone. As everyone else experienced that day, the call would not go through. There were too many other people trying to contact their loved ones, and I was no different. I didn't know where he was, or where he would be sent to for help, but I prayed that he was alright and that I would hear from him. The rest of the day is somewhat fuzzy. I remember reports of explosions at the Treasury and on Capitol Hill, and a fire was reported on the Mall. I got phone calls from my husband's parents wondering whether I had heard from him. I watched the towers come down in New York and wept with the millions of viewers around the world. At about 2:45 that afternoon, my husband called me. It was all I could do to keep from sobbing while I spoke to him. He was in a much more stressful situation than I was, and therefore I kept my composure while we spoke. He was at the Pentagon, and had been there since 10 minutes after the plane crashed, and he did not anticipate that he was coming home that night. The relief that he was alive and well was overwhelming, but I cried for those who had lost their loved ones.

Has your life changed because of September 11, 2001?

My life has not changed in many ways, although I remember the day like it was yesterday. I still cry over those that were lost, and the relief I felt when my husband called me. I think I have become more paranoid that we are iminently going to be attacked again, but I think I share that trait with many others in the country.

What do you think should be remembered about September 11th?

I think it is important to memorialize those that were lost in the terrorist attacks on September 11. We lost many wonderful people in this senseless act, and they should be remembered. The firefighters and police that responded to the call that day should also be remember for there heroicism, and for the lives they helped to save. I think it is also important to note the patriotism that has come about due to this event. More American flags are waving, and people have become more tolerant of the little things that used to annoy them.

Did you fly an American flag after the events of September 11th?

Our American flag was flying the next day, and it still flies today. As my husband was involved in some of the rescue effort, he refuses to remove this symbol of our country. We are proud of the rescue workers who provided assistance on that day, and we want to show our pride in the citizens who live to help this country remain the "Land of the Free." I think that the heroicism shown by the rescue workers on September 11 proves that we are indeed "the home of the Brave."

Cite as: Suzanne, Smithsonian Story #352, The September 11 Digital Archive, 21 August 2002, <>.
Archival Information: 568 words, 2855 characters

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