I live in the Vancouver area of British Columbia in western Canada. I worked as a Travel Agent back then.
I was living at home at the time. My alarm went off and as I reached for the snooze button I heard the DJ talking about something that had happened.
Being half-awake I ignored it and rolled back to sleep. That lasted about 2 minutes. My father had awoken earlier and was downstairs having his coffee while watching the news. He started yelling up the stairs that ‘they’ve attacked New York!”
I sat bolt upright and raced downstairs to see what he was talking about. Shortly after I got to the TV room the second plane hit… live on TV. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
I watched for as long as possible before hurrying to work. The classic rock radio station I listened to was broadcasting radio reports from across the country and the world.
The grounding of all flights hadn’t happened yet. I got to work and spoke to my co-workers. We just couldn’t wrap our heads around what had happened. We started our day by answering phone call after phone call from our concerned clients.
I had a news website on my computer and was giving everyone updates. That’s when I found out about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. When the planes started being grounded I went outside to smoke and look up at the sky. There were a lot more airplanes in the air than I was used to.
I should denote that the city I live in has Vancouver International Airport in it. We’re used to seeing planes fly fairly low overhead regularly. But this was something out of a movie.
I went back to work answering calls, fielding concerns over future trips from my clients and all the while, wondering how a friend of mine was doing. She had booked a trip through me to NYC and was there at the time.
The day was long. When I went home I took a detour and drove by the airport. Our airport is one of the few in the world that you can get within 100 feet from the edge of the runway. It was unsettling. I have never seen that many planes in one space. Every possible space within the airport’s land had a plane crammed into it. Airlines I hadn’t even heard of were jam packed, wing tip to wing tip, nose to nose.
And the sky was eerily quiet.
More news for the evening and a general state of disbelief for several days afterwards.
I drove by the airport every day until the planes left. And for weeks and weeks followed the news.
9/11 cost me my job as I was laid off shortly afterwards due to business slowing down. But that was nothing compared to what the people of New York had to go through that day and in the weeks and months afterwards.
The generation before me knew where they were for the moon landing, Woodstock and the Kennedy assassination. Ours had the Challenger explosion, the fall of the Berlin wall and 9/11.
I’ll always remember.