My alarm clock went off at 8 am, as it did every morning. It was set to the news radio station, so immediately I was listing to the report that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and smoke was rising into the sky. I jumped out of bed and went to my tv to watch. I was thinking it was some kind of freak accident with a small plane.
I was watching as the second plane hit and a fireball erupted, and I said out loud “We’rd under attack!” I don’t remember which channel I was watching, but at the moment the second tower was hit, the picture I was viewing was a distant shot of the towers, and the second plane looked very small. So while I knew we were under attack, I was still thinking they had been smaller planes. But then I watched a different angle of the second plane, and realized it was a big one. And then reports of the Pentagon hit. Rumors of a car bomb at the State Department. Another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Impacts one by one, shocking me more and more.
And then the first tower collapsed. I didn’t believe it at first. I *couldn’t* believe it. I used to work in a skyscraper. How in the world does a building that size just fall? I was staring at the tv screen. The building was still there. It was just hidden behind all the smoke. And then Peter Jennings echoes my stunned question “The entire *building* has collapsed?” And then the second tower falls. And the world has changed.
That’s is what I will always remember, the shock, the incredulity, the sheer disbelief that this was really happening. This has to be how Americans felt at the news of Pearl Harbor.