Saturday, September 11th marks the 20th anniversary of a culturally-shattering and world-altering moment: 9/11.
In the early morning hours of September 11th, 2001, al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four planes with the intent to crash.
Two crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Virginia.
A fourth flight was flying in the direction of Washington D.C. but crashed into a field in Pennsylvania when passengers attempted to regain control of the plane from hijackers.
The attacks claimed nearly 3,000 lives and created a serious socio-economical impact that still affects policy and culture to this day.
Many remember what they were doing when reports began flooding in that early morning on September 11th, 2001 and regardless of where or who you were, it seemed like the whole world stopped, listened, and watched the tragedy unfold.
Victoria Buzz readers remember 9/11
We reached out to local readers to share their stories of where they were when the 9/11 tragedy occurred.
Michelle Olfrey said she learned the news from her 13-year-old daughter.
“My 13 year old daughter came running out of her bedroom screaming, saying, ‘Mom, something bad is happening, turn on the TV.’ I could hear the fear in her voice. When I got up and watched the TV, I looked in horror as I felt total helplessness,” Olfrey said.
Another reader, Robyn Murray, detailed their experience on that fateful morning, while they were living in Japan.
“I was living in Japan [at the time], the news flashed up and I watched in shock. Nothing was in English,” Murray said.
“I called my family in Canada to find out what was happening but everyone was still sleeping. It was very surreal. It was very strange to be so far from home that day. I ended up waking up most of my family who were all still sleeping. It seems like a lifetime ago now.”
20 years ago does feel like a lifetime ago, and for some, the events on September 11th, 2001 were a poignant moment in their young lives.
A lot of adults now were children back then when the attacks happened.
“I was 9 years old,” Victoria Buzz reader Kassie Maria Christina said.
“We were in class when my principal pulled our teacher out of the room. A few minutes went by and our teacher and principal told us they’re going to call our parents and send us home for the day. This was during the first plane hitting,” she added.
“I lived across the street and when I got home, my mom and grandma were watching it on the news. I then watched the second plane hit. My mom and grandma sent me to my room. I had a TV so I just watched and I remember not really being able to comprehend why this was happening and what was actually happening.”
Most say that the attacks were surreal and that they couldn’t believe what was happening.
For first responders on the ground though, there was no time to think like that, they just acted.
Miesje Mesha said that his heart was with the first responders when he watched the attacks.
“I was in bed with my small son at the time when a friend called and told me to turn on the TV. We saw the second tower fall on live TV,” Mesha said.
“I burst into tears knowing how many first responders were running into that building. I had to pull myself together and explain in a way so a 7-year-old would understand what had just happened. I intend to ask him on Saturday what he remembers of that day. I worked for the firefighters club for many years so it really hit hard.”
Like many others, Melissa Brech recalls find out about the tragedies unfolding moments after waking up.
“I remember, I was sleeping and my alarm went off to wake up for school. I think I’d fallen asleep with my tv on, and when I awoke, one of the towers was on fire, billowing plumes of smoke,” Brech said.
“I was groggy and rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, and trying to see what was happening,” she recounted.
“While I watched, I saw another plane in the background. I thought that it was flying behind the building, but the I suddenly saw debris and more smoke, and realized the plane was not so far in the background. It had crashed into the second tower. I immediately started crying as it dawned on me what had just happened, and what I had just seen. I remember running down to my moms room and telling her what I’d just seen, and she waking up and having to come see and console me. My mom said I didn’t have to go to school, that I could stay home, but I needed to go for me. I realized when I got there that I was pretty traumatized, and found a lot of other students were too. We were all in shock. The teachers had a brief discussion about the events that morning, and allowed us to go home and reflect and heal. I spent the rest of the day watching the news and crying.”
There are countless stories of people who heard, witnessed, and experienced the attacks on September 11th, 2001.
But it’s the stories that aren’t told, of the people that had their lives taken, of the people who risked their lives, of the people who don’t get to be here, or still live with those memories —it’s those who we remember most today.
We send out all our love and respect to them as we remember, and never forget.
How do you remember that day? Let us know in the comment section below.
I was in a motel room in San Francisco when I turned on CNN. I though for sure I was watching a Bruce Willis flick at first. I remember the eerie walk along Fisherman's Wharf with nobody else around except a uniform with a rifle by each pier…
— James Roberts (@jcharlesroberts) September 9, 2021
I was sleeping in when my hubby, who was leaving for work, came & woke me. I said it's terrorists. He knew how much I loved NYC, had loved ones there, had been to the towers & had supper @ Windows on the World. I watched in horror as they second plane hit. Retriggered my PTSD.
— 🇨🇦InterPAULA (IPA)🇺🇲🌊 (@InterpaulaBC) September 9, 2021
That was me . I will never forget being on the air that morning https://t.co/ZecybkP7xF
— Al Ferraby (@alferraby) September 9, 2021