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The Tritonian

The Tritonian

Where Were You When 9/11 Occurred?

Where Were You When 9/11 Occurred?

“I was right here at NDA with a class of students.  Mr. Harry Geiser was across the hall, and he had a TV in his room.  My class went to his room and watched the news coverage until we realized the horror unfolding and then I wouldn’t let my students watch any more.  I wanted to protect them from that moment in history but couldn’t.  It is burned into my memory like it was last year.”–Andrea Hearden

“I was teaching at Southwest High on that day.  My fellow teacher and friend, Dick Seig, came into my room and said, “A plane just crashed into The World Trade Center in NY City.”  We rushed to the AV room to see a TV.  I said, “Oh look, they are showing us instant replay.”  It was then I realized, it was a 2nd plane crashing in the Towers.  I witnessed it live.”  –John Dunlap

“I was in my first-grade class. I remember being terrified because all the teachers were terrified. We went to another teacher’s classroom where a bunch of other classes gathered as well,and everyone was watching a tv. We were all watching the news of the coverage of the planes crashing. I remember teachers crying, but I don’t think I could fully comprehend what was going on. I must have known it was something big, though, because I remember it vividly, even being so young.”–Molly Schroeder

“I was in high school in my sophomore year biology class. We stopped everything and turned on the TVs to watch the news and pray.” –Joan Cinotto

“We lived in Minnesota at the time. I was walking my son to the bus stop and a neighbor said a plane hit one of the towers in NY. My son got on the bus, I went home and turned on the NEWS and was horrified. Some people were jumping out of the windows to escape the fire. Then the second tower was hit and that was when I knew this wasn’t an accident. I watched the NEWS and cried until my son came home. We went outside, to escape the NEWS for a bit, and I was struck how quiet the skies were, truly eerie. I knew then life would never be the same.” –Tonya Gerondale 

“I was a freshman in college. That morning I headed to Philosophy class not knowing it had happened.  There was some talk in class about an attack.  My professor came in and processed with us for a little while and then cancelled the rest of class.  I went back to my room and watched the TV… all of the students were glued to the TVs for days.  It was so scary not knowing what was going on; there was so little information that was coming out.”–Adam Rudar

“I had just finished my 8 a.m. class at UW-Stevens Point and was driving to my workplace.” –Gina Fredrick

“I was in grad school, working on one of the upper floors of the Chemistry building at UW-Milwaukee.  I was speaking to a friend who lives in New York and worked in the Merrill Lynch building, about a block and a half from the South Tower when it was hit by the second plane.  At that point, we had an emergency meeting in the Chemistry building about what the next steps were in case something similar were to happen here.  We put the building on lockdown for any and all of the research tower portion of the building, since we had many, many dangerous chemicals present.”–Chris Johnson

“I was in my Sophomore English class at Kimberly High School when the first plane hit. Classes stopped and we were glued to the TVs for the rest of the school day. I remember being in my Business Shorthand class when the towers fell. The whole day was so surreal and so was the week that followed as all planes were grounded.”Caitlin VandenWyngaard

“I was in my junior year here at Notre Dame, but that day I had an orthodontist appointment in the morning so I was at home waiting to go to my appointment when I was watching the news and saw the first tower on fire. Moments later I saw the second plane hit the second tower, and I called for my mom to let her know what happened the first time was not an accident. At my appointment it was very weird sitting in the chair listening to the news instead of music like was the normal case. Eventually I came to school and it was a very weird, somber mood, and I remember asking where I should go and there really was no good answer so I found my father who was teaching at the time. I vaguely remember going from class to class and into the auditorium just talking about what had happened and talking with classmates that had family either in New York or worse who were working in the towers and then trying to find out if they were okay.” –Chris Nowak

“I was at home that morning because I was having concrete poured on the patio.  I saw on TV that the first tower had been hit.  By the time I got to work, the second tower was just getting hit.  It was also the same day that I was moving into my new office (now Sarah VanGrunsven’s after 21 years) in the Priory, so I was listening on the radio.  Shawn Massey, our tech person, hooked up the screen in the auditorium, so we could all watch what was happening.” –Char Dunlap

“I was lying on my couch, super nauseated and sick due to being pregnant with my daughter.  I remember watching the events unfold on the news on the tv.” –Denise Laack

“I was a sophomore at SNC and volunteering at Dickinson Elementary that morning. It was a gorgeous, sunny fall day. We were in the library and all of the teachers were gathered around a TV watching something. In my 19-year-old, post-Columbine mind, I assumed it was another school shooting. It wasn’t until my roommate and I got back in my car and turned on the radio that we found out what happened. We turned on the radio just in time to hear Tom Brokaw’s shock when the 2nd tower collapsed. Once we were back at campus, we were glued to the TV for days.”–Kelly Waters

“I was teaching Senior English at The Prairie School in Racine when a fellow teacher ran in to tell me about what was happening in NY.  The lesson stopped…the TV went on…and the tears started to flow.  The world as we knew it stopped and would never be the same.”–Deborah Gretzinger

“I was teaching an alto sax lesson at Roncalli High School in the band room when the news came in, and I turned on the TV….I actually still remember the student’s name…22 years later.”–Greg Masarik

“I was at the dentist!”–Eliza Campbell

“I was a freshman in college, still asleep in my dorm room. My roommate woke me up to say something terrible has happened. Everyone in the dorm gathered in the commons and were glued to the tv screen, watching the live footage. Sadly, we all witnessed the second plane hit and shortly after watched as both towers came crashing down. It was impossible for us to get a hold of our parents as cellphones and dorm room phones had all crashed, due to the high volume of calls being made across the USA. We all just hugged each other and gathered in the chapel on campus.”–Chelsea McKay 

“I was working at Xavier University as the Events Coordinator of the Cintas Center (our 10,000 seat basketball arena) . The University was hosting some sort of a Catholic event or multi-cultural fair where all kinds of vendors would be setting up around the concourse. It was supposed to start around 11 or noon and go all day, hundreds of people were expected. I was walking down the hallway to grab a drink when a friend of mine, Barry Burns who was the Assistant Ticketing Director for Athletic events, said to me, “Did you hear a plane hit one of the twin towers in New York?” I am embarrassed to say I really didn’t know what the twin towers were or the impact that had. I figured it was an inadvertent thing that a plane crashed into a building. So I grabbed my drink and walked down to the athletic office where a bunch of people were in a conference room watching the tv when the second plane hit. I will never forget those 10/15 minutes of hearing the news and watching tv. The rest of the day was an absolute blur to me; the event we had planned was canceled. I remember driving home from work somewhat early, just numb and just sitting on my couch trying to figure out exactly what was going on. 

What scared me most of all was that 2 weeks earlier I had flown to New Jersey and played golf for two days and flew out of Newark.”–Matthew Koenig

“On 9/11 I was in 7th grade Science class at Resurrection.  We had just gotten tvs in all the classrooms, and the English teacher, Ms. Mac, came running into the room telling us to turn on the TV.  We sat and watched it for hours in that room.  One of my classmate’s parents was in New York visiting family, so I remember being very scared for him.  We were all crying and so scared and shocked by what had happened.”–Holly Hinch

“I was teaching in the room that Adam Rudar currently teaches in.  Tom Blaney came into my room and announced that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.  Once we heard that a second plane crashed too we turned on the TV and watched the events unfold.  In the middle of all the chaos, I left school during my prep period to pick up Eliza at Holy Family and took her to the dentist office.”–Julie Campbell

“I was teaching at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On the TV in the copy center, I saw the first tower burning.”–Diane Mulroney

“I was in my car in the parking lot of East High School, just having got done meeting with the band director. I remember that I went home and watched the events unfold on TV most of the rest of the day.” –Steve Johnson

“That was the year we were building the new parts of the building. The library was in the chapel, and what is now Mr. Gray’s room was the computer lab. I had first hour free, so I was in the computer lab and that’s where I saw the news about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. At that time we thought it must be an accident. A little later came news of the second plane, and then we knew it was deliberate. My second hour was in Mrs. Brown’s room. We had a radio that we were listening to for news. Nobody knew for sure what was really happening yet. They set up the news on a projector in the auditorium for anyone who wanted to take their class there, but by mid-day my students were overwhelmed by the repeated footage of plane crashes and towers collapsing, so we went back to watching The Crucible in our classroom. Every tv station for the next day or so played one of the 24 hour network’s feeds, so you really couldn’t get away from seeing it over and over except to turn off the tv, but at the same time we wanted to know more and see something hopeful so you didn’t want to turn it off either. I remember people saying that from then on Americans would join together and put aside their political differences. That didn’t last very long.” –Steve Stary

“My desk was in the main office where Mrs. Rickards sits now.  We just happen to have the radio on.  When the first tower was hit, they reported it as a tragic accident.  Shortly after that the 2nd plane hit and then the 3rd plane went down at the Pentagon.  We were all in shock, not sure what to do, the principal at that time announced that anyone that would like to go into the Auditorium, and we will start broadcasting the event.  We will remain in school and if you need to go home you may.  We had numerous students come to the main office to call home because they had a loved one in New York at the time.  It was a horrific and tragic time for everyone.  We prayed and gathered as a community.  It was a day I will never forget.” –Cathy Kirschling

“I was watching cartoons with my daughter when I saw it happen on TV.”–Brenda Rentmeester 

“I was in my dorm room at Marquette University.  I was a freshman at the time, so it really was a shock to watch on live television one of the planes hit the second tower and then the collapse of the buildings.   I can remember the weather, room setup, and many other vivid details from that morning because of how big an imprint it had on me.”–Cassidy McGowan

“I was at home in De Pere though at that time I was working remotely for a bank on Long Island, NY. My baby was not quite 3 months old, so I told my mother, “Don’t call me before 9 AM!”. Well, that day the phone rang at about 8:45. It was my mother’s number and I was a little put out! When I answered, it was my brother saying, “Turn on the TV, planes have crashed into the World Trade Center.” I spent the day and a lot of the following week, glued to the TV watching events – it was so surreal! 

Just a little bit of trivia, my husband and I had our 2nd anniversary dinner at Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the North Tower. We lived on Long Island from 1995 until 1998 and the World Trade Center was the only thing we could see from the city from our 5th floor balcony.” –Claire Teitz

“I was sitting in my 2nd period AP Physics class at West High.  Mr. Shupita stopped our lesson and turned on the TV in our classroom after telling us our country was under attack. Not knowing the big picture, we were all kept in our 2nd period until we were released to parents when they could get to us.  I remember all of our sports and after school events were canceled, and we all sat in front of our TVs the whole night just dreading the outcomes we knew were inevitable.  At the time I had friends in the military so the weeks and months to follow were extremely hard knowing what they would be fighting for.  Many of my classmates made the decision to enlist based on this event and the amount of patriotism displayed by our country.”–Katie Bialk  

“I was working at Schneider Logistics. TV’s were set up in break rooms and we all watched as the 2nd plane flew into the tower. People were on their phones trying to contact loved ones. We then watched the tower collapse. I went back to my desk to try and work, but I think I was in shock.”–Becky Bain

“I was in Boston in my second year of graduate school. I was teaching an 8 a.m. English class when the two planes took off from Logan Airport, just about five miles from my school. The two tower crashes happened before my class ended. We didn’t know anything was going on until I got back to my office after class to five missed calls from my worried dad in Wisconsin who’d been watching the news. Our campus was quickly evacuated, but not all public transportation was running and most cell service was down. It was a pretty chaotic, lonely, and worrisome few hours, trying to connect with my roommate and with Matt and our friends. We all gathered together and watched the news into the night and through the next few days. My parents were scheduled to come to Boston the following weekend, but had to reschedule their flights.” –Katie Gelb 

“Rachel was 9 1/2 months old and I was still working at Schneider. She went to an in-home daycare and as I walked in to drop her off, Julie, her babysitter, was glued to the TV watching something. I asked what was going on and she told me. I sat down next to her and we just watched in silence for about 30 minutes. Then, I said that I needed to get to work. When I got to work, many were in conference rooms gathered around TVs watching.”–Amy Stover

“I was in my 7th grade art class when I heard the news that two planes crashed into the World Trade Center.”–Father Jordan Neeck

“I was teaching at Preble High School and it was my third year teaching.  I had off and those of us who had off, always watched the news in a classroom together.  We saw it happen on tv after the first one hit.  I remember kids being afraid to move classrooms and so many parents coming to take their kids home.  During that time, we all had a tv in our room so we watched the news all day long together.  It was an eerily long day and so many people scared and so little information.  I had to wait until I got home to find out if my uncle, who is a pilot for United and was on the same flight path as one of the planes, was safe or not.  He was safe as he was on the back end of that flight that day.  But I was with another teacher whos daughter lived and worked in downtown NYC at the time and we just held her and her family as she waited for news.  Thankfully her daughter was able to call early in the day, but the devastation continued and it was difficult to watch her wonder about all of her daughter’s friends, co-workers, family, etc.”–Jaime Danen 

“On 9/11/2001, I don’t remember waking up or going to bed.  I even had to ask my wife exactly where we were living at the time as we were moving between apartments relatively frequently.  I do remember what I was doing immediately before, during, and after the attacks on that day.
I was working in my first “paid” job after college.  Julia and I had spent a year doing volunteer work in Chicago for a year after I graduated from college in 2000 and we had moved back to Green Bay about 2 months before 9/11.  I was the Activity Director at San Luis nursing home in Ashwaubenon (now closed I think).  My normal day was a quick meeting with my direct staff in the morning to go over what activities they’d be providing for residents that day, what bigger events we were working on later in the week that needed prep and planning, and how I could directly or indirectly support my staff in any way that day.  Then I’d go to a meeting with department heads to discuss resident needs and how we could work together to make sure they were met.  This was always a fun meeting.  The head nurses and the nutritionist were very funny and we often would joke and laugh about things that other people might find shocking.  Working amongst death, loss, and sadness every day requires special coping mechanisms to get by.  Luckily, I was brought up on sarcasm and fit right in.  After the staffing, my normal routine was to walk around and be social with residents.  This was to make sure I had contact with all of them at least once every day and make sure there were no special issues for any individuals, because I had made friends amongst the residents and I valued those friendships and the wisdom and perspectives they provided; but also to avoid paperwork which was one of the worst parts of the job.  I was good at it; but I did NOT enjoy paperwork.
I don’t remember the specifics of any of the meetings for that day; but I do remember being in a very jovial mood when I left the department head meeting as usual.  It must have been a little before 9.  As I started walking around, I noticed the hallways and rooms were more empty than usual.  I moved towards the front of the nursing home starting to wonder what was up.  Then I saw many of the residents in the front lobby, where some of them regularly gathered to watch the morning news and “news” (entertainment programs that disguise themselves as news after about 9am).
To this day, I’m not sure why so many residents were there.  Did word get around that something interesting was happening and they moved or asked to be moved there?  Did the nurses think that they should move people there because something interesting was happening?  I don’t know.  I do know that as I watched the burning tower on the screen, the overriding thought in the room was that it was a horrible accident, that it had been chance that the plane had hit the tower.  The worst case of bad luck possible.  That’s when the other plane hit as we watched.  I couldn’t really understand what I was seeing.  We were definitely in shock.  I was talking to some nurses as we tried to make sense of this together and it collectively dawned on us that this couldn’t possibly have been just bad luck.
We decided at that point that unless the residents really wanted to stay and watch, we should try to get them into the normal flow of the day.  Disturbing or scary things can be magnified in weird way in nursing homes and really affect peoples’ emotional states.  At that point we didn’t know what the news would bring on the reasons for what was going on or what further events would transpire.  I got into the flow of the day as well and the rest of the work day is foggy in my memory.  I did get some tidbits of news here and there as I went about my day so I was dimly aware of some of the speculation for causes, the towers falling, and other events (like the Pentagon attack); but I mostly threw myself into the work to keep my mind off of it and make sure the residents were OK.
When I left work that day, I remember that I stopped by NDA on my way home.  I wanted to see my dad, as much for his stability and reassurance as to get his take on the day’s events.  It was good to see him and get that kind of comfort that only he can give me.  After that, I headed home and I’m sure discussed it with Julia too (as well as my brother and sister who we lived with at the time); but I don’t remember any of that.”–Greg Geiser
“I was a senior in high school with an independent study first hour.  Fond du Lac High School was new and there were TVs with cable in every room.  I was in the library and saw the news, but I had never been to New York and didn’t realize the seriousness.  I went in to the computer lab and told my fellow student that there had been a plane crash.  We ended up heading to our math teacher’s classroom because he had a prep period and in the process watched the plane hit the second tower.  At first we thought it was a replay of the earlier crash.  In our math teacher’s room, we watched as both towers fell.  It was only then that I started to realize what was going on, how serious this was, as I watched my very calm, extroverted teacher go white in front of us.
It still took until the next day, to some extent, and the coming months for me, in my senior, self-absorbed, Wisconsin-centered brain to understand how life had changed.”  –Molly Mattke
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