september 11 outside of the U.S.

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i have never been out of the country on september 11 but here i am sitting in moscow and the day is moving along routinely. there are no newspaper sprawls with the picture of the empty space where the world trade center used to be or people selling hats with the date and american flag on them. it’s different and strange.

i, like most all americans, remember exactly what i was doing and where i was on september 11, 2001. i heard mumblings in the car on the way to my freshman year of high school. i recall sitting in honors english (i know, impressive) that something strange happened and why on earth would one plane and then another plane be crashing into buildings. after a few more class periods, i made it to french class and we turned on the news and all sat in horrified silence. it was deafening.

and now here i sit in a russian cafe, over indulging in almond croissants and coffee, appreciating the freedom and sacrifice from others that allows me to do this and travel so freely.

the new wifestyle: it’s important to acknowledge the past but not stay there.

question: where were you on september 11, 2001 when you heard the news of the terrorist attacks?


  1. Paula Howley

    September 11, 2013 at 1:47 am

    I was living in Fort Erie, Ontario which is right across the Niagara River from Buffalo. I had been dating an American from Buffalo for over 3 years- in fact, it was our plan to marry. His dad worked several times a month at the Pentagon.
    I worked at a Bingo hall then which catered mostly to Americans and I was the chair of a not-for-profit and was doing some work on the computer when a colleague called me, told me some dvd’s were in the mail and that I should turn on my tv because the World Trade Centre had been hit by a plane.
    I was in my no-tv phase then so I turned on the radio and went on the internet and I heard when the second plane hit. I felt like I was going to be sick. When the 3rd plane hit the Pentagon, it suddenly became personal. My future father in law could be dead. I couldn’t get a hold of my boyfriend for about 6 hours and nobody could cross the border.
    Because I’d only heard it on the radio and it didn’t feel quite real, I wanted to go and see it for myself after hours of hearing about it and seeing only pictures so I went to a local pub to watch. I sat around watching the coverage in disbelief- especially the horrific scenes of people jumping out of the towers.
    I could hear some of my fellow Canadians saying things like “they get what they deserve”. Canada’s dirty little secret is that our national sport isn’t really hockey, it’s bashing America. Must make us feel superior or something. Anyway, my best friend and boyfriend were both American- I have had close American friends ALL MY LIFE because I have always lived on the border. I pushed my chair back too hard and it fell over and shouted something like “you should be ashamed of yourself- these people are our NEIGHBOURS.” and I just left and went home. I didn’t REALLY cry until Tony Blair played the Star Spangled Banner in England a few days later and I just bawled.
    A few days later when the Bingo opened up again, I’ll never forget one of the male customers raging “We’re gonna go over there and bomb the f out them”. I started to cry because I knew it was going to get bad and that he had every right to feel that way…..
    I watched that movie flight 94 the other day even though I’ve seen it a dozen times already and it haunts me in nightmares.

    • chelsea

      September 12, 2013 at 5:22 am

      thanks for sharing the powerful moment and honesty of this intense and tragic day for you, paula.

  2. kate a.

    September 11, 2013 at 8:04 am

    I was in freshman year math class. I don’t know how we knew to turn on the tv, but I’m assuming the school made an announcement. We were sitting there watching the news, not really sure of what to make of the whole thing. Another student, a junior of Middle Eastern descent, was very vocal during the news and stated something to the effect of “Osama Bin Laden did this.” I didn’t think much of it then bc I didn’t know who that was at the time. looking back, that’s kind of eery.

    what time did your school start? I was in class and you were wn route to school?

    • chelsea

      September 12, 2013 at 5:25 am

      very eery, kate. thanks for sharing. my school started at 7:15 or something like that so i think they were reporting on the confusion of what was happening or something like that

  3. Vivien

    September 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    I think a lot of people will never forget, especially a lot of members of our generation.

    I first heard about it on my way to school where I would listen to the radio in the car. The DJ made a brief announcement on the news section of the show and the tone of her voice (I’ll never forget it) made it sound like it was a routine piece of news somehow, so it struck me both as odd and something I didn’t fully register. By the time I got to school (and due to time zone differences) both towers had just collapsed and every TV in our school was tuned into a news channel. We must have seen the same footage multiple times, but every single one of us (including the teachers) just sat in eery silence. It’s hard to put into words, but I think there was some sort of acknowledgement that things would never be quite the same again.

    • chelsea

      September 12, 2013 at 5:27 am

      i think i felt similar to you vivien-knowing that things would never be the same. thanks for sharing about your memory.

  4. Dad - Clint Turner

    September 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Chelsea – I appreciate you addressing this event that has changed our society forever. On that morning I remember dropping you and Kendal at school for the day. A day that started out as a normal day but as the day unfolded it was not normal. On our drive to school with radio on, the information was not very complete, but as I drove to work I heard more and more and it made me sick and I thought of you and Kendal and was concerned for your safety and what the future would hold for you and this event made an imprint on all of us. I Love You – Dad

    • chelsea

      September 13, 2013 at 4:00 am

      thanks for your comment dad, it was absolutely an intense time. love you!