Where Were You on 9/11?

Momservation: When there is so much uncertainty in the world the one certainty you can give your children is your unconditional love.

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An excerpt from my journal written on 9/17/01:

It was 7:10 a.m., and miracles of all miracles, (my 22 month old son) Logan and (my 5 month old daughter) Whitney, had slept in. After getting Whitney a fresh diaper and Logan a fresh sippy cup of apple juice, I was pleased that I turned on the TV in time to tape an Elmo’s World episode from Sesame Street – Logan’s favorite show and the only way I had been able to nurse a newborn with an energetic toddler running around.

In order to quickly reach the PBS station before the show started I whizzed through all the major channels, blurring out the unfolding national tragedy. In hindsight, a part of me regrets missing those life altering moments that were played out live on my television set.

Taken 9/11 watching the Bugs episode of "Elmo's World" before I knew about the terrorist attacks on America. A simply pure and sweet moment that was shattered.

But the other part of me is wistful. There I was, the warmth of the bed covers still with me, with my two beautiful children and their innocence that healed my life, watching Elmo together. It was the episode about bugs – Logan’s favorite. How could life have been more simply pure and sweet than seeing your babies’ eyes take in the never before seen wonder of butterflies as told by a red, furry monster? It was such a precious moment I actually got out the camera and took a picture.

Then a phone call shattered it all. My husband called just before the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, telling me to turn on the news. There, with my baby in my arms, and my toddler startled to see Elmo disappear, I watched as the 2nd tower collapsed into bits of glass and angry dust, a huge, magnificent building literally full of life, in an instant disappearing in shattered pieces along with our innocence.

As I tried to grasp the horror playing out in front of me by watching the movie-like images and reading unbelievable headlines scrolling out on the bottom of the TV detailing the unimaginable, I felt my life, my family’s life, and American lives change course, forced onto a path that was dark and unlit with the light of hope.

As a mother, how can you envision bright and hopeful opportunities for your children’s future when you see a plane full of innocent people forced to end their lives by taking other unsuspecting souls with them? If there is such evil in the world to do this…when will it come knocking on our door?

When our country is so thoroughly violated by religious zealots willing to sacrifice themselves and countless others in the name of God (whose God would condone such atrocities?) how long will it take us to heal? And how do we mend ourselves? By going to war and violating another country so they too feel our pain?

I look back at one week ago, before September 11, 2001 was written in blood into our history books, and grasp for the comfort, peace, and opportunity of the United States I lived in. I weep for the innocence that was stolen from my children before they could even articulate what they wanted to be when they grew up. I am scared that I am old enough to know and understand what this new terroristic future will hold. And my heart and soul ache for those whose lives were sacrificed to carry out some madman’s agenda.

But most of all, I wish that one week ago I had instead seen the end of Elmo’s World and that our world was still as innocent as I had seen reflected in my children’s eyes.


Where were you on 9/11 and what do you remember?


  1. Anissa Routon says:

    I was in Washington, D.C., in my hotel room right across from the Pentagon on 9/11. I heard the crash, watched the fire and all of the sirens before I even knew about the Twin Towers. I thought a plane had crashed from Reagan Airport. I was stuck for five days in D.C. waiting to come home. I had never seen a city like D.C. was in those days following the attack — I can only imagine what NYC was like. The entire Mall was absolutely EMPTY, except the military teams, and a few tanks, they had stationed there for security. It was a ghost town and it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. In one of those unbelievable moments, I happened to run into a childhood friend who was staying in my same hotel — he was my debate partner in high school. It was nice to have someone to talk with, to eat with, to make travel arrangements home with. When I did finally get out of DC, I had to transfer in Atlanta to come back to Sacramento. They held the plane for TWO HOURS so I could make my connection — just me, no one else. In any other circumstances, the passengers on that plane would have been furious to be made to wait that long for a single passenger. But when I got on the plane, everyone I walked past told me: “We’re so glad you made it out! We wouldn’t leave without you!” Can you even imagine that?

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Wow, Anissa, that is an absolutely amazing perspective! No, I can’t imagine that on so many different levels! How scary that must have been to have been right there! Then to have been one of the people stranded – then to find an old friend to talk with – then to fly again – then to to have airlines and passengers be so accommodating. Wow!

      Thanks for sharing – each story is so interesting to me.

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