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9/11 ten years later

On the morning of 9/11 Shorel and I were taking my grad-school roommate, Amy, to the airport. She was flying across the country to interview for a job that would place her in France.

Amy asked me to take her to the airport which I gladly would have done except we had to leave super early and I’m kind of loopy before the sun rises. So I did what any girlfriend would do – I asked Shorel to come with me.

I think we left about 5:00am. (Hubs nor I can remember when we left. We both remember it being almost dark outside.)

We were listening to Alice@97.3 on the radio. I remember the radio station kept going on and on about how thin Whitney Houston looked. They started trashing Whitney so Hubs changed the radio to a classical station.

When we drove up to the airport, there were police everywhere and the sidewalks were crowded. The police said, “No waiting! No stopping!” We quickly let Amy off at the door and drove back to the dorm.

When we returned, my friends were all sitting around the large big screen tv in the lobby watching CNN.

“Where were you? We’ve been trying to call Amy!” (Shorel nor I had cell phones.)

We explained that we dropped her off at the airport. We weren’t worried. If her flight changed, then she could catch the $15 Airporter Bus to the bus stop at the bottom of the hill and any of us could go pick her up.

Then Kristen said, “Terrorists have attacked the World Trade Center!”


We turned to see the images of the Twin Towers in flames, the black smoke hovering above the skyline, the mass exodus walking across the Brooklyn bridge, the unending questions… are people alive? who did this? why?

I remember the news agencies saying something like “On this September Day, on 9/11, America is under attack.” I instantly connected that the numbers were significant.

I also remember CNN interviewed Tom Clancy and I thought, “Is this the best analyst they can get?”

I think I stayed around the tv for maybe 30 minutes. I saw enough.

Once back in the room, Amy’s Mom called the dorm trying to find her. I think she called several times.

With so many unknowns, we were all worried about Amy being at the airport.

At 9:15 am the San Francisco International Airport was evacuated and shut down. The airport was the destination of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.

Amy ended up taking the Airporter bus back to school and a fellow passenger offered her a ride up the hill. We were so thankful to see her. It was a day when you wanted everyone you knew to be safe at home.

Evening classes were cancelled. I think Starbucks closed.

The next day, on 9/12,  I wanted to send my college journalism professor a copy of the Chronicle and the Examiner as he had a collection of newspaper headlines he used during a lecture.

Screen Shot 2011-09-11 at 11.14.24 PM Screen Shot 2011-09-11 at 11.14.01 PM
I easily purchased a copy of the Chronicle from a newspaper stand, but the Examiner was no where to be found. It’s sensational headline captured the emotion felt by many people in the bay area.

After work, Shorel and I drove all over the city looking for a copy of the Examiner, but eventually gave up. I wrote the archives department and purchased a copy of the newspaper to send to Dr. Root.

Screen Shot 2011-09-11 at 10.59.30 PM
Currently, in D.C.’s Newseum, there is an exhibit of 147 front pages from 19 different countries. The Examiner’s front page is prominently displayed.

I remember 9/11.

I remember the images of the twin towers, the pentagon, and Flight 93’s sudden landing in Pennsylvania.

I remember “Let’s Roll”.

I remember fighter jets flying over our dorms at night because the Golden Gate bridge was considered a priority target.

I remember Starbuck customers being really, really polite. People were actually looking me in the eye as I took their order. That week I made almost as much in tips as I did my hourly salary.

I remember a quietness in the midst of a city.

I remember a kindness from strangers.

I remember a stress that lingered in the air for years.

I remember Amy. She never moved to France. She decided that she wanted to be in America during wartime.

I remember Shorel’s stability when so much was unknown.


2 comments to 9/11 ten years later

  • Amy Graham

    Oh Sandra, I remember that day so vividly. That day changed the course of my life forever. Your memory is remarkable. The only thing I remember being different is, as we were listening to the radio before we changed over, I remember them saying that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Of course, we all thought it was a small, two passenger plane, that just didn’t know how to navigate the NYC skyline. Nonetheless, as a nervous flyer, I asked Shorel if he could change the station…I didn’t want to hear about planes crashing on the day I was about to fly!

    The airport was so erie. After you dropped me off, which felt so abrupt and rushed, I walked into the check-in area of the airport. There were lines of people everywhere and everyone was completely silent. It was the strangest thing. I got in line behind a man from Ireland trying to get home…his connection was in NYC. Not having T.V.s in the airport, we had no idea what was happening.

    I, too, did not have a cell phone at the time. So, after I was told that all flights had been cancelled for the day, I went to the baggage claim area, the only area with a pay phone that was free to use, and I called my dad. He told me what was happening, I began to cry, and he told me to return to school.

    9/11 changed many, many lives. Had I gotten on that plane and ended up in France, I may never have met and married Aaron, and my life would look so much different today.

  • I think it’s very interesting to hear the “where I was” stories about 9/11. You have such an amazing memory. I could not remember the day in nearly as much detail. Your friend Amy’s comment was neat to read, too. It gave me chills to read that she might not have met her husband had she left for France that day.

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