9/11 - An 8 Year Old's Perspective

Join me in "Wednesday's walk down memory lane."

On September 11th, 2001 I woke up to my mom sitting, mouth agape, in front of the television. Her stunned facial expression told me that something was going on. As she related the events of the morning to me, I just looked confused and asked questions. Eventually, I got a pretty good grasp on what had happened, so I went upstairs and woke my brother, Jared, up and spilled the news as fast as I could. I’m sure I didn’t relay it correctly, but whatever I said got him out of bed just as quickly as he could move.

That day was spent pouring over the 10 different stations which were all playing the same thing—looping tapes of the twin towers collapsing over and over again, and live footage of the scene; people scurrying, horrified, throughout the streets and coughing in the heavy fog of dust and rubble.

I was only 8 years old at the time, and I know that I didn’t understand the catastrophic magnitude of the events that occurred that day—I didn’t even know what the World Trade Centers or the Pentagon were, but the panic that resonated through the U.S. definitely caused a butterfly effect and ended up getting to me.

By the end of the day, my almost 11 year old brother and I were thoroughly terrified. My parents caught on and suggested that we take a night to have some fun. Jared’s birthday was the next day, and the two of us loved to go out to the “cottage” in our backyard—a tiny little house with 3 rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. So, we spent a few hours goofing off out there and trying to get the events of the day off of our mind. After listening to our favorite radio drama—Adventures in Odyssey—and reading for a while, we made our bed in one of the little bedrooms and settled down to get some sleep.

We switched off the lights, but after a moment agreed that it would be safer to leave them on. We got up every 5 minutes to make sure the front door was still locked. We jumped at every little creak that seemed to resonate throughout the little house. Finally, we both got to sleep…but not for long. In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up and really wanted to go inside and get some warmer pajamas on, because I was absolutely freezing. I tried to wake Jared up to walk me into the house, but to my great agitation, he didn’t stir.

Finally, I mustered up enough courage to go into the house alone. I gave myself a mental lecture—attempting my own conviction that there was nothing to be afraid of. Stiff as a board, I rolled out of the safety of the covers and made my way over to the bedroom door. When I reached the door (it seemed to take forever), I stretched out my hand and turned the cold doorknob with my trembling fingers.

Horror….The door wouldn’t budge! My heart raced furiously as I replayed in my head the safety precautions we had taken the night before—we had definitely not locked this door. I ran as fast as I could back to the bed and jumped on top of Jared, begging him to “please wake up!” Finally, he opened his eyes and looked at me, slightly annoyed it seemed. I told him what was going on as calmly as I could, because as scared as I was I didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of my older, and highly respected brother.

After listening for a moment, he turned over and closed his eyes once again; ending with a nonchalant, “Try the window.” Of course! The window! I made my way over to the small window, climbing on a couple of things so that I could reach it, and pushed it up with all of my might—no luck. I tried everything to get it to open for about 5 minutes. I looked back at my brother, to see that he had been watching me, dumbfounded from the bed. Finally, he got up, walked over to the door, coolly turned the knob, and opened it. He started laughing really hard, but I definitely wasn’t feeling the humor at the moment. I was still totally freaked out. Eventually, I was able to laugh at myself, which was good because I was the brunt of his jokes for days!
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L said...

I was at home with my baby when the news broke here - I remember that feeling of horror and disbelief. I was working as a teacher at the time and was struck by how quiet and subdued the children seemed when I went into school the next day. They didn't fully comprehend what had happened but could sense the awfulness of it all.
Thank you for sharing what it was like for you as a child.

Kelly @ Sufficient Grace Ministries said...

Oh, Abbigail...I will never forget that day. I was home nursing my baby, James, and preparing to go to my part time job at the school. My mother was due to come soon. (She stayed with James while I worked my 2 hour job.) I had the morning news on, and just sat stunned as they determined that America had indeed been attacked. This was no accident. My brother-in-law was the crew chief for Marine One (the president's helicopter) at the time. The landing pad where he would have landed if he'd been up in the air that day(flying a dignitary or a Congressman...which is something he did when not flying with the president) was right near where the plane flew into the pentagon. We had no idea if he was flying that day...if he was O.K. Turns out he was O.K. and was called upon to help that day...he doesn't talk about it much...but it's a day that's blazed into his mind as well. For he looked upon the suffering, death and wreckage, first hand. I called my mother. Then my stepfather called from work and said, "What is going on?" I said, "We've been attacked! America is being attacked by terrorists. They hit the twin towers and the pentagon. They made it to Washington! We don't know if there's more." I went to work, in a daze. What I really wanted to do was stay home and hold my baby. Silence. The students sensed something awful, as Lynette wrote in her comment. The teachers were sullen and gray. A radio played quietly in the office, and we learned that another plane had gone down in a field. We wondered if there were more coming. A day no American will...or should... ever forget. Thank you for sharing your memories of the day. You are a wonderful writer, Abigail.

Blessings to you,
Kelly G

Unknown said...

Beautiful post Abigail!

I don't think anyone who was old enough at the time of 9/11 will ever forget it! Details are fresh in my mind too!

I'm sorry it was so scary for you! Praising God that our country now almost 9 yrs later has been kept safe from further attacks!

Blessings and love,
Mrs. S

Linda said...

Abigail, Grandpa and I were sound asleep when it happened and we were awakened by the telephone. It was your mama telling us to turn on the tv because the twin towers had been hit by a plane. We were speaking with her on the phone when the second plane hit. We couldn't believe it!

I know how unsettled I felt as we learned they had been hit on purpose and that it was an act of terrorism. As an adult I was thouroughly shaken,...so I can imagine how a child would worry and not understand.

Thank you for re-living this by posting your thoughts and feelings from that day,...and Abigail, Grandma is so sorry you had to go through that. I'm sad that every child and adult had to feel that kind of fear.

May God Bless us and protect us, and may America turn back to Him!

Love you my sweet one,

Becca said...

I think everyone will always have the memories of that day and probably tell you exactly where they were at and what they were doing. I was in my freshman year of highschool. I remember it like it was yesterday. I always find it interesting to hear what others were doing and feeling on that terrible day.

Karin said...

Hubby and I had lived in NY and one of our girls was born there. Whenever there was any piece of news on about NY I listened. We were just starting our day's activities in our nursing home when I heard NY mentioned by the newscaster and turned my head to the tv and gasped in horror. Just like knowing exactly where I was when JFK was assassinated, this moment of the twin towers is also burned onto my mind. And it was on my grandson's birthday - I'm not sure we paid enough attention to him that day for the topic of conversation was the horror and the tragedy of the terrorist attacks.

Kristin said...

Thank you for sharing your perspective. I can imagine it must've been so scary for an 8 yr old. I was at work and my Mom called me to tell me what happened. We didn't have TV's or internet at work, so I had to wait all day until I got home to see the pictures. One of my coworkers Birthdays is 9/11 and I felt so bad for him! It definitely was a day that forever affected our lives.

Mindy said...

I was home with my 9 month old baby boy that day. Hubby was driving to work. I was watching the Today show when everything stopped being normal that our lives as we knew them changed forever. I spent most of the day on the phone with Hubby, and crying for those people that were lost on that horrible day...

Tracy P. said...

My kids were tiny, and I am grateful for that. You were at such a challenging age, old enough to know that a really bad thing had happened, that foreign enemies had come to US soil, but not old enough to measure what that meant for you personally. It was hard enough for the adults! Thanks for sharing what it was like for you.

I'm glad there was some humor to make you realize that drama doesn't always materialize.

Paula said...

I remember this horrible day also and plan to post bout my memories on 9-11 this year. Thanks for sharing yours

Julie said...

Great post. I think we'll always remember where we were and what we were doing that day...

earl said...

Many at the Trade center were not warned ,some may have known what was to come.that whole scenario reminds me of some thing i heard lately .
Some people are in a state of shuck with something happens and just freeze up others act instantaneously like am sure many in the building did do save others.There is something brewing right now as we speak.It is war good verses evil .Its not like those we see on the Tele. its for real.But the sad thing is many sit and say nothing.Who are the watchmen are they warning us as the Bible.But anyway God peruses us relentlessly just to save us .He will use whom ever he can find.The point is are we listening.All the bad things that has happened in our our lifetime are indication of The Cosmic battle between God and Satan the prize is Me and you. lets take heed of the signs.

Lilyofthevalley - Tanya said...

Yes, I remember that day! My mom called me to let us know and I couldn't believe it! It was hard to carry on as a normal would have been, I remember not being able to do much that day, but read the news...

Lexi said...

I was in 3rd grade at the time and I remember my teachers tried to tell us what had happened without scaring us too much. None of us really understood; we just knew something bad happened. My mom picked me up from school shortly after and we all just sat and watched the news all day.

Thanks for sharing your memories of that day!

Much Love!

Lexi <><

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings on that dreadful occurrence in our American History. I remember as most people do that I was at work and I received a call from my older son to go to the conference room and turn on the TV. Just as I turned it on, a tower was being struck. I could not believe what was happening and needless to say I did not go back to working, I continued to watch, practically glued to my seat. This hit home when I found out later that one of my former 5th grade students, Carol Delle Femine was killed in the second plane that crashed.

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