As I'm sure is true for most of us, I have a vivid memory of where I was and what I was doing when I first heard of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
I was a few weeks into my first semester of law school at the University of Arizona, living in Tucson. I had just gotten out of the shower--it was a little before 8:00 a.m. in Arizona, and my first class was at 9:00--when my landline phone rang. I received few calls on that line, and almost none before 8:00 a.m.
When I answered the phone, it was a law school friend of mine, C. C said "Have you turned on the TV this morning? They're reporting that someone bombed the World Trade Center or something." After a few seconds of disbelief, I turned on the TV and saw the first images of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. At this point, no one seemed to know whether what had happened was a tragic accident or an intentional act by persons unknown.
As news reports continued and I learned that another plane had hit the Pentagon, my first thought was for my sister, V, who at the time worked only a few blocks from the White House. I thought that if any place might be another target, it could be the White House. I had a hard time reaching V at first; when I finally did, she said that nearly everyone was leaving the city and that the DC streets were totally gridlocked.
I called my parents and several close friends in other parts of the country to make sure that they were OK, then headed to school. The mood there was somber. TVs had been set up in the lobby, and many students were watching the endless news reports. Everyone was quiet, shocked into disbelief. (A rare thing with future lawyers, to be sure.)
I'll never forget seeing the news footage of those poor people jumping from the building before it collapsed, or the feelings of uncertainty and fear that we all felt as we watched helplessly. Though unlike many, I was never naive enough, even before 9/11, to think that we Americans were truly "safe" from terrorism, seeing events like these actually unfolding was very traumatic.
I suppose I am fortunate in that no one I knew personally was killed in the attacks. Still, there is no doubt that the attacks had a profound effect on our country and life as we knew it. Our world has changed. . . and not for the better.