Where you were on Nine-Eleven?

This post was first published as a Facebook note in response to a friend’s note about where she was on the 11th September 2001.

Australia is 14 hours ahead of the east coast of the United States. When it happened it was already the night of that day here. We started the video recording The West Wing, which didn’t start until 10:30pm, and went to bed.

The next morning my husband got up before I did, as usual. This time he came back downstairs almost immediately and said ‘Something’s happened.’ He’d been listening to the radio and turned the TV on to see. By this time it was all over. If we’d stayed up to watch The West Wing we would have seen the first news break.

Eventually we went to work. I worked at that time in a 23-story office building on the Pacific Highway in North Sydney. I was on Level 9, with a desk against the window overlooking the Highway. I could see the sky beyond the buildings across the road.

Everyone in the building was in shock. Very little work was done that day. I vividly remember looking in horror out the window with another woman as a plane came quite low through the sky towards us, which they rarely did. We both held our breaths. We didn’t seriously think that the plane was going to hit us, and of course it just flew over the top of the building. It was the visual image of an aeroplane at that angle. Usually when you see a plane in the sky it’s going from one side to the other, not flying towards you with wings visible on either side. It was months, perhaps years, before seeing a plane flying towards me like that didn’t make me hold my breath.

Even after a few days of seeing the footage of the planes hitting the World Trade Centre over and over again it was still horrifying to watch. It still makes me hold my breath now, although thankfully the TV stations stopped showing it so often.

One night, perhaps the next night, we sat down to watch the episode of The West Wing that we had recorded, and we saw the news break and how little information there was to begin with. They said a plane had hit one of the towers and they thought it was a little bi-plane or something. By the end of The West Wing there was more information, and whatever they had scheduled after that was abandoned as more information, and then the horrifying film footage as it happened, came in. The video had kept recording as I had just hit the ‘record’ button instead of setting the timer.

There were Australians in the buildings that day. Some got out, some didn’t. There were all nationalities, all religions, all ages. The numbers kept going up, and then down as more people were accounted for. It didn’t really matter what nationality or religion they were. We will always remember them, and where we were when we heard the news.