I was sitting in the office in downtown Boston as usual when Angie, my then-wife, called me. On August 31 she had surgery, and on September 7 she got some chest pains that they diagnosed as a suspectedpulmonary embolism, so they were keeping her in the hospital for about a week. She was watching TV in her room atBrigham and Women’s hospital, a fairly tall building. She called me to tell me that there had been some accident in New York, that a plane hit World Trade Center (where we had been just over a year earlier, in May 2000 while she was pregnant with our son.
I went to cnn.com and saw a picture of a small black hole. I thought it must been a private plane that crashed into the building, the damage did not look very severe in that picture. But people started turning on radios, and the TV in the conference room was turned on and we tried to get a signal with the rabbit ears. Not much luck, but we got an idea about what was going on. I was on the phone with Angie when the second plane hit the second tower. I could not believe what was going on.
I was online on aBulletin Board System
in Sweden usingtelnet
, chatting with my friends, and we had people watching CNN, CNN International, BBC and the swedish news, "micro blogging" about what was going on, any clues/information that was published, etc. This actually worked very much like Twitter, people send out a message that everyone online got.
We had a friend who had moved to New York a few years earlier with his wife, and I knew he worked in the financial district forLehman Brothers
. I later found out that he worked in WTC 2-3 days/week, but not this particular day. I was asked by some of my online friends in Sweden to try to call him, but of course all the lines were down/busy.
A couple of people at work wanted to go home, they were worried about being in the downtown Boston area. But in the end most stayed and performed they job, they were journalists after all and we started trying to work on coverage of the event from an IT related perspective: backups, emergency plans, etc.
When I went home, the attitude of everyone were different. You did not hear cars honk, people were driving slower, people on the subway train were more polite than usual. This actually continued for a few weeks after 9/11.
I lived right at the airport,Boston Logan
where two of the airplanes took off. I had never heard the area that quite, it was almost scary, like in an apocalyptical movie. I saw a fighter jet in the sky above, that’s it.My mother-in-law was up visiting from the Dallas area, due to Angie’s surgery, and she got stuck a few extra days.
This spooky quietness stayed for the rest of the week, until the first airplanes started taking off again. I was walking from the subway station towards the office when one of the first airplanes took off, right overhead Post Office Square in downtown Boston. I thought people would throw themselves down and take cover, people jumped and then look up with a worried look on their faces.
I realized that I been part of something very special, similar to but much bigger then when the Swedish Prime MinisterOlof Palme
was murdered in 1986 (Sweden’s "JFKassassination" and loss ofinnocence). As others already said, there are some days you never forget. This was one of them.