Where were you on 9/11? Our readers share their memories

There's a reason we see the hashtag #NeverForget in our social media feeds over and over again every year on Sept. 11.

It was a day unlike any other. It was a day that shocked so many of us. It was a day that we truly will never forget: where we were when we heard about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. How we learned of the first plane hitting the first tower. How we reacted when we saw a second plane hit the second tower. And what we thought when we realized exactly what was going on. And of course, we will never forget all the innocent lives lost and the first responders who did their best to save so many.

Even after 20 years, these memories bind us together.

We asked our Facebook followers to share their memories and experiences of Sept. 11, 2001.

Some might remind you of your own memories, and we ask you to please share those in the comments below. We hope these recollections help you #NeverForget how our country came together at such a devastating time.

“I was at work at the Geneva Home Depot. I had just finished my yearlong fire academy with the Geneva Fire Dept. We had a TV with really poor reception but enough to follow what was happening ... I was devastated. I've been a career firefighter/paramedic for almost 17 years now and thoughts of 9/11 go through my mind almost daily!”

— Scott Naylor

“We were at Disney World. Sept 11th is our wedding anniversary. We were at breakfast at Disney's Port Orleans hotel when the waitress told us that a bomb had gone off at the Pentagon. We thought it must be a joke, but then we went into the bar area and saw the TVs. There were several people there who were from NYC. Everyone was just in shock, crying ... trying to get in touch with their loved ones, but of course all the lines were busy. We watched, stunned as the towers fell. Disney was closed for the day as they thought they might be a target, too, so we just went back to our room and basically watched CNN. The next day we decided to go to the Magic Kingdom; we got there as it opened. They had the flags in the Main Street Square at half-mast and were playing taps as everyone stood in silence. It was an eerie feeling to be in the “Happiest Place on Earth” surrounded by people all trying to put a smile on their face to show the terrorists that they could never win and couldn't take away our spirit. However, we didn't stay long before returning to our room. We did try to get a rental car to return to Chicago, but everything was sold out.”

— Stephan Park

“I remember watching the first tower burn on television just as I was getting ready to head out the door to work. Then, listening to news reports on the car radio en route to work. Finally, at work, everyone was in a few conference rooms with televisions watching, by that time, the second tower burn. And then both toppling. And the reports about the Pentagon being attacked. The president of the small company where I was working at the time closed the office for the remainder of the day and sent us home. Reports of the downed hijacked plane in Pennsylvania were what I heard after returning home around lunch. I felt numb and in disbelief.”

— Ryan Morrison

“I was in eighth grade and the first tower was hit during passing period. I remember sitting in my history class watching the attack on the TV. They canceled all classes that day and we went home early.”

— Jen Walker

“I was in college at SIU-Carbondale in my geology lab. A kid came in telling the teacher that New York was being bombed. The teacher didn't believe him and told him to sit down. He kept teaching until the class ended. I went into the student union after the class and saw students huddled around TVs, and then that's when I knew something big had happened. It was a time I will never forget. Now, I'm a school librarian. I'm going into U.S. history classes next week to talk about 9/11 and the impact it has while tying in our wonderful library resources so no kids forget, especially since no one in K-12 was alive during it.”

— Mitch Berman

“I was at work at a local municipality when a co-worker came and said, 'Oh my gosh, put on the TV.' The only TV was a small 9-inch set in our boss's office and he wasn't in yet. I had never just helped myself to anything in his office before, but when I found out what was going on, I opened up the cabinet and turned the TV on. And then the devastation kept happening at other locations. I called my family members just to check on them, and by then more people were at work. We were given the opportunity to go home or stay. Some of the ones with younger kids went home, but I stayed once I knew my kids were OK. There were hardly any residents coming in to do any business. They were all home watching it themselves.”

— Cathy Leschman

“I was at my six-week postpartum appointment with my second child. My nurse's sister worked in the Towers. What would have been a joyful time to see my new baby turned into a somber appointment. She still hadn't heard from her sister by the time I left the office.

— Kristin Franke

“I was in the car taking my son to his first day of 3-year-old preschool when I heard it on the radio. My daughter was in first grade at the time, and I remember her asking me after school why she couldn't go outside for recess if the planes that crashed were so far away.”

— Mary Whiteside

“Junior year English class, the whole school stopped. All TVs went on in the school and time stood still as we all sat silently still trying to comprehend what was happening. So many tears, yet complete silence. Very eerie; a memory engraved in my brain.”

— Kate Simone

“I was in Philadelphia visiting my parents with my children, who were 2 and 3 months old. We were due to fly home on the 14th. My dad drove the three of us to my uncle's house in Pittsburgh. My husband met us there to bring us home to Chicago.”

— Leona Rochford

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