Where were you when the planes hit on 9/11

September 03, 2006|by TERRY HEADLEE

For my generation, it was a day that will live in infamy

I'm talking about Sept. 11, 2001, the day that seemed to forever change our sense of security in a deep and profound way.

That Tuesday morning, while many of us were either at work or driving to work, the first of four planes completed their suicide mission by crashing into the World Trade Center.

I was sitting in my office at the time, scanning through the overnight barrage of e-mails. At that moment, one of our editorial assistants, Mia Hoover, walked in and said something to the effect: "I think you need to know that a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center."


I got up and walked out in the newsroom to make sure The Daily Mail editors knew about it for our afternoon edition.

Someone turned the television on in our conference room. It was then for the first time I saw smoke coming out of one of the twin towers. No one knew what type of plane it was. I thought it was a smaller commuter that went off course or a private plane being flown by a nut trying to commit suicide in a very public way.

It never occurred to me it was a commercial jet liner - until of course - I watched the second one crash into the other tower on live television. This was beyond a coincidence, I thought.

"This is a terrorist attack," I said out loud, like I'm sure many of us did.

The airplane crash story already was going on the front page, but the second strike changed everything. The front page of The Daily Mail was remade several more times that morning by copy editor Bob Fleenor after the Pentagon was struck and a fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Then one, and finally the second, twin tower came crashing down as America, by then glued to television sets, watched in horror.

Like most of you, I certainly won't forgot that day. Many details of that day are as vivid today as they were when they occurred nearly five years ago.

We will be publishing a two-day, fifth anniversary package of stories about Sept. 11 next Sunday and Monday.

As part of our commemoration coverage, we would like to include accounts of where you were and what you were doing at the time of the terrorist attack. What did you do? What were you thinking at the time?

We'd like you to e-mail us your story for publication in our newspaper and on our Web site. You need to include your name and town where you live. Please include your phone number, which won't be published.

Send your comment to or to If you don't have e-mail, then send a fax to us at 301-714-0245.

Thanks ahead of time for your participation and for your willingness to talk about a sensitive topic that many of us think about often.

It's a tragedy for sure that many of us will never forget - nor should we.

Terry Headlee is executive editor of The Herald-Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7594, or by e-mail at

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