Friday, September 9, 2011

Where Were You on Sept. 11th? How Has It Affected Your Preparedness?

My 9-11 Story: The Young and the Clueless

The morning of September 11, 2001 dawned bright and lovely in the large Midwestern city I was living in at the time. Well, as bright and lovely as it can get in a ozone-filled, back-to-back-car-jam-prone metropolis. Hubby Dear was in his second year of medical school and I had a newly-minted teaching license and was working at an inner city magnet school.

My first hour class began at 8:10 central time (approximately 20 minutes after the first plane hit). For some reason, I was a bit late that day and was not in my usual position at the front of my classroom when the bell rang. I ran into another teacher right outside my classroom door. I was eager to get inside to take control of the 35 hormonal eighth graders that would commence to riot if I didn't present myself soon. Mrs. M.,  a grandmotherly, rather flaky English teacher, grabbed me by my arm and said, "Oh, Mrs. Harried Homemaker! I wanted to tell all you social studies teachers - a plane has run into one of the Twin Towers. You should turn on the television." She smiled benignly and bustled away.

"OK. I can do that", I mused. "I'll give my class their quiz and tell them if they do well, we can turn on the TV."  In no way, shape, or form did I have a clue as to what was really going on. I pictured a small plane - you know, like a Cessna or something - crashing onto the side of a skyscraper. I really didn't see what would be historic about a plane crash that occurred so very far away from us, but decided to take Mrs. M's word for it. Heck, I could use an easy day and the TV might just transfix my students to the point where I could get some paperwork done.

I gave my students their quiz and, as promised, turned on the television. The scene that greeted us was far from what I had imagined. What in the heck was going on? It took us a moment to catch up to speed. Really, this is in New York? I didn't think this kind of stuff happened in America.

My students were excited more than anything. Perhaps that's because they had no relatives on the east coast to worry about. Maybe they were hardened to the imagery from watching too many action movies. All they knew is that the teacher was changing her lesson plan and allowing them to watch TV.

I did mention to them that they would always remember where they were when they heard of the Twin Towers tragedy - like my grandparents and Pearl Harbor, or my parents' generation with the Kennedy assassination. Some of them thought that was cool. Honestly, I kinda did, too. The idea that I was witnessing history was a bit intoxicating to this history teacher.

Clearly, I had no idea of the immensity of the tragedy. I didn't know that our nation was under a coordinated attack and that not one but four planes had been hijacked. Over the course of the day, we learned more about what was really happening along with the rest of the country. It took me a while - probably until I became a mother a couple years later, now that I think about it - to really grasp the enormity of what occurred.

 Did 9-11 Lead Me to Prep?

Remember when this was in the news? 

Well, considering I didn't start prepping until 2010, 9-11 didn't have much of an effect in that area. I continued living in that happy land called Denial. You know, the fairy tale land where nothing bad could ever happen to you or anyone you love? Do you remember when they created the Dept. of Homeland Security and started giving instructions on the use of plastic sheeting and duct tape? I totally ignored it. Nothing major was going to happen again in the USA, much less the Midwest, and certainly not in MY lifetime! In my opinion, Hubby Dear and I had all the trappings we needed to succeed and be happy and preparedness had no part of it. Nowadays, I measure success and happiness by a different scale and preparedness is part of the fabric of our family.

So, 9-11 isn't the main reason why I prepare, but the tenth anniversary of that horrific event reminds me to hold the course. We don't know what the future holds, but we do know that as long as we live, we will have the need for food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. I can't do much personally to stop Al Qaida, but I can certainly provide the simple essentials of life for my family.  

So what's your story? Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001? Did it affect your preparedness? I'd love to hear your stories. 


  1. Funny enough, I was also in an 8th grade classroom, but mine was an English class. :) I remember that I had my planning period and had stopped at the library to get on the computer. Everyone was crowded around the only TV that actually had channels to watch. I just couldn't believe my eyes. The bell then rang, and I had to get to class. I remember trying to carry on as usual, not wanting to freak my students out. I actually didn't start prepping until about a year ago, so like you it didn't get me started-- but I do see it with totally different eyes now.

  2. I am not american, I am Icelandic but I remember exactly where I was, I walked out of my gymnasia social studies class into one of the student lounges to grab some coffee and the TV was on. The entire student body skipped the rest of the days classes and crammed into the student lounges for the remainder of the day. The schools rector made the rounds to the lounges around lunchtime announcing a blanket pardon for all absences that day.

  3. Kimberley - Sounds like you were a more responsible teacher than I was! I didn't think about not freaking out my students.

    Kit - I never considered that people from other countries would have been glued to the TV like we were.

    Thanks to both of you for sharing!

  4. I was at work in a electronics repair shop, and one of the technicians ran out of his office yelling "Turn the tvs" of which there were 3 out front waiting to be picked up by customers.

    It was a harrowing day, as we watched the events of the day non-stop. My boss, Larry, hid out in his office crying; hell, we were all crying... To this day, remembering it brings tears to my eyes.

    I was raised to be frugal, but I've been more diligent about the prepping since. The writing on the wall was writ very large that day.

  5. Everyone I know watched news coverage from american stations all day, banks, shops ect basically stopped functioning, the only people I know who where not glued to the TV all day are healthcare professionals, cant really take breaks in the middle of surgery. There seemed to more of a group shock mentality during 9/11 than even the Breivik massacre which seemed to elicit a more personal type of shock (Norway being one of our closest neighbours) as a lot of people have been there or have family living in Norway.
    During 9/11 I had not started prepping but it is to much of a remote possibility here but the Breivik massacre kicked my preps into hyperdrive until I stop gapped a few glaring holes in my preps. It is something I feel is more likely to happen on our tiny island and if something like that happens I am hunkering down for a while.

  6. Oooh and sorry about my Bad English, it is my third language after Icelandic and Danish and when I am tired it gets a bit haphazard, I am not even attempting french or german tonight.

  7. I really DID buy plastic sheeting, duct tape and bottled water to put in my walk-in closet (no windows) after 9/11. While I didn't keep up the prepping, being a rather new Mom (she was 14mo old on 9/11) made prepping a priority so I didn't have to go to the store every 3 days.


  8. 9/11 did get me starting to think about prepping. I bought plastic sheeting and duct tape and some gallons of water and put them in the closet. Now we've built a home in the country with security cameras and a panic room/storm shelter and put on window film to prevent break ins. We have a large storage room for food and supples, but the contents have dwindled down to little at this point. A few weeks ago I learned to shoot the shot gun. We're getting there and for me, it started with 9/11.