Where Were You on 9/11?

20 years ago, America was changed forever. Many of us remember the exact moment we heard about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, we asked the Visionist team to share their memories of that day.

“I grew up in New Jersey right across the Hudson River from New York, you could see the skyline from my town. 9/11 happened when I was in 4th grade. I didn’t quite know what was happening when all of my classmates started getting picked up from school that morning. I remember one of my teachers rushing out of the room, only later to find out she had a brother who worked in one of the towers. That afternoon my dad picked me up and took me to this place called Liberty State Park on the waterfront. I had always gone there as a kid, you would get an amazing close up view of the towers right on the water. That day all I saw was smoke, the most smoke I’d ever seen before and have since. That sight stuck with me as I grew older and grew to understand what happened. I think of my teacher and all of those people often, twenty years later.”

-Daniel Lousa, Software Engineer

“I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was home, outside in the backyard playing with my 2-year daughter, Jerin. We walked into the house, and she asked to watch Barney. And every channel I turned to, No Barney. I thought to myself, “What’s going on? Something is not right”. Then the news of the attack. I picked up the phone to try to call my husband who was active-duty Army stationed at Fort Meade. All the phone lines where down. I panicked. My daughter kept asking for Barney. “There is no Barney. Go play.” I watched the television as the horror proceeded. I tried to call my friend, Vicky, her husband Chris was stationed at the pentagon. I couldn’t get through.  The more I watched the news, the more my heart hurt, and I just sat, held my breath in disbelief.”

-Robin Robinson, Systems Engineer

“I was a retail manager in San Antonio, TX when 911 happened.  I was scheduled to open the store that morning with another manager, Sherry, who was running late.  Her husband was on a business trip in NY city that morning and was on his balcony watching the event take place in real time.  He called to inform her of what has happening.  He told me instead and to have her call him asap.  He got stuck in NY b/c all flights were grounded.  We watched it on TV at the store and an American Airline pilot came into our store on his day off and wasn’t aware of what was happening until he joined us around the TV.  He told us that it had to be a terrorist attack.  Many things happened that day, however, what stays in my memory the most was all of us (customers and employees) gathered around the TV watching in disbelief wondering what next…where do we go from here.”

Tammie Kurtz, Senior Technical Recruiter

“I was getting ready to head into to a newly formed internet startup and turned on the TV at 5:30am to check on LA traffic conditions. The news broke, and to my dismay and horror, I watched what would be the second plane being steered into the World Trade Tower. It was a surreal, life changing moment I will never forget. Our small start-up company of 4 was working with a consulting group to launch a new eCommerce gateway. Unfortunately, one of our consulting teammates lost their life in the towers that day, impacting us all for years to come. It was that moment I decided to shift my work to an industry to help combat terrorism and defend the country. Three months later, I left the start-up world to become a defense contractor to try and make a difference.”

-Greg Van Ginkel, Program Manager

“I was a junior at Western New England College (in Springfield MA) and I was working an on-campus job with the college A/V department.  I remember it being a beautiful morning.   My job required me to setup TV carts or projectors in classrooms that reserved them.  My boss at the time was late (which was usual) and when he came in to work, he did what he did every morning, come in and turn on the radio.  Across the radio they reported that a plane flew into the World Trade Center.  Upon hearing that, we turned on the TV.  Shortly after turning the tv on, we watched the second plane fly into the South Tower on live TV.  I still feel the same shock and horrifying feeling watching videos of 9/11 as I did that day.  

To this point in my life, I had never given a thought to military service. A few months after 9/11, during one of the large engineering seminar classes we had a guest speaker and typically I would barely pay attention to these.  This time we had someone from the Air Force ROTC Detachment at UMASS come and speak about ROTC and eventually joining the Air Force as a commissioned officer.  I listened and thought about it a bunch and it just made sense to me.  I had a multiple hour conversation with my father about it and 5-minute conversation with my mother (she was not a fan).  I felt like this was my way of doing my part and contributing to getting the individuals responsible for this attack.”

Joe Nutter, Senior Software Engineer

I was in my 4th year in college in Tampa, over 1000 miles away from New York City.  I remember rushing to do my Tuesday homework, when a friend messaged me on AIM “Can be you believe this *explitive*?”  I had no idea what they were talking about, so they told me to turn on the news.  I went to the nearest TV to see the picture of the World Trade Center on fire.  Growing up in New Jersey, I remember seeing the “Twin Towers” in the distance.  It was surreal to see them like this.  Watching them collapse was absolutely sickening. Yet, I was glued to the TV until I had to go to class.  As I walked across campus, it was clear who knew and who didn’t.  Some people were in tears, others were blissfully unaware the country was about to change.  That class was cancelled when I got there, and for the remainder of the day my friends and I were glued to the TV.  Eventually we rented a movie just so we can take our mind off of it.  I think that was the day, I started to have the idea I would choose a career that was for the defense of the country.

Andy Festa, Senior Software Engineer

“I had just walked into a heavy canvas tent surrounded by 3 layers of barbwire set up in the middle of the Texas desert for my 12 hour shift.  It was miserably hot that day and we were in the middle of a field exercise that was supposed to simulate the U.S. going to war with North Korea.  At the start of the attack the initial messages we were receiving were thought to be part of the exercise but as the minutes went by we realized what was really happening.  We flipped on the TV and everyone sat around in awe and disbelief at what we were watching.  People started trying to call family and loved ones across the country but networks were so overwhelmed calls wouldn’t go through.  Quickly roads were blocked or jammed with cars to the point nothing could move.  Shortly after the 2nd tower was hit, we received orders to tear down (pack up everything) from the exercise and shift to the one gate leading onto our section of Ft. Hood where our airfield was located and set back up.  We would become responsible for guarding the entrance to West Ft. Hood.  For the next 2 months this is where we would live, rotating shifts across the 12 person squad guarding the gate, checking every person and vehicle entering and exiting 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  The amount of support and gratitude we were shown by the people living on and around base was incredible and something I’ll never forget.  Shortly after we were relieved from that duty we were notified to start preparations for deployment.”

Dan Hudson, Subject Matter Expert

“I was in college in Arlington Va. only 7 miles from the Pentagon. I had a late class that day so I was awoken by a friend banging on my dorm room door. I opened the door only to find her speechless. She ran over and turned on my TV. It was then when I realized America was under attack. Only the first tower had been struck at that time. Shortly after the second tower (as I watched on TV) and then the Pentagon (7 miles from my location). I remember trying to contact my parents, but no communications where going through. All classes were cancelled. My friends and I jumped in the car and headed towards the Pentagon. We circled the Pentagon on 395 and saw the building on fire and the massive response attending to the building and victims. That day affected campus and the surrounding area for quite some time following. I will never forget the events of that day and the aftermath. Never forget!”

-Andrea Louth, Program Manager

Today we remember and honor all of the fallen victims and heroes of 9/11. We will never forget.