My used-to-be-executive wife was working in Manhattan at the time.
Here, at my office, someone in an adjoining cube had just shouted out that a plane had hit the trade center. My first thought was of a little cessna type thing and perhaps the pilot had a heart attack or something. I tried to log onto a news site - but the internet was slow.
Before I could get any real information I recieved this email from my wife.
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 9:22 AM
"a few minutes ago, a commercial airplane crashed into the world trade center. the plane was flying directly above park avenue...it passed directly above my head as i was walking from grand central. i couldn't believe how low it was flying, and then i saw the billowing smoke from downtown.
absolutely horrible. ambulances, firetrucks, and helicopters are everywhere, racing down town."
My attempts to call her cell were futile. So I replied to her email:
I heard the pentagon has been hit... can you get out. I can't call you!!!
I sat staring at my monitor... waiting for her reply.
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 9:56 AM:
"yes, the pentagon was hit too.
i heard the plane that i saw was highjacked from boston.
they've shut down lower manhattan.
they're also shutting down the subways, airports, and bridges.
i can't call you.
call [our sister in law] and find out when my parents' flight gets in."
I heard from her once more that morning before she began the long trip home.
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 10:04 AM:
"i am going to try to come home now."
She spent the next several hours, I found out later, running for trains, being evacuated, waiting in the streets... looking for a way out.
We had no further communication until she finally got home around 4 that afternoon.
I was waiting on the porch, I had just hung up our flag.