I know these will start going around like wildfire tomorrow, so I figured I'd get a head start.
Where was I on 9/11/01?
I was on campus when I initially heard about it. I was running late to my advanced theater technology class (of course) around 9:00a (I think, Central Time), and saw unusually large numbers of students in the Union, all watching the various televisions. I was vaguely curious, but since the prof already didn't like me and it's hard to sneak into a class of only nine people w/o attracting attention, I didn't stop to find out what was going on. One of the girls in class told me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center, but we all were under the impression it was a small, private plane and it was a freak accident at that point, and didn't really give it much more thought. When the prof came in, though, he said he had been running late because he had been on the phone with his wife about "the news." He started to try to teach the class, but after a few minutes just said "Forget it, I'm going to go find a television," or something like that. At any rate, class was dismissed, but we all went into a nearby office to find out what on earth was going on that was more important than classes. We got there just in time to see the Towers fall. It took us a while to figure out what had actually happened, given our initial, very wrong, impression. Classes were cancelled (I presume, I didn't go to anymore after that, I don't think. I may not have had anymore that day anyway, I can't remember), and I went back to my apartment and spent the rest of the day sitting on the couch with my laptop in front of me and the television on. I think I called my parents at some point, but I'm not sure. I do remember that there was a lot of rumours about going to war, and that since Purdue has a nuclear research facility (non-military, of course), it was a potential target. Purdue also boasts a very large international student community, including a large number of Arab students, and there were instant reminders everywhere that those students had nothing to do with the attack and any attempts at "retribution" would result in drastic punishments. I don't remember hearing of anyone trying to hassle any of the Arab students, so I guess it worked. There was a candlelight vigil a couple of nights later, and a prayer led by local religious leaders - Christian, Jewish, and Muslim - but that was about it. It didn't really directly affect my day to day life, but it totally changed my outlook on the rest of the world. I think I am not alone in realizing for the first time that day not just that we could indeed be attacked on our own soil, but that someone would WANT to attack us. That someone hated us so much that they would kill 3000 innocent people. I've flown many times since then, domestically and internationally (France and Australia), and while I'm not scared of flying or my fellow passengers as a rule, every time now, there is a little voice in the back of my head wondering, "What if it's this flight this time? What would I do? What could I do?" It's a scarier world now.