Mission – Where Were you on 911-01? 5/1/11?

Ground Zero reaction to Bin Laden's Death, New...

Image by Adrian Kinloch via Flickr

Since World War II, our tragedies are still great. Our hopes are still great. The enemy is often less clear.


4,000 people died. A nation mourned. Flags bore witness to our national pride and tragedy.

My mother, always pro-American but still a Dutch citizen became an American citizen. All my hyphen-American friends, found an even greater pride. That would be my Norwegian-American friends, Dutch-American, Canadian-America, and more. All my non-hyphen American friends found their greater pride as well. Americans stopped taking freedom and safety for granted.

We all found fear that day, I believe. Many turned to faith. I went to pick my son up on 9-11 from elementary  school. Waiting in the parking lot, which was eerily deserted, I slowly realized I was a full hour early. No enemy force had attacked Charter School of Morgan Hill. School was still in session.

I had been so focused on not yet knowing if my west coast area, with it’s large cities was a targeted, that I had arrived at 9-10’s pick up time. Only one day ago, the school was on early dismissal. Today 9-11 became the day we would always all remember. A day, that Americans suffered attach on home soil, and that changed everything.

Where were you on 911-01? Tell me.

Where were you on 5-1-11 when President Obama announced “Justice has been done…Bin Laden is dead…?”

Courtesy of MSN.com

On 911-01 I sat and waited for an hour, praying and hoping. Fear and pride.

Fear – I needed to hug my second-grader son, Dakota.

Pride – flags had already appeared on the way to Dakota’s school. Fear – I had already counseled students at Gilroy High School who were in shock. In between these appointments, my Santa Clara County office of education staff and I counseled our own shock.

And where was I on 5-1-11  when I learned President Obama was announcing Bin Laden’s death in Pakistan? Relieved that justice had been done. Sad that justice sometimes means death. Hopeful that this can be one of the “never agains” which the world had hoped for after WWII. Never again, I hope, killing thousands for one man’s twisted will.

So where were you?

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8 Responses to “ “Mission – Where Were you on 911-01? 5/1/11?”

  1. Ann Starke says:

    We were getting ready to go to Kaiser for a dr.s appt when I turned on the television and saw the plane fly into the World Trade Center. Phil and I could not believe it. I cannot tell you how I felt except to say that something died in me that moment. We went to Kaiser Santa Teresa and were told that it had been designated as a trauma center if we were attacked, and to not expect our appointments to be on time. Television sets were all over the place in the offices and there was a palpable feeling of dread which permeated the whole place.
    At home we sat and watched the attacks over and over until we could not stand it any more.
    That night we went out to dinner and there was a tv in the restaurant.

    May 1, we were watching television when I saw something on the television which said that bin Laden was dead. I didn’t believe it at first. Then I turned on CNN and the story was developing. I was elated but cautious. When President Obama came out and gave his speech, I was filled with pride and joy. I was proud of our president for having the courage to take action under difficult circumstances, and I was immensely thankful to those brave Seals who performed brilliantly under unspeakably difficult circumstances. I am very proud of our country that we did not have to resort to bombing innocent civilians in order to kill bin Laden. And we got priceless intelligence in the form of computers and other data which will help us combat Al Qaeda in the future.
    Some of what I lost on 9/11 was restored on 5/1.

  2. 911-01 I was working for the U.S. State Department in Dharhan, Saudi Arabia, just south of Kuwait. We watched it on CNN. Later, the night the war with Iraq began, an American was killed by aterrorist in Dharazhran and another injured. As I was the American Citizens Service office cfor that area, I had to see about sending the dead American home and dealing with letting the injured American’s family in the States know.

    Sorry for the typos. I’m working off my Ipad where I just had a knee operation (which is where I was for911-11).


  3. Sandra says:

    9/11 I woke up to my friend’s voice blurting out something colorful about whoever flew into the WTC. She thought it was a horrible accident. By the time I got ready for work, we both knew it wasn’t. I drove slowly to work, radio on blast, and listened as a stunned reporter described the first tower’s falling. And then the second. Most of us at work that day were numb, but we talked and prayed. I remember watching cartoons that night because I couldn’t bear to watch the network channels. I wanted so bad to be like a child, protected from the news, if only for a night.
    On 5/1 my Twitter feed became riddled with tweets about “Obama,” “Osama,” and “announcement.” My husband, kids, and I gathered in our bedroom and watched and waited. There was no celebration, just the same question that rushed over the country on 9/11. What happens next?

  4. Janneke says:

    AnnGaylia, I forget just how international you are. What were the Saudi’s reactions on 911-01? I have been in Kuwait as a very young child, since we used to live in Iran then. So at age 5 I remember visiting Kuwait, and being stuck in the sand. My impression was one jeep pulled another out of the sand, then that jeep had to be pulled out of the sand, and on it went…

    Like me, and most of us, you were involved with grieving, and I’m sad to see, much more directly involved with the Americans one wounded one killed in Dharazhran.

    The grieving I was involved in was indirect: the teenagers who worried because it was so “surreal”, they worried they didn’t feel something right away… they felt the reality later of course. For myself and other counselors, we thought of every somber thought, and everyone remembered to pray, suddenly faith is/was an open topic. On 5/1/11 I was grateful to be in church, and I was in church on a youth-related Sunday (one I might have skipped) because we had just seen Soul Surfer and I was reminded of how youth groups help so many.

    The elementary students I saw today said that “I’m glad he is dead, because he hurt a lot of people. But I don’t think we should celebrate that he is dead.”

    Blessed healing for you…

  5. Janneke says:

    I just wrote on another post that many of the people of all ages I come in contact with, are not sure we ought to be celebrating, but they do feel justice has occurred. This was a time I wished I was already on Twitter to know what it’s like to see so many comments about what matters to the safety of our nation. I too wonder, what’s next.

    Your comments about wanting to be like a child on 911-01, yes, I remember that feeling….

  6. Janneke says:

    Ann, I am catching up on my news reading, and share your pride that the U.S. did not bomb many to attempt to kill one man. You remind me of the sense of dread that 911-01 brought, and I recall the loss of innocence. Many people lost innocence when we could no longer assumed total safety because of our geographic location and world respect. Terrorism is/was a terrible global equalizer.

    My hope for our nation now is that people will contemplate, think, feel, and wonder about what justice really means. What do we think safety is, and how do we want America to be seen in our world? I remember getting in trouble as a new immigrant kid at age 6 for not saying the Pledge of Allegiance with enough respect. I eventually became grateful that I learned national pride and respect both in Holland (The Netherlands) and America, and I hope we all take it deeper, contemplating what it is to be American, and what it is to seek justice.

  7. I mourn Bin Laden’s life—he desired to “purify” his religion and ended up committing crimes that would be condemned by any religion.

    After 911-01, many Saudi citizens contacted the U.S. consulate expressing their sorrow at what had happened.

    I’m out of hospital, recuperating at home and thankful for prayers. It was an interesting place to be while the Bin Laden story was breaking.

  8. Janneke says:

    Yeah, now I could ask you for hospital staff quotes, while the Bin Laden story was breaking. I bet you heard every comment possible. I am pondering your comment about Bin Laden’s original intentions, and his eventual crimes against humanity. All the Saudi citizens who felt great sorrow, thanks for letting us know.

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