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Stories from you: Remembering 9/11

On the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, Minnesotans share their stories from the day that changed America.

MINNESOTA, USA — On Sept. 11, 2001, millions of Americans woke up and started their days like normal. Kids were put on the school bus and dropped off at daycare. Husbands and wives kissed their spouses goodbye before heading to work. For a few hours, it was a normal Tuesday morning.

Then at 8:45 a.m., an American Airlines plane flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center, and the world was changed forever.

On Sept. 11, 2021, Americans will mark the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that took nearly 3,000 lives in New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, Virginia.

Each year as a country, we honor the civilians and first responders killed on 9/11, and honor the families and communities still feeling the impacts of their loss.

Everyone has a story from that day — where they were, how they felt, even who they lost.

To commemorate this historic anniversary, we asked Minnesotans to share their own stories from Sept. 11. Below is a series of messages and memories sent to KARE 11 by our viewers and social media followers – a snapshot of what 9/11 looked like for families across Minnesota.

Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with us. Note: Submissions might be shortened or edited by KARE 11 staff.

Debbie K.

"I was 22 at the time and getting ready for work with 'Good Morning America' playing on TV. I thought they were talking about a plane crash and assumed it was one from years earlier, until I saw the second plane fly into the tower and realized it was live. I got to work and realized another one crashed into the Pentagon. I was so scared that day and for days after."

Kim S.

"I had just dropped our 4-year-old off at preschool and heard about the Twin Towers being hit. I was two months pregnant with twins and wondered what kind of world we were bringing babies into. Twenty years later, one of those twins is heading to New York City for her sophomore year at Barnard College, majoring in history."

Linda S.

"I was in Ohio with my daughter and three grandchildren, all under 3 years old. My son-in-law, who was in the Air Force, was in Hawaii at the time.

After the third plane hit, we sat in silence as three little innocent children played, laughed and were oblivious to what was transpiring. Later that day we went out to look for a flag, any size, didn’t matter, just needed to show we were in this together, and needed to unite for America.

There were very few people out, but silence everywhere we went. No one knew how to act, what to do, what to say! Then flags started appearing everywhere we looked. People feeling fear, extreme sadness, numbness – hope that there would be survivors, hope that America would be strong and come together, hope that there was no more carnage to come."

Patty H.

"I was 33 years old and already at work at a childcare center in downtown St. Paul. We had kid's music playing on the radio, so we had no idea anything was wrong until another teacher arrived and told us what she heard on her car radio. At that time we thought it was simply a tragic accident. It wasn't until the center cook arrived that we learned it was worse. I spent my break in the U S. Bank skyway lobby watching the live feed on the TV mounted above the building security desk. Nobody spoke, except an occasional whisper. Later that night, not hearing a single plane after all flights were grounded was eerie – I lived just a couple of miles from MSP Airport and was accustomed to the drone of aircraft."

RELATED: Events commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in Minnesota

Kirby H.

"I was in 8th grade at the time, in Mr. Forstner's class at Humboldt Jr. High. I saw the second plane hit the Twin Towers and watched the plane hit the Pentagon. They let us leave early and we went home and watched it all unfold on the TV. It didn't really hit me until a friend and I went to get gas and couldn't get closer than half a block to the gas station. That's when I started crying in the car. I got home and saw video of people jumping from buildings and started balling my eyes out again. I'll never forget that day. I can recall it like it happened 20 minutes ago."

Brenda H.

"I was in my third trimester with my first child. I had just returned home with my husband from a long weekend in Wisconsin for a wedding and a Packers game. We woke up to it all unraveling, didn’t seem real."

True B.

"I had just turned 7 the day before. I didn't understand why people weren't paying attention to my awesome birthday treats."

Christine H.

"My brother and his wife were in Boston and scheduled to go home on the 11th. When they got to the airport all flights were canceled, and the plane my brother wanted to take flew into the towers. His wife refused to take that flight because it left too early. She saved their lives."

Tracy B.

"I was getting my son ready for preschool and feeding my daughter her bottle when they broke into the TODAY Show to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center. As a former flight attendant, I thought there had to have been a problem with the plane. We sat there and watched in horror as the second plane hit.

I spent the day glued to the TV, shattered, praying for the victims and for my friends that were still flying. I thought about how we were trained as flight attendants on what to do if our plane was hijacked, but no one ever trained us on what to do if they wanted to fly it into a building. I was very blessed that no Northwest planes were involved, and I didn’t lose anyone.

I think we all lost a huge sense of security that day, and I'm sad that my children have never really known a world without terrorist attacks or our country at war. What's worse is that was the last time there was a sense of unity in our country."

Jennifer R.

"It was a beautiful September morning and I was waiting for my boyfriend's mom to pick me up to go have a stress test. I was nine months pregnant and due on Sept. 5. On my couch I watched the second plane hit the towers. As I was having my stress test, a nurse came in to tell us they hit the Pentagon. I went home to wait, and remember the only channel that didn’t have coverage of the towers falling over and over again was Animal Planet. Hours later and with contractions getting closer and closer I went to the hospital and all I could think about was what kind of world I was bringing my son into. He held off until Sept. 12. My one request during recovery was that people brought me movies since the towers were the only news story on network television."

Mark W.

"I was self-employed at the time and didn't have any pressing issues that day. My wife had left for work and I made sure our children were up and getting ready for school. I sent them off and had some breakfast then crawled back into bed to watch the news. At this time the first building had been struck by an object and commotion was being reported in Manhattan. After a few minutes I witnessed the second building being struck during a live shot by a national reporter.

This kept me glued to the TV and calling my wife and friends/family for hours. Before I knew it all the area malls had been shut down and being a procrastinating husband, I had yet to get my wife's anniversary gift -- we were married on Sept. 11, 1987.

We had dinner reservations at Mancini's that evening and they were still open. I'm sure the food was fantastic, but all we remember was a solemn evening where everyone kept an eye on the TV the whole time."

Jody L.

"I was on a flight back to Minnesota from Buffalo, New York, after attending a conference. We felt the plane change direction, and the pilot came on the overhead speaker and said that we were being diverted to Toronto. Somebody on the plane had a BlackBerry and had received news about the planes hitting the Twin Towers. Once we landed, we had to sit in our seats for six hours before getting off the plane, but the Northwest Airlines staff were amazing. The pilot came through the plane to check on everyone. He asked each person if they had contacted family, and for those of us who hadn't, he took our family's phone numbers and personally called them to explain where we were and that we were OK.

Once we got off the plane, we were met by armed military personnel who searched us and our luggage. Northwest arranged and paid for hotel rooms and transportation for everyone on the plane. The taxi drivers, hotel staff and airline personnel were so kind and caring, and apologetic for all that happened. 9/11 happened on a Tuesday and we ended up finally getting on a bus on Friday for a 24-hour drive to Minneapolis. We had issues because we weren't prepared to cross the border and didn't have the appropriate paperwork to get back into the U.S. Thankfully, they were gracious at the border and allowed us to cross by showing proof of our airline flight and ID. Such a horrific event, but we saw such good in the people of Toronto and the staff of Northwest Airlines."

Erica K.

"Our son was born at 1:13 pm on 9/11. The first tower was hit right when we arrived at the hospital. I remember our family and friends coming to visit later in the day and everybody was so sad. We felt guilty for being happy. It was one of the best days of our lives and yet so tragic!"

Heike J.

"I was supposed to fly back to the U.S. that evening. My father took me to the airport we said our usual tearful goodbyes. The huge Boeing took off with plans to land In New York seven hours and 43 minutes later, but instead we landed in Iceland while we heard about the terror attacks in New York. The Icelandic people brought us food and water, invited us to their homes to stay the night. I never have forgotten the moment I heard what had happened. I've never flown again and never will."

Mike W.

"I remember the silence after. Driving home from Augsburg after my classes being canceled. No one was on the road like it was Christmas Day. It was as if someone hit a pause button and life just stopped!"

Francis H.

"I was living in upstate New York at the time, about three and a half hours north of the city. I was working when I heard one of my coworkers crying on the telephone. I asked her what happened and she said her boyfriend saw both of the Twin Towers get leveled after two planes flew into them. I remember an eerie silence in our area for the rest of the day. I actually went to New York with a college friend two days after it happened. The closest we were able to get was about 100 yards within the site, because they were still finding bodies under all of the rubble. Something I will never forget. I haven't been back to NYC since."

Sherry H.

"On Sept. 11 2001 I was babysitting my grandson who'd been born in April of that year. I had the TV on and was feeding him when across the screen came the tragic news of the airplanes crashing into the towers. I was shocked and couldn't believe my eyes. I looked at my little grandson and worried about what kind of life he would have growing up.

I couldn't seem to pull myself away from the TV and watched for days while holding my grandson Tristan in my arms. I needed an outlet and in the evening wrote a few poems. Fast forward to 2021 and my grandson is in the Army National Guard. He was one of the Minnesota soldiers deployed to Afghanistan to help people evacuate."


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