Fifteen years ago, the morning of September 11 started as a bright and beautiful late summer day across Indiana. As I did every morning, I took my dogs for a walk, planning my day, thinking about phone calls to make and letters to write. I returned home to get ready for work, help my daughter on to her school bus, and take a quick look at the news while I dressed.
Then at 7:46 everything changed. We changed. America changed.
Solosez is the ABA-sponsored e-mail list of solo and small firm lawyers. At the time, it was an electronic community of more than 900 lawyers, helping each other with legal questions, sharing jokes, bickering over politics. Fifteen years later, Solosez is still much the same, although its growth has meant that there isn’t quite the closeness among its members that there was fifteen years ago.
Like all America, Solosez started September 11 as other work days: postings about bankruptcies, products liability, divorce. But after 7:48, the messages changed. Those messages intimately record the shock, fears, concerns and grief of a nation. Below are the events and emotions of September 11, 2001 as they happened.
Bankruptcy question - You have about about two weeks after the discharge until the case is closed. Sheryl Cramer, Lawton, OK
Subject: Ford recall - Does anyone have any case law about Ford recalling faulty starters? - Jean Moyer
World Trade Center Attack - I am hearing reports that there has been another terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Patrick W Begos, New York
Go to cnn.com or msnbc.com or any news site you can get to. Two jets have crashed into the World Trade Center - one on each tower. There are gaping holes in both buildings and flames are shooting out. Its a horrible scene. I was watching it on the Today Show. A 737 veered into the second tower. Absolutely horrible. I cant believe I just saw this happen. Ross Kodner, Milwaukee
It has also just been reported that another hijacked airliner has also just crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC! ! Alan Pearlman, Chicago
I just passed by the site on the way to my office. There was mass confusion, running and screaming in the streets while flames were shooting out of one of the towers. My office shook as the second explosion hit. Joseph Handlin, New York City
The entire southern tip of Manhattan is now covered with smoke or dust from debris as one of the towers may have collapsed. This is bad, very bad. I have friends near the towers and in the Pentagon. Ed Lawson
I could see the smoke from the Pentagon from the US Dept of Transportation building several miles away in SW DC. Joel R Bennett, Washington, DC
I am two blocks from the White House .... they are evacuating it...sirens all over town. Reid Trautz, Washington D.C.
Reid, there were earlier reports on NBC of a fire at the OLD EOB across the street from the White House. Is that happening? Get the hell out of there! Sterling L. DeRamus
NBC showed footage that clearly showed the top 1/3 or 1/ 2 of the second tower has completely collapsed. It’s completely gone. Ross Kodner, Milwaukee
In NYC the UN has been evacuated. I am no longer receiving TV signals except for CBS and through Cable. Christina Kallas, New York City
Lets all say a prayer for both the victims and those who must go in harms way to rescue survivors and contain the hazards. Jeffrey Allen McCann, Pensacola
My Associate has come into my room in floods of tears saying the Twin Towers have been demolished by a plane flying into them and Pentagon is on fire. As an expatriate I am just feeling very far away today. This is so upsetting. What is going on? Valerie Macadam, Edinburgh, Scotland
ln Houston: Chase Tower evacuated, Enron Building evacuated, and Reliant Tower is to be evacuated next. Arlen M. Driscoll, Houston
Upstate New York District Courts are all closing or closed. I havent felt like this since JFK was assassinated, but this is so much larger. Marion Chase Pacheco, Syracuse
As for Chicago, The Daley Civic Center closed, all suburban courthouses closed, Sears Tower closed. Mass Exodus from the downtown loop back to everyone’s homes ! Alan Pearlman, Chicago
Baltimore Metro Area: Roads leading into and out of the city being closed. Federal Building being evacuated. This is surreal. Eleanor Naiman, Baltimore
Lots of AW/Cs seen in the sky over Oklahoma City. State offices have been shut down. My Mom called and told me to go home. Melissa A. Shomben Oklahoma City, OK
My daughter lives in Brooklyn and drives to work through lower Manhattan. She called that she made it to work and was safe. She had seen both crashes into the WTC and the collapses which have traumatized her. Dick Howland, New York
My former firm, Thacher Proffitt & Wood, had its offices at 2 WTC. I shudder to think how many people I know and worked with died today. Christina Kallas, New York City
Everyone is in a state of disbelief and worrying about friends and family who are stateside. I personally have dealings with several attorneys at Hill Betts and Nash in the World Trade Center, and l fear that I will not see them again. Go home and hug your loved ones. Andy Simpson, Christiansted, U. S. Virgin Islands
The office upstairs represent pilots and flight crews. They knew several people on the planes that went down from Boston, I had friends working next door to the Trade Center and a partner had two relatives working in the Trade Center. Maybe just too close. Ed Lawson
I shudder to think how many people I know and worked with died today. My church has scheduled a prayer service at noon today. I suggest everyone with a religious bent take a moment or two today to pray for the victims of this atrocity and for peace. Charles Kelley
Colleen - Are you okay? I dont know where your office is. . Let us know that you are okay. Saundra M. Gamerove
Has anyone heard from J ay Fleishman? He has an office in the WTC area. Colleen Samuels, New York City
Colleen (and everyone else):- I as well as my entire office staff are alive and well. We are, of course, not in business right now and l don’t know when we will be. Jay Fleischman, New York City
I went to the hardware store - where they had run out of flags this morning but had since restocked. Now my new flag is flying. God bless America. Jimmy L. Vernet; Jr, Dallas, Texas
I am blocking out Friday afternoon to donate blood. I have also made a donation to the American Red Cross. I urge everyone to do the same. I am going to take my daughters to the park now. I need to watch them play for a while. Neal A. Kennedy, Marble Falls, Texas
I am a social worker as well as an attorney. Due to the downed telephone lines I am unable to reach anyone in NY If any organization needs someone for crisis counseling or any other help, please let me know. Colleen Samuels, New York City
Well, I waited for SIX HOURS, but one pint of my finest blood is now sitting at the local Red Cross center. Sasha Golden, Needham, MA
In the weeks to come, the people of NYC will be inundated with forms they will need to fill out. There will be insurance forms, FEMA fomis, SBA small business loan. Lets send a busload or two of volunteers to NYC to help with these forms. Frank J. Kautz, II, Boston
There will be an awful lot of New York lawyers who need fast advice and help on how to get their practices going again from a technology perspective. 1 will happily offer my consulting services at no charge. Ross Kodner, Milwaukee
Washington Rock - General George Washington stood there 225 years ago while the county was under attack and looked across to Manhattan. He saw the British coming. Standing there today, looking across the river, seeing the void in the skyline, showed the work of another enemy. lt was chilling. John R. Parker; Flemington, NJ
I can’t help but keep remembering, over and over, how wonderfully quiet and peaceful Washington, D.C., was when I was there last November. Are those times all behind us now? Gena Holmes
I ask you to join me - Let there be abundant peace from heaven, And lifes goodness for us and for all humanity. He who ordains the order of the universe Will mercifully bring peace To us and to all humanity. Let us say: Amen Jay Goldenberg
Jay, thanks for reminding me that even at the most awful of times, our prayer is for peace. Susan Freiman
On the street, I could see that WTC One was burning from its upper stories; curlicues of paper were floating down, glittering in the light, I saw people running past, some of them crying, as I stood immobilized, watching the flames. Then there was an explosion, and fragments of glass rained down on my head. I saw a huge hole in the roof of a building two blocks from World Trade Center. I began running away from the burning buildings, wondering what would blow up next. I started to walk, looking back over my shoulder repeatedly at the burning towers. Someone behind me shouted, “there are people jumpingl” and I turned to see a black dot, almost certainly a human dot, fall from the top of a tower. A few minutes after I got home I was watching live coverage on CNN as World Trade Center 2 collapsed, then building 1 a few minutes later. I thought of words of a Bob Dylan song:
I 've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests,
I ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans,
I 've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard,
And its a hard rain a-gonna fall.
The glass I picked out of my hair an hour later was a hard rain. Jonathan Wallace