Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

July 14, 2011
September 11, 2001 – 9/11 – is an iconic date for Americans. Most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing on that date.

I was working from home on a gorgeous late summer morning, catching up with CNN and talking to a friend in Manhattan. A third friend – we all knew each other from college – was visiting her and they had plans to go to the World Trade Center observation deck later that day. She abruptly hung up the phone as the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I wouldn’t speak to her again for two days, two panic-stricken days for myself and so many others with friends and family in the city. Some would never speak to their loved ones again.

For most of us, our world shifted on its axis on 9/11, and the way we think about our safety, do our jobs and live our lives changed. Anthrax scares that followed the 9/11 attacks made me more aware of my vulnerability at the time as an editor for a magazine that dealt with homeland security and responder safety. I’ll admit it: I was paranoid for months about every envelope and box delivered to my desk.

I’ll give you another example of how 9/11 impacts me today: The Penton Media building, where I work, is in the same block as the federal building. This afternoon, a perceived bomb threat to the federal building – resulting from the combination of some suspicious packages and a person or persons who evaded the metal detectors and security at the doors – shut down our entire block, making it difficult – and unappealing, frankly – to return from lunch. Before 9/11, all of our public buildings were wide open and we didn’t need to display photo IDs when entering federal, state, county and city buildings, as we do now.

EHS Today will publish a special section in our September issue that talks about how 9/11 changed our lives and the practice of safety, industrial hygiene, risk management and occupational health.

We would like to share your stories with other EHS Today readers. What were you doing on 9/11, and how does that day continue to resonate with you and your workplace?

We can publish your stories anonymously, if you wish; using only your first name and last initial, occupation and your city; or with your full name, title, occupation and city.

Please send your experiences – in 300 words or less – to me at email address [email protected]. Please use the subject line 9/11.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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