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The September 11 Digital Archive

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Smithsonian “September 11:
Bearing Witness to History”

     Story of September 11
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Contributed by: Joanne Hogan
Contributor's location on 9/11: Pittsburgh ( originally NYC)
Contributed on: 7 October 2004

How did you witness history on September 11th?

I remember sitting on the Grand Central parkway, stuck in traffic. I was listening to the radio and they came across with a news alert that a plane had struck one of the towers. Now, they didnít know that it was a commercial airplane. They figured, and I shared their logic, that a small aircraft had crashed and that it was an accident. Then another report came over the radio that it was a large airplane and that the tower was on fire. I kept driving, not realizing the horror that was unfolding only a few miles from me. I was on my way to school for an alumni day, but all activities were cancelled one we realized what was going on. There was so much confusion. Planes were missing and I knew that my Father and Brother were both in Manhattan. We sat in front of the University Center and cried. Cell Phones were not working and we could see the black smoke. I sat there watching TV but knowing what I was really watching was the destruction of part of our city. It was so close but seemed so unreal. The 2nd tower was hit and we sat there in silence as we watched the towers collapsed. Finally they shut down the school and I tried to make my way home, which is in Woodside Queens-about a 20 min train ride away from Manhattan. There was no one driving on the highway. I was actually heading west-towards Manhattan. I was the only car for miles. I got off my exit and the smell just hit me. The air was thick and people were just standing all around. People were dying just a few miles away from us-At this point I still had not reached my mom or brother. I sat outside our apartment and thatís when I saw people walking down Queens Blvd. They were covered in dirt and soot. They had walked from Manhattan. This is how my brother got home that day. I am so lucky to still my brother. He was suppose to be working in the towers that day but had a last minute switch. My Father had not gone to work that day, having completed the last project he was working on which had been in the towers. It was too close to my family. It was too scary and yet we were so lucky. Other families didnít have our luck. People were crying because they knew that someone in their own family had died.

Has your life changed because of September 11, 2001?

Woodside was hit very hard. Itís a working class neighborhood with a long tradition of union workers, firefighters and cops. The days after those COWARDS drove those planes into the towers, were just full of funerals. There was just so much death in our little community. Streets were blocked off so the mourners could form lines and pay their respects. So many firefighters, so many young people. People had I have grown up with were dead. People who had babies and families and who brought goodness into our world were dead. They werenít political people. They were going to work because they had to support themselves. They were living life, going about their everyday routine. All around NYC there were posters of missing people. The TV was full of people pleading to people to look out for their Father, Mother, Sister, etc. This is when I got so angry. To compound it, NYC had become a draw to the curious. Curiosity seekers who were taking pictures of the missing person posters. THOSE ARE HUMAN BEINGS! REAL PEOPLE WHO ARE MISSING AND WHO ARE LOVED AND WHO ARE PROBABLY DEAD BECAUSE SOME COWARDS HATE AMERICA! I would scream at these curiosity seekers, try to get them to understand. There was so much pain in my city, why try to turn that into some sort of a sick side show?!? Fast forward a few months and I loan my sister a book. She opens it up and inside is an address for an office in Tower 1. "Why is this written here?" she asked. Than I told her that was the office which had offered me a job and we didnít speak about that again. She didnít want to wrap her hands around that possibility. It was just too much. I am now closer to my family than I have ever been. Life is too short to have grudges and pettiness between you. You never know when it can all change.

What do you think should be remembered about September 11th?

On every Sepetmebr 11, the names of those killed should be said out loud and their pictures should be every where. It should not fade into the background ever. Please dont ever let it fade because I know that I will carry the anger and pain until the day I die. I dont want it to become a holiday in which people view it as a vacation day and kids are happy. We as a country should never forget the pain but don't let it control us or cower.

Cite as: Joanne Hogan, Smithsonian Story #6849, The September 11 Digital Archive, 7 October 2004, <>.
Archival Information: 423 words, 2191 characters

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