On 9/11 I was at work and my boss the President was on vacation in Bermuda. My phone rings and it’s one of the other Vice Presidents calling me all excited on account a plane hit one of the WTC towers. She didn’t say it was a full sized passenger liner and being she’s one of those easily excitable types, I’m thinking it must have been a little piper cub or something and go back to work. Then I hear someone say a second plane hit the other tower and I realize something is happening. There was a TV in the main lobby and employees had started gathering there to watch. I saw both towers fall on live TV and can still remember the emotion of thinking I just watche0d what was probably thousands of people die, though of course we wouldn’t have known how many at that moment. I just knew that those buildings might have 100,000 people in them on a workday. Then the news is broadcasting from Washington DC and I see smoke in the background but the reporter is talking about NYC and I’m thinking something else just happened. It was the Pentagon of course. With the order to land all planes everywhere, people in the Sales & Marketing Dept start calling all of our sales reps around the country telling them they are authorized to use any means to get home and just charge it to the company, or to hunker down where they are and charge it to the company, whichever they were more comfortable with. The President calls me from Bermuda just to check in and make sure all of our employees that were traveling were OK. Sometime during all this that morning I call my wife and tell her the country is under attack, turn on the TV. At no time did I think we were personally at risk given where we lived, nor did we think our kids were at risk. Our son was a day student at a boarding school that stayed open so he came home at his usual time (in 11th grade and had his own car). Our daughter had gone for the day to some dance class in the outer suburbs of Boston. We figured she was far enough out of the city that she’d be OK if something happened in Boston. My wife tried calling her anyway but couldn’t reach her. Amazingly she never heard anything all day at the dance studio. Apparently the office towers in Boston had been evacuated just in case and there was an exodus out of the city. To speed the flow the Massachusetts Turnpike suspended tolls and were just waving people through as fast as they could but she didn’t know why they were doing that when she got on the turnpike to come home. Over the next several days I spent way too many hours mesmerized in front of the the TV, and in retrospect I realized that that is absolutely not what you should do come SHTF. Get moving and do whatever needs doing instead. The other thing I came to realize is that we shouldn’t have been so casual with the “the kids are OK, no need to get them home pronto”. There could have been a lot else going on that we didn’t know. Prior to 9/11 I was a bit of a prepper I suppose but I upped my game at that point and began prepping in a more purposeful way.
As for Kennedy, I was in 5th grade but my classroom was in one of the academic buildings for the town’s new high school. The population of the town had exploded from 5,000 to 35,000 in 10 years and they couldn’t build schools fast enough. Mine was one of four 5th grade classes being housed at the high school in a building they didn’t need yet. So over the intercom comes an announcement that the President had been assassinated. Of course the high school kids would know what that meant but us 5th graders had no idea what the word assassinated meant. I could tell from the look on my teacher’s face that it was something real bad though. He of course then explained it to us. School didn’t get out early that day because in a sprawling suburban community virtually no one walked to school and the logistics of an early closing wouldn’t work. On the bus going home that day, the driver stopped several times to shout to bystanders what had happened. I remember him doing that a couple times as we drove through a golf course. People out golfing wouldn’t have known back in those pre-cell phone days.