Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

Compiling readers’ memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The "Empty Sky" memorial to New Jersey's victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
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Ron Fournier
Sept. 11, 2013, 8:58 a.m.

War was on my mind.

I had just fin­ished post­ing last night about Pres­id­ent Obama’s speech on Syr­ia and stepped out­side to clear my head with a ci­gar, glan­cing at my iPhone out of habit. It was a few minutes past mid­night – Sept. 11. The memory of an­oth­er Septem­ber day gave me shivers and a sud­den urge to listen to the Alan Jack­son trib­ute, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turn­ing That Septem­ber Day).”

I found a video of the song on You­Tube and tweeted: “It’s 9/11. Where were you when the wor(ld) stopped turn­ing that Septem­ber Day? #Re­mem­ber.” The song is beau­ti­fully writ­ten, packed with evoc­at­ive lyr­ics in­clud­ing a line that I pos­ted im­me­di­ately after the first tweet. It’s a sad test­a­ment to all that has fol­lowed since the 9/11 at­tacks, a re­mind­er of when we were less weary and worldly. “I’m just a sing­er of simple songs. I’m not a real polit­ic­al man,” Jack­son sings. “I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you the dif­fer­ence in Ir­aq and Ir­an.”

The first reply came from @Timothy­O­Don­nel2 who simply and power­fully tweeted: “I was wear­ing this.” He in­cluded a link to a pic­ture of him­self – in a mil­it­ary uni­form.  Sit­ting in a dark corner of my back­yard, read­ing and re-read­ing four words sent to me by an ut­ter stranger, I quietly wept.

Later, I changed the hasht­ag to #wherewerey­ou. Sev­er­al read­ers ask me, “Where were you?” The short an­swer is I was in the White House on 9/11, the last ci­vil­ian evac­u­ated. The long an­swer will wait for an­oth­er day and place, but Mindy Fletch­er knows part of it. A long­time ad­viser to Pres­id­ent George W. Bush, she worked at the De­part­ment of Justice at the time. “I re­mem­ber ex­actly what I was do­ing when the 2nd plane hit,” she tweeted. “I was on the phone with you.” Her second tweet: “I didn’t know then, but a war that would de­ploy my hus­band twice and take the life of two of his cous­ins” had star­ted.

Hun­dreds more memor­ies poured onto Twit­ter. A sample is be­low. Read more at ht­tps://www.re­belmouse.com/wherewerey­ou/ or scroll through my Twit­ter feed, @ron_­fourni­er.

I’d like to hear from you: Where were you when the world stopped turn­ing that Septem­ber day?

Contributions by Matt Vasilogambros

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