Nadine Jolie, NadineJolie.com
When 9/11 happened, I was living in New York City – it was the first Tuesday of my senior year at Columbia and a perfect, sunny, blue-sky day. My main memory is standing in my suitemate Brian’s room watching the second plane fly into the South Tower. Both of us stood in shock, unable to comprehend that this wasn’t a silly, stupid accident, but actually a deliberate attack that we were watching live on TV.
My hope is that we will move away from the fear, paranoia and suspicion that have characterized the past 10 years and move toward a heightened consciousness and an understanding that all people—of every country, of every religion—are connected.
Since 9/11, my life has changed in a million ways, big and small. I’m harder-eyed—more realistic about the state of the world and the people in it. On the positive side, I don’t take as many things for granted as I did when I was 21, and I’m much more resilient. In general, I think the same could be said for many Americans. Very few of us are the Pollyannas we used to be.
Vivianne Lapointe, Live Fast Mag
When the first plane hit in 2001, I was in the middle of a college art history class. Another student barged into the room to let us know what had happened. School was shut down and most people went home to watch the rest of the events unfold on TV. I was shocked. U.S. politics in general seemed like a distant murmur back then, but I couldn’t believe what was happening in New York, a city so close to my heart.
I moved to NYC five years later to a very much changed city.
On Sunday, I’ll schedule some time to sit still and think of everyone who had to suffer from this tragedy, but also to commemorate all the heroes who saved innocent lives. I met some of them along the way. Let’s focus on the positive. Don’t wanna go all Cali girl on you, but throw some good vibes up in the air, you know? All in all, I still hope the world can get to a more peaceful state, but I feel kind of helpless about it. The best I can do right now is to stay informed, live in the present and use my editorial voice for a better good. Be safe NEW YORK, I love you!!!
Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean
I remember first hearing about the attacks sitting in AP Environmental Science my senior year in high school here in NYC. Cell phones were down, school was locked down and we struggled to figure out if our families were safe and whether we’d get home safely. A few hours later, as fighter jets flew overhead, everyone ducked down thinking we were being attacked again… I was scared. It was the first time I had felt unsafe in my own country. I also distinctly remember getting home that evening and being so appreciative of the safety of my family.
Thankfully, my life has changed very little since 9/11. While I am certainly more aware of the importance of dialogue and tolerance, I do not live with fear or prejudice.
My main hope is that we will learn to overcome our differences with words and compromise, not hatred and violence.
Diana Heather, Totsy
I was living in Jackson, MS, practicing law and working for Judge William H. Barbour, Jr. — a Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The reason this is a key fact is because before I left for work that morning, I saw the plane crash into tower one on the Today Show and everyone was saying it was a bizarre accident. But, by the time I arrived at the Federal Building in downtown Jackson, the second plane had hit, and that’s when the terrorist talk started. Not long after, we were all evacuated and sent home. I watched TV from home all day, alone and talking on the phone to friends and family, who were all in shock.
My strongest memory is immediately calling the one friend I knew was living in the city at the time to make sure he was okay. I must have called fast enough because he answered; cell service hadn’t yet been over-extended. He was fine, and the irony there is that this is the friend who allowed me to sleep on his couch when I ultimately decided to leave law and pursue my media dreams in NYC a few years later. I’m glad I called to check on him that day; he returned the favor by introducing me to my husband two days after I moved to New York. More irony is that my British husband moved to NYC from London just a week before 9/11 and his family begged him to immediately move back — good thing he didn’t. Guess he was waiting on me. Such a strange mix of emotions when I think back to all of that! Being so far away from it all, yet really not.
My biggest hope for future is that everyone can just feel safe again. I want my girls to grow up curious and unafraid to explore their entire world and all that it includes. And also that those who lost loved ones find a way to be okay.
Charu Suri, Butterfly Diary
I was actually in London, witnessing the towers fall and staring at the TV screen in utter disbelief. My husband was working in New York, and my sister had JUST started her first day in SoHo. A chill went through me as I desperately tried to reach them via phone lines and discovered they were not working and that there was nothing I could do. It was a feeling of utter helplessness.
As to the question, how has my life changed since 9/11: I try to be the best human being that I can be — to realize that life is brief, can vanish in an instant, and to always realize we are here to help each other, no matter what.
Tell us Bettys, what are your strongest memories of September 11th, 2001? How have your lives changed? And what are your biggest hopes for the future?