On September 11, 2001 the world changed. The United States is a young nation. As such, we are not accustomed to German tanks rolling through our cities, Mongol hordes destroying our villages, or living under the yoke of the Roman Empire. Our bloodiest war, the Civil War was self-inflicted. All wars since have been "over there". Even when Pearl Harbor was attacked, the attack was primarily against the military. Our nations collective memory had no real reference for the events of September 11, 2001. As the world unraveled around us, we realized that we were at war.
Today we present the story of the Illinois Review on September 11, 2001. While the publication did not yet exist, the people who write for IR did.
Here is our story. . .
[ED. NOTE: We invite you to share your memories in our comment section below.]
"I rolled out of bed, like it was any other morning, to start my commute to Sears Corporate." George Dienhart
"I was in my coach house reading the morning paper and watching the Today Show on TV. What a glorious, sunny, balmy morning it was." Tony Peraica
American Airlines Flight 11, Boeing 767 with 92 people on board, takes off from Boston's Logan International Airport for Los Angeles. (Foxnews.com)
"I remember that morning like it was yesterday. I was getting ready for
work - brushing my teeth - when I came out to watch the TV." Curt Mercadante
"Traffic to Hoffman Estates seemed light that day- I remember hoping that this would be a sign of a good day."- George Dienhart
American Airlines Flight 77, Boeing 757 with 64 people on board, takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport for Los Angeles. (Foxnews.com)
"There I was reading the morning newspapers-the Chicago Tribune and Elgin's Courier-News--in the kitchen. My four-year old son was in the living room, watching Channel 11, I think."- Cal Skinner
Federal Aviation Administration notifies North American Aerospace Defense Command's Northeast Air Defense Sector about suspected hijacking of American Flight 11. (Foxnews.com)
United Air Lines Flight 93, Boeing 757 with 44 people on board, takes off from Newark International Airport for San Francisco. (Foxnews.com)
FAA notifies NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector about suspected hijacking of United Flight 175. (Foxnews.com)
"I called out 'Hey Owen, I'm going downstairs to get a cup of coffee, if anyone is looking for me' and went to the deli to get a cup of Starbucks." George Dienhart
"As backdrop, Christ Hospital had fired me on August 31 and Good Morning America had contacted me on September 7 to do their show. I was on my way downtown Chicago to file more paperwork with the EEOC, which is very near the Sears Tower and Union Station. I heard about the first plane just before I left home and thought it was an accident. I heard about the second plane as I was getting on the Interstate and knew it was an attack. I decided to keep going, since this was happening in NYC.- Jill Stanek
"The Husband had left for work, and as I enjoyed a cup of strong, black coffee, I smiled as I relived the previous evening's Nutrition class. We had done one of my favorite exercises, in which I had students analyze ads for weight loss scams from the National Enquirer and other tabloids. On the other side of several pages, were articles about Chandra Levy, a Washington intern for Cong. Gary Conditt. She had been having an affair with him, and was missing. Her story, along with shark attacks, were THE stories that summer."- Teri O'Brien
American Flight 11 crashes into north tower of World Trade Center. (Foxnews.com)
"On the morning of 9/11, he (Eunice's husband) came in our bedroom and woke me and said, "A plane crashed into the World Trade Center." I was curious and, needless to say, concerned about the people on the plane as well as those in the tower.I assumed it was a valid accident. I got up and went to the kitchen to watch the ongoing episode. Mouth open, eyes watering, I said "Oh my God."- Eunice Conn
"Sears has TV's all around the building, mostly used to disseminate information to employees. Today was different CNN was on all the TVs. I can't publish what I said when I saw the smoke pouring out of the building and heard the CNN commentators. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that this wasn't an accident. I ran back up stairs to call my wife."- George Dienhart
"The beauty of the morning was put on pause as a plane crashed into the first tower. I stood in front of the TV transfixed, not blinking. It is an accident, I thought."- Tony Peraica
"The Chicago sky was so, so blue and clear that day, and I kept watching the Sears Tower on my way in to the city imagining it being hit by a plane. I just couldn't.- Jill Stanek
United Flight 175 crashes into south tower of World Trade Center.
"I finally got a call through to my wife. She said her friend had called and told her to turn on the TV. As she was asking me if I had heard about the "accident" the second plane hit. She tells me, 'My God a second plane just hit'. I hear the Fox news announcer in the background. He states that this may be intentional. I hear my wife start to cry and ask "Who could possibly do this?" I think back to the USS Stark and answer "Bin Ladin"- George Dienhart
" The anchors on the chatty news show interrupt their banter to mention that "there seems to have been some sort of incident at the World Trade Center involving an airplane." I thought back to my trip 6 weeks earlier. I was returning from Los Angeles and an appearance on NBC's "The Weakest Link." Interestingly, while on that return flight, I had a little incident of my own, involving some bonehead sitting in the wrong seat, and then having the audacity to put his hands on me. You can read about it here. Then, they cut to a live shot of the World Trade Center, just in time for me to see UA Flight 175 hit the building."- Teri O'Brien
I rarely watch Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, but they were on the screen and reviewing taped footage. Showing the smoke boiling out of the first tower, we all watched as the second plane flew into the second tower. Disbelief, but absolute resolve that our nation was under attack. The enemy at the time was unknown. " - Fran Eaton
"I parked in a tower and noticed everyone was heading for Union Station. I was definitely going against traffic. The EEOC closed just as I arrived, and they said Sears Tower was being evacuated. I'm not sure that actually happened, but that was the word on the street. I went back to my car and there was a huge line cars snaking up stories and stories within the parking tower to leave. With only one attendant, they were still collecting parking fees! I was so mad.
I called my husband, who worked downtown, and asked if he wanted me to pick him up. Neither of us still fully understood what was going on. He said no, he had a meeting."- Jill Stanek
"I immediately called our new daughter-in-law and asked if our son was on his way downtown on the train. She knew nothing about the tragedy in New York. I repeated some of the rumors wildly circulating and the fear that the Sears Tower would be next, I told her to get a hold of our son who works in the same block. A few minutes later he called me from the train headed downtown and asked what I had heard. I repeated the grim news and then told him not to leave the train, but to stay in and return home on the train. When he arrived at the LaSalle station, people were already pushing to get on the train and get out of the city." - Fran Eaton
American Flight 77 crashes into Pentagon. (Foxnews.com)
"I'm still on the phone with my wife, I can't bring up any news websites on the Internet. She says 'Oh God, they hit the Pentagon"- George Dienhart
"The Today Show was on, and the camera was focused on the smoke billowing out of the first tower. Katie Couric and Matt Lauer surmised that it was a fire. Others heard rumors that it was a plane. As the were talking, the second plane hit. Was it an accident? Pilot error? Was there a problem with air traffic control? So much confusion - hard to believe what had really happened. Then more news came ... a plane down at the Pentagon."- Curt Mercandante
"Another plane crashes into the second tower. It is an attack on America. Terrorists hit us. I thought about passengers on the plane and people in the burning building. Horrific. A strange stillness came over the neighborhood. An eerie quiet. Silence." Tony Peraica
The South tower of the World Trade Center collapses. (Foxnews.com)
"My 3 year old son (having just watched Independence Day) walks into the living room just as the South Tower collapses. He says, "cool", thinking he is watching a disaster movie. My wife, already in tears, has to explain that this is real, and not a movie. To this day, he still looks like he feels guilty every time someone mentions 9/11. - George Dienhart
"My wife called me and told me to turn on the TV some time after 9. The first tower was one fire. She told me not to let my son watch it. Reports were that it had had been hit by a plane. It was obviously significant."- Cal Skinner
United Flight 93 crashes in a field in Shanksville, Pa., southeast of Pittsburgh. (Foxnews.com)
"The Husband called to ask if I had the TV on. "Yes," I replied, overcome with shock and sadness, thinking that nothing was ever going to be the same." - Teri O'Brien
The North tower of the World Trade Center collapses. (Foxnews.com)
"I'm still on the phone with my wife, I don't think anything would have surprised us at that moment. We wonder if Chicago is safe today..."- George Dienhart
"Then, the second plane hit the second was hit. By that time, I'm sure I was all teary eyed.
People started jumping from windows. They seemed so small as they fell. It was an intensely sad time.
And the sadness remains."- Cal Skinner
"Later in the morning, we went up on our rooftop deck (our apartment was in Lakeview in the city) and there was an eerie quiet. We could normally heard the sound of commercial jets going overhead for their final descent into O'Hare airport. Not today. The sound of commercial jets was replaced by the sound of fighter jets - skimming the lake shore, patrolling the lake front."- Curt Mercandante
"My daughter is let out of school early that day. She is in Kindergarten. We take her home and explain what happened, and that she is safe. She starts crying. How can we make our children feel safe after this?"- George Dienhart
"I went to my daughter's high school, it sinking in more and more that this was a day of infamy. Security was heightened at the school, yet I was the only parent I saw who pulled my child out. I wanted as much of our family together for this eventful day as possible, and I thought it was much more important for her to watch the news with me than stay in school."- Jill Stanek
The empty, 47-story Seven World Trade Center collapses. (Foxnews.com)
A near panic is set off at Sears Corporate (at least on my floor) as a military pilot breaks the sound barrier somewhere above us. What could possibly be happening now?" -George Dienhart
"A few days later, a young man from Kankakee signed up to defend his country in the Army. Four years later, he married our daughter, and is currently enlisted and preparing to return to Iraq for his third tour of fighting the War on Terrorism. Our family's trauma and fear continues today -- but thankfully, thus far, from afar."- Fran Eaton
"We reach an old friend of mine whose sales territory included the WTC. Thankfully, he was not there that day."- George Dienhart
"Needless to say, I never got the return call from GMA. I had to travel to NYC on business on 9/11's two-month anniversary, November 11. I was asked to take a huge poster local school children had made. I took it to the fire crew that lost 11 men, Engine 24/Ladder 5. Two months after the fact, the place was filled with posters from school children just like the one I brought. It was a shrine. Flowers everywhere. Well wishers everywhere. One of the widows was just hanging around. She did that all day, every day. You could tell she was still in shock, kind of manicky and getting energy from well-wishers. Very sad."- Jill Stanek
On September 11, 2001 the world changed for every American, no matter where they lived, how old they were, or how they voted. We became a country at war with a foe that we had underestimated, and often ignored. In the coming days we would learn that we have a strong and resolute president, and that our military has no equal. Many of us would come to understand that this would be a protracted struggle, that would be fought over the course of many years. Our military families felt the sting of sacrifice, as their hearts filled with patriotism, and swelled with pride.
Today, after so much tragedy and triumph, the staff of the Illinois Review would like to pass our condolences to the victims, our thanks, to the troops, and a hearty "God Bless America" to all.