Thursday, 11 September 2014

11th September 2001

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In the middle of August 2001 I was contacted by the friend of a friend. The email started
"Hello, You don't know me, but I was passed your email address and details from a friend, who is in turn friends with a friend of yours. Anyway, I was hoping that you would be able to undertake some genealogical research for me......"
Over the coming weeks, we exchanged several emails, sharing snippets of our lives that were separated by the Atlantic. I delved into the genealogical research they required, shared my thoughts and wrote an email on 8th September 2001 which said that you need to follow the evidence. I suggested a plan and said I was heading to the National Archives in Kew the following week and to let me know as soon as possible if they wanted me to follow the evidence for them.

On the day of the 11th September 2001 I got myself ready to work. I had to undertake a visit to a branch that was due to have an inspection from the local division of the Department of Health. Nothing dreadful, a routine visit and where there was no usual pharmacist on duty through a vacancy or holiday it was usual for area staff to attend. 

The branch in question was located in a medical consortium, which is quite unusual in England, but they do exist. Effectively a group of medical practices, buy land or the building and share general facilities. The waiting room for use of all patients of the several medical practices. In the waiting room was a television for the comfort of patients and this was usually tuned to a news channel or something that was likely not to be controversial. 

I was just about to leave, the official business concluded. We heard a series of gasps from the waiting room and turned to see what the problem was. We of course was greeted with the news of the dreadful events of 11th September 2001. 

Everyone stopped what they were doing. It was absolutely silent as the news unfolded. We stood there in absolute horror, and disbelief. I ensured the staff were okay and after about forty minutes left and made my way home, listening to the radio in the car and then to Sky News once I was home.

I checked my email and there was nothing from my new friend in the US. I did the usual domestics, got dinner ready, sorted my work schedule for the for the next day and my period of annual leave. I wrote a long email to my boss, who had been on leave, giving him an update. Where all our stores operationally stood, the ones that might have issues, the rescue plans that I had put into place as a precaution and many other snippets, that he just needed to be aware of, all the while listening  and watching the news.

I never heard again from my new friend and about three weeks later I heard via the friend of a friend that my new email buddy had lost their life in the dreadful events of that day.

Today is a sad day, not just for America but for the world. People from across the globe lost their lives or had their lives changed that day.  It is fair to say, that from that day the world changed, for everyone, forever.  Everyone will recall what they did on 11th Sept 2001, in the same way as what they were doing when they heard the news that Princess Diana had died, or JFK. 

So today I will light a candle as I have done every year since those dreadful and tragic events.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Julie. It is very moving, especially as we in the UK tend to see 9/11 as a US tragedy. At the time, I was working for management consultants with offices in New York, not in the WTC, but in a neighbouring block. The company lost everything, but no lives were lost. It took 3 days to account for everyone. So today, we should all light a candle, not just for those who died, but also for those who survive x.

    1. I certainly agree with you Leslie. A few years ago I read a book - The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede.

      This was an incredibly inspiring and thought provoking book. The kindness displayed by the population of Gander to so many people who were passengers on the planes that could not enter US air space is overwhelming. I was touched by many of the stories - Orthodox Jewish people, and the the story of the Jewish chap who had lived in Newfoundland since the War years and not told his wife he was Jewish, the lady who left complete strangers in her home to shower inviting them to rest and relax and to simply close the door when they left. The trust of the Newfoundlanders during a time filled with mistrust was amazing. Not to mention the story of the young couple bringing back to the US their adopted daughter and of course the couple whose son was a firefighter in New York.

      Incredible stories, about a day filled with such dreadful news.

  2. Oh, my is a small world--that day touched so many people. I will never forget that morning. It was early here on the West coast. I was reading my Bible in the window seat, when my husband turned on the television...We could not stop watching that horrifying event as it unfolded, praying for those who were caught inside. That day changed all of us.

    1. Thanks Beth for the comment. It did indeed change all of us, sadly we have a generation of people who will never know life before 911 and the scars the events left behind.

  3. Julie,

    Thank you for telling us about how the horrific events of September 11, 2001 affected your life. I'm so sorry that your new friend lost their life that terrible day.

  4. Julie,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Jana, Many thanks for including this post in your Friday Fab Finds.

  5. Anonymous2:36 am

    Whew, it sure is a small world. It's sad to hear about how you lost your new friend on Sept. 11.


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