Where Were you? Where Will You Be?

Where Were you? Where Will You Be?


There are very few events that occur in our lives when we remember exactly where we were. The Pearl Harbor bombing, the JFK assassination, the Challenger explosion, and, most recently, the September 11th attacks. My grandparents could remember Pearl Harbor. I wasn’t born when President Kennedy was assassinated, but my parents remember it clearly. I was in fourth grade when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up right after take off. I can remember our teacher rolling into our class the old tube TV after it happened so we could watch.


I very clearly remember the September 11th tragedy. I was in my third year of dental school and I was sitting in a classroom waiting for a pharmacology lecture. Two of my friends walked in to sit down by me and told me that an airplane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I just assumed it was a small plane that accidentally hit the building. But their mood and demeanor clearly showed it was something worse. They said it was a passenger plane and it was not an accident. At the moment, it felt like the world changed. The oral surgeon that was teaching our class that day came in and tried to articulate what had just happened. He paced back and forth while he did, and was clearly distraught. Most of us in the class hadn’t seen the video of it yet, but none of us were focused on pharmacology.

The rest of that day was a blur. I was in Milwaukee and the tallest buildings in the city were evacuated. The Sears Tower in Chicago was also evacuated. When I got back to my apartment that night after school my eyes were glued to the TV, as I’m sure most people’s were. I couldn’t focus on studying or any homework. I called my mom that night and when she answered she started crying. It was a tough day, as most of you reading this probably remember. When President Bush went live on TV that night, I remember feeling somewhat consoled, but many things haven’t been the same since. Too many lives had been taken. These tragedies were thrust upon us. We didn’t get to pick where we were or who we were with.


Those tragic events can be contrasted with many memorable happy events also. Events such as the Berlin Wall being torn down, our favorite sports teams winning championships, and, of course, Star Wars are memorable for better reasons. With The Force Awakens being released in a few short months, for the most part we can pick when, where, and with whom we see it for the first time. How incredible is that?! It is not often that we get to craft our memories. We still don’t know how much we will enjoy the new movie or how we will react to it, but I do know who I plan on going with and how many times I plan on seeing it the first weekend.

Last month, I wrote about how amazing this Star Wars journey has been for me so far, and the movie hasn’t even come out yet. Now as we get closer to December 18 it is all starting to feel real. Force Friday has come and gone, we should have a full trailer in the next few weeks, and Star Wars merchandise is everywhere. It feels like 1999 all over again, but better. I never thought I would have a chance to experience this with my family. And with all the tragedy that happened on this date 14 years ago, many bright spots emerged. Hopefully, with all the turmoil in the world today, Star Wars: The Force Awakens can give us a bright spot to look forward to.

What do you remember about September 11th? What are you most looking forward to with The Force Awakens release? Email me at ryderw@coffeewithkenobi.com or contact me on Twitter @ryderwaldrondds. Thanks so much for reading my blog. I always appreciate it. You can also find me on the Idiot’s Array podcast. And most importantly, remember:

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  1. Lisa
    September 11, 2015 at 11:21 Reply

    Thank you for this fantastic post, Ryder! On 9/11, I was at home getting ready for work. I was putting on my make-up when I heard about the first plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. I had our local Chicago-area news on the TV, and mild curiosity seemed to be the general mood — since no one had any clue what happened, and there had been a parachuting prank of some sort at the Statue of Liberty the week before. Everyone assumed it was a small single engine plane, a stunt gone wrong, or the like.

    I was sitting on the couch eating my cereal, watching the live coverage from New York, when I noticed a plane on the right side of the TV screen heading for the second Tower…. Then, the unthinkable. Everything changed. We all knew what happened, there was no longer a question of it being an accident, or a fluke.

    I saw the entire thing play out live on TV — and was very conscious of the fact I was watching people die.

    Reports of the attack on the Pentagon, unconfirmed reports of a plane crashing in a field in Pennsylvania… The Twin Towers disappearing from the skyline….

    After the second Tower fell, I had to leave for work. A few hours later, I called my boss and told her I was closing the shop and going home — since there was not a single person shopping that day. On the way home, gas stations were packed, everyone was terrified. I was relieved to get home.

    All these years later, and it still feels like yesterday. I can’t imagine how it feels for the loved ones left behind.

    It is reassuring to remember, of course, that we all have good things to look forward to — and the good forever outweighs the bad (even if it doesn’t always feel that way).

  2. Junior
    September 11, 2015 at 16:14 Reply

    I’m new to watching the Star Wars movies, and the best thing about them so far has been seeing how excited my family is while watching them. I’ll most likely be seeing The Force Awakens in the theater and my son is so excited!

    Thanks for the good read, Writer 🙂

  3. MediocreJedi
    September 11, 2015 at 17:08 Reply

    I was just finishing a long-term training exercise with my platoon (and several hundred other Marines) at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California. My company was due to leave via bus for the airport that morning, to fly back to Camp Lejeune, NC.

    I was shaving when I heard that the first plane hit, and we all thought it was just a bad rumor – there was only one TV operating that time of the day at the lonely outpost camp we were in up in the desert of the training area, and it was in the gym. We heard it was real, and that no one was flying out that day – or anywhere in the U.S. My wife (then-girlfriend) was living in Boston (where the flights had originated from), so my first mission was to get hold of her and advise her to take a cab rather than the “T” (subway) or bus, since they’re more likely terrorist targets.

    I got my platoon together to tell them what we knew: nothing. They listened quietly, and I asked if they had questions. One Marine asked, “sir, are we going to… go get them?” I told him that we didn’t know who “they” were, or where “they” were from – so no. However, since we’d just finished desert training, we were all ready to go with everything we needed, and we knew it.

    Over the next few days we learned what we could, and supported our brother and sister Marines who were from New York (a LOT of Marines are from New York). Some of them hadn’t been able to get hold of their families yet.

    We flew out of California a few days later. The military charters civilian airlines to move huge groups like ours, so it was a military-only flight from Victorville, CA. The funny thing was that they forced us to pack our bayonets, Ka-Bar knives, multitools, pocket knives, nailclippers, etc. in our checked bags – but the pistols, rifles, and automatic weapons we hand-carried aboard the plane were fine. Huh!

    When we returned to Camp Lejeune, it was a changed base. Lots of barbed wire, armored HMMWVs sporting machine guns at road intersections, and clearly more activity. Everyone was prepared to deploy if necessary.

    Needless to say, military life changed quite a bit on 9/11/01.

    Semper Fidelis (“Always Faithful”),

  4. Mike MacDonald
    September 11, 2015 at 21:18 Reply

    I had just come in from a walk and turned the TV on. I saw the second plane hit on live TV. I watched it slowly approach the tower and thought, “why does it look like it’s flying so close? Why haven’t they closed the airspace?” And then it hit. I was on a layoff from my job and spent the next week in front of the TV. All I could think about was the fact that I live across a river from a major US city and that anything could happen. I think Canadians feel that a lot of things that happen in the world aren’t going to affect us but this was a game changer. We are allies, we are neighbours. I feared for, well, everyone.

    Sept 11 has a second meaning for me as well. My wife’s grandmother died on Sept 11, 2000. Gram lived with us and we still miss her. My Star Wars Room is actually her former bedroom. As always though, Star Wars has helped me through even this as last year, on the 14th anniversary of Gram’s passing, Amy Ratcliffe featured my Star Wars collection on Star Wars.com.

    I look at that as a perfect tribute to Gram.


  5. Jay Krebs
    September 12, 2015 at 08:32 Reply

    Ironically, I’m writing this at 9:11 a.m. Saturday…

    I love reading everyone’s stories. It proves how connected we all really are with this event, and with each other.

    I was at school, typical day of teaching. 2nd period calss had just started when one of my students came in late. When I asked him for a pass, he told me he didn’t have one, but that he was in the library watchng the news about a plane hitting one of the twin towers. Once the news spread around school, it was difficult to keep a “normal” schhool day going.

    I ran into a fellow teacher in the staff restroom later in the day. She was crying, explaining that her sister-in-law was a flight attendant, so she was very scared and worried about her.

    By lunch, the stories of reports were flying everywhere. I was 7 months pregnant with my younger son. I remember hearing about a report that a woman in the second tower, 7 months pregnant, had to go down 72 flights of stairs to get to safety.

    My older son was just 9 months old. He is now a sophomore in high school, and my younger son is in 8th grade. Time has passed so quickly, but we should never forget.

    Your blog makes me wonder what the people and beings of the galaxy were feeling when the holonet reported things like the start of the Clone Wars, the Jedi purge, Palaptine’s initial conference with the galactic senate after he was “attacked, scarred and deformed” by the Jedi, and the events thereafter, including the destruction of Alderaan. I wonder how the Imperials spun that one to the media…
    Those beings strung across the galaxy were just as connected with their worlds as we are with ours. Some moreso than others, of course.

    Thanks for a great read, Ryder! Looking forward to catching the next Idiot’s Array!



  6. Jay Krebs
    September 12, 2015 at 08:38 Reply

    geez, just noticed I spelled “school” wrong one time…darn tablet keyboard lol !

  7. Melinda
    October 13, 2015 at 12:34 Reply

    A moving post, Ryder. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I do remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard what had happened 14 years ago. However, I will keep those thoughts to myself. I will always remember … however, I choose to look toward the future. There are quite a few momentous occasions coming up, and “The Force Awakens” most certainly is among them. 🙂 If all goes well, I hope to go to the midnight viewing (even if I have to go alone; it won’t be the first time I’ve done that), but even better than that will be seeing it with my entire family (at some point between Christmas and New Years). Both my girls will be home for the holidays, and at some point, we have vowed to see a Star Wars movie together — something we have not done since “Revenge of the Sith” hit theaters.

    I can’t wait! 🙂

    Thanks again. MTFBWY 🙂

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