Pictures of Grimaud + conjugation
What does the French word "micmac" mean?

Photos of Roquemaure + souvenir: remembering September 11th, 2001

Angel war monument in Roquemaure, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
Do you believe someone watches over us? Photo taken the town of Roquemaure.

le souvenir (sooveh-neer)

    : memory, recollection

Audio file: listen to Jean-Marc read the example sentence below: Download mp3 or Wav file 

Hier soir, nous avons regardé un film en souvenir des attentats du 11 Septembre 2001.
Last night, we watched a film in memory of September 11th, 2001. 

The latest edition of Pronounce it Perfectly in French is out. Click here

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Seven years ago we came to a fork in the road of our French existence. Jean-Marc was floundering at his job as an uninspired sales rep for an Italian company selling wine bottling machines. As for me, I was holding on tight to the coattails of my writing dream. But a proposition my husband was about to make threatened to put an end to both of our careers:

"Et si on déménage en Californie?" he ventured.

To this day I wonder what our life would have been like, had I not talked Jean-Marc out of the idea of moving to the States and, instead, reminded him about his own dream of wine-making. (Admittedly, the encouragement given was also a way of safeguarding my own nascent vocation--as a chronicler of French life.)

Jean-Marc soon quit looking for jobs in the California wine industry (he'd discovered the town of Healdsburg and was smitten), and happened upon a vineyard for sale in the town of Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes, where we spent the next 5 years of our lives--he picking grapes and making wine--and I chronicling a fast-paced life in the slow-poke countryside. What a ride.

Still no regrets for talking my husband into deepening our French roots, though I do sometimes wonder what life would have been like had we offered our children a chance to grow up in the States. By now one of them would be a senior in some California high school, and the other would be celebrating her upcoming Sweet 16 as a Valley Girl might.

"I know 16 is a special birthday for Americans," Jackie hints, hoping to cash in on a smart phone this year.

"Oh yah, Smartie Pants? Just how do you know so much about American culture?" But I already know the answer to the question--it's all the dubbed T.V. our daughter watches. In any case, the reality in our house is we don't do birthdays like the Kardashians!

Which reminds me, now, what it is about France that pulled me close in that decisive do we stay or do we go moment: it's something about French modesty (apart from necklines and swimwear, of course)... and history. These two things are beautifully represented in a gift my mother-in-law received, at about the same age as Jackie.

"That year I received an orange." Though my belle-mère remembers it bitterly, the flicker of gratitude is still bright in her eyes. Her father was a prisoner of war, and her mother struggled to make ends meet, hawking linens out of her truck in North Africa. Under the gritty circumstances, it was a privilege to receive a gift at all--and to this day my mother-in-law can't eat a clementine without remembering her family's struggles.

Perhaps that is what draws me to old France: more than modesty, it is remembering. Here is where the word souvenir takes on full meaning.  More than a trinket brought home from a tourist trap, a souvenir is a heart-filled remembrance and a timeless honoring. It whisper "We will never forget." On ne vous oubliera jamais.

This week my own country--and people all over the world--are remembering September 11th. Last night, as I watched the film "Vol 93", I remembered the hair-raising telephone call, received twelve years ago....

A Dutch neighbor, who ran a local café in Les Arcs-sur-Argens, rang me. Her voice filled with empathy, she asked, "Have you heard the news?"

*    *    *

I meant to write about our parallel life, or what things would have been like had we taken the other direction at that proverbial fork in the road. Instead, things ended up here--neither in California or in Ste. Cécile, but here, with this souvenir de 11 Septembre

Will you join in now, and share: Where were you when you heard the news? 

Comments welcome here.

Corridor or porche in Roquemaure, France (c) Kristin Espinasse

The photos in today's post were all taken in Roquemaure, France, in 2010.

Diamond and blue window in Roquemaure, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
 Diamonds and shutters.

l'Ecole Buissonnière restaurant in Roquemaure, France (c) Kristin Espinasse

The restaurant is called L'Ecole Buissonnière, and the term faire l'école buissonnière means to play hooky or skip school.

Lace curtains at the produce stand in Roquemaure, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
 Lace curtains at the green grocer's and cageots, or crates, of produce.

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While my daughter and I were on a plane from New York to Frankfurt, we were not informed by the captain of the events that that just happened in New York until we had landed. My heart almost stopped - my other daughter and her husband living very close to the Twin Towers - were they safe... We did not continue on to our final destination, watching with disbelief, fear and horror the scenes flashing up on the airport TV screens - frantically trying to contact my daughter and her husband - finally receiving a call from my husband that our US family was safe but they had lost many friends who worked in the Twin Towers, WTC, - it was truly a most horrid event. We are thinking of all of those who lost their lives and of their family and relatives living with their loss.


... and Thank You, Kristin, for remembering!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
We were living in Brussels, Belgium and I remember getting a call to go and pick up our kids from the Brussels American School. I was really scared and we went back home and watched the news. The kids were then riding to school with armed guards on the buses for the next few months. My husband and I visited NY and the 9.ll Memorial and it is very moving. I took a photo of one of the panels with the names of some of the people who perished. I have their names memorized and I pray for them each week when I attend Adoration.

Donna Knight, near Atlanta, GA

I was, at work, just north of Boston, MA when a co-worker asked me to turn on the television. We both watched with horror filling our hearts. One of the planes had left from Logan airport! We knew something was terribly wrong, then we saw another plane fly into the building. My co-worker was from Africa, and I remember her words of warning, that "you Americans need to listen and understand how other countries feel about you..."
I think this was the first time I became cognizant that there were people who hate the idea of America and its freedoms enough to create such an horrific event.
This event changed my life. I think it changed all our lives with a rude awakening to our naivete.

Bill in St. Paul

I was sitting in my manager's office, probably talking about work, when another manager came in and said an airplane had just crashed into the Twin Towers. We went into one of the training rooms where they had the TV on and watched the second plane crash into the Towers. It was so surreal and felt that we were watching a movie, not an actual crash. However, there were images on the screen that told us this was actually happening - it's difficult to bring back those memories.

Cathy Toner

Who will ever forget...I was getting ready for work and was listening CNN in the background listening in horror of what turned out to be a day that changed America. I'm a Canadian and I feel sick for our neighbours to the south every year on the anniversary of this terrible event. God bless you all and the families who have lost their loved ones . Thanks Kristen for remembering in your heartfelt blog.

Elizabeth Jones

I was rocking my baby girl to sleep for her morning nap when my neighbor called me knowing I was a New Yorker living in North Carolina with lots of family and friends in New York. I put Olivia in her crib and turned on the news. I will never forget the bizarre experience of hearing Peter Jennings uttering words of disbelief as he reported and we both witnessed live on the screen the second plane hit the towers.


I was working as a school nurse in Lancaster, PA not far from the nuclear plant Three Mile Island. I was on my computer with my daughter who worked near Paris as Flight 93 was overhead in PA possibly heading for nearby TMI. Her ILOG co-workers were her support team in France. They shared our anxiety and truly acted as if "they were all Americans" that awful day. Her boss suggested she take the next day off so she could be with her family even if only online and on the phone. However, I was expected to be at work that day...

Marie La Salle

I am from Long Island NY but I live in Marietta Georgia. I was working on my computer when my business partner called that a plane had it a building in New York. Right after I put on the TV the second plane hit I called my sister on Long Island - my brother and my brother in law were in the city that day. As it turned out everyone I knew I was safe but everyone was touched very deeply they lost the soccer coach, the teacher's husband, the guy that lives down the street, all the neighbors that were fireman.
The motto of Quebec is Je me souviens. NYC too, after 9 / 11

Heather in Arles

Thank you for this, Kristin. It is interesting to hear other's stories--how compact they are, like well-worn worry stones.

Ruth Hartz

My friend Claudie was visiting me from Paris and we had gone to New York the day before. "Et si on visitait les tours du "Trade Center". On m'a dit que c'est un beau spectacle". And we did looking up from the Second Avenue Deli...
We could not believe our ears and sight the next day...back in Philadelphia.
She was unable to fly home for 5 days.
A very fine student of mine who worked in the Towers (after graduation) perished that day.
C'est comme si c'etait hier...

Sue J.

we were in St. Tropez. it would be several days before we could fly home to our children.


The husband of a friend of mine in NYC worked in the twin towers but on that fateful day he was taking a client to play golf. Most of his colleagues perished that day.
Another friend of ours was living in NYC near the twin towers area and was always on the subway section that was destroyed but he was running late that morning.
We were blessed to know 2 people that God spared that day.

Thank you for your post on 9-11. It is good to remember so it does not repeat. Our job is to pray that it won't happen again.

Blessings, Sherry


I was teaching Spanish at a private school in Lancaster PA. I still remember how the school librarians put a TV in the middle of the library so teachers could come and get news in between classes. The internet was down and cell phone service was down. My own kids were in their 3rd and 5th grade classrooms. Parents started arriving to take their kids out of school, but many parents could not leave work and so school continued. In an early afternoon school assembly the head of school explained to the kids what was happening. I can still feel the eyes of those kids looking at us teachers as he spoke, seeking reassurance. It was such a sense of responsibility for all those children, not just my own, that made me stand there calmly.


I was getting ready for work, when my youngest son called. He had just seen the news on CNN, and was shocked. So was I. I turned on my TV, and minutes later, saw the horror of the second plane crashing into the other tower. I remember that we talked constantly, but I can't remember a thing we said. I called my other two children; my daughter was in the Air Force and stationed in California, and My oldest son lived in Florida. I remember that we talked of little else at work, and it was as though we were all sleep walking. That feeling persisted for days. I remember being proud to be an American, and proud of our president for his leadership, honor, and humanity. Whether people were for or a against the war that followed, they mourned the loss of life, and wept for people they never knew. The tragedy and horror of those days briefly brought us all together as a country, and a people. I will never forget that day, and the images that are seared into my memory.

Donna Grieder

I am from Jersey City, which is just across the river from lower Manhattan. We watched the towers go up and were able to enjoy the sight of them for years. Driving up the New Jersey Turnpike that first sight of that skyline said 'home'. On 9/11 my sister was on the last train that entered the WTC ( World Trade Center ) station. She recalls that people were running out and that there were newspapers and cups of coffee dropped on the ground. She rushed along with the crowd not knowing exactly what was happening. My husband was in the city for business and our daughter was a student at Columbia ( so far uptown that they heard nothing ).
I was driving home after dropping my sons off at high school here in Texas. I turned on the car radio just in time to hear the ( usually cheerful) announcer say " ...go to your television to see this unfolding tragedy: one of the World Trade Center towers has been hit by a plane and is on fire..."
My first thought was of the firefighters who would respond...


One of your best posts ever! Le souvenir of that day will remain forever. September 11, 2001 was a day that should have been filled with joy for our family. We were getting ready to drive our daughter to her new life as a freshman at Northwestern University in Chicago when we saw the planes hit the towers. Horrible!


A lifelong New Yorker, on 9/11 we were living temporarily in Milwaukee. Given the time difference, I was in bed, laziliy listening to the news, when the first plane hit. I thought it was awful but probably an accident. When the second plane hit and it was clear it wasn't an accident, I jumped out of bed and turned on CNN. I spent the day stunned and sickened, crying on the phone with people back in New York. My husband's office gave up all pretense of work and gathered around the TV; if I'd had a functioning brain I'd have joined them, rather than be alone.

My father died three weeks after 9/11, and the funeral was in New York. We flew home and stayed with a friend who lives maybe a mile from Ground Zero. As we walked around the city we could smell the acrid smoke that hung in the air; every building was draped in bunting, and every shop had posters in the window with images of the firefighters and/or lost employees. My college roommate worked in Tower 2; by dumb luck she was late that morning and so survived.

When we came back for a visit maybe three weeks after the funeral, we went down to Ground Zero, which was still smoking. The vision of the wreckage is seared into my memory. But so is the memory of all the kind people in Milwaukee who, knowing I was from New York, offered condolences, as if I had suffered a personal loss through the attack. As indeed I had.

I have never been so proud of being a New Yorker.


hello Kristin,
We just had return on the Island of Vinalhaven , ME , having dropped our daughter to her most wished boarding school in Concord MA , after 3 years in Paris, a sacrifice for us ! ( we were to return to Paris later at the end of Oct after parent's week end ).We had 4 calls that day the first one from our daughter saying he school was going on lockup, and she was a bit frightened . Then from each one of the son of my husband. I just had time to pull out and old TV and after learning the incredible destruction of the Ist tower we witnessed the second exploding completely shocked, for one second I thought this is the end of the world ... wen I saw people jumping out ....
Then for 3 days no phone calls at all; not one from France ..I later learned that the communications had been taken over by security. My family trying to call wondered until I could reach them if we were safe, we were the lucky ones.
In october after seeing our very happy daughter , we boarded a plane almost empty , it was very spooky and weird,but we felt confidents. I guessed a lot of people got frightened to fly then .
This is the first time that I felt the strange power of resilience in my own life after so much devastation around us as we learned day after day of casualties in our connections ..... you just keep on going ...


You need a post from a Washingtonian! I had just finished teaching the first period at my private high school. On my way downstairs, a colleague pulled me into the faculty room to watch the news. So many rumors flying and we had no working phones! The students were terrified for their parents as we started hearing that bombs had gone off at the Treasury and the CIA. I will not forget that the tv news reported all those rumors! I was unable to reach my family and was hearing that it would take hours to get home--how would I get to my daughter? Luckily, teachers are amazing people (as we've learned too often in tragedies recently). At my school and at hers, teachers with no children volunteered to stay into the evening until parents could get there. Many of us simply had to abandon our cars and walk for hours to get home.

Janet Laffitte

We were living on our boat in the South Pacific, having chosen our own fork in the road - this was our second two year cruise with our 3 boys. We left for our first two year cruise when the boys were 8, 6, & 3. The second time, during this event they were 14, 12 & 9. On September 11, we were sailing in the islands of Vanuatu. We had email capabilities restricted to 10 minutes per day by our provider. Two emails were downloaded, one from my mother and the other from my husbands partner telling us of the World Trade Center demise. We could not receive images so it was hard to comprehend the gravity of the situation. For some reason, our navigation system stopped working. We assumed the US government shut off all the satellites and we were now "on our own." Fortunately, we made it to our destination, the harbor and Capitol city of Vanuatu-Port Villa. We made our way quickly to shore in seek of an Internet cafe which at that time was a rarity in a third world country. I think the deepest memory I have of the tragedy are these: we were far from anywhere but in a crowded anchorage with yachts that had sailed from different parts of the world, each flying their own country's flag of origin. Every foreign yacht came by in their dinghy to each American flag flying yacht (which included us) to give their condolences. It was as if all barriers were dropped and we were a country of one. Secondly, the locals or natives had a different reaction. The US occupied Vanuatu during WWII. Their memories appeared to be positive for they asked when the US was coming back to protect them. As a side note, my youngest son was born on September 11 so although I don't forget, I choose to celebrate his life instead.


I love the Roquemaure statue. With two grown children, I am well acquainted with guardian angels how hard the work.

Annie Amundsen

I live in PA and had just gotten into work, retail store, when my colleagues told me a plane flew into one of the towers. My husband commutes to NY and I could not get into contact with him. He goes first to his gym club early in the morning, that building was destroyed later. Then he took the subway to his office. When he was in the subway under the towers, first one got hit by plane. He did not know what had happened till he got to office and saw people running in the streets. He took ferry to NJ in afternoon. The city was closed off with no buses or trains, and there he got a ride from a policeman to Clinton, NJ. This was in the meantime midnight and I went to pick him up there with my youngest son sleeping on backseat. I was so glad to see him and have him back home safe!

Marcia Douglas

I had put my children on the bus for school, and driven to the local gym to exercise in Lafayette, IN. As I stepped up on the treadmill, I noticed everyone in the place had come to a full stop and I looked up at the TV screens and saw the first airplane hit one of the towers. That's where I was on September 11. I'll never forget it and I remember I cried for at least 2 weeks whenever I would think about it.

Marcia Douglas

And I remember the 'silence' in the skies for some weeks after that. A sound not heard since before the invention of the airplane.


I was at work in Washington, DC - just across from the Capitol. My co-worker had heard the news and had a tiny TV at her desk, and we watched, thinking like others that it was a small plane that had accidentally hit the first tower. We watched in horror as the second plane hit and as the tower came down. All kinds of rumors were flying in DC that morning - of explosions down the street, bombs in the Metro. Shortly afterward, we could look out the window and see smoke rising from the Pentagon, and we knew the country was under attack. It was a long slow commute home that day. As in New York, many walked home. The Metro was closed for a long time, but my friend knew how to negotiate the city buses and I eventually made it home, to be glued to the TV for the next 2 days, hoping in vain for survivors.

Our little town of 800 families lost 7 that day, including a family of 4 (2 small children) on their way to a temporary work assignment in Australia and 1 who worked in the Pentagon.

I often wonder where the plane that went down in PA was headed - was it the Capitol?


I never have my television on in the morning, preferring early morning quiet and solitude while sipping coffee and reading the paper. That morning, however, a friend, in town visiting her daughter, called and asked me to turn it on. For the next 12 hours I couldn't move from that spot. It was incomprehensible. The previous year we had been living in France, flying back and forth, never a concern. That July my husband passed away, 2 months to the day, and now every year when 9/11 comes I feel this overwhelming grief, for losing him and for all those souls who perished that horrible day. And, for years afterwards the 'first' thing I did in the morning was turn on the television. This event has had an enormous effect on our country, tout le monde, in the way we think and the way we live our lives, even in the most minute ways... C'est tragique.

Caryl Witt

Dear Kristin
Thank you for opening this dialog. I was watching the news with the rest of the world when my son called to say, "We think Uncle Bob (Robert Ploger) was on the plane that hit the Pentagon." Bob and his new wife Kendra were headed to Hawaii on a delayed honeymoon. The day turned even darker when it was confirmed that they were indeed on American flight #77.
I traveled to France in 2002. When asked if I was an American, many of the wonderful French people actually gave me their condolences for our country's tragedy and loss. So, two days ago, our country and many around the world again honored all those who lost their lives on 9/11.
As a last note, Bob's talented daughter Wendy, was instrumental in designing and implementing the 9/11 memorial park outside the Pentagon.

Kathleen from Connecticut

I was teaching my class when a student came in and asked to turn on the TV and said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I had a hard time believing this but we put the TV on and that was the end of all teaching for the day. Students gathered around as we watched the second plane fly into the building. We sat there horrified, not believing that this could be happening in NY.
Then the Administration had the audacity to tell us not to put the TVs on. I never shut mine off and students keep coming into my room to watch. We consoled students who had parents in NY and tried to help them contact them. The Administration wanted classes to go on as usual....crazy!
I have friends who were there and didn't know what was happening, but were running for their lives to get away, all the while seeing people, body parts, etc. which to this day still traumatizes them.
A year to the day, my husband and I were in Caen at thePeace museum where they had a piece of the WTC on display. It sent chills up our spines. Everyone should visit this museum...what a fantastic insightful museum.
People don't learn...they still hate...wars continue...when will it end?



I was mowing the front lawn, when I heard a load "boom", and thought it might have been blasting at a quarry nearby, even if it did sound louder than usual. A moment later, a neighbour walked by with her dog, and said "have you heard - an aircraft just ploughed into the Pentagon".We are in Northern Virginia, about 30 minutes from the Pentagon. That must have been the "boom" I heard. I ran indoors to tell me husband, and he was watching the horror unfolding in New York also. A dreadful day.

Phil Restifo

On 9-11 I was in my office on Lexington Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. I can never forget that brilliant, sunny Tuesday morning in New York. My assistant walked in with news that a small plane had flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, which was visible to us in the distance. She had gotten this information from a news broadcast on her desk computer. We looked out but could not see anything wrong.
Minutes later, information was coming through that the plane was in fact a large passenger jet, not a small plane, and that it had been a terrorist attack. We saw flames engulfing the North Tower as everyone in our office gathered in front of the nearest window with a view to the south. Soon thereafter, the Tower disappeared from sight as news of its collapse was broadcast around the world. I was receiving emails from my cousins in Turin, Italy, who were watching the events of TV; they wanted to be reassured that I was safe. It was an event that in its tragic unfolding united the entire world.
Several days later, I took the Lexington Avenue subway to Fulton street, to observe for myself the outcome of the destruction. When I emerged from the station, I was confronted by a scenario unlike any other. Every surface was covered with two or three inches of ash and dust resembling a nuclear winter. The hulking remains of the twin towers stood silently as workmen prepared the site for eventual demolition. The fence in front of St. Paul's Chapel, part of Trinity Church Wall Street, was covered with flowers, and remembrances. Salvation Army choirs were singing "Amazing Grace" in the street. Groups of victims' families were being escorted by police to the site of the tragedy. Amidst such devastation, it was difficult to imagine how New York could ever recover.

Tom - Jersey City

The night before I flew home from a business trip into Newark Airport on American Airlines. I always take pride in the flight path down the Hudson as it passes Manhattan. The view is spectacular! I was sitting next to two guys from Calgary, Alberta. It was their first time to the NYC area and they were excited as I pointed out the various landmarks on our approach. They had intended to visit the city Friday and Saturday as their work assignment was in New Jersey.

The next morning I was in my office on a teleconference when my assistant came in to tell me a plane had hit the WTC. I thought it must have been a small-craft, perhaps a tourist plane gone awry. My call ended and I went to the TV in our area to watch the second plane hit. Then we heard about the plane hitting the Pentagon.

The first thing I did was to phone my mother in Florida. She was out walking with a friend so I left a message telling her I was home and safe. Then I said "Now turn on the television and you will see what is going on." My airline is American and in my job at that time I was traveling 70% of the time.

Two of my sisters later phoned my mother and said "Where's Tom?" She was able to reassure them that I was ok.

My youngest sister was teaching in a classroom in Petoskey MI at the time and had a sixth sense that something was wrong, not even yet having heard about the WTC disaster. She left her classroom in the hands of an assistant and went to the principal's office to phone my mother. My mother filled her in.

The CEO of our company closed down the office telling everyone to go home and be with their families. We didn't know what would be next. I opted to stay because I would just be alone and hung out with a few of my colleagues. I phoned the Red Cross and offered my home and my medical services but alas there was need for neither.

Two of my colleagues lost their husbands. Others lost cousins and best friends. The sorrow was palpable as we, citizens of the metropolitan area, had direct ties to the disaster.

One of my direct reports was in Chicago and couldn't get home. She was frantic and wanted to be with family. It took her three days to get a rental car and drive back.

A couple of weeks later, we had a national meeting staged in New Jersey. The venue for one of our meals was a restaurant with an incredible view of Manhattan. The 30 ft. windows were covered with draperies so that the view of the still smoldering towers would not be the center of attention.

Another of my colleague's sister was head of SPCA in New York City (the pet protection and shelter). One of the big issues the city faced was rescuing and adopting out all the dogs and cats those who perished had left behind.

I have lived in Jersey City right across from the WTC for the last four years. We have a memorial two short blocks away naming the people from our city who died. There was and remains a lot of sorrow.

Jenny Barton

I am a Brit now living in the Luberon in France, but before I retired I worked for an American company, the Oracle Corporation, in the UK. I remember hearing someone outside my office talking about a small plane which had hit the WTC, but it didn't sound serious, so I just carried on with my work, although I was aware that there was a good deal of talk and traffic past my office door. When I looked up next, everyone within sight had vanished. I found them all in the building's restaurant, where there were huge TV screens mounted on the walls. With complete disbelief, I saw a TV picture of a tower with a passenger aircraft embedded in it and, just as my eyes made sense of that image, I saw the second tower begin its terrible, almost slow motion, fall. I will never forget the anguish on the faces of my US colleagues as they watched the awful images of billowing smoke and dust rising into the hot blue September sky, and the realisation that people were choosing to hurl themselves into thin air rather than face being burned to death. Those few hours are burned in the memory of anyone who watched.


I somehow find comfort in reading everyone's personal account of that day. Thanks for the forum.

Kristin's CA/France story resonated with me and my own 9/11 story.

As I watched the confusion on the Today show that morning, I immediately called my mother to let her know that I was safe in my Upper West Side home. However my (French) husband, whom I had dragged to NYC a year prior and against his will, had been at work across the street from the Towers for 30 minutes already.

Not knowing what to do, I continued on to my Midtown job just to be followed by hours of walking back uptown, joining crowds along the way listening to unfathomable breaking news from sidewalk radios.

My husband finally arrived many tortuous hours later after having decided to evacuate his office building upon witnessing the first jumpers from the Towers.

Unlike Kristin's and Jean-Marc's fork in the road, our paths diverged. My husband left the City months later to pursue his dream of going West. I love this City and decided to stay.

Brenda Prowse

Thank you Kristin for providing this format. My husband and I are living in Paris-since January of 2013. Although I read all the Facebook accounts my friends in the US posted in remembrance of 9/11, I felt so far from home on that mournful day. In the early morning of 9/11 2001 on the west US coast, my husband was watching the news on television and I was getting dressed for work. I heard the announcer shouting about the first plane crash and rushed into the room just as the second tower was hit. The horror really wasn't comprehensible till hours later. The image that I can never erase is that of people jumping from the towers, falling and spinning. One month later we were in Italy touring a small town north of Rome. How heartwarming it was to have local Italian people, strangers, come up to us, shake our hand or hug us and let usk know how saddened they were for what had happened in our country.

Cynthia M

Living in Germany, just steps from the fence that encircled our American military post, we watched the news as school was getting out. Suddenly most of the moms realized that the post would go to ThreatCon Delta, and no one would be able to enter or exit the post. Fortunately, most of the little ones were already home, but this was one of those times when every mother desperately wanted to have her arms around all of her family. I was overwhelmed the next few evenings, watching the local Germans walk up the hill to place candles and flowers at our closed, heavily guarded gates. How naïve our pre-9/11 lives as military families seem to me now.


My father had died on September 5th and our family had gathered from all over the country at my parents home in Upstate New York. We were grieving and as each event happened that day our world became more and more surreal. Even though we were in a rural area, the world became silent. No airplanes flying overhead, the stores were hushed and people spoke in low voices about their relatives who had gone down to the City, firemen who were dispatched to help with the blaze and search and rescue. I spoke with my family in California and heard that my son was practicing football that day under the watchful guns on the roof of the Marine building across the street. I went home later that month on a nearly empty plane with extra tight security. Our world had changed. It made me aware that there are people who live under threat every day of their lives and that we were no longer blissfully unaware of such violence.

gerry o.

That morning is when I decided to take the TV out of my bedroom. I did not want to ever wake up to news such as this. Many thanks for your writing and the contributions made by your readers. We are all one and must attempt to reign in our politicians to solve every world problem with bombs and drones.
American arrogance is what is ruining our stature in this world. I can truly understand why you live in France. Humility and their sense of history make it a very desirable.
Thank you again for your writings.

N, San Antonio, Texas

Usually I skim over the other comments - not today. I was living in Denver, running late and getting ready for work when I heard the tv news people and saw the pictures of the first tower and then watched horrified as the second plane crashed into the second tower. Less than a month earlier I had dinner at the restaurant on the top of the towers and couldn't help but think of the nice people who worked there. I went into work, WTC building in downtown Denver. Now I realize I was on auto pilot, sticking to routine hoping for some order out of this horrible chaos that was happening in NYC. Our building closed for the day and the churches downtown had special services during the day. Every September 11th I am afraid to turn on the morning news but eventually I do. Never forget and always go on because if we don't terror wins. Thank you Kristin for remembering and letting us all share here.

Julie Farrar

Thank you for such a beautiful piece of writing. I remember thinking on that day as I watched the attack over and over again that the world has changed completely. It has, and not just for Americans who have to take shoes off at the airport. It's changed in world perspectives, growth in suspicions, a new global awareness. This is such a different world since 9/11, both for good and for bad. I just hope that we are able to move closer to the good than the bad. Right now, I think it's anyone's guess which way the world will go.


I was at work, in my office on the UC-Boulder campus, just starting to check work email. My coworker stuck her head in and said, "You must come watch the news." The TV in the conference room was on, and we all just stood there for a long, long time. My boss was on travel in Los Angeles at the time, due to fly home that day, and I ended up spending the morning trying to make travel arrangements with a very sober hotel clerk in LA, and talking to my boss a half dozen times, and all of us trying to be cool and professional. Then I went home and sat and listened to...nothing. No cars. Just the fighter jets tracing up and down the front range, flying patrol.

Jo-Anne Barkwill

I love your blog :)




I was home in central Oklahoma and turned on the news just as the second plane hit. My son called from an oil rig he was working on, after all the planes had crashed. They heard about it but had no real details. He thought the "Rapture" had taken place and wanted to hear my voice because he said he would know then if he was left behind, as he was sure I would be gone. The happenings that day affected him so much that he joined the military. He was one of the first troops to Iraq, and the first to do extended duty, which meant he spent 15 months in Baghdad. So many lives were changed that day. We will never forget the sacrifices of all.

Barbara Penn - Palmdale, California

While getting ready for a 1 1/2 hour trip to Los Angeles to see my orthopedic surgeon, we received a phone call from my brother who said "Turn on the TV'. By then all the targets had been hit. We were horrified. Not knowing whether the terrorists planned to hit the West Coast as well, we nervously went to Los Angeles. The usually busy freeways were almost devoid of cars. Normally car-packed Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, our destination, was like a street in a ghost town. All the businesses in that area closed by noon and we went home on a deserted freeway We felt as if we were in the set for a doomsday movie. The whole time we kept wondering "Where next?" Thank God, they had finished their dreadful plans for that day and there were no more disasters. Our hearts were heavy, but like wildflowers in spring American flags started to appear at one house after another. Before the day was over a friend from Germany called and offered her condolences. How wonderful that she cared so much.

Sheryl in Denver

I was getting ready for work in Denver when I heard a news story on the radio. I turned on the TV and told my son to come see this plane that had crashed into a building. As we watched, the second plane struck, and my heart stopped, realizing that this was not an accident. I then shooed my son off to get ready for school, hoping to shield him from the evil in the world. I will never forget the images of people jumping from the 100th floor. I cannot imagine their terror.

Linda Hollander

I live in Portland, Maine, where a number of the terrorists departed for their horrific activities on the morning of September 11. My little bucolic city, where nothing ever happens, was suddenly all over the news. I was at home, watching everything unfold, my husband was at work downtown, my daughter was at school. By an amazing co-incidence (although nothing I think, will ever amaze me again) we were all on lockdown for a good part of the day! It was our good fortune to be together by early evening, holding each other close as we watched the continuous bad news.

Sept 11, a day to remember, to reflect on the true goodness of America and to vow to do just a little better every day. Please. No more hate, no more war, no more unethical behavior, just the true human spirit, flying free throughout the land. Please.

Gerry Ventura

We were watching Good Morning America when they switched to pictures of the towers. One had already been hit and the commentators were trying to decide how it had happened . Then the other tower came
into view with the second plane heading toward it. They and we knew it was intentional. Watching the towers fall was devastating. I cried then and found that tears came easily for at least a month after. We never imagined that this could happen in the United States, and yes, this event changed all our lives. The safe, peaceful feelings we had for our children and ourselves was gone forever. Today the entire world suffers the consequences of that infamous day 9/11!

Joanne Ablan

I had a broken arm and recall how helpless I felt. I had the desire
to go into action, to be of help in some way, but all I could do was
cry and pray. I have an American flag, a California flag, a flag for
each of the states where my parents were born, Washington, North
Carolina, and recently, a flag from Normandy. My family history
includes immigrants and veterans (even a WWI recipient of the Navy Cross buried in an American cemetery in England). When I was in Paris last April I visited the tomb of the Foreign Soldier in Père Lachaise Cemetery. My personal belief is that I am free because other people who have gone before me since the beginning of time have CHOSEN FREELY and GRACEFULLY to make a sacrifice of their earthly lives so that I can live the good life I live. The people who died on 9/11, in my opinion, were, regardless of nationality, race, or belief, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS. The perpetrators clearly lost their humanity and we need to continue our efforts on many, many levels to reclaim our own humanity and encourage our neighbors to do the same. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (chacun son goût) and Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. Thank you for the opportunity to speak out without taking a trip to Hyde Park! Joanne, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA.


Are you saying you married a pied-noir from Tunisia? And that's why he likes the S. of France and vineyards? I'm from Africa myself, so I understand. I am a bit puzzled, however. Yous say yr. belle-mere struggled because her husband was a prisoner of war. Which war was that? Because I'd guess J-M was born in the late 60's and I didn't think the arab militants took prisoners.


Our dear Kristi,
You have so eloquently and beautifully expressed what we as Americans felt on that horrible morning. My husband,a (now) retired airline captain, was supposed to have been flying a trip to New York at exactly the same time when the Twin Towers were attacked. It was God's mercy,grace,and intervention that protected him--and our family)--when his flight was delayed.
It is that same grace which gave you the wisdom in deciding your future,Kristi.
God speaks to us in ways that we don't always hear at the time,but bottom line: we DO hear.
Such beautiful pictures only outshined by such a wonderfully well written post toay. Once again you have shined light on keeping faith's inspiration.
Blessings to you and your dear family.
Love, Natalia XO

Mary Earhart

My daughter was at work in the building across from the towers. She had gotten to work early so she could go across to the post-office in one of the towers to mail a birthday gift to her brother, our son. (His birthday is today) Fortunately, she had not yet crossed the street when the first plane hit. The glass in the windows of her building were blown out for 20 floors.She made her way down the stairs from the 39th floor, and was on the ground when the towers collapsed. She made her way home walking to her apartment, got cleaned up, and, as she was head of human resources, went to her firm's mid-town office to start checking on employees. That was such a terrible, terrible day, and our family was so very fortunate.

Virginia Rosen

My husband and I were in Adelaide, South Australia. It was late evening there when one of our daughters , a nurse, called to say she had seen on a patient's TV that there had been a terrible accident with a plane crashing into a tall building in New York. My husband is an American and she thought he would be interested. By the time we had turned on our TV the second plane had crashed and we knew this was no accident. My husband stayed up all night to watch what was unfolding.

When I went to work the next day, everyone was stunned, many crying. There were television sets in almost every shop window with crowds of people watching.

Johanna Huber

I was in my car listening to a radio broadcast that didn't quite ring true and was full of confusion. I went home and turned on the TV and saw what I couldn't believe. A day of horror. Thank you for remembering. Johanna

Karen from Phoenix

My father helped build the Twin Towers, at the time they were hit he was 79, it hit him very, very hard. He wanted so much to go help but was sick and would die 9 months later. I never forget the look in his eyes. He wanted to help so bad. I guess we all felt that way. All of my family and friends who worked near were safe. That is a blessing, but I will never ever forget all who were lost.

I pray for all those families each year.


Healdsburg is lovely but you are much closer to the beach!
Each choice we make colors and carves the memories of our lives.


Thank you for mentioning that day. I was almost at work in Northern Virginia, a couple miles away from the runway where the plane that hit the Pentagon took off. I got to work and they let us leave. I had joined the volunteer fire dept earlier that year and had just started fire school. Now I work with many men who were at the Pentagon that day. They tell stories of the fire, and the rescue's, as well as the sad recoveries. The Pentagon has been repaired, and the Towers are being rebuilt, but the damage that was done that day in our hearts and minds never can be.

Carolyn in Chicago

My father's birthday is 9/11, mine is 9/12. My husband took the week off work that year, to spend time with me. My parents met us for breakfast after we had dropped my kids off at school. Upon meeting up at the restaurant, my husband and I were told of the news by my parents. We still went to breakfast, not yet knowing this was not an accident. We returned home to our TV and remained glued to it for days, all the while keeping the news from our children who were only 6 and 4 at the time. I think it was years before we fully explained it to them, there was no reason in our minds to scare them with this kind of reality yet.

I will never forget the feeling of fear and helplessness that I experienced that day.


I was driving to an appointment near my Virginia home when I heard the news of the "accident" on the car radio. My husband & I had visited the WTT a few years before, so I could visualize this sad event. By the time I returned to the office, the accident had turned into the attack. A TV was running in one room and a crowd gathered around it, speechless, numb, dazed. All work ceased for the day as we dialed our friends and family who lived near the site and clung to the newscasts. A searing memory of incredible carnage.


I was home in Rockville, MD, off for the day awaiting the cable tv repairman when he came with the news that a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in NYC. I quickly turned on the radio, only to hear that the second tower had been struck by a second plane... It had been a beautiful sunny day and and this seemed so unreal... so horrific...

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Thank you, Kristin, for remembering and for providing the opportunity for this conversation. My heart goes out to all who were touched that day.

I was living in New York City, working in the financial district. Upon first news, I looked out my office window and stared at sheets of paper swirling across the skyline like confetti from a ticker tape parade and noticed window drapes landing on a rooftop. Then the roar! The sound of a jet moving 500 miles an hour only blocks from my office window, heading straight towards the south tower and exploding into a huge fireball. In an instant, hundreds of lives lost.

I truly thought this could possibly be the last day of my life. As I headed for home on foot with the crowds, when we again heard jets, heads went up searching the sky trying to pinpoint the sounds and where we should go. There was nowhere to hide, and I gained a realistic perspective of what it must be like for people living in war torn countries trying to escape bombs. Then the USAF fighter jets came into focus, and there was a collective cheer.

Some of what I took away from that day was a new sense of the expression “peace and quiet.” (NYC is a noisy city, but that evening, save for the occasional ambulance siren or the USAF flying cover, you could hear a pin drop. It was quiet, but there was no peace.) The worst of times can bring out the best in people. And, there is no such thing as an ugly day on weather alone without other considerations. We’re all human and have days when we sigh or complain. Yet, when I lived in NY and walked in the financial district, and I heard someone complain that it was a gray or rainy day, I swear I’d receive inspiration from the angel voices of those that perished nearby saying live, LIVE! Today is a great day!


We were at home in Healdsburg, that beautiful town Jean-Marc fell in love with, preparing our son for school. Our daughter, far away for her first year at college in upstate New York, called us with instructions to turn on the television, something she knew we never did in the morning.
As I recall, our son's school did decide to open in order to bring the community together. A special assembly was held for parents and upper school students. The Headmaster spoke of the efforts the school would take to protect our children, yet he acknowledged that the world had changed in unaccountable ways. His pain, as he underscored the uncertainty of the future our children were facing, was palpable. His advice was to continue life, with love, with courage, and with thoughtful conversation.
Thank you, Kristin, for your eloquent beginning to this thoughtful conversation.




Sandy Maberly

I was scheduled to work the ticket counter that day, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for American Airlines. The airport was closed and everyone was sent home, as the skies emptied and all flights were grounded. Several days passed before flights were allowed to operate again. Even though planes began flying, the cabins contained few passengers, as the uncertainty of further terrorist attacks remained in people's minds. In spite of this horror, the airlines remained a passion for me and two years later I trained to become a flight attendant. I flew for the next 6 years, then retired, after more than 25 years in the airline industry. I was saddened by the events of Sept 11th and how passenger planes were used as terrorist weapons but I still believe that flying is the safest form of transportation and I will continue to find pleasure in every flight that I take.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Beautifully written….

I was visiting my sister in San Diego for her baby shower. That morning my sister came running into the guest room where I was still in bed and said, “We are under attack!” I innocently replied, “Do you mean your cat?” That naivety and sense of security was forever changed that horrific day. As others have said, it felt so surreal as we stared at the TV in pain and disbelief. Not knowing when flights would resume, I made the choice to rent a car in order to return home to Oregon. I think I rented one of the company’s last cars available in that area.

Healing began with the stories of the noble acts of selflessness, compassion and courage and continued with the extra consideration and kindness shown by strangers, for out of deep tragedy comes light. Thank you, Kristi, for inspiring this opportunity for remembrance.

M. K. Brussel

Some remember September 11, (1973—50 years ago) as the day that Pinochet, supported by the U.S. government, overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, with disastrous consequences—torture, imprisonment, disappearances— for many in Chile, even more than perished in NYC.

That also should be remembered on 9/11

Suzanne Codi

Because of a small group of terrorists, the world changed that day. I'm so angry that our children and their children will always have fear in their lives. Daily life changed in Washington DC., probably more so than anywhere else in the country. You cannot enter any ( free) museum or public building without going through a metal detector and having the contents of your bag searched. There are policemen still standing outside all around the Capitol area, stopping any trucks larger than a van. Ugly concrete barricades went up in front of many buildings. And one of the worst things for me is being reminded of that horrific day every time there is a perfect, sunny, cloudless, crisp and cool day in september ( like today) because these days are rare here and treasured by many, and for the last 12 years forever linked with that terrible day.
I had just come home from taking our daughter to her second day of first grade. I was on the phone with my good friend Margaret who told me to turn my TV on. After the initial shock of watching the second plane hit , the announcer said the Pentagon had been hit and that the Capitol was the next possible target. I ran up the stairs to look out the skylight in our roof, and saw a long cloud of black smoke coming from that direction. Just then, 2 fighter planes flew over our building ( we are just blocks from the Capitol) and broke the sound barrier, which sounded like a bomb exploding in our back yard. I jumped so high I hit my head on the glass window.
That caused an hours-long episode of uncontrollable shaking in my body, aggravated by not being able to reach my daughter's school or my husband by phone...a totally helpless feeling. It took me an hour to get there ( normally a 20 minute trip), and more than 2 to get home. People were spilling out of buildings and walking home, all public transportation was closed.It looked like a disaster movie, but it was real.
And there were no planes in the sky for many days, I see them from my kitchen window every few minutes normally.
It took a long time to realize that there were no more attacks coming. It seemed like forever before we could reach my family in NYC to make sure they were ok. Ever since that day I understand the physical fear that so many people around the world live with every day because of terrorism. The sense of deep loss is still so palpable after 12 years, and will probably remain with the generation that experienced it. I 'm glad that " le souvenir" will be kept alive for future generations as a warning to be vigilant. As always, thank you Kristi for your sensitive and insightful writing, and for providing this wonderful blog, judging by the responses of your readers, a very needed and helpful one !


On the subject of French remembering and memories, there is a beautiful synergy between the French and the Australians at the battlefields of WW1 in northern France, particularly the Somme. The French continue to be very special memory keepers for many Aussie boys who died there a very long way from home almost 100 years ago.

Ellen from BH

All too beautiful and terrible - the sculpture from Roquemaure, and the stories of love and rememberance from 9/11. I can only remember standing in the shower when my husband told me about the first tower's collapse, and the tears streaming down my face with the shower stream. You did the right thing by staying with your family in France, Kristin, but we know you love and treasure the U.S. too. Thank you for such a special post.


Dear Kristin - it seems you have touched a very personal feeling in each of your readers. 9/11 will be in everybody's mind who has witnessed that day, just like the day John F. Kennedy was shot in November 1963, a day which stands out in my memory like few others. We need to be aware just how precious life is.

Kent Benson

We were on the cruise ship MS Statendam, docked in Ketchikan, Alaska. We were getting ready for our brief excursion in the salmon capital of the world when the captain broke the news, “We will be instituting additional security precautions today due to the attack on New York.” I leaped to turn on the TV in our cabin, “Attack on New York?” Moments after turning on the TV, we saw the horror of the second tower being hit. Needless to say, our excursion was delayed and our trip took on an entirely different tone. The Statendam was transformed from a collection of 500 disconnected strangers to a giant floating support group, with standing room only gatherings in the ship’s movie theater to watch the news reports and pray together for our loved ones and countrymen so far away. It was an amazing feeling of oneness as all the usual human barriers of politics, religion, and ethnicity melted away in the face of shared calamity.


I was sitting in my loungeroom on the Central Coast (New South Wales, Australia) and it was around 10pm as I was watching a movie.

Without warning, the transmission was interrupted with what I thought was another movie..I was so annoyed.

It took me ten minutes to realise that it wasn't a movie, that what was happening in front of me was a live cross. I can remember every scene and for weeks afterwards, our televisions were bombarded with news and unsavoury pictures. The Falling Man (and images of others jumping to their deaths) particularly haunts me to this day.

To be honest, I don't want to remember because remembering often means rehashing. I can understand why some people have stopped attending ceremonies. There is a time to let go and embrace what remains.

I look now on the new buildings on the old site, the surrounding parks and the unflappable attitude that defines New Yorkers and when 11th September comes around, this is what I think of instead.

Loved the story regarding your belle-mere. We have similar tales in our family. It is a different kind of remembering but a souvenir nonetheless. Merci.

Lolly Golden

I was in Indianapolis,Indiana working. Being born and raised in the Los Angeles area, I felt very alone and afraid that some family would be hurt. We were all safe but I had never realized how alone it felt to be without my family. My husband and I sat watching like everyone that evening knowing our families were safe and trying to understand it all.
And here it is 12 years later and my husband and I are back in California, not far from Healdsberg, Calif. We got a chance to move back here to the central coast and live near Santa Cruz. I will miss the Midwest but there is really something said for being with family....we live on my sisters property among the redwoods. I am near my children and sisters which I never thought I'd miss but realize its everything no matter where you are.


We were getting ready to fly from Los Angeles back to France (where we lived for 12 years on an old barge)when our brother-in-law came into the room and said, "I don't think you're going anywhere" and we watched in horror as events unfolded. Several days later we flew on the first United plane out of LAX to Washington with crew who had been slated to make the return trip on one of the downed planes. They were amazing, telling all us passengers they were nervous and knew we were nervous, but we'd all get through it together. Spontaneous applause filled the plane when we landed. Next we were on the first plane out of DC to Paris, and the contrast was extreme, with a crew who had clearly been instructed not to acknowledge the situation, greeting us with fixed, false smiles. But it was amazing when we got to Paris -- when the doors opened and we walked out into the airport, the way was lined with people, all of them clapping and cheering our arrival. For days, every French person who realized we were American offered words of sympathy and solidarity . . .

Barbara Michels

I was out of town keeping a vigil at the bedside of my dying "belle Pere". I saw the TV just as I got out of the hotel room bed. The TV's were on everywhere in the hospital. As I mourned for those who died in NY, I felt guilty. I should be mourning Clem who passed just after the Twin Towers tragedy. When I sang at his funeral mass, I sang for him and all those I did not know.

Audrey Wilson

We were in Merida in Spain, shopping in the Carrefour Hypermarché We stopped with our chariot at the Maison de la Presse to get an English paper . A television was on & we saw these towers with smoke pouring from them . At first we didn't know what they were & then Peter said "Oh! my god it' is the twin towers in New York . We had no idea what had happened, but eventually heard the news on the TV.
All I felt was completely numb and horror at what had happened . The thought of all those people killed & injured was almost too much to bear.
My admiration for the people of New York & their refusal to be beaten by this evil ,which still exists knows no bounds

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