My family lived in Prague, Czech Republic at the time. It was mid-afternoon, and I was in my high school History class, second to last period of the day, when the air raid siren went off. My classmates and I looked around at each other, confused, then shrugged and went back to studying. After school let out, I went downtown to just walk around and enjoy the city.
I ran into a friend of mine on the main square. I went up to talk to her, and she held up a finger and asked me to wait since she was on the phone. She finished her conversation and hung up. “Sorry,” she said. “That was my dad.”
“Your dad’s in the States right now. Isn’t that a $2/min phone call?” I asked.
She replied, “Yeah, didn’t you hear? New York is getting bombed or something.” Not believing her, I rushed into a sports bar nearby that was showing footage of the smoking towers. I sensed that now was not the time to be wandering aimlessly downtown and rushed home immediately.
One of the Czech news stations carried some coverage, but it wasn’t round-the-clock like most Americans enjoyed. My family and I found ourselves on CNN.com hitting the refresh button every 5 minutes.
The next few weeks were interesting as the expats began cautiously emerging from their homes to rejoin society. The International School had guards with gigantic automatic weapons patrolling the campus. People were about as sympathetic and hospitable towards Americans as Czechs know how to be. Then we invaded Afghanistan, and the “we hate America, you bully” attitude returned with vigor.