Where were you when you heard about Sept. 11?

Kiara Bradley was driving a bus. Gary Robertson was on his farm in California. Fire Department Lt. Mickey Kross was at New York's Engine Company 16, before he went to the burning World Trade Center and survived the north tower's collapse.

A national ad campaign being launched on Thursday features the stories of people who remember where they were when they heard of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"I was in the shower. ... I was in a dentist's office in Bulgaria. ... I was on the Q train," says a radio spot for the campaign, which seeks donations for the Sept. 11 memorial at the trade center site.

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A historian says the event will be remembered for life by the people who experienced it, in the same way that people recall the assassinations of President Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr."It's that expression of a connection between the historical and personal. You need to locate a personal relationship to that history," said Michael Frisch, a University of Buffalo history professor.

The ads were conceived for the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation by Gerry Graf, executive creative director of the TBWA/Chiat/Day ad agency, who was in a Los Angeles hotel room when his wife called to tell him a plane had hit the trade center.

"The first thing I thought was this was our Pearl Harbor," Graf said.

The foundation has raised $132.8 million privately, and needs to raise a total of $300 million to complete the memorial, which is under construction and set to open in 2009.

The foundation has compiled about 250 "where were you" oral histories.

Separately, a Web site formed by college students — http://wherewereyou.org — collected more than 2,500 stories in the first year after the attacks.

"It is important to remember how time stopped," said Marie Pelkey, who was an 18 when she co-founded WhereWereYou. "No matter what we were doing, being in class, driving to work, arguing with family, alone overseas, at the airport ... it was in essence a human event that connected us all."