10 Years Later: 10 Individuals Reflect on 9/11

by on October 1st, 2014
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How did folks feel when four terrorist-orchestrated suicide attacks hit New York City and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001?

Ten diverse people from a variety of locations and lifestyles (including an airline employee and an NYFD deputy chief’s daughter) related their 9/11 experiences, answering these two questions:

“Where were you on September 11? How did the tragic events impact you?”

Take a look at the very different, yet thematically and emotionally similar, responses of 10 individuals across the United States and Canada.

Danielle Crofford Fetters, an early childhood educator and freelance web writer from San Dimas, California, woke up to the startling news on September 11, 2001.

“I was home from work with a broken arm, and had just woken up due to the pain,” Fetters said. “The first plane had already hit, and I watched as the second plane hit. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my God, there was so much smoke from the first crash that the pilot of the second plane couldn’t see and ran into the second tower.’ Sounds stupid now, but that thought that it was some kind of deliberate attack didn’t even enter my mind at first.”

Real estate agent Keith Fulton, of Aledo, Texas, could not believe the 9/11 events were real – at least, not at first.

“Not so profound, but I was in the pro shop of Lost Creek Golf Club in Aledo, Texas. My friends and I were watching the TV, showing that the first tower was hit when the second tower was hit. I just remember thinking that it was Orson Welles kind of thing. After I realize that it was really happening it just made me very, very mad,” Fulton exclaimed.

Horse lover Amy Meyers, of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, was also stunned by the 9/11 news.

“I was in the barn preparing horses for turn-out when I heard about the first plane on the radio,” Meyers explained. “I remember thinking, ‘What a terrible accident!’ When I returned after turnout to start mucking, I heard about the second plane and was in disbelief.”

Lois Lloyd, a fitness trainer in Lake County, Illinois, was struck by memories of touring the World Trade Center with her New York City firefighter father, long before 9/11 occurred.

Here’s Lloyd’s account: “I was about to head to the gym when a friend called. I watched in disbelief! My dad was a NYC firefighter and worked on the command center in the lobby of the towers. I remember him taking me there and showing nothing could have helped that day!

“My heart was sick as I watched all those NYFD men walk into the tower as everyone was streaming out. I wondered how many of those men were probies {probationary firefighters in training] under my Dad, the Deputy Chief. I was actually glad that he was not alive to see this. So much for people who say that they are looking down on us from heaven. I guess I’m not in that camp!

“Obviously, it took a while to contact my mom in Long Island – just a scary few days overall!”

Denise Haynes, an equestrian apparel embroidery company owner from Ware, Massachusetts, raced home from work to comfort her daughters.

“I was at work in Northampton, Massachusetts,” Haynes recalled. “Everyone was running upstairs to watch on the television as to what was going on. They were freaking out ,so I went up to see for myself. I just couldn’t get a grasp on what was happening. Then my very independent 16-year-old daughter called me, saying they were being sent home from school and she wanted me to come home to be with her and her sister.”

Valerie Napier Graham, an equestrian facility manager and horse trainer in Hampshire, Illinois, cradled her toddler as she heard the news on September 11, 2001.

“I was holding my one-year-old daughter in my lap watching GMA,” Graham remembered, “watching the devastation of the first plane to the tower. Then, to see it live when the second plane hit the other tower, I simply screamed out loud! I held [my daughter] as tight as I could while crying.”

Bonnie Kristan, an equestrian and mom in Mundelein, Illinois, learned about the 9/11 tragedy from other parents.

“I just had dropped my son off at school for first grade,” Kristan explained. “Someone told me about it in the school parking lot. I came home and put the news on and could not believe it. I called my sister in North Dakota, and we cried on the phone together as we watched the tragic events unfold.”

For Angie Young, a blogger from Cincinnati, Ohio, the 9/11 destruction marred a marital milestone.

“I was at water aerobics with friends when we heard that something had happened, but we didn’t know what,” Young said. “Once home, I turned on the TV, and there it was.

“Tears hit my eyes in an instant, and I spent the next two days watching and crying and praying. It was also my anniversary, but we didn’t celebrate; we mourned with the rest of the country for the loss and destruction brought into our world that day.”

Kathy Brost, of West Bend, Wisconsin, was an airline employee on September 11, 2001.

Brost recalled the panic of 9/11: “I worked for Midwest Airlines at the time. Tim Hoeksema, our president, broke the news and brought in televisions. It was pure craziness, as our phones in the call center were ringing off the hook.

“We were missing a couple of planes near Boston and Washington, D.C. We were not sure if our airline was involved until it was announced that it was American Airlines. Our planes were then stuck and grounded.

“It was very emotional and draining at the same time. I was trying to handle customers and handle my own emotions regarding the situation myself. I finally had to excuse myself, as I literally got sick. I ended up going home and going to bed, watching the news reports in total confusion and amazement. That was the day when the airline industry and security associated with air travel completely hanged.”

America’s neighbors were also impacted by the tragic events of 9/11.

Miranda Miller, an internet marketing manager from Owen Sound, Ontario, was traveling when the crises occurred.

“I was in the Edmonton airport, 20 years old, waiting for my flight home to Ontario to start a new job in 3 days,” Miller recounted. “Once air space closed, and the airline announced there would be no refunds, my cousin and I hit the road and hitchhiked across Canada to get home.”

Where were you when the airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers and the U.S. Pentagon on 9/11?

What is your 9/11 story, and how were you affected? How are you different today because you lived through the terrorist attack on America on September 11, 2001?

Linda Ann Nickerson brings decades of reporting and a globally minded Midwestern perspective to a host of topics, balancing human interest with history, hard facts and often humor.

More from this contributor:

9/11: 3 Reflections on a National Tragedy

Burning in Our Hearts

The Scout: A Saluting Scene for a U.S. Marine

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