As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks nears, we asked our readers to share what they remember most about that day. Below are some of the responses.
Sun City Hilton Head
My husband and I lived in Delaware, five miles from Dover Air Force Base. On that morning, we traveled separately "upstate" to our sales appointments. When my husband heard the second plane had hit the Twin Towers, he called and said we were under attack. He just knew. I got home first and hung our American flag outside. We were patriotic before but only flew the flag on Memorial Day and July 4. We've had a flag flying every day since. All commercial air flights were immediately grounded, for several days. But we continued to hear the planes from Dover Air Force Base and were somewhat comforted. When I watched the memorial service at the National Cathedral the following Friday and heard the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" I felt we were inevitably going to war. It was a very sad time. We will never forget.
I remember everything from that day. I even remember what I wore to work. I remember thinking that at first it was just a small plane and that it was a total accident, until I saw the live shot of the plane barreling into the second tower. I remember the feeling of helplessness I felt. My father was working as the Battalion Chief for Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue, and I remember how I just wanted to be with him as he was losing his brothers and sisters in NYC. I remember getting a phone call from my boyfriend saying his father was on a plane and he was flying into NYC. His plane was the last to land in LaGuardia Airport that fateful morning. I remember the tears I shed that day. I remember coming home and being transfixed to the television. I remember dozing off and waking up as Dan Rather was signing off his news broadcast late that night and I thought it was all just a horrible dream. I swore it was just a bad dream. There are little things over the past 10 years that take me back to that very day and will continue to do so the rest of my life.
Mary Beth White
Hilton Head Island
I was a teacher at Hilton Head High School where I still work. As the news trickled through the hallways and I heard about the second plane and then the Pentagon, I remember thinking, "How do I tell these kids we've been attacked and we're now a country at war?" I felt the responsibility to keep them safe, and I hid my fear from them. That was a Tuesday. We did a lot of talking and not a whole lot else for the rest of that week. We all learned, though, about life and death and evil and resilience and kindness, some of the best lessons I've ever experienced.
My memory of Sept. 11 began that morning. I was exercising and watching the "Today" show. I saw the first tower hit in disbelief. It was hard to leave the television as the day progressed. My sister and brother-in-law arrived at our home on Callawassie Island from Orange Park, Fla., that afternoon. They were on their way to visit their son and his family in Maryland. Their son, Col. Scott Goodwin, was the lead pilot and flying Air Force One that day. We listened anxiously to hear where President George Bush was being flown. To our great relief, Scott called that evening to let us know he was home and everyone was safe. That was all he was able to say about the day and events at that time. This is one day our family will never forget.
Hilton Head Island
After Sept. 11, I mourned the loss of innocence of my beloved adopted country.
I felt America was raped, and it will never be the same.
It tore my hear apart. Because I am a Holocaust survivor I immigrated to the USA mainly for the safety of my children. After the attacks I wondered whether they'd be safe again. I confronted my daughter about my fears of having her live in Washington, D.C., and her husband working for the government there.
Her reply was, "Mother, I am prepared. I keep food in my pantry, water in my car, my children are carrying cellphones and your address. That's all I can do, and I refuse to live in fear."
After listening to her I was very proud of her positive attitude. Only a great country like ours can produce strong individuals like my daughter. We never will forget 9/11, but just like I think every day about my losses because of the Holocaust, I have to gather my strength and move on.
I am convinced that we'll have more confrontations from terrorists, wars and natural devastation, etc. But no matter what the future would hold for us, we will overcome it and each time we'll become stronger and prouder to live in America.
Hilton Head Island
It was a sparkling morning with brilliant blue sky, perfect for flying. I was preparing to leave at 11 a.m. from Savannah to Newark to attend a shower party that night for my daughter and her husband, who were expecting their first child.
Our son called from New York around 9 a.m. telling us there was disturbing news about a fire at the Twin Towers. Unclear of the details, we put on the TV only to have the shocking tragedy revealed.
Americans were stunned with anger and fear and all precautions were taken regarding air travel. Finally I was able to leave on Sept. 16 as our grandson had arrived early. I departed Savannah via Cincinnati to get to Newark, which took all day. He and his mother were well at St. Mary's Hospital in Hoboken.
As the plane descended into Newark the pilot flew over the rubble remains of the majestic towers -- only a plume of white smoke towering to the sky.
The passengers were silent with the awesome sight, many with tears streaming down their cheeks. You could almost hear the silent prayers, and the sadness was overwhelming. That evening I walked into the hospital hallway and was greeted by pictures of at least 30 missing residents surrounded by yellow ribbons. The reality was numbing. But, a miracle awaited -- a new life! In the midst of the deepest sorrow, joy emerged in the birth of this baby boy and somber faces smiled. As I held him, I was reminded just how precious life is and the gift of God's goodness.
Steven P. Morello
I remember waking up, turning on the news, and seeing a hole in Tower 1. I remember how sick I felt watching a plane crash into Tower 2. I remember forcing my mind into thinking my Dad was OK and would come home. What did I learn? I learned the importance of a warm goodbye ... because it could be the last one you get to give.
Hilton Head Island
As long as I live I will never forget the moment I realized that the objects I saw falling from the burning towers were people. People who moments before had been at the windows, making the horrifying decision to jump. People like you and me falling, some holding hands, some with identification, one after another.
Every year I am compelled to watch the eyewitness documentary "9/11" by Gedeon Naudet, Jules Naudet and James Hanlon. That summer they started filming the story of a rookie NYC firefighter. His first day on the job was Sept. 11, 2001, and they were there when the first plane hit and the call came in. It is uncensored and as real as it gets. I feel that I owe it to every person who died that day to never forget what they had to endure. I will always remember the NYC fireman and police who set up a command post in the lobby of one of the towers, hear the bodies hitting the pavement outside and ask "How bad is it up there that jumping is the better option?" And then they head up the stairwell while people are streaming down. Raw courage and faith.
These are the images I will always keep alive, for them.
Joyce and Jack Wilfore
Hilton Head Island
Michael Canty was one of nine children and his parents Kay and Ed Canty are friends from Schenectady, New York. As he was growing up, Michael was also our newspaper carrier.
Michael was working at Carr Oil Futures at the World Trade Center when the towers were hit on September 11, 2001 and tragically lost his life. Being just thirty years old, he had his whole future ahead of him. We remember him as a wonderful young man, loved and admired by his family, friends and by his community.
In his memory, his family started the Michael Canty Memorial Fund. Every year around Labor Day weekend they have a Michael Canty Family Fun Run at Central Park in Schenectady with lots of food, fun and games. The Fun Run brings hundreds of people together to celebrate his life and share the wonderful memories of Michael. He was a graduate of Schenectady High School, so all of the proceeds from the Fun Run benefit the Michael Canty Scholarship Fund of Schenectady High School. Since 2002, 10 scholarships have been awarded to graduating seniors to assist them in attending the college of their choice. A fund has also been established at Mike's alma mater, Loyola University, to help students who have unforeseen financial difficulties.
Michael would be overwhelmed and very proud of the outpouring of love by family and friends in his honor.
The country has become infinitely more divided and hateful, unfortunately. So I will pay tribute to the anniversary by mourning the loss not only of those who died that day and in the resulting wars since, but also the loss of unity we shared in this great country. In order to try to take some of the negativity out of that, I will attempt to honor the fallen by being a little more tolerant of those whose beliefs and feelings are different from mine, and a little less quick to judge. The least any of us can do.
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was the town administrator for the Town of Ridgeland, in Jasper County. I was in my office doing paperwork when one of my employees rushed in to tell me that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. I asked if it had been an accident, and she replied that it had been done on purpose. I thought it incredible that anyone would fly an airplane into the World Trade Center deliberately. My first thought was that that it was just some crazy pilot in a single engine plane wanting to commit suicide.
I immediately went to the office of the Chief of Police which was the only one with a TV set. I could not believe what I saw. One of the towers of the World Trade Center was on fire; people were jumping out of windows above the 90th floor to escape, surely knowing that they could not survive that fall.
I wondered what kind of discussion must have taken place among the people trapped almost at the top of the World Trade Center to make the desperate decision to choose certain death 100 floors below over the, although remote, possibility, of rescue. The one picture I have never forgotten was of the couple that jumped hand-in-hand to their death.
While we listened to the commentators, a second plane appeared to take direct aim at the second tower. It was absolutely incredible. When it hit, all of us who were watching cried out. No one could explain what was going on or why we were obviously being attacked by someone.
My connection to the World Trade Center went back several years. I had spent almost two months at the World Trade Center and stayed at the Vista hotel inside the center. I was aware that over 20,000 people worked in those two towers and expressed a my fear that we might be looking at 10,000 casualties unless a miracle happened. As we all now know that miracle did not occur.
Shortly after the second plane hit the towers my finance director suggested that we should fly the Stars and Stripes from every light pole on Main Street. It would show our pride in our country and our defiance to anyone who thought that they could bring us down by the dastardly act of killing thousands of innocent people, deliberately and without mercy.
I immediately agreed with the idea and instructed the work crews to break out the flags we normally only put out on holidays such as the Fourth of July or Memorial Day and mount them up on the light poles along Main Street. By 10:15 a.m., approximately 90 American flags were fluttering in the breeze from Interstate 95 to the post office, a distance of about 1 mile.
I firmly believe that the small town of Ridgeland was the first one in the country to use the flag as a means to express our feelings, and that we started a national trend which lasted for long time. Since that day, a flag has flown at my house daily. I promised myself that it would not come down until Osama bin Laden was dead. Recently we accomplished that, and I decided that the flag would still honor all who were murdered or gave their lives attempting to rescue as many people as they could.
It was the evening of Sept. 11 in Bangkok, Thailand. We'd enjoyed our anniversary dinner, gone back to the room and my husband, Bruce, turned on BBC. He called out that we'd lost The World Trade Center. I responded that we'd driven right by it on the day's tour. No, he replied, the Twin Towers. Seeing the blank, in another world look on my face, he said no, in New York and looking at the TV, I finally got it. Despite the difference in time zones, we saw the news from half a world away within minutes of it happening.
Together, we watched in disbelief as they played and replayed the horrific footage. We took turns sleeping and watching through the night.
In the morning, our group of eight flew to Hong Kong, as planned. While things appeared normal there, we longed for news of family members. One often did early morning business at The World Trade Center and another at The Pentagon. We waited in line to use the Internet at The Hard Rock Cafe. Our niece reported from Venice that everyone in our family was safe. Still, we wanted to go home but had days before our scheduled return. We sought comfort in a cheeseburger and fries, but it didn't really help.
We didn't feel like doing much in Hong Kong, but one afternoon while shopping for kitchen trinkets in the basement of a department store, I saw a man watching me. He finally approached and hesitantly, in uncertain English, asked if I was an American. As I nodded yes, he said they were so sorry for us and our loss, as they felt it could have so easily been them.
Finally, we headed to the airport for our trip home. It was so incredibly eerie. In front of the airport and everywhere inside, there were men dressed in military uniform, walking in pairs and armed with machine guns.
That day, we knew that not only travel but the world had changed forever.
Hilton Head Island
The emotions brought back when thinking about the devastating attack on our country 10 years ago feel as if they are fresh. My husband, Richard, and I had just gotten off an American Airlines flight from New York City's LaGuardia Airport the previous evening around midnight. We were returning home to Highland Park, our home in the Chicago suburbs, after spending a week at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, as we do most years. That morning, September 11, was the start of the indoor tennis season for us, as regardless of the weather, after Labor Day you play inside for eight months. I was dressing for tennis when Richard started screaming for me to come into the family room where he had been watching CNN. To think a matter of hours after departing New York, terrorists successfully pulled off an attack of such magnitude, has forever ended the American fairy tale. And the feelings of security, safety and trust, which we grew up with are gone forever!
The Rev. William Bell
My wife, Mary, and I visit Yorkshire, England, once a year to encourage couples that represent "Within the Walls," a prison ministry we founded in 1993.
The day after 9/11 we visited Kirkstall Market Town, a bustling town. As we parked the car, the local church bells began to chime, the time 11 a.m. Immediately the traffic came to a halt and all the pedestrians stopped. Bowed their heads, men removing their caps. Silence. Only the church bell. For three minutes.
In that time Mary and I felt the real impact of 9/11. This was not television. We were rubbing shoulders with genuine love and concern miles from home. Next day we visited the prison. They held a prayer meeting inside the gym. All the staff and inmates were there. One of the officers lost his son in one of the towers. Today I would like to see our brave servicemen brought home and deployed on all borders in the U.S.A. Not only to give us total security but to give them a living. No one can match our boys. Yes we will never forget 9/11. Let's make sure this will never happen again.
Hilton Head Island
On September 11, 2001, my husband, Ernie, and I were sitting strapped into a seat on a plane bound for New York City. The pilot announced over the intercom that we needed to disembark the plane, something terrible had happened in the U.S. and we could not land there. He didn't explain what had happened. We had just completed a boat trip down the Rhone River in France and were heading home.
We got off the plane and met chaos in the airport. We first had to find our bags. I found mine, but Ernie's bag was lost for the remainder of the trip. We soon found that all the hotel rooms were taken so I was eyeing one of the couches in the airport.
Ernie remembered that we knew a couple who lived in Enfield, a small town outside London. We called them and they said "We will come right down and get you." We spent the next week at their house as it took us a week to get another plane reservation to get to the U.S.
We actually enjoyed ourselves, as it was delightful staying at our friends' house in Enfield. Our friends went to work every day and Ernie and I walked to town for lunch and went sightseeing. We treated our friends to dinner every night at a different restaurant. I felt guilty enjoying myself.
The only thing that bothered me was that our friends didn't turn on the heat in the house and liked to open the windows. I was cold most of the time. One miracle occurred. I had taken enough BP pills for the trip. I somehow found in my purse enough pills to get me through the extra week. I never knew where they came from.
We finally got back home after a week and Ernie's bag arrived the next day.
Daniel Hoyt Daniels
After the frightful anxiety and death and suffering caused on Sept. 11, 2001, by unarmed commercial aircraft -- far greater damage than anyone might have surmised, architects, builders, even terrorists themselves -- I find it sad that Americans are so willing to bomb other people's homelands.
I have read the we dropped 16,000 plane loads of bombs on Libya in the first three months of enforcing the no-fly zone, which of course, is nothing compared to what we had to do in Iran and what we are having to do in Afghanistan.
I can remember that I was on my way to Daufuskie Island, working for Hargray. I had just graduated from high school and was 19 at the time. When we got off the boat we walked up the dock, and the dock attendant with Haig Point was watching the TV and told us come look that New York was just attacked. My heart sank and felt like the world was coming to an end. The day went on, and when I finally got home my Dad was watching the news and mentioned that he was going to go buy some ammo like we were going to war or the war had came to us. It was like everyone was scared and didn't know what to do. Very sad to think about how many innocent people lost their lives over what one believes.
My friend and I, both from Indiana, were staying in Charleston and had planned a day trip to Savannah. Somewhere along U.S. 17 we stopped at a mini-mart to get something to drink and found out the world had changed. We went on to Savannah and COULD NOT find anyone at the Visitor's Center that would turn on the TV — we were kept in the dark about details. I'm still angry about that. When we returned to Charleston, the market, the restaurants, everywhere was quiet. We sat glued to the TV in a bar all evening. The next day we met tourists from Great Britain who just hugged us. It was very scary not being able to get home for several days. When we returned to Indy, we were on the first plane that landed in days. Indy airport was deserted. Surreal to say the very least.
The Miracle Of September Eleventh
On September the Eleventh, nineteen men chose to fly, And turn commercial airplanes into missiles in the sky, Angry men with broken hearts, and an angry view of God, Who sought to wreak destruction, and destroy the land we love.
What was their evil goal, on this tragic fateful day? That fifty thousand-plus should die in the World Trade Center’s bay, Five or ten thousand more should perish at the Pentagon, Thousands more would likewise die if the Capital was gone.
They took control of airliners, and forced them where to go, To the place we know today as New York’s Ground Zero, They struck their targets with deadly aim and demonic accuracy, And in their dying breaths, they were hoping they would see:
Huge skyscrapers split and shatter and crumble to the ground, Killing all who worked inside and many more all around, Towers lean and tumble in a horrible production, Taking out more buildings and lives in a great mass of destruction.
But something unplanned happened; the buildings did not fall, They billowed deadly smoke, but stood there straight and tall, They shook and swayed and rumbled as they took the deadly blow, But they did not lean and tumble as the terrorists had hoped.
An hour or two they lingered, while thousands safely fled, Until they had made it out and to the ground had sped, Heroes rushed up the stairs to help save many more, Before the fire inevitably brought the buildings to the floor.
In Washington the plane hit, but the Pentagon didn’t crumble, It took the massive impact, but only one section tumbled, The rest stood strong and firm as rescuers hustled in, To save the lives of many trapped in the rubble within.
Flight 93 was likewise set to take the Capital Building out, When brave men rushed the cockpit with a fury and a shout, “Let’s roll!” they cried as they chose to give their lives, To stop the crime in progress so innocents wouldn’t have to die.
The Miracle of September Eleventh is the plan that fell so short, Of the massive scale of murder that was its author’s hope, Fifty to seventy thousand men and women were that day supposed to die, But only three thousand lost their lives from the missiles in the sky.
Now every life lost is an aguish beyond compare, And many who perished were rescuers who didn’t have to be there, But much worse had been the plan on this fateful day, Tens of thousands did not perish, but all their lives were saved. Let’s pause to remember all those who sadly lost their lives, And the grief that hit their families, and the tears that filled their eyes, Let’s give thanks to the heroes, who never stopped to think, That they may not survive the day as they rushed into the brink.
And let’s remember just as well our men and women true, Who have since gone forth to battle to defend both me and you, They have risked their lives daily, and many have given their all, To assure our land is safe again, and buildings shall not fall.
But things could have been much worse on September the Eleventh, But somehow a Guiding Hand reached down from the heavens, And held up walls and buildings so thousands could escaped, And live to tell the whole wide world the horrors that they braved.
We pause today to remember the traumas of that day and hour, But we should also give our thanks that somehow a Higher Power, Was there to stop the evil and hold much of it at bay, So that tens of thousands who should have died are with us still today.
We reflect now for a moment, to remember those who perished, They should never be forgotten, but their memory always cherished, And we give thanks for our freedoms and our country that endures, As a hope for all the nations, where all can dwell secure.