Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11/2001 ... friends remember that day

My parents' generation remembered where they were when they heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that drew America into World War II.

I often ask people where they were when they heard about the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and this week I posed the question on Facebook. I thank them for sharing.

Pat Haley, my first political mentor, former chairman of the Staunton Republican Committee, and member of Governor Jim Gilmore's administration: "I was sitting in a meeting with Governor Gilmore in Richmond when the first plane hit. The first report stated it was a small plane and probably an accident. When the second plane hit and then the Pentagon, Governor Gilmore sprang into action and took control of the Virginia forces. We were told that planes were over the Atlantic Ocean heading toward New York, Washington, and the Fed Bank in Richmond. I saw leadership in action!"

Keith Drake, former chairman of the Albermarle Republican Committee: "In a meeting in downtown Boston. It was very surreal."

Pam Michael, wife of former chairman of Augusta County Republican Committee Dr. Kurt Michael: "At home with the children and got a call from Kurt at school with the shocking news."

Luis Padilla, proud American originally from Honduras: "I will never forget what happened. I was living in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, when muslim extremists killed many innocent people. I have friends who lost love ones that day. And for the first time I did not feel safe in this country. Thank God that we had a president who defended us regardless if some people supported his actions or not. This day will be in our history and I pray to God that it never happens again."

SallyAnn Gowen, Staunton resident: "I was driving down some cold interstate. My husband called me on my cell phone and I remember that my first thought was, 'Why's it such a big deal that a plane hit a building?' "

Pam Richmond, Augusta County teacher: "I was teaching a high school math class (Geometry). Because we were within about 4 miles of the Pentagon, we were put on lock-down. My classroom had a TV, so we watched, horrified, mesmerized. The next day, a boy laughed, said we deserved what we got. I knew I'd never be able to treat him fairly again, so I had him transferred to another teacher's Geometry class."

Deb Kirtland, Augusta County resident and fellow homeschool mom: "I was driving my son to piano lessons. It was shocking news and took a while to really sink in. We didn't get much school work done that day!"

Janice Berkey Bence, Augusta County resident and fellow homeschool mom: "I was in my car driving to Harrisonburg thinking what a pretty day it was ... before I heard the news."

Cindy Parr Potts, high school classmate who now lives in Kentucky: "I was teaching 8th grade Math and in the classroom. My husband called me and told me to turn on the tv. I did just in time to see the second plane hit."

Debbie Campbell Fayman, Chesterfield County resident and fellow high school classmate: "I was working in a client's home that morning. I had heard something on the car radio about a plane crash so when I arrived at the house I turned on the TV. The client and I watched together as the events unfolded. It was surreal. The client's daughter lived in Manhattan at the time. He was terrified for her safety. I don't think I got any work done that day."

Arthur Goggin, fellow high school classmate: "I was in Phoenix, Arizona, getting ready to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim. A daunting day in our lives."

Dee Hubbard Simon, fellow high school classmate who now lives in North Carolina: "I lived in Princeton, NJ, near NY City. My husband worked on Park Ave and son worked in midtown in NY City. I heard about the 1st plane and called my husband at work. He hadn't heard a thing. Then I saw the 2nd plane hit the tower & knew immediately it was a terrorist attack. Lee, my twin sister called me & said the towers are leaning. I said NO WAY! But, she was right. DOWN they came. Very shocking. All the phones were down for hrs. Finally got an email that they were fine, but couldn't get off the island for a day or so. Mike said NY City the next day looked like a ghost town. He arrived home to heavily armed guards at the train station. Some of the people in our community never returned home. One of them was Todd Beamer (Let's Roll!). Their cars sat parked at the train station for days, weeks, decorated in flowers and sympathy notes. The community was in shock, very somber for a week or so. I could smell the burning buildings for weeks afterwards.

"My son's path train out of Jersey City was one that was buried under the rubble. Luckily he had gone to work earlier. My husband couldn't go to work for a week. A bomb threat was called in hourly on the building where he worked. Things were ...crazy! The sadness was overwhelming. Not too long after that our post office was the first one to discover Anthrax. A postal worker died. We stood over big trash cans outside with face mask and rubber gloves opening our irradiated mail. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE living in North Carolina now?"

Sheri Smith, Augusta County resident and fellow homeschool mom: "Just starting homeschool when we saw the news flash by on TV. Will never forget the beautiful bright blue sky outside our window that day as we watched in disbelief the devastation happening at THAT moment in our country."

Bob Kirchman, Augusta County resident, fellow homeschool dad, and fellow blogger: "I'd worked in the studio that morning. I noticed how beautiful the day was and decided to take a run later in the morning. I remember looking up at the blue sky, even thinking it would be a nice day to be up in a plane. A jet sailed high above me. It was one of those crisp September days you don't want to come inside from. When I came back from my run I learned that a plane had hit the first tower. Then we learned that the second plane had hit. The Pentagon had been hit too. Flight 93 bored into a field in Pennsylvania. We were being attacked with our own airplanes. It was time to pray. For the next few days the absence of airplanes was very noticeable."

Jeanine Martin, NoVa resident and fellow blogger: "I was home alone, one son had just begun his first year at UVA, one son in high school, and husband was on a business trip to Colorado Springs. I had no radio or television turned on. I knew nothing. Then my best friend called and told me to turn on the television, just in time to see the second plane slam into the second tower. The rest of the day, I spent on the computer and talking to friends while trying to get through to my husband and older son. It was so scary to be so close to DC and listen to planes patrolling the air. The whole day, week, month, year, was so frightening. I just wanted my family together, all in one place, all in one piece. My son came home from UVA on Friday and my husband was finally able to get a plane home on Saturday. He flew in to Dulles but his car, our family van, was stuck in a parking lot at Reagan National. It was closed and remained closed. So many bad memories. So much mourning for the loss of so many Americans in such a brutal way and mourning for the loss of my generation's innocence. We never thought something like that could happen in America! I kept thinking, this must be how my parents and grandparents felt on December 7, 1941.

Fonda C. Gardner, Staunton resident and fellow homeschool mom: "I was in the kitchen talking on the phone with my Aunt. She told me to turn on the TV because something horrible was happening! Saw the second building hit and watched both fall. I was homeschooling and Seth's friend Brian came over. We all sat in front of the TV watching one of the most horrible days in our history as a Nation. And now they want to make a mockery of that area."

Danny Allen, Staunton resident: "Myrtle Beach on vacation. Ended up with little shopping, and ordered room service- glued to the TV."

Beth Burgener Jenkins, Augusta County resident and fellow homeschool mom: "Teaching Preschool that morning -- wondering why all the parents were coming in and grabbing up their preschoolers because of a plane crash -- Little did we know at the time!!!! I'm sure they were thankful that they could hold them and that they were safe and sound! Sadness still seeps into my heart for the families who lost loved ones - not only with the devastation of the plane crash but with the rescue efforts after!!! HATE is such an evil thing!"

Juanita Ballenger, NoVa resident and fellow RPV State Central Committee member: "I remember particularly in DC, where I was working. I remember the man waving the American Flag on the 14th Street Bridge, and driving by the Pentagon as it was still burning."

Ron, fellow blogger: "We were on our way home from a vacation in Maine. That morning, we were in a hotel in New Jersey (having passed New York the day before) and saw on TV one of the WTC towers on fire because a plane had hit it. I was wondering what kind of an idiot would fly a plane into the building. Then we saw the second plane hit. Let's just say that driving past Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore was interesting that day. To think, I almost took a job on the 73rd floor of the North Tower!

"On our way home September 11, we had to stop for lunch (as our older son was 10 1/2 months old at the time) near Baltimore. Given the events of the day, I did not want to travel through ...the downtown tunnels and opted to go around the north side of the Baltimore Beltway. We stopped for lunch at a stereotypical Baltimore diner (the "Bel-Loc," I think) on Loch Raven Boulevard. The place looked like it was frozen in time from the early 1960s, except for the menu prices. A man who was obviously a regular patron came into the diner a few minutes after we did, and the servers were asking him why he wasn't having an operation that day. He was telling them that his operation was postponed because the hospital was anticipating having a crush of victims to treat that day (which didn't end up happening).

"We made it home (in Maryland, where we lived at the time) in the early afternoon, and our families were crazy with worry about us. We hadn't called because we did not have a cell phone with us.

"I might add that at the time, I worked in Crystal City and went to work on September 12. As I took the Metro Yellow Line over the Potomac River, I saw that everyone on the train just went silent and was looking at the (still burning) Pentagon with sadness and reverence. A lot of smoke drifted down to Crystal City and the place smelled like death.

"Later on I found out that a guy I knew in high school was on the plane that hit the Pentagon, and the son of a candidate I had supported many years before (and who had also gone to my high school) had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and was killed in the destruction of the WTC South Tower."

9/11 ... may we never forget.

--Originally posted on 9/11/2010

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