Residents reflect

September 11, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

Tri-State area residents were profoundly affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Over the past week, The Herald-Mail asked area residents to reflect on how the attacks have changed their lives and how they feel about today's anniversary.

Jim Surkamp, 53, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., worked on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center's north tower from 1975 to 1977.

"The 91st floor was the cutoff of live or die on the north tower (after the plane hit). And I was one floor above the die line.

"I found out from the New York Times that about a minute before the building collapsed there were about 40 people huddled along the windows where my desk used to be. They were all huddled against an approaching fire."


He remembers what the building's carpet looked like, how the building smelled, where one got a haircut.

"I never knew that a building could die. They didn't just crumble. They died."

In 1974, Surkamp stood on the ground and watched Phillippe Petit walk from one tower to the other on a high wire, a feat that made international headlines.

"(The trade center) attracted hatred and love. It inspired one man to climb literally to God's doorstep, while all of New York soared with bliss. And then it inspired a whole other type of person to blow it all to bits."

Marc Pierne, 19, of Hagerstown, has thought a lot about what led to the attacks and while he doesn't condone or defend the terrorist action, he said he can understand how it happened.

"We also go into other countries. We go in there a lot of times when some of it's none of our business. America's not going to be able to help everybody," he said.

People like Osama bin Laden took advantage of the anger and used it to brainwash his followers into retaliating against the United States, Pierne said.

Now Pierne is concerned about a possible U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

"It's just one after the other and they're just pulling at straws," the Shepherd College student said.

As they watched their two young daughters feed the ducks in the Falling Spring Trout Nursery in Chambersburg, Pa., last week, Rodney and Dawn Hockenberry said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have them concerned for the future.

"I'm afraid for the children. I think about what it will be like in 10 or 15 years," said Dawn Hockenberry, 30.

Rodney Hockenberry, 31, said that since Sept. 11 he is more aware of what is going on in other parts of the world, and that those events have ramifications for the United States.

"I think we all have a false sense of security. But I don't believe you can go day to day worrying," he said. "I trust in the Lord, he will take care of us. If I didn't have faith, I would be scared."

He said with two daughters, Beth, 4, and Rachel, 18 months, he can't dwell on the events and has to live his life.

"We have to keep on doing what we always did," he said.

Greg Gilbert, 18, said if not for the terrorist attacks he might still be living and working in his hometown of Miami.

When retail sales slowed following Sept. 11, Gilbert's job with Toys R Us was transferred to Hagerstown.

"I can't believe it's been a year already. You see it on the news, it seems like it just happened not that long ago," he said.

Sept. 11 is also the reason Marise Nazzaro, 39, now lives in Shepherdstown. A year ago she was living in California.

"I was living in L.A. and it kind of woke me up that I wanted to come home to the East Coast because I wanted to help. I felt really stranded out in L.A., plus I was changing careers and it kind of woke me up that life is too short. My family is in the D.C. area and I found this beautiful town called Shepherdstown and I came here."

Nazzaro works at Four Seasons Books and attends Shepherd College.

"I already knew that there were other folks around the world that did not feel ... comfortable with the United States. I'm trying to say that nicely.

"But I have faith that we're the greatest country," she said. "We're a very strong country and people shouldn't mess with us."

Another Shepherd College student, Jason Radcliff, 19, of Falling Waters, W.Va., said he did a report on patriotism a week before the attacks and the country surged with a renewed sense of patriotism.

"I felt more patriotic. It was like, 'Go America,'" said Radcliff's friend Candice Beane, 17, a student at South Hagerstown High School.

Beane thinks that schools should not be in session today out of respect for the victims and their families.

"They're acting like it never happened. They're treating it like it was every other day," she said.

Dolores Ligone, 34, of Hagerstown, said she believed the television replays of the Twin Towers falling will dredge up a lot of pain for the families of those who lost loved ones.

"I don't feel like they should exploit that. You can't get away from it. It's bringing up a lot of emotions," she said.

Pierre Charles, 31, of Chambersburg, said people need to remember the events of Sept. 11 affected more than just the United States.

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