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Driver sees public reaction

September 09, 2006

Editor's note: The Herald-Mail asked readers to tell us their memories of 9/11.

Many of you replied, sharing your poignant accounts of how you learned about the terrorist attacks and how it affected you.

One of those accounts follows, and more can be found on pages A12 and A13.

More of your recollections will run in Monday and Tuesday's newspapers.

The memories are still vivid of Sept. 11, although mine are probably different from others.

I was employed at FedEx as a driver. My workday started out on a somber note as an accident not far from the terminal had claimed a young man's life. As I made my first delivery, I could see the body partially covered with a sheet and the mangled motorcycle on the side of the road.

As I was mentally wrestling with what I had just seen, I also knew that I had to focus on that day's deliveries and their whereabouts. I came to my first red light. It was there - at Huyetts Crossroads - that the regular programming was interrupted on the radio. The initial report was of a plane crash. We all know what would follow.

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It was the look on the faces of the customers who I served that day that are still vivid.

My next stop was at a Clear Spring residence. A middle-aged lady met me at the door and was weeping uncontrollably. I could hear the TV news commentator, but didn't see the pictures.

Throughout the day, I visually imagined what most were seeing as my news was coming from the radio. Throughout Clear Spring, Big Pool, Hancock and all across Fulton County, Pa., the customers that I served that day all had that somber look on their faces. Most were sad, some were angry. All were very worried what would happen next. We know what happened.

One of my stops was at a home in Fulton County draped with patriotism. The gentleman greeted me with a curt hello and a shotgun. He told me he was prepared for the worst because he didn't know what was going on.

By late afternoon, I was in Mercersburg, Pa. More horrific accounts were pouring in every minute. I scanned the radio dial and heard the playing of "God Bless America" and the national anthem.

I contacted my friend's dad to ask about his whereabouts because he's employed at the Pentagon. His father told me he was safe because he had flown to Israel a few days earlier.

It wasn't until that evening when I first saw the pictures and the television reports. It was worse than I could have imagined.

- Michael L. Straley

Greencastle, Pa.

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