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Local residents share 9/11 memories

September 10, 2006
(Page 2 of 7)

At the first opportunity I turned off the highway (approximately 10 miles from New York City) and in a small shopping center talked to a man just closing up his small camera shop. He stated he lived just north of New York City and would lead us around the city.

We were heading to Maine. As we were heading around the city you could see the smoke to the east, apparently from the buildings. Later that afternoon we stopped for the night and then learned what turned out to be the most horrifying news.

- Mark Brezler Sr.
Hagerstown




As I figure, I was just about under the north tower of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit on Sept. 11. A few minutes later I emerged from the subway station and took in the gorgeous late summer day that it was, oblivious to what had just happened.

As I walked down 16th Street toward my office, a woman came running toward me, crying frantically. "They've blown up the World Trade Center!" Surely, she must be hysterical.

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I jogged to 6th Avenue and looked downtown to see the north tower in smoke, and the rough outline of a jet imprinted on its side. It's hard to process a vision that you can't imagine ever seeing.

When I got to my office, more details began to emerge - and the situation seemed to spiral out of control. We learned of the attack on the Pentagon, then the downed plane in Pennsylvania. When would it end?

I went to work, assuming that the fires at the World Trade Center would be extinguished, and things would calm down in a few hours. About half an hour later a colleague told me that both towers had collapsed.

The full impact of the day hit at that point and we realized, "we have to get out of here." By then, most public transportation had shut down, or was so overtaxed it would take hours - or longer - for many people to get home.

I lived a few miles away, in Brooklyn, and the Manhattan Bridge was open to pedestrians, so I could walk home. As I walked downtown, a stream of people were coming from the other direction. Many of them looked like animated George Segal sculptures - covered head to toe in a white powder of building materials that once had been the twin towers.

As I walked over the Manhattan Bridge, I looked back at the brown cloud hovering over downtown where the towers had been. As a kid I'd watched the towers go up. Over many years the towers grew, and I'd chart their progress on each trip into the city. Then in about an hour they were gone.

When I made it home I learned that the firehouse on my block had lost 12 of its men.

I worried about the friends I had who worked downtown, where I also had worked for years. Since phone service was either out or overloaded, loved ones couldn't be located for hours. In the end, I learned all my friends were safe. I was luckier than most.

On Sept. 11, I witnessed some of the worst acts humans do to their fellow beings, but I also saw the best. The generosity and caring on the streets of New York that day, and the days and weeks thereafter, are something I'll never forget.

And Sept. 11 also helped me set my own priorities straight. Whenever the daily stresses of life begin to overwhelm, I remember that day and realize how truly blessed I am.

- Susan Fancher
Hagerstown




September, a friend of mine and I go to visit a close friend in Toronto, Canada. On Sept. 11, my friends were already awake, watching the television while I was still asleep.

Dawn, the friend that we (were) visiting, woke me up by yelling "Get out here, Ann. The U.S. is being attacked."

I jumped out of bed and stood there watching in amazement as they were showing the devastation on the TV.

My friend, Ray, and I were due to return home from Canada that day right after breakfast.

The thoughts flying through my mind were my son, my mother and how are we going to get back home (knowing that I didn't have my birth certificate or passport - and that they were going to be closing down the borders soon). I called my mother, knowing my son was in school, to see if she had heard the news.

My friends and I headed out to our favorite breakfast spot in Toronto. At the little diner they had the television on so we continued to watch the happenings in the U.S. My friend and I had driven to Canada and 15 minutes before we had gotten to the border, on the radio they announced that the borders were closed!

I was hysterical due to the cell phone service being down and I couldn't have any communication other then the awful things we were hearing on the radio. Finally, we made it to the border and thank God for my Sheriff's Department ID., the police at the border let us through.

- Ann Churchey
Boonsboro




When the first plane hit the WTC I was driving to visit a friend. When I turned the radio on I thought that it was in infomercial so I turned the radio down and was waiting for it to be done.

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