Local residents share 9/11 memories

September 11, 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.

More recollections will run in Tuesday's paper.

We were vacationing in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. We were on a trolley riding over to Gatlinburg when a couple got on and told us about a plane hitting a building in New York.

After we got over to Gatlinburg everyone in the shops was watching the TVs. By then all the other planes had crashed.


It was hard trying to enjoy our vacation after that.

- Ronald and Mary May

I was at home in my apartment leafing through a magazine when the phone rang. It was my daughter. She said "Mom, do you have your TV on?" I said "No, why?"

My daughter replied "Oh Mom," and I could tell by the tone of her voice that something really bad had happened. I turned on my television and was stunned while I watched in shock at what was going on in New York City. It took me a long time to comprehend what was happening.

I think the first thing that came into my mind was how can I help those poor people, but I knew there wasn't anything I could do.

- Janet Purdham

On Sept. 11, I worked as a contractor at a federal government agency and continue to do so. When word first spread about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center, my boss asked me to look at some news Web sites for information.

We first thought it was an accident, than an initial terrorist attack. Naturally on that day, Web site traffic was slow and busy and by the time I reached a news site, the second plane had struck.

When we found out that the Pentagon was struck as well, management decided to evaluate the building and started sending people home. It took more than 45 minutes for the cars to get out of the facility. Some essential personnel stayed to keep operations going.

I previously worked as a federal employee in California during the 90s and part of my assignment was security, including anti-terrorism. If I had remained there, I would have worked to protect the government facilities in the three states we had responsibility for. I thought on that day that if I had stayed in California, I would be busy coordinating things for days.

In my current job, I was able to eventually leave and I stopped at a Wal-Mart on the way home. It seemed that everyone was ignorant of the events unfolding and few people were watching the televisions in the electronics section.

When I arrived home, I stayed watching the news reports as they provided more and more details. I received calls from family in California and Russia inquiring about my safety. I even had a bill collector from California call about a payment I forgot to send in.

Like many events, the attack at the Pentagon was assumed by many as impacting all of the D.C. region and I am sure that many thought the attacks in NYC impacted the entire city rather than just the area close to the WTC.

-John Johnson

On September 11, 2001, the West Virginia Legislature was in a special session in Charleston. That morning I vividly remember watching TV after the first World Trade Center was hit and then as the second Tower was hit.

There was a feeling of horror as one tower collapsed, knowing that at that very instant, people were dying.

There was the same feeling of anguish and disbelief as people were falling out of or jumping from the remaining tower and then its collapse.

I cannot forget the awareness that this was not something that had happened hours or days before and was being reported on the evening news, but that this was happening live before our eyes.

It was the horror that people were being burned, crushed, dying terrible deaths, that thousands of families were being tragically affected, live before our eyes.

At the State Capitol an unidentified plane flying nearby led to the cancellation of all meetings and an evacuation of the building.

- Delegate John Overington, W.Va. House of Delegates, 55th District
Martinsburg, W.Va.

Where was I on Sept. 11?

In my case it wasn't much different then a lot of folks. I was visiting friends here in Hagerstown. We were sitting in the living room having conversation when the telephone rang. I answered the phone and it was a friend calling from Melbourne, Australia, to see if we were OK because we live so close to Washington, D.C.

Just think, a person half a world away calls to let you know what is going on in your own back yard!

- Donald E. Donat

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