Local residents share 9/11 memories

September 12, 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.

On Sept. 11, I was on my way to work in Germantown, Md., when I turned on the radio. Rather than the usual music, I heard a news story and the announcer sounded a little shaken. I thought at first it may have been a commercial or a special very early-Halloween promotion of some kind.

Then I heard the announcer say they were switching to their news headquarters because the World Trade Center tower had just fallen. Then when they announced that the Pentagon had also been attacked and that another plane had flown into a second tower in the World Trade Center, I realized that something horrible was really happening, so I pulled off to the side of the road and listened.


I became horrified and numb things like that just don't happen in this country. I felt afraid and my mind flew in all kinds of directions; my son was in a nursing home in Hagerstown and my mother was in Frederick, and all I could think of was whether I should continue on to make sure that my Mom was OK, or if I should turn around to try to protect my son. I continued on to work, and just as I got there (U.S. Department of Energy), we were dismissed from work for the day.

As with most of the world, I was glued to my TV set for the rest of the day, and all I could do was cry. Then I felt something I had never felt before, and that was a very strong determination to return to work the next day. I prayed that we would not shut down the government, and I wanted to return to work just to show the cowardly beasts who had brought this devastation to our land that we would not surrender our freedom, no matter what. I displayed our flag everywhere and I spent more time with my son, watching the TV with tears streaming down my face.

I remember the assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother Bobby, and Dr. Martin Luther King, along with the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. Even those vivid recollections paled in comparison to what I was feeling on Sept. 11.

- Kenni Shaw

My wife and I were in northcentral Arizona on our way to Grand Canyon in our RV and knew nothing about the incident.

I stopped at a Radio Shack to get something for my cell phone. While waiting for a clerk to be finished with another customer I glanced idly at a nearby TV and saw what looked like one of the World Trade Center buildings on fire. I figured it was just special effects in a thriller movie and then I saw it start to collapse.

I was quite impressed by these special effects. It wasn't until a little later, when we were once again under way and turned on the radio, that we found out it was real.

The problem was that it had happened several hours earlier and now the news was focusing on particulars and not giving an over-all description of what had happened. They mentioned in passing a plane hitting something in Washington, D.C., but gave no details. That gave us even more concern as we lived in the Maryland suburbs at that time. It was quite a while before we got a complete picture of what had happened.

By the time we arrived at Grand Canyon that afternoon, strict security measures were already in place and we were asked all sorts of questions before being admitted to the park. During the next several days, as we were heading back east, we encountered many east coast people who had been on vacation in the west and whose return flight had been cancelled. The car rental companies were allowing them to rent cars on a one-way basis and they were driving back home. For the first time since I was a youngster, there were no contrails in the sky from high-flying airliners.

- Ed Ver Hoef

I will remember that awful day for the rest of my life.

I was teaching a third grade class at Potomac Heights Elementary school. I remember walking up to the office during my planning period and our secretary was crying. She said that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center and her nephew works there.

No one could reach him and she had no other news. We still did not know why the plane crashed into the building. Then we heard about the other one and that they thought it was a terrorist attack.

I tried to call my husband who works at the Air National Guard in Martinsburg, W.Va., thinking that they might have more news but he knew nothing more than we did.

My class returned to the room and I didn't want them to see the fear in my face of what was going on and I didn't know what to tell them.

I was three months pregnant with my first child. After all the planes had crashed and we found out that our secretary's nephew had walked out of one tower in time to see the other tower get hit, I remember thinking "why am I bringing a child into this crazy world where all of this is happening?"

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