9/11 newsmakers look back at tragic day

September 05, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Kristin Pryor, left, with her two sons, Josiah, 7, center, and Caleb, 10, watches a History Channel Special on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
By Chris Tilley, Staff Photographer

When hijacked planes tore into the heart of America 10 years ago, life changed.

Fear, war, terror alerts and increased airport security became part of the daily lexicon.

The immediate shift in daily life is shown in the pages of The Daily Mail, the afternoon newspaper — since merged into The Herald-Mail — that gave some Hagerstown residents their first printed account of the terrorist attacks.

The front page of the Sept. 11, 2001, edition screamed "Terror hits U.S." and showed a picture of flames after a second plane hit the twin towers.

An inside page had a brief account of a large plane crashing in a rural area of Pennsylvania, before the connections to New York and the crash at the Pentagon on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., were clear.

According to the Associated Press, 2,977 people died from the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and in the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. That does not include the 19 hijackers on the four planes.

The rest of that edition was filled with news about the Tri-State area, pre-terror: a cave rescue in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; the zoning definition of a truck stop; a new town council member in Sharpsburg.

As the 9/11 anniversary approaches, The Herald-Mail stepped back into the Sept. 11 and 12, 2001, editions of The Daily Mail and caught up with some of the people from those pages.

'Everything comes back'

The "Milestones" section on the front of the Sept. 11 paper lists two momentous days for one family. Rosie McLucas turned 76 that day. It also was the 55th anniversary of the day she married William McLucas, who is known by his middle name, Gordon.

Gordon McLucas said his daughter Linda Dorrier called that morning and told her parents to turn on the TV. They did, in time to see the second plane crash into the World Trade Center.

McLucas, who served in the Battle of the Bulge with the U.S. Army, said he was sure it was a terrorist attack.

Further back in that same edition, one picture shows Robert "Buddy" Rodgers Jr. at the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. and another shows him when he went to Nevada and California to fight forest and desert fires.

He was working at Smithsburg Market on the morning of the attacks. His wife called him from home to alert him to the news.

Later, she went to Funkstown Elementary School, where she was a lunch assistant. The couple's sons, ages 7 and 9, were in school there.

Rodgers, an active firefighter in Funkstown until two years ago, said that with the anniversary approaching, "everything comes back from that day."

Boonsboro High School graduate Mark Zeigler was profiled in a story that ran in the sports section on Sept. 11. At the time, he was a senior account manager with the Frederick Keys, living in Thurmont, Md.

"We still talk about it to this day," Zeigler said last week. "It really affected us tremendously."

He remembers stopping at a car dealership in Hyattstown, Md., one of his clients with the Keys, and being drawn to the TV just as the second plane crashed at the twin towers.

His wife was at her job with Merrill Lynch, talking via computer to a woman at World Trade Center Tower 7. The computer froze when a communication antenna was knocked out by the attacks. She didn't know for two weeks that the woman in New York City had survived.

Zeigler said it was a scary time, living so close to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Frederick County. Military fighter jets became a common sight and sound.

"The F-16s were so low, you could read the serial numbers ...," he said.

Several weeks after 9/11, a roar filled the sky. Two F-16s circled very low in the sky, searching for a plane that violated the restricted airspace. Below, two teams of youth baseball players stopped their game and laid on the field, covering their heads.

It took Zeigler nine years to find the courage to fly again.

Zeigler said the recent death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden made him wonder what lies ahead. The 10-year anniversary renews his belief that the U.S. war in Iraq is "our generation's Vietnam."

He left the Keys at the end of 2006 and now sells commercial real estate and supplemental insurance. He lives in Kearneysville, W.Va., with his two children, ages 6 and 7. Foremost on his mind now, he said, is "the role of being a dad."

Lives were changed

In the Sept. 12 Daily Mail, when 9/11 news started to dominate, a front-page photo showed Mary Sparrow kneeling, with her hands clasped and eyes closed, as she prayed at Faith Christian Fellowship in Williamsport.

Sparrow said last week that she was working at Hickory Elementary School as a library media specialist on 9/11, before she retired four years ago.

An announcement came over the public-address system that day that school would be dismissed early. Kids started lining up.

"All I could think was it's a good thing ... they don't realize how their lives have just changed," she said.

Sparrow was used to the Cold War, when children in school practiced hiding under desks if there was an attack. That ended many years before.

"These kids never knew that kind of fear," she said.

Some adults watched 9/11 news in the faculty room. Sparrow did the same, then went home to watch more. When she heard her church was holding a special service, she felt that was the right place to be.

The lessons from that day, she said, were: "Be more aware and observant. I hope our government leaders learn better ways of dealing with crisis and possibly dealing with intelligence .... Individually, we need to be right with the Lord, because He's in control."

Washington County Sheriff's Office Deputy Michael Gladhill was on his regular beat at the courthouse on 9/11. Suddenly, he was sent to Hagerstown Regional Airport to stand guard.

A photo in the Sept. 12 newspaper shows him in uniform, standing at attention, his eyes focused ahead.

The airport was fairly quiet that morning, Gladhill recalled last week — all flights had been canceled.

With the 10th anniversary of the attacks approaching, Gladhill said he thinks about 9/11 "pretty much every day." It's hard to ignore the changes, such as the security scanner that now screens people entering the courthouse.

"A lot of people have forgotten that there's enemies out there that want to kill us," he said.

Unforgettable 'Milestones'

On the facing page, a photo shows Lisa Fox walking with her daughter, Kelley, away from Western Heights Middle School.

Fox was at work at Callas Contractors, listening to the news. A supervisor asked if parents wanted to pick up their children at school.

Fox said it was Kelley's 10th birthday, so she and her husband at the time tried to make the day as normal as possible for their daughter. They went ahead with her wish for a birthday dinner at Pizza Hut.

Kelley now attends Shippensburg University and hopes to be a teacher.

Fox said that when people find out Kelley's birthday is 9/11, they tell her how sorry they are.

One of the "Milestones" on the front page of the Sept. 12 Daily Mail was the third wedding anniversary for Pastor Dean Pryor and Kristin Pryor.

Kristin Pryor remembers holding her 9 1/2-month-old son Caleb, watching the news, with tears rolling down her face, "and thinking that the world was forever changed."

Dean Pryor, the pastor of Hagerstown Grace Brethren Church at the time, immediately planned a prayer vigil. He made fliers and went door to door to tell people.

Caleb is now 10. His younger brother, Josiah, is 7.

Kristin Pryor, a born-again Christian, said she likes to teach her boys history and study the Bible with them. They recently started Revelations.

Pryor said she, too, hated the constant sound of fighter jets in the air near her home, but was proud to have a president, George W. Bush, who stood strong at a desperate time.

As Sept. 11, 2011, nears, Pryor said: "I haven't forgotten. I'm thankful every day that we have soldiers in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. There hasn't been another attack. I'm so thankful for their sacrifice."

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