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Area residents reflect on 11th anniversary of 9/11

September 10, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com

Jaleesa Blakney’s uncle was working at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and her family couldn’t immediately reach him in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

“I remember worrying about my uncle, and three hours later, we got a phone call from him,” said Blakney, of Hagerstown. “I was in school, and we were all really scared.”

Tuesday marks the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks when terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes, with one hitting each tower of the World Trade Center, one hitting the Pentagon and another one crashing in a field in Shanksville, Pa.

Blakney, 23, said she does not think the country has focused enough on strengthening its security in the years since 9/11.

“We’re still very vulnerable,” she said. “It was a really sad thing that our country had to go through.”

Tashania Grantham, 23, of Hagerstown, also was in school when the attacks occurred.

“All I remember was they shut down the whole school,” she said. “I thought, ‘What is the world coming to?’ It showed we can all come together as one, no matter the race.”

Richard Anthony of Sharpsburg said his wife was working in Washington, D.C., at the time.

“I called my wife and said, ‘Don’t go into work today,’” he said. “I was working in retail at Valley Mall at the time.”

Anthony, 54, said the attacks serve as a reminder that the United States is vulnerable just like other countries.

“We’re safer because we’re more aware of it,” he said. “We will always have to stay on guard.”

Clyde Gaylor, 66, of Williamsport, worked in Manhattan near the World Trade Center during the 1970s and said he was shocked by the events of 9/11.

“I had worked at 140 West Street, and they had just gotten the towers done,” he said. “It was hard to believe they were gone.”

Hagerstown is within 100 miles of two of the three sites of the attacks — the Pentagon and the field where the plane crashed near Shanksville.

Mimi Dickinson, 47, of Hagerstown said the city’s location made the attacks relevant to the area.

“We seem so far removed, but we’re so close to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore,” she said. “There’s still so much turmoil in the world.”

Some area residents offered their thoughts Monday on the attacks and the aftermath.

Spence Perry, 70, of McConnellsburg, Pa., said he thinks the country overreacted to the attacks.

“We prosecuted a lot of people unfairly,” he said. “We need to get better at focusing on what the precise limits of the threat were.”

Perry said people should learn from Sept. 11 that “protection requires sacrifice.”

“Personal inconvenience, while it should be limited, is unavoidable,” he said. “Everybody in the country bears the burden of defending it.”

Rick Curry, 53, of Hagerstown, said he thinks the country is a little “too relaxed” about the possibility of another attack.

“You can never be prepared for it,” he said. “If it can happen once, it can happen again. You always have to be on your guard.”

“I wish we had learned that we need to be careful in how we’re viewed around the world,” said Edie Wallace, 53, of Sharpsburg. “I feel secure, though. I don’t want to be afraid all the time, and I’m not.”

President Obama issued a proclamation Monday calling on U.S. citizens to participate in a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. Tuesday in honor of those who died in the attacks.

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