(KTAL/KMSS) – For many, the memories of September 11, 2001 are still vivid.
It was the deadliest attack on U.S. soil in history and the event was watched live on television by millions of Americans. The nation was shocked, angry, and mourned the thousands of lives lost that day and in the days and years that followed. First responders who lost their lives due to complications from exposure and soldiers who died in service to our country to stop al-Qaeda. For some the events were close to home, for others, it was a horror movie playing out on the television screen. But for all of us, it was a shocking event we will never forget.
As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, KTAL NBC 6 staff remember the things we saw that day.
Marissa Diaz – Digital Director
Reflecting on the 9/11 anniversary brings an array of mixed emotions for me. Sadness. Gratitude. Shock. Confusion. Thankfulness. Anger. Fear. Inspiration. Heartbreak.
I was there when it happened. Living on Wall Street, the World Trade Center (Twin Towers) was like a beacon that guided us back to our neighborhood. It was the site of my NYU graduation, at Top of the World on the 107th floor.
To witness these enormous structures fall, loss of power and communication, walking aimlessly not being able to go home, worrying if your friends/family were alive, wondering if that day was it for me.
That day changed my life.
What I have always taken away from that day and time period thereafter is: do not take anyone, anything, nor any day for granted. And always try to treat others with kindness and respect. That day 9/11/2001, complete strangers came together like they were family.
Glynn Duncan – Director of Sales
I generally arrive to work early, and September 11, 2001 was no exception. I was the only person in the building, and I was checking email and getting my day organized. A coworker arrived and asked if I had heard that a plane had flown into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in NYC? I remember thinking, “WOW… how could you make such a mistake?!” My wife and I had just flown into New Jersey the last week of August and the twin towers are very visible. They don’t blend into the background. So, how could this happen?
I went back to work and forgot about what I had just learned. Then someone else comes in and announces that another plane has now hit the other tower. “What? This is not a coincidence. What is happening?!” The rest of the day I and the rest of the country were glued to our TV’s trying to learn the details of what had happened. I have chills now as I type this. I’ll never forget the emotions that I felt that day. I still feel them, and I always will. I would think that people who were around to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor feel the same way.
Fernanda Hernandez – Morning Anchor
Where was I on 9/11?
My family and I had just moved to the United States from Mexico. We were not yet enrolled in school so my parents took us to San Antonio for a family trip. I remember we were in our hotel and mom turned the TV on, and watched the second plane crash into the second tower. She recalls seeing it and at first thinking it was a movie. None of us spoke English fluently yet so it took us some time to understand what was happening. It was heartbreaking and terrifying.
Lynn Vance – Assignment Editor / Show Host
I was a customer service manager for a local office supply store, and I remember seeing one of the planes hitting a tower on a TV in the break room. I was in shock, had never seen anything like that.
Next, other employees and I gathered around a computer trying to access CNN which basically crashed because so many people were trying to access it. It was an unreal day.
Nikki Henderson – Digital Media Reporter
On Sept. 11 2001, my family and I were getting ready for my grandfather’s funeral. We were already in mourning and struggling to cope with our loss and then to see on every TV in my grandmother’s house, planes crashing into buildings just blew our minds. We had no idea what was going on at the time, we didn’t even think it was real. My relatives were all getting dressed in different rooms and we ran out into the hall saying do you see this on TV? What in the world is going on? We attended the funeral, went to the cemetery, and then went back to the church for the repast.
It was the topic of conversation at every table but it wasn’t until we returned home and were able to watch the news that we realized the terror that had happened. I remember crying because I said my final goodbyes to my grandfather but also shedding tears for people that I didn’t know who had died in such a horrific way.
My heart did and still does go out to those who lost loved ones on September 11. This is truly a day I will never forget.
Cam Feightner Account Executive, NBC 6
I was a 19-year old (about to be) college student. I was still a week away from reporting to school for my first year of college baseball. It was around 6 AM in Portland, OR, when my mom came into my room to tell me what was going on. I was still half asleep and didn’t really hear, or understand what she was saying (it was summer…let me sleep in, damnit!). A few minutes later she came in saying “Cam…get your @$$ up, the country is under attack.” Not knowing or understanding what that concept would even look like, I figured I better stroll into the living room to see what she was talking about.
There it was…all over the news. The devastation, the confusion, the fear. Those first few weeks after the event were a blur. But, for the first time in a long time, there were no Republicans or Democrats…only Americans. As sad as the events on 9/11 were, there was a sense of patriotism this country hasn’t felt in a long time. It was sad…but it was also comforting to see all walks of life come together, if only for a moment.
As a 19-year-old college athlete, I felt spoiled, yet helpless; your team is paying for you to go to school, in order for you to throw a baseball as hard and fast as you can. Meanwhile, kids your same age are signing up to go join the military and fight for this country. There was a sense of guilt…yet pride in those feelings. There I was…in Oregon, playing a game I love, as my former classmates suffer in bootcamp, waiting their turn to go to war. However, I’m on a mound….throwing a baseball, not a grenade. Again…spoiled? Or, Lucky?
I had a sharpie drawing of the American flag on the inside corner of the bill of my game hat. Before each batter I rubbed it with my pitching thumb and pounded my chest (heart). It was a thank-you; to the brave men and women, defending our country so a kid from Portland could live out his baseball dream.
Jacque Jovic – News Anchor
I was living in Cleveland at the time. Dan called me and told me to turn on the television because a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. As I watched the news coverage, another plane crashed into the second tower. I immediately started getting ready and headed into work.
I was assigned to cover the evacuation of downtown Cleveland. A videographer and I were driving into town as everyone else was leaving. No one knew which city could be the next target. It was a terrifying and eerie moment I will never forget.
Christa Swanson – Digital Content Producer
I was walking into my senior English class, and every person in the room was staring at the TV. As I walked past I saw the first tower full of smoke and asked if they were watching an action movie. Jeremy said this was live as I set down my backpack. I turned around to watch as the second plane flew into the tower. When I see photos of it, it still makes my stomach lurch.
The whole school was silent, then there were a few voices crying down the halls. During the next period they called several students to the library. They had family that worked in the towers or in that area and wanted to give them a safe place to wait for their families and for news. We were all terrified. Waco is a short drive from President Bushs’ ranch, and we knew he flew out of there often. We had no idea if he was there, or coming through because of the emergency, but if he was then we might be in danger too. For a few days some of my classmates didn’t come to school because Americans of Middle Eastern descent were being attacked in the streets, so their families kept them home to be safe.
Dan Jovic – Evening Anchor
I was in Akron, Ohio when the planes hit the towers. About a 45-minute drive from downtown Cleveland where Jacque and I were living. I immediately knew I had to get back to the city, and into work, at the TV station, I was working at the time.
I’ll never forget that as I drove back into downtown Cleveland the police department and county sheriff’s office were evacuating everyone from downtown. Both the north and south-bound lanes of a major interstate, I-77, were being used to evacuate drivers. Eight lanes of traffic flowing out. Only the berm on the right-hand lane to get in. As thousands were heading out, I was the only car for miles heading into the city. It was an odd and eerie feeling.
As I got closer to our apartment building, I was one of only a handful of vehicles downtown. All the other vehicles were law enforcement. I was questioned several times by officers as to why I was heading downtown. It was understandable given what was unfolding, law enforcement was doing their job. The feeling of a city of that size resembling a ghost town will never leave me.