LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. - Twenty years ago today, America changed.
Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives with more than 25,000 injuries, marking the deadliest terror attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in American history.
Members of the Lincoln University athletics administrative team took some time to recount the events.
I was a student at Florida State University, and was walking to my class. I passed through the student union to see the entire cafe glued to TVs watching. I stopped and watched both towers fall.
It felt like I was just watching a movie but then it occurred that this was the news and live footage. As the towers fell and the grasps of air began, tears filled the room and cries were heard. The university quickly closed as we were unaware if large gatherings of people like those on a university campus would be targeted.
Then came the news of a possible attack on the White House and Pentagon. My thoughts turned to my family members who worked in the Pentagon. I called my father to check on family, the call lasted just a few minutes and then all the phones went silent as we all lost cell service. All I could do was go home and wait. I was relieved to hear my aunt didn't go in to work that day but we had another aunt who was unaccounted for who also worked in the Pentagon. We later found out she was in the Pentagon Bunker and was ok and the attack was thwarted.
Things would never be the same. The university was closed the remainder of the week, events including college football games across the nation were canceled and the world stopped. Life as we knew it changed forever.
I was on my way to work at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom. Skadden is a New York law firm with offices in various States. I traveled to the New York office in Times Square often for work. As I was parking my car I heard a report that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. At first I didn't think much of it and thought that it might have been a helicopter or small plane since I've seen those vehicles flying around the city when traveling for work.
Upon arrival to the office I could feel the concern and remember people trying to contact our New York office. It was then I realized something was seriously wrong. The second plane hit and we all went to a conference room where we watched the events unfold.
While I wasn't directly affected by the events on that day, my heart and prayers were with the families of those affected by this tragic event. The stories of the brave men and women who lost their lives on that day still resonate with me and bring a sense of sadness.
I remember I was a freshman in high school, and had a dentist appointment that day. ! was on my way to school after my appointment with my father when he received a call from my mother, who was a teacher at my school. She was frantic on the phone asking where me and my father was. I remember him telling my mother calm down we are down the street from the school. She told my father hurry up and get to the school something bad has happened.
Once we arrived, my mother rushed out the building and told me to check in at the office and get to my class, I'm supposed to be in which was economics. I just remember walking in school, and it was scary quiet. No one was talking in the classrooms, and you could hear a pin drop in the hallway. I checked in at the office and started walking to class, but as I'm walking to class, I remember looking in a couple classrooms and seeing some of my friends with their hands over their mouth, pointing at the television screen.
As soon as I arrived at my classroom and walked in I looked up at the television screen, Icouldn't even believe it. A second plane was crashing into the other tower. I couldn't even grasp what was going on at the time it all seemed like a big dream. All I could think about was what's next because everyone kept saying they are going after all state capitals next. Considering I lived in the Kentucky State capital, it had me thinking and praying, while hoping we are not next.
I was in my senior year of college, just finished soccer practice when we walked in to our cafeteria and saw the first building on fire. I immediately called my mother to make sure she was ok and getting out of the building as she worked in the Trade Center. I didn't get a hold of her at first, then I finally got through. I told her what I was seeing and they said to her and her co-workers that everything was ok, just stay in the office. I told her to get out of there, but she was staying. A few minutes later, she called me back letting me know that they were evacuating her tower. That was the last time I spoke with her until 6:15 p.m. that night.
A plethora of emotions and events went on the rest of the day as we had a bomb scare on our campus so I had to leave our campus and go to my roommates' house which was in a town about 15 minutes from our campus. We watched the events unfold on television. The towers were there, then they weren't. Then we heard about the Pentagon and the other flight that was hijacked along with all of the other mayhem going on. There were about 25 people at my roommates' house. Two of those people had brothers that were deployed and called to say that they were getting planes and heading to the Middle East.
I tried calling my brother and father all day with no luck as all of the lines were either busy or not going through. The first person I spoke to was my mother just after 6:15 p.m., where we both broke down and cried. I heard the stories of what happened to my brother and father later on that evening and was glad that they were all ok.
Emotions were all of the place throughout the day from being scared to being angry at what we were watching on TV. It was probably the longest day of my life, or what it seemed. We heard from our family that night that there is a chance my uncles were in one of the buildings that collapsed. So we all got together and spent the next couple of weeks waiting to hear from them. Unfortunately, two weeks after the attacks, we were informed that the search had ended and they did not make it. It took a toll on all of us as so many of my family are in the police force or the military. It was a very hard pill to swallow. Slowly everything started getting back to real life and the country just seemed different.
Everyone started really showing the patriotism, helping in any way they could, showed kindness to people all over. It was a little easier having my teammates all around me from both of the sports I played, but knowing that we lost so many so senselessly, really made us all angry. Getting back to playing sports helped because we were able to take our minds off of things for a while.
I know I won't ever forget that day and still remember everything so vividly. I hold a memorial service for my uncles who were police officers and all of the others that lost their lives that day and thereafter every year. It doesn't bring any closure, but it keeps me close to them.
I have yet to make my way to ground zero, but I know that one day I will. It has never felt the same since then even though life has gone on and it's been twenty years, but it always makes me proud to know that my uncles were running up the stairs to save lives and do what they were trained to do even though their worlds were coming down around them. I know they know we are all proud of them, but I miss them!
September 11, 2001 is one of those moments in history in which you can recount exactly where you were when the first airplane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
For me, I was laying on the couch with my then 16-day old daughter watching television and relaxing. As a sports reporter for the Wilmington News Journal my days was spent enjoying time with my first-born child. In the moments that followed, I went from a sports reporter to a regular reporter working through an American tragedy.
Going through the town and listening to others perspective on what they witnessed, and how they felt in the minutes, hours and days that followed, you could sense the level of fear that began to permeate through the fabric of small town America.
As a parent, I know the America my child was recently born into was forever changed and wouldn't remotely close be the America she would come to know. Everything was changed.
Part of me wishes we could return to country in the wake of that terrorist attack. We weren't Republicans, we weren't Democrats, we weren't liberals or conservatives; We Were Americans. We came together in the face of an attack on American soil and showed our resolve as a country.
While my daughter gives me a consistent reminder of the time frame in which 9/11 happened, it's still tough to realize that half of the students roaming the campus of Lincoln University weren't alive when these events happened. They don't know a world with the World Trade Centers, and 9/11 is an event to be learned about in American history and not lived through.