Recalling reactions to Sept. 11, 2001

Published 11:09 pm Thursday, September 10, 2009

For many, the images are still visible, even eight years after the event.

The airliner flying directly into a tall building. The ball of fire. The screams. Then, a few minutes later, another aircraft. Another ball of fire. Bodies falling from the top of the Twin Towers in New York.

American had not yet seen a section of the Pentagon destroyed.

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For a generation, Sept. 11, 2001, will remain etched on the American psyche. And the question always surfaces. Where were you that day?

Patrick Hisel had just finished changing oil in an automobile at the BP on Highland Avenue. He went inside the station’s small office to get some change for his customer.

“I was going back out when I caught the first plane ramming into the tower,” he said. “I just stood there. I couldn’t figure out what was happening — if it was real.”

Hisel gave the money to his customer and returned to the office to find out more.

“We watched the news on Fox News all day that day,” he said.

Tracy Williams is the director of programs for the Selma Parks and Recreation Department. He saw the disaster from a law enforcement angle.

“I was working at the police department as the 911 supervisor,” he said. “It didn’t really affect us directly at this level.”

Williams was able to witness the early stages of the World Trade Center catastrophe.

“I walked over to the training center, stood and watched as the second plane hit the tower,” he said. “And the first tower fell. The things got busy and I went back to the police department.”

A group of teachers talked about their experiences Thursday night during a meeting.

Ann Thomas, school teacher at School of Discovery said, “I was at school that day and our guidance counselor came into the room. She told us what happened, but throughout the day we knew very little about what was going on. There was only one TV in the school. I remember there were students who knew people that lived in New York. During class we let them share about their relative or friend and how it affected them. That day though we were really sheltered. I know Mr. Shirley wanted the school to keep calm.”

Myrna Morrow, a school counselor at Tipton went to school earlier than usual that day. The school janitor walked up to her and said two planes had crashed above the Empire State building.

“He had gotten it a little mixed up, but we turned on the televisions all over the school.” Morrow said. “I was the counselor and I walked around to all the rooms and told kids to pay attention to what was happening. Some of the middle school students understood what was going on, but other because maybe they have seen so many crashes on TV and in movies, they didnt understand it was really happening.”

Caroline Dunaway was on her way to the armory to pick up the Selma High School graduation exam, except when she arrived the building was closed. Everything was closed.

“I told them that I had to get the graduation exams and they said you’re not getting them from here today. Well, they sent them to another building and I finally got them after they went through all these steps. But that day I will remember forever,” she said.

Kitty Singley stayed home that day. Someone called her and asked if she had turned on her television.

“Well, once I turned by television on it didn’t come off,” she said. “I was just so horrified. The information just kept coming well into the night.”

Jacque Johnson was teaching a spreadsheet/database applications class at Colerain High School in Cincinnati. Her husband told her to turn on the TV.

“My class of sophomores-seniors sat in silence while we watched the events unfold,” she said.