Much like Dec. 7, 1941, a generation before, Sept. 11, 2001, is a day that is etched in our minds. Most of us remember what we were doing when we first found out about 9/11. We asked our readers to share their stories of what they were doing that day. The following are their responses:
I was paying bills when the breaking news came over the television. I'll never forget the tone in Bryant Gumbel's voice as the second plane struck. It was very eerie in October when I was balancing my checkbook and there were a bunch of checks dated 9/11/01.
_ Lynne Talbot of Gilbertsville
On Sept. 11, 2001, my Canadian sister and I were visiting Dorothy and Carl Shedlock in Oswego. We were getting ready to leave for Canada and watching TV when the shocking events of the planes crashing into the towers took place. We left soon after, not knowing if we would be able to cross the border. By the time we got to the Thousand Island crossing, there were armed military personnel in place of the usual customs officers. We were questioned very professionally by a man with dark glasses masking his upper face. He gestured us on our way, and, as we left I said, "Good luck today." He acknowledged my comment with the slightest nod and no change in facial expression.
We listened to the radio all day, and at every stop, people spoke to us about the events, probably because of the U.S. plates on the car. It was an exhausting and emotional day for all.
_ Jacqueline Hamblin of Oneonta
Ten years ago on this date, my husband and I landed in Heathrow Airport for a two-week vacation visiting cousins in England. Not knowing that anything had happened until we reached our cousin's house, which is 90 miles southeast of London. Upon our arrival, their son, who is a bobby in Bristol, phoned to tell us to turn on the telly _ much to our surprise the twin towers were attached. We spent the rest of our vacation watching the telly. On our trip to do some shopping in the village, the community held a moment of silence, about three days after the attack. We did not have any trouble getting back to the U.S., but we did notice how much the security had tightened up. This was an experience we will never forget.
_ Emilie and Ted Gaisford of Oneonta
I had just gotten to my mother's in Laurens to take her for a doctor's appointment. I heard it on WDOS radio station. I hurried inside to tell my mom, and she had it on the TV. So we watched it, and soon after the second one hit the tower. We watched in disbelief at first.
_ Jean M. Fink of West Laurens
I was on my way to Vienna but had a stopover in Zurich, Switzerland. While sitting and waiting for a connecting flight in the Zurich airport, I noticed a large semi-circle of people about five deep crowded near a wall, Being curious, I went over to see what was so interesting. Everyone was watching a huge movie on the wall or a screen. No one spoke or looked anywhere but at the picture. In a few moments I realized it was the TV station CNN and it was happening as we watched. It showed the tower in flames, after having been struck by a plane. The reporter's speculations about possibilities ran on and on for many minutes. Then the second plane struck, and the speculation was over. "That was no accident!" are the words etched in my memory.
_ Jo Melmer of Oneonta
It started out as a normal Tuesday morning. I was at work doing a pipe job with the radio on in the background. Big Chuck was talking and all of a sudden announced that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. The thinking was that it was a small plane, like a Cessna or some plane like that. The guys and I didn't think too much more about it and went on about our work when Chuck broke into a song saying that the other tower had been hit!
This was just too coincidental now. I got the guys over to my work station and turned the radio up so we could all hear what was being talked about. The five of us looked at each other and said, "We are under attack!"
By who, we had no idea, just like the rest of our country. Normally the other guys in the shop had their radio on another station, but Chuck at WDOS seemed to have turned to the event totally. We kept on doing our work but all of us kept an ear tuned to what was going on.
When the word finally came that the first tower had fallen, all work stopped.
None of us could believe what we were hearing! Then the shop phone rang, it was my dad in North Carolina. The first thing he said was, "Son, you aren't going to believe what you are hearing until you see it on the news tonight!" My only response to him was, "We are now at war, aren't we?" He said, "Yes, we are but who with, I just don't know!"
Hearing this news kind of ended our workday! We tried to keep going but none of the five of us really had our hearts in it.
We just wanted to get home and see what was happening to our country. After seeing the news when I got home, I immediately called Dad and said, "Is this my generation's Pearl Harbor?" He said, "Most assuredly, yes!" Then I asked him where was he and what was he doing when the Japanese attacked America in 1941. He said he remembered very clearly. He was 8 years old, he and his brother were playing in a Chinaberry tree when the neighbors came across, the road crying, saying we are at war with Japan!"
Needless to say, it was a restless sleep that night. When I got to work the next morning, all the rest of the guys that worked with me said there's only one thing we can do.
Do our work the best we can and stay calm and know we would prevail! And, we did just that.
_ Dave Jones of Schenevus
I was at work in my room at Seeley's, just doing my job. I always had the radio on and when the news cam across the air that the twin towers had been hit. I just stood there and listened.
I all but cried. The next thing I knew a man that never has a radio in his area came in and asked if I had a spare radio. (Of course I did ). He took it and went back to his area.
I listened to it all in disbelief. The whole plant was in shock to it all, too.
_ Bonnie S. Bowen of Oneonta
The morning of Sept. 11, 2001 I was driving to an Otsego County Emergency Response Committee meeting to represent the local American Red Cross, when I heard about planes crashing into the World Trade Center on the news. At the meeting everyone was watching the horrific events unfold on television. Later I went to the Red Cross office in Oneonta to help our one employee field telephone calls offering everything from blood to backhoes to help out in New York City.
That night I received a call asking if I could go to New York City the next day. With airports shut down, Red Crosses from upstate New York and other places within a few hours' drive of New York City were needed. I joined up at the Endicott office with several others from our area to drive to the city. We stayed together, Marge from Syracuse as loadmaster; MaryAnn from Cortland, photographer; Angel from Union Springs, driver (he had driven in New York City earlier in life), Stacey, our guide from the city; and me running the radio, all serving as an Emergency Response Vehicle crew. We carried hot meals to many locations around the city including a morgue at La Guardia Airport, complete with refrigerated trailers and an FBI casualty identification unit, then Fresh Kills Landfill where ruins of the WTC were taken and meticulously examined for remains and artifacts, among others. We did this for two weeks with one day off; out at 6 a.m. to field kitchens at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, made two runs then back to the hotel by 9 or 10 p.m. At one point we had a police escort with lights and siren to get through traffic. Then I came home.
My memory is seared with a scene from our first night in New York City. Sent to help at a school near the site, PS 234, we looked, unbelieving, up the street at a small mountain of still-smoldering debris, the former World Trade Center. With police cars whooping their sirens, heavy construction equipment and U.S. Army troops passing by, we stood on the curb overcome with emotion, held hands, prayed in our own ways, and cried.
_ Garrick Hoadley of Gilbertsville
I was employed as a union carpenter (renovating the restaurant) in the New York Stock Exchange at 11 Wall St., which is just two short blocks from the World Trade Center.
Just before 9 a.m., the lights and power went out for a short period. My fellow workers and myself continued working and, about 45 minutes later, my foreman came in and informed us to drop the tools and make a hasty but calm exit to Worth Street. He briefly informed us of the devastation at the World Trade Center. Planes were flying into the building and the New York Stock Exchange could be a target. Scared and shaken, we made it out.
Office supply papers and documents were raining from the sky. The stench of airline fuel was awful. Black smoke was billowing from the upper floors of the Trade Center.
Emergency personnel ushered us east toward Water Street. It was a twist of fate that I drove to work on that occasion. We watched TV briefly on Water Street and saw the first tower fall. When the second tower fell, I had just picked up my car. Traffic was at a standstill and visibility was zero, as the dust had engulfed all of South Manhattan.
Luckily a politician from our area was attending a meeting at 55 Water St. I joined his escort and came north on the FDR Drive, stopping only for a short period in the Bronx.
My car was still covered with the white residue when I arrived in Oneonta. It was eight days before we were allowed to return to the New York Stock Exchange to continue our work.
_ Jim Brady of Oneonta
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was living in Rockland County and working for Westchester County in its Yonkers Department of Social Services office. Then, the office was right on the Hudson River. As I pulled into the parking lot, right by the rocks of the shoreline, I heard on the car radio that there was a fire in one of the towers.
The way the Hudson River bends, I always shut the car door and saw the towers as I walked in the back door to work. This time I saw a lot of smoke and said to myself, "A fire is an understatement!" The smoke was intense. When I walked into the office, I heard more and more about what was happening.
Many of us walked back out to the parking lot and saw the second tower fall with our own eyes. We were crying and hugging each other. Since we were in a county government building, this also added to the already scary event.
Then we heard some bridges were closed. When the Tappan Zee Bridge was reopened, a co-worker let me follow him across back to home in Rockland County. I thought the bridge may be next. It was a relief to reach the other shoreline.
Returning to work, I stared for weeks down the river where the towers once stood. I will never forget where I was and what I saw.
_ Patricia Quirk of Mount Upton