There are only a few events that I can tell you with absolute certainty where I was at that time. Sept. 11, 2001, was one of those times. I was in the Chicago area for an Inland Press Association digital media conference.
As news spread of potential attacks on the towers, conference participants, many of whom were responsible for news on their websites, cleared the room to contact their respective papers.
While we were responsible for updating others on the events, it still seemed unreal at the time. Most participants flew into Chicago and couldn’t leave the city after the attacks, so the conference continued as a true “working conference,” with many posting stories
The memory of that day will forever be burned into my mind.
I was working at The Phenix Citizen, in Phenix City, Ala., a small town located in southeastern Alabama, that September morning. I was walking past my publisher’s office.
My publisher turned and said, “This is live, breaking news.” He and I watched in silence for about an hour, after which we game-planned our coverage for that day.
I managed to track down people who had loved ones in New York as events unfolded. I even spoke to a local banker whose son worked in the towers. He was one of the fortunate ones — he got out alive.
I remember just being mentally numb that entire day.
Journal managing editor
While I was only 13 on that Tuesday, I was not in school as many of my fellow teenagers were. I was a homeschooler and sat on my bed watching the television coverage all day after first hearing about a plane hitting the World Trade Center as I ate cereal at the breakfast table.
My memories of that day don’t stir up hatred for any group of people; they stir up sadness in thinking of the lives lost. I don’t remember feeling unified in a war on terrorism in those 24 hours; I remember feeling unified in humanity.
One memory stands out in the hours I watched events unfold. The news anchor, watching just as I was as the second tower crumbled to the ground, was nearly speechless and had only these words:
“America, say a prayer.”
Journal staff writer
I, too, distinctly remember Sept., 11, 2001. I was sitting in my 7th-grade history class in Hillsboro, Ohio and another teacher ran into the room from across the hall, telling our teacher to turn on the television right away.
As we stared at the screen I don’t think any of us realized exactly what we were watching for a few minutes. We all sat there and just watched as the footage of the planes striking the World Trade Center rolled over and over again across the screen. Then Mr. Robson told us to put away our books. We weren’t going to be reading about any more history that class, we were watching it live.
The principal came over the intercom later in the afternoon to announce a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives during the tragedy, and later my family and I went to our church for a prayer service with people from every part of town.
Journal staff writer
For myself and people of my generation, our Sept. 11 memories all begin with, “Well, I was in school ...”
It was history class for me. Now, 10 years later, 13- and 14-year-old high-school freshmen are learning in their history classes what I saw with my own eyes in mine.
In middle school, we had a project to interview people (primarily our grandparents) about what they were doing when they found out about the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Now I am telling people what I was doing when I found out about the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
History has a way of doing that. Almost 60 years after Pearl Harbor, 9/11 happened. Almost 100 years after Abraham Lincoln was gunned down, John F. Kennedy was assasinated.
What history will our grandchildren see and tell theirs about?
Journal sports editor
Almost a year before, on Sept. 9, 2000, I had become a born-again Christian, so in 2001, I was celebrating the first-year anniversary of that event. On Sept. 10, 2001, my grandpa died in his sleep. I was home from college visiting my parents on the 11th because of this event. We had the TV on for some reason — it was so rare in our house. My dad just turned it on, and the first channel it was tuned to showed the live footage of the first plane hitting the first tower. We all immediately knew it was live and just sat silent, watching the smoke, imagining the screams and how the people were dying. After a while, I realized how glad I was that my grandpa hadn't had to be here to see this day. You see, he was a POW from World War II, and he loved the United States. He escaped from a prison camp in Germany — his friends didn't make it. To make matters worse, when he came back home, his fiancée had left him for another man. He stayed in the hospital for three months, recovering from physical and mental wounds. He has only told that story a few times. When I heard it, I knew that it was the best story I would ever hear on Earth because true courage usually only has a chance to show once in a lifetime. He said that he would have done it again. So, for some reason, I consider 9/11 happening on that particular day a sort of blessing from God so that my grandpa wouldn't have to think of that when he was dying. Now that I hear of an Islamic group going to set up shop on Ground Zero, I know this country is headed in the wrong direction. It is sad that in the face of political correctness we can't stand up to a group of people and call their bluff — "Bad form!" If we did that to them, it would be deemed "insensitive and heinous." When they do it, we think twice about whether it is even right to suggest they go somewhere else. I do not believe that all Muslims are bad, of course not, but when a group wants to erect a building dedicated to the things that created the terrible space in the first place, it is like a spit in the eye, a slap in the face of our freedom. I cannot believe what the U.S. is becoming. I do not want to lose all of the things my grandpa fought for, the things I love and enjoy.
My memories of 09-11-01 is that morning I took off from the sheriff’s office. My sister Becky and I took my Dad to Central Baptist Hospital for an appointment. We were in a waiting room watching Good Morning America when they flashed to a picture of the World Trade Center with a big hole in the side of it. I told my sister, “What a terrible mistake by a plane.” In just a few minutes, the second plane hit, and I knew it was a terror attack. The day stands out as being a brilliant sunlit day and clear blue skies.
Alan “Doodle” Peel,
In the moments before the first plane hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, officials from 18 states had gathered for the annual Southern Governors’ Association conference in Lexington. As governor of Kentucky and chairman of the association, I was hosting the event.
Around 9 a.m., we learned a plane had crashed into the North Tower. At the time, we believed it to be a terrible accident. Within minutes, we were told the South Tower had also been hit. Quickly finding a room with a television, I, along with West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Mike Foster of Louisiana, and several others, watched with horror and disbelief the destruction and devastation unfolding on the streets of America’s most famous city.
When news of a jet crashing into the Pentagon came across the wires, we knew our nation was under attack. The governors needed to get home but couldn’t fly since all planes had been grounded. We began sending them out with Kentucky State Troopers who coordinated their safe return with law-enforcement officers across the south.
In the days that followed, we came together as a country and a commonwealth to pray for those who had paid the ultimate cost in these acts of aggression. Sept. 11, 2001, was a date carved in time for each of us, a date when our blankets of security and shades of innocence were abruptly swept away by the acts of a few crazed terrorists, a date when time stood still as millions of Americans were held spellbound as modern technology electronically transferred them to a scene of horror only experienced on one other occasion in our nation’s history. Never again will any of us watch an airplane soar or gaze upon New York City’s altered skyline without thinking of these horrific events.
Over the past decade, the world has observed firsthand the spirit of the American people, a spirit that others have described as a “sleeping giant,” and a giant that reveals its strength and greatness during times of duress and peril. As we mark this significant event in our history, let us pause to remember the bravery and sacrifice of so many heroes and let us continue to ask for God’s blessing on this great nation.
Paul E. Patton,
Former governor of Kentucky (1995-2003)
Few people will ever forget where they were on Sept. 11, 2001. I was in Dawson Springs for a few days visiting my parents, as their health had been deteriorating. We were watching television together that morning after breakfast and saw the terrible events as they occurred. Like many people, we stayed in front of the TV set for the rest of the day, trying to figure out what was happening and what these attacks meant for our country.
I remember feeling mixed emotions — sorrow for all the people who lost their lives and for their families, and anger at those who would perpetrate such a horrendous act.
The war on terrorism certainly escalated that day, and it’s a war that continues even today. I just returned from a visit to Iraq and Afghanistan, where thousands of Kentuckians are continuing that fight to protect our freedoms. Those servicemen and women deserve our continued support and gratitude.
Governor of Kentucky
I was in Louisville that day, having breakfast. The restaurant TV was turned on, and I remember thinking that the hole caused by the first plane was too large for a private plane. Then I saw the second plane hit and knew it wasn’t a terrible accident but an attack on the United States. I felt sickened, and everyone was bracing themselves to see what would happen next.
After calling in to my Frankfort office to check on where member families were (Sen. Tori’s son was on a commercial flight), I drove home by Ft. Knox and not the usual I-65. I remember noticing quite a bit of activity there.
That night, I was eating dinner at a restaurant and they had the TV on to follow the coverage. At one point, the station played the national anthem and there was not a dry eye in the place after.
Senate President David Williams,
The memory of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, will forever stir the emotions of rage and sadness within me. The rage is directed at those terrorists who target innocent women and children as a part of their warmongering and the sadness is for the victims and their families who bore the brunt of it.
I was driving to my law office and listening to WVLK’s Jack Pattie, who reported that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade buildings. No details were immediately available and, of course, I believed it was an accident. When he reported the second attack, I was dumbfounded. Who would do such a thing?
Thereafter, like tens of millions of other Americans, I was glued to the nearest TV set and watching in disbelief at the utter destruction and chaos. The later reports of the attack on the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania crash would only fuel my fervent hopes and resolve that whoever was responsible for this could and would be brought to justice.
Therefore, I was highly gratified when Osama Bin Laden was dispatched by a courageous band of Navy Seals who risked their lives in service to their country. This does not, however, remove the risk of further terrorist attacks on Americans around the world, and the lesson we should all take from 9/11 is to be forever vigilant in protecting our American way of life from those will never accept the fact that our way cherishes individual and religious freedom.
We are, in fact, at war with those people, and let the memory of 9/11 remind us never to weaken our resolve to win it.
I was in Louisville on Sept. 11, and it was during the early stages of my campaign for Congress. I was working when Elizabeth called me and told me to turn on the television immediately. In an instant I was shocked, saddened and stunned. It is a day that made us all want to hug our families a little closer and commit to being stronger Americans.
Kentucky Attorney General
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was still at home preparing to go to the U.S. Capitol when I heard that a plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Like most Americans, I was glued to the television and watched the attacks unfold before my eyes. I saw the second plane go into the second tower. By then, I communicated with the Capitol Police, and they advised me to stay away from the Capitol, to not come into the office. I then reached out to my staff to ensure they, like the thousands of others who work in the Senate and House, had safely evacuated the Capitol grounds. My wife, Elaine Chao, came home from the Department of Labor and brought some of her employees with her, and we continued to watch everything on television. I saw the reports about the plane striking the Pentagon and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania that we now believe was intended to hit the Capitol.
By the end of the day, it was clear America was at war and things would never be the same. I joined my colleagues on the Capitol steps to sing “God Bless America” to show the nation and the world that our government was united and unafraid.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell,