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Memories of 09/11/01

September 21, 2011
Westfield Republican
On Sept. 11, 2001, my wife Louise and I were visiting friends at their cottage in a little community called Dingwall near the tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. That morning we had taken a sight seeing trip around the northwest tip of the island and stopped at the small town of Cheticamp for a bite to eat. It was a Tim Hortons where several customers and the servers were all watching TV. We asked what was happening and learned of the planes hitting the towers in NYC.

We were 1,400 miles from Westfield and it was an interesting trip home. Crossing back into the U.S.A. the line of cars and trucks was long and slow, as each vehicle was thoroughly inspected inside and out. Our inspector asked where we were going and I said Western New York near Buffalo. He responded, “How are the Bills going to do this Year?” It was comforting to see American flags adorning bridges and buildings throughout Canada.God bless America. May her leadership always keep us free and strong.

Charles Quick,

Westfield, N.Y.

We lived in Vienna, Va., on 9/11/2001, 12 miles from Washington, D.C. That morning, I did not have the TV on when the first plane hit, but happened to turn it on right as the second plane hit. I thought a movie was on or something, but quickly realized it was the real news that I was watching. I was in shock, and it took me a few minutes to really realize what was going on. I ran to call my husband on the phone to tell him to turn on the TV at work. The building where he worked was right across the river from the Pentagon. As I was talking to him, he felt his building shake and hung up to go see what had happened, even though he said he had a feeling he knew that something had been hit by a plane. It was the Pentagon. My husband could see it burning from the window at his office. At that time, the authorities thought more planes were in the air, and they didn’t know where they may hit. There were all kinds of rumors going around that one may have the U.S. Capitol as a target. So my husband made the decision to close his work, since they were on the 20th floor of a building between the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. So he closed his office and drove home. We sat for hours and hours and watched the TV. The schools had decided to stay open and keep the kids there, but said parents could come in and pick them up, if they wanted. We decided to leave our kids in school. When they came home, my older son, who was in high school, said they had just watched it on TV the entire day. My other son, who was in the fifth grade did not know anything about it. I was happy that the school had not told the younger kids, and left it for the parents to talk to them about it. At that time, my husband’s business owned a hotel in Washington, D.C. After 9/11, the occupancy rate of that hotel was about 20 percent for months and months. Nobody wanted to come and stay in the Washington, D.C. area. It took about a year to get it back to normal. My husband watched the Pentagon being rebuilt for the next six months from his office window.

Lesley Rackowski

Westfield, N.Y.

Ireland! Of all places. Jim, my late husband, and I arrived in Ireland Sept. 8 for a week’s vacation and touring. It was the second day and we had just visited Old Head, Known for its magnificent views and being the nearby site where the ill-fated ocean line, the Lusitania, was torpedoed.

After climbing back into the bus that afternoon, our driver announced, “I have a bit a bad news for you. It seems two airplanes flew into the World Trade Center towers and another into the Pentagon.”

With that he took us back to our hotel and several from our group hurried to their rooms to telephone the states. They had relatives and/or friends who may have been in New York or Washington, D.C. The rest of us ran to our TVs to see the devastation.

During the rest of the week, when any of the Irish saw us on the streets, in a store or restaurant, they gave their condolence. A few even told us of their relatives living in the U.S., hoping at the same time that they were not harmed. It was not unusual to hear “God Bless America” while walking down the street. One day, the Kinsdale inhabitants held a prayer session in the center of town. It was, without a doubt, a most heartwarming experience, one I’ll never forget.

I remember where I was when Pearl Harbor was struck. I remember where I?was when John Kennedy was shot. I remember where I was when WWII ended. I will never forget where I was when America was attacked Sept. 11, 2001.

Ann E. Weidman

Mayville, N.Y.

It was Tuesday, a beautiful clear and crisp September morning. I was sorting mail at my case at the post office in Clymer, N.Y.

We heard on the radio a plane had hit a building in New York City. Shortly thereafter it was reported to have been a passenger jet and it had directly hit one of the towers at the World Trade Center.

We turned on a small television and adjusted the rabbit ears to a fuzzy but definable picture. Almost immediately we saw another plane hit the other tower. It was then reported the United States of America was under attack.

As I finished casing and began to pull down the mail for delivery, we heard another plane had hit the Pentagon. Unbelievable! Then another plane crashes into a field in Pennsylvania. I asked myself; who could be doing this, and why?

As I delivered my route that beautiful late summer day, I tried to comprehend the damage and loss of life our great country had sustained. After returning and completing my duties at the post office, I drove to Abbe Church. I knelt at the altar and I prayed. I asked God’s blessing upon those lost in the attacks. I also asked for His blessing upon the family members of those lost in the attacks. I then asked God to help guide us in finding those who committed this horrible attack and to see that they be held accountable for their actions. I closed my prayer by asking that He continue to bless this land we call home. This land of the free, because of the brave — The United States of America.

Upon arriving home I did what comforts me when I need relief from stress — I sat at the piano and began to play. I played a number of my favorite patriotic songs, and as I blended them together, words came to my mind. Words I had read and memorized over 40 years ago now while in the eighth grade. Words I had my children memorize when they were in junior high school. Miss Gleason, my eighth-grade English teacher required us to memorize and recite them in front of the class.

Those words were the Gettysburg Address. I first shared that patriotic medley at a Veterans Day celebration in November 2001. I have since shared that medley many times in local churches, July 4th celebrations, Veterans Day celebrations and other patriotic events. A patriotic medley of my two favorite patriotic songs: “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” while reciting President Lincoln’s Address at Gettysburg.

I hope all that have heard it have enjoyed it as much as I have while sharing it with all of you. The attacks of 9/11 destroyed many buildings and many sacrificed their lives, but the spirit of America and the freedoms we so dearly cherish will never be broken nor taken away!

My most vivid memory of the 9/11 attacks is that snapshot in time of the first responders raising the American flag over the massive death and destruction. I will never forget that day, nor will I ever forget those first responders, the brave men and women climbing those stairways toward danger to rescue those in need, meeting those coming down those same stairways to escape that danger. I thank God each and everyday for those brave men and women.

God bless the United States of America and those who wear the uniform of the United States of America who stand in harms way over there to keep us safe at home over here.

Jon M. Babcock

Clymer, N.Y.


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