20 years later CF staff remember 9/11

Smoke rising into the air. Frantic people. Two towers crashing to the ground. A nation in shock. A date America would never come to forget. 8:46 a.m. Sept. 11 2001, American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the side of the north tower for the World Trade Center in New York City. 

Flight 11 was an unanticipated and shocking start to the morning when it crashed into the building between the 93rd and 99th floors of the north tower in the World Trade Center in New York. Everyone thought it was a terrible accident as it was unfolding. Unfortunately, 17 minutes later at 9:03 a.m.; United Airlines flight 175 crashed into the south “twin” tower and the country realized that these events were no accident. 

When the first plane struck Brian Suiter, a ninth grade English teacher at Peet Junior High, said, “At first I just thought it was an accident.” 

Suiter was a college student at the time and was in his dorm when the first plane struck, a little while later he heard about the second attack. During classes that day, Suiter said that “Everybody on campus was finding a TV set to watch and figure out what was happening.” 

After the second plane struck, the country was in disbelief that these events were not accidents and figured out that we were being attacked. Almost instantly the nation tried to contact loved ones and worried what else would be attacked. Others were too young to fully understand the gravity of the situation. 

Bethany Meier, an eighth grade U.S. history teacher at Peet Junior High was only 7 at the time and remembered being in her first grade class at Janesville. She remembers “the teachers being told to turn on the TVs and then went back to playing.” 

Meier said that 9/11 makes her think of “Patriotism and how the attacks made everyone come together.”

While the nation’s attention was quickly focused on the unfolding news and sending first responders into the building, the second tower to be hit collapsed to the ground at 9:59 a.m. and sent a wave of dust and debris to the ground, killing hundreds. Shortly after, at 10:28 a.m. the first tower collapsed as well, leaving what once was two “twin towers” reduced to rubble. 

So many were killed from the planes hitting the buildings after being trapped in the floors above. Upon the impact, each of the planes started a fire and released smoke and jet fuel, sending everyone within blocks into a panic. 

Many people that were trapped did not want to burn to death so instead, jumped and fell out of the buildings and there are pictures of the horrifying endings that are burned into many’s memories, including Suiter. He said that “the images of people jumping from the towers instead of burning to death” is something that comes to mind every year. 

During all the tragic events in New York, flight 77 also crashed into the west side of the Pentagon, an important U.S. military building at 9:37 a.m. 

Within these two hours, flight 93 was meant to hit somewhere in the capitol, but when passengers on the plane found out, they decided to not let the plane get to that point. The passengers on the flight took over the plane from the hijackers of Al Qaeda (the terrorist group later found to be behind the attacks) and deliberately crashed it into a reclaimed strip mine near Shanksville, Penn. 

The selflessness of these 40 crew members and passengers along with the attacks on the Pentagon and twin towers caused a total loss of 3,000 deaths during and shortly after the attacks. “I realized the oceans don’t keep us as safe as I had thought,” Suiter said.

It was later discovered that Al Qaeda was the terrorist group behind this and President George Bush addressed the country. Nearly 10 years later on May 2, 2011, the leader Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed by the U.S. military. 

“Another word that I think of is division,” Meier said. “People around the country treated anyone that looked different or had a different religion.” 

Because the terrorist group that attacked the United States was from the Middle East, many in the country treated anyone that looked like they were from there unfairly because they were upset with what happened to the country. When Bin Laden was captured and killed, Meier recalled there was “a lot of cheering and happiness. We did not have to worry anymore.” Colby Grothoff, a ninth grade U.S. history teacher at Peet Junior High said that he was in his final exams at UNI when he heard students “cheering in the halls waving flags.”

Today 9/11/2001 is a huge part of American history and has shaped the country to be more secure and came together amidst all the war and attacks. For Grothoff, the word that sums it up is “Tragedy. I haven’t been able to watch the footage since.” 

The nation just remembered the 20th anniversary of that day and all the horrors and deaths it brought. There are multiple memorials and movies in memory of 9/11 and the lives lost. Even after 20 years, 9/11 influences our country and memories today.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.