September 11, 2011 1:20:00 AM
Editor''s note: The following is a selection of edited responses to our call for readers'' recollections of Sept. 11, 2001. For space reasons, we were not able to print all of the submissions.
Sue Bradford, Starkville
It was a gorgeous fall day. I was planning on going to my local garden center for fall flowers when my phone rang. My friend from Oklahoma asked "Do you have your TV on?" I did not and told her so. She told me to turn it on. I thought strange she didn''t bother to say what channel or network but understood momentarily. I stood transfixed at what my eyes and ears could not believe! I kept thinking, "This is a movie." If only it had been. As the facts began to seep in I remember saying "Where are the heroes?" I just couldn''t believe this devastation was caused by a few lunatics with box cutters. I later found the heroes were on Flight 93 and rushing into the towers and Pentagon, and also in the towers when they were hit.
I will never forget that feeling and I have never looked at a fireman or policeman quite the same.
Rob Hardy, Columbus
Few have much inclination to work in the clinic today; there is always a group at the television. Early in the morning, some would wander in and ask what was going on, but it was not long before everyone knew. Some have relatives in the military and in the reserves, and report that the reserves are on some sort of alert.
I am glad I am retired from the military. I am glad, also, not to be serving in Barksdale Air Force Base, where I used to be the base psychiatrist and where the president is now. The chief of the clinic here brought her dog in. "I didn''t know what was going to happen today," she told me. "But this is my family, and I wanted him with me."
Let us cling to the friends we have while we have them. It was just a few hours ago that all this was first reported, but it feels like the whole world has changed, and it makes me furious that at the heart of it all are dusty old religions whose truths I doubt and whose ancient beliefs are reaching out from the centuries to choke us.
Maybe I will be less bitter about this as the days pass.
Danny Finn, Carrollton, Ala.
My wife Donna and I along with my in-laws were heading home from a long weekend of fun in the sun at Gulf Shores. The rules were simple, no TV, everybody helps with the packing and the long haul downstairs by way of the busy elevators to the parking garage.
We stopped at the local Cracker Barrel for breakfast. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, light breeze; we were having fun.
Standing in line waiting for our names to be called, my cell phone rang. It was my sister in Florida, telling me I had to get a plane, go up to Tennessee to pick up my parents who were stuck on a paddle-wheel boat close to Nashville.
"Calm down, Sister." I was also yelling into the phone cause I could have sworn I heard her say, "We are at war!"
After a bone chilling moment, she told me the twin towers have been hit by jumbo jets and are on the ground, and the Pentagon has just been hit and that it''s on fire too. I swear my knees buckled, and as I was looking around at the crowd of people milling around, I couldn''t believe it. So I asked my sister to say it again.
In the far corner I spotted a TV, but it was off. I yelled at the hostess to turn the TV on and she told me that she couldn''t. Not taking no for an answer I reached across her hostess stand and grabbed the remote. Pushing the power button turned the TV on to a sight I''ll never forget. Jumbo jets flying into the World Trade Center Towers, fires at the Pentagon. By now, everybody was grouping closer and closer to the TV yelling, "turn it up, turn it up!" People in a short amount of time were crying and screaming as the program was running the same horrifying scene of the towers being hit.
Needless to say, we didn''t eat breakfast; we got into the car, and I drove pretty fast back to Pickens County, Carrollton, Ala. Radio turned up, it was a long trip home.
Growing up, I remember my grandparents speaking of the Pearl Harbor attacks. As a small child, we didn''t "get it." Oh we saw pictures, saw history''s news reports on the numerous Dec. 7 anniversary programs. But we still didn''t "get it."
Since that day on Sept. 11, 2001, we got it. We finally understood what it meant to our grandparents. The horror!!!
Lyn Briggs Ellis, Columbus
I was at home on 9/11. My Mom called and told me to turn on the TV. She said that a plane had just crashed into a building in New York City. As I turned on the TV, the second plane was crashing into the World Trade Center. It was gut wrenching to watch. Mom and I were on the phone off and on all day. She told me her brother, W.C. had a son that worked near the World Trade Center. So I started looking for my cousin. I can count on one hand how many times that my cousin and I have seen each other. But that didn''t matter. I had to find him and make sure he was all right.
We tried to call Mom''s brother, but didn''t get an answer. I printed out all the males in New York City that had the same name as my cousin. There were probably eight or nine. I called all of them during the day and kept calling into the night. I talked to four people with the same name before I found my cousin. I asked each one questions about his parents'' names.
When I finally found the right guy, it was 11 p.m. here in Columbus and midnight in New York City. It was probably the weirdest phone call he has ever received. I told him "It''s your cousin from Mississippi wanting to know if you are all right." I think he was shocked that I had found him. As luck would have it, the company where he worked had moved their offices several blocks away from the WTC less than a week before 9/11. Since I found him, we have remained in contact with each other via Facebook and emails.
I wish every story could have ended like this one. I have watched all the 9/11 shows on the History Channel this week and even after 10 years, it is still so terrible to watch.