I was a fifth-grader when our grim-faced teacher herded us into the auditorium of our small community school on November 22, 1963. We watched the grainy black and white image of Walter Cronkite reporting that President Kennedy had died. It was a moment in history, one we couldn’t understand nor would ever forget.
Fast forward 38 years to Sept. 11, 2001. As a middle-school teacher, my small gifted program classes were housed in the high school, with which we shared a campus. Third period had begun when a colleague came to the door and said, “Turn on your TV.” (Ironically, it wasn’t until later I found out the middle school teachers were not told to turn on their televisions!) The colored screen came to life just in time to witness the fall of the second tower. I remember blurting out, from some part of my brain that recalled the name that would soon be on everyone’s lips, “Bin Laden.”
The day’s lesson plan was abandoned as my sixth graders searched on the computers to find out more about the attack. Some wrote poems and drew pictures describing their feelings. With my young charges I was once again witnessing history.
I saved The Telegraph from the day after, its headline blaring “Disbeliefanger”, emotions we still feel 10 years later.
I’m retired from teaching, and those students are now grown. I pray for the futures of my children and grandchildren and that of all my former students in a world where hatred causes someone to assassinate a president or to send hijacked planes crashing into skyscrapers.
Just like my 9-year-old self in 1963, I still don’t understand.
But I will always remember.
Dawne W. Bryan, Cochran
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a senior at Houston County High School. Like many in our class, I was looking forward to field trips, enjoying the last year of high school, and looking toward the bright future. Sept. 11, 2001 changed that outlook.
I remember driving to school in my new car on that bright September morning. It was like any other morning until second period, when we all heard the news. I was going from my Statistics class to my third-period AP World History class when I noticed students scurrying in the hall and announcing a plane hit the World Trade Center. I, like some other students, was doubtful. “Are you sure?” I asked. “No, we were in our current events class and saw the whole thing happen.”
As I arrived to my World History class, my teacher, Mr. Tony Jones, said, “This is a historical event. This is what it feels like to experience history. You are feeling what the World War II generation felt when Pearl Harbor occurred.”
I was considering studying history in college and this event let me know what an important subject history was and how relevant it is to our everyday lives. Our world had changed. Trips that were not necessary were cancelled. Many of my classmates who were considering only attending college began looking at careers in the military in addition to further education. Fellow students who had parents and relatives in the military feared the coming of war.
I realized that even though I was only 17 life was fragile and could change in an instant.
I have grown since then and become a historian. Life has happened good and bad for me and my classmates who entered high school and experienced the Columbine High School tragedy and left high school in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. I always considered myself a patriotic American, but after that day I truly knew the meaning of Every Day in Warner Robins is Air Force Appreciation Day.
Deitrah Taylor, Perry
Something was odd. All the TVs in the Atlanta VA hospital were tuned to the same station, showing the trade towers burning. Then I saw the replay of a plane flying into the towers. Must be a trailer for a new movie I thought.
My husband was having his weekly chemo treatment. I had gone to get him a cup of coffee. Handing him the coffee, I noticed he looked even sicker than when I had left a few moments ago. I started to tell him about the movie, but he took my hand and made me sit in the chair next to him. “It’s not a movie, little sugar” he said. “It’s an attack on the Twin Towers.” Being a native New Yorker, I drew in a deep breath and mentally started to list everyone I knew who worked in the towers.
Doctors and nurses at the hospital immediately started to arrange child care and transportation to New York to help in the rescue efforts. Patients who were active duty started to demand hospital discharge papers. People started to talk about declaring war. A woman in the next treatment chair kept repeating, “All those souls going at once, all those souls.” I was too stunned to move. I don’t remember anything about driving home to Warner Robins.
After burying my husband three weeks later, I realized the world had changed forever. It took me a year to look at the list of fatalities.
Naomi Rosan Davis, Roberta
I landed in London at Heathrow Airport on Sept. 11th. English friends met in the terminal and took me to their home to drop off my luggage and wash up. Then they took me to a local branch of Barclay’s bank to withdraw some English pounds from my checking account. The young cashier informed me that I needed to watch the news. So she turned on a TV by standing on a chair. Then I immediately saw a commercial airliner crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City. Everyone in the bank stopped what they were doing to watch the TV up high on the wall.
Frank W.Gadbois, Warner Robins
The day of the 9/11 attack, I was at my home on the Internet and I read on the screen about the bombing. I began to pray. My brother called me from Florida and asked was I watching the news. I told him I saw the bombing and he told me to make sure me and all our family members stay inside. I felt sorry for all the families who lost their loved ones.
Minnie Myrick Goolsby, Gray
I was stationed at Ali al-Saleem Airport, Saudi Arabia. We got to see both crashes live on TV. There were many tears, many who couldn’t believe what was happening, many who were furious, many who were beyond sad. It was sad to hear that a lot of the “pilots” were Saudi citizens and the Saudi Arabian government did nothing.
There was a woman out in the street of some SWA (Southwest Asian) nation holding up her hands dancing and singing, she was happy this had happened.
A lot of American soldiers, Marines, airmen, developed hardened hearts that day in history. Maybe one day in the far, far future we’ll be able to figure this out, but maybe not.
Mike Dilks, retired Air Force, Warner Robins
I was in homeroom at Weaver Middle School. We had just finished watching the Channel One news when a teacher from across the hall came in and told our teacher to turn the television back on and switch it to CNN.
At first none of us really paid attention to the building with smoke pouring out of it on the screen. I guess we just thought it was something happening overseas.
Our teacher started mumbling, “Oh my God... Oh my God.”
That’s when I noticed the look on her face, and realized that her eyes were glued to the screen. Then I heard the voice on the television say something about a terrorist attack.
Eventually we started asking the teacher what was going on. After a minute she explained that someone had flown a plane into the World Trade Center and that it was believed to be a terrorist attack.
I don’t think any of us really knew what it meant for this to be happening. I just remember wondering “Who did this? And what are they going to do next? What does all this mean?”
Brandy Herndon, Macon
On Sept. 11, 2001 I received a call around 4 a.m. from Delta Airlines scheduling. I was a flight attendant at that time. They called to tell me that the first two legs of my trip had been canceled and to report later that morning for the rest of the trip. Great news for me. ...more sleep!
As I was getting ready to leave for Hartsfield later that morning, the news broke. An airplane had hit the twin towers. I was sure it was not a commercial airline. That would never happen! But, it did.
The first day the airlines were back flying, I had a regularly scheduled trip. There was really nothing regular about it! The concourses were like a ghost town. Security was so tight I could not even get a plastic knife to spread cream cheese on the bagel I had purchased. The very few people that were flying were so reserved and almost seemed “shell shocked”. The plane was eerily quiet as we took off that day.
As most Americans are resilient, they did return to air travel and the concourses were packed again. The fear subsided but not forgotten nor the lives lost forgotten.
Kathy Moore, retired Delta flight attendant, Macon