Staff Writer: Michael Paulus
Yesterday was September 11. Eighteen years ago, terrorists permanently changed the way Americans viewed the world and their own lives. It’s still an emotional time for many people, myself included.
I was in 8th grade and remember when I first heard about the attack. I had just sat down in my Social Studies class. My teacher always started class off with a joke, but not today. She explained that a plane had hit Tower 1 of the World Trade Towers. She wasn’t sure what to teach. Many kids went home early. For the rest of the day, all classes were glued to the television.
Central Piedmont Community College librarian Cheryl Coyle lived in New York City at the time and experienced the event near ground zero.
She remembers what it was like trying to find her family after the towers were hit by those two American Airlines planes. Many cell carriers had their antennas situated on top of the Twin Towers, so as the smoke rose and the antenna began to crumble, it became very difficult to complete a cell call.
Coyle then used her office phone to try and locate her aunt who worked for a dental office on the 102th floor of Tower 2. Before Tower 2 was hit, she spoke with the receptionist and was told that her aunt had a doctor’s appointment. Her aunt was safe, but the receptionist was lost in the attack.
Coyle also remembers a New York Giants game that occurred the night before. The Giants played an intense game against the Denver Broncos. Many New Yorkers that worked in Tower 1 and Tower 2 had stayed up watching every play as the game went late into the night. The next morning, as their offices crumbled, many were thankfully stuck on subway cars, planning to come in late for work.
It didn’t matter where you lived, all of America felt vulnerable. Those who were around at the time of Pearl Harbor knew the feeling well, the younger generations were trying to make sense of the attack. It took days for firemen, police officers, and recovery workers to sift through the rubble and recover the many people who lost their lives.
I still remember the day President Bush spoke from the rubble of the tower, saying, “I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”
We lost 2,763 people that day. In that number 343 were firefighters and EMTs, 23 were police officers, and 37 worked for Port Authority. We remember these men and women every day.