9/11 Stories

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Several teachers decided to share their stories on where they were and how they felt when 9/11 occurred. Mrs.Gahres was visiting Ft.Knox on business matters and ended up staying for an entire week before returning back to Florida. And Ms.Boyer was in the middle of teaching her 7th grade class when a school wide announcement was made about the New York attacks, and she later found out that flight United 93 had flown over the school before being crashed.

Now here are their stories in detail:

Cathy Gahres

Title 1 Coordinator & Assistant Athletic Director

“I was traveling from Tampa to Ft. Knox, KY on Sept 11th with a colleague. We were in the air when the first tower was hit and watched the second tower get hit while in the airport at Ft. Knox. Since my business meeting was at the base with military personnel we weren’t sure if we would still be allowed on base. When we arrived the base had already gone to full security protocols requiring bomb sniffing dogs, armed guards, and armed sentries on the tops of ALL buildings throughout the base. The level of security and speed in enacting this was astounding. With the closure of so many airports we ended up stuck in Ft. Knox for almost a week trying to get a rental car or flight back to Tampa. There were hundreds of people stranded at the hotel with us waiting on transportation.”

Barb Boyer

“Living and teaching in North East PA, I was only 2 hours away from NYC.  On that particular Tuesday, September 11, 2001, it was a beautiful,  sunny day.  My class was interrupted by an announcement by the principal. I will never forget it. “Faculty, Staff and students…. pardon this interruption… I  regret to inform you America is under attack. We have been attacked in NYC and the Pentagon. Please have a moment of silence to pray for the victims. ”  And then the speaker shut off and I had a room full of 7th graders looking at me for answers to questions I didn’t have the answer to.  Later that day, we had numerous parents who were in the military reserves come to the school to say goodbye to their children because they were being deployed to NYC. It was a sad day. Weeks later as more information was released,  we found out that the flight plan of United 93 actually flew directly over the school where I was teaching. United 93 later crashed in Shanksville, PA.”

Michael Williamson

ESE Teacher

I remember the day like it was just a few months ago, I was 19 years old and in my sophomore year at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, I lived in the dorm rooms with all the basic amenities that were available at the time; basic television, Ethernet computer connection, and an old fashioned rotary phone connected to the wall above my bed.

On Tuesday, September 11th, the morning had already started unusual because the cable television was not working, which meant I could not watch my favorite morning show at 7am “I love Lucy,” or check my ‘BGNet’ email, through Lotus Notes, which worked about 60% of the time. At this time professors did not use email, online blackboard, or expect internet research as they do now. In addition, we received our news in paper format and not in electronic format so we had to wait for the BG News or the Toledo Blade to print the news before it was available. We basically used our computer for instant messaging and typing papers, which we later printed out and had to hand in face-to-face.

As I was walking to my 8:30 class, I noticed that the different lecture halls and buildings I walked through had basic cable available in the lobbies, so the university must have been undergoing maintenance for the television cable in the dorm rooms, so students could watch TV in the public spaces if they needed a TV fix.

I went to class as usual.

Sociology 101.

Topic: “Why people are angry and impulsive?”

Class went on as usual until 9:45 as scheduled. I remember being sick of talking about angry people who do stupid things and why they do it for over an hour and just wanted to go back to my room. I noticed people huddled around the different televisions available, but did not think much of it. I glanced at one TV and saw a fire as I walked by, but assumed it was definitely something crazy that happened in another country or perhaps a movie.

As I walked into Kohl Hall, all I remember hearing was an echo of live radio reporting all in unison throughout the entire building. Silence and Radio Talk.


10:00 Cable started working

10:05 I watched the South Tower fall.

I watched the TV in shock until 3:30 then I went to Marching Band Practice which began at 4. The director began and ended practice with the Star Spangled Banner.

After practice our Band Director informed us that Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania Field had flown part of it’s path over Ohio. He talked about thankfulness and blessings and stuff. The University Closed on Friday the 14th.

I will never forget the echo of radio sound, the silence of usually loud and animated students, and the look of fear and uncertainty in people’s eyes. I especially remember those who had relatives and loved ones involved and will never forget watching the South Tower Fall on TV and the reaction of the media in that moment.

I didn’t know what to think. I still don’t know what to think. In recent years visiting the 9/11 memorial in New York has helped me process my thoughts, but it still seems unbelievable to me, to think that about one million people live in Manhattan and only about 250,000 live in Orlando.”


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