Twenty years later, hard to forget details of that single day: Sept. 11, 2001

Published 7:30 am Saturday, September 11, 2021

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The events of Sept. 11, 2001 may be 20 years in the past, but for many the memories of that day will never fade. It was a day that set a new course for our nation and its place on the global stage.

As today marks the 20th anniversary of that event, we remember those who lost their lives as well as the many heroes who helped save countless others.

The attacks in New York, Washington, and the downed hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania cost our nation 2,977 lives. The attack on New York’s World Trade Center accounted for 2,753 of those who were killed. The victims ranged in age from 2 to 85 years of age.

In New York, first responders who rushed to the scene saw a significant loss as 343 firefighters, 23 police officers and 37 Port Authority officers were killed.

Today, we remember the events that is universally known to us as 9-11. The Andalusia Star-News posed the question: “Where were you on 9-11?” We share the responses here with the hope that it will bring solidarity in knowing that as a nation we can come together regardless of the obstacles we face.

Robert Blankenship, publisher of the Andalusia Star-News, remembers that long day as a young reporter in Brewton, Alabama.

“I was 29 years old and was working at the Brewton Standard. On the drive from Atmore that morning, I heard on the radio that a plane had hit the tower. By the time I was approaching Brewton, the second plane struck leaving no doubt that this was an attack, not an accident.

“I began thinking about how I would cover the event for the Wednesday edition.  That question answered itself following the attack on the Pentagon. That was when I learned that a 25-year-old serving in the U.S. Army, working at the Pentagon, was likely killed.

“Sgt. Tamara Thurman, a graduate of W.S. Neal High School, enlisted in the Army out of high school and served in Bosnia, Korea and Germany. She was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal. By all accounts, she had already contributed so much at such a young age. It is heartbreaking to think of what she would have done over the past 20 years.

“On that day, I had to make the hardest call of my 23-year career in community journalism. I had to speak with her mother, Sandra Woolen. I don’t mind saying, it was a call I procrastinated to make. I’m not sure when I finally worked up the nerve to make that call, but it was late in the day and once I did I found a grieving mother who was kind enough to share a few thoughts about her daughter. Her kindness, even in a moment when a know her heart was breaking, is something I will never forget. When I think of 9-11, it always comes back to Tamara Thurman.”

Following are memories shared with us by other readers.

“I was teaching third grade at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, AZ. Those children’s lives changed dramatically that day. Military kids are my heroes.” — Glenda Houchin

“Getting our family home together to plan for an uncertain future — Dean went TDY (temporary duty assignment) the next day doing surveillance of the terrorists directly related to the plane bombings. Our lives were forever changed.” — Carleen Lundquist

“Teaching fourth grade at Andalusia Elementary School and watching things unfold while my class was at PE. We were informed to turn off our televisions for the sake of our children! — Susie Russell

“I had taken my daughter to her Freshman year at the University of Alabama and had started back home on the enter state when I turned on the radio!” — Pam Meredith Brannon

“I just got off work and heard it on WAAO and thought how can a plane make that bad of mistake. I got home and turned the TV on and watched the horror unfold. Still not wanting to believe, but it was happening. Our country changed that day and we saw it in living color.” — Reggie Davis

“I was working my day off at Lowell General Hospital in Massachusetts.” — Melanie Hope Robinson

“I was in my office, manually entering some credit card charges, when the phone line (back then, those kinds of transactions were done over phone lines) went dead. A co-worker came in and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I immediately imagined it being something like a small sight-seeing plane. Not long after, we all gathered around a small, black and white TV and watched in horror as the towers collapsed. Ever since then, whenever I see a date that’s pre-9/11/01 I think to myself, “That was before the world changed.” I’m beginning to think the same about anything prior to March 2020… when COVID changed our world. Life marches on, but we should never forget what happened on 9/11.” — Casey White

“I was eating chow at Camp Bondsteel Kosovo doing a peace keeping mission that later was called a campaign. Camp alarm went off and we all scrambled to the aircraft to get them ready.” — John Major Parker

“Sitting on the couch with my then 2-year-old son watching him play. The television interrupted to say the first twin tower had been hit and I remember calling my mom to tell her to turn on the news right now. We both watched together as the second plane hit. I picked up my baby son holding him tight. I watched the replay of this over the days and weeks to come. I watched as people of all walks of life filled the churches holding each other’s hands while praying. American flags were hanging at most every home with pride. A day that I will never ever forget.” — Robin Davis Clark

“I was coming back from Red Level where I had taken my daughter to school. It was her 16th birthday.” — Becky Stroud

“A student at Troy University watching Sportscenter before I my history class, which I went to and asked the professor some questions.” — Jeff Forrester

“Persian Gulf off shore Qatar. Twenty-eight days turned into 42 days!” — Ricky Vinson

“Mrs. Ryan’s first grade class at Andalusia Elementary.” — Kayla Givens Snyder

“I was headed to open my store for business that morning and heard the breaking news on the radio.” — Rita Thames

“Just left work at Shaw when I heard the news!! Never Forget!!!” — Ken Helms

“Mrs. Carpenter’s third grade classroom at Red Level Elementary. We all sat cross legged on the floor watching the news while all the teachers cried. We had no clue what was going on.” — Victoria Vitale

“At work at Red Level School. It was a day I will never forget!” — Quennie Maddox

“Mrs. Nall’s sixth grade class at Red Level.” — Anna Bush

“I was just leaving Dr. David McCalman’s office when it came on WAAO! I rushed home and the scene on the television was terrifying! Then the second plane hit and I began to cry for all those people in the buildings and for our great country! What an awful day that was. As for the following days, praying for survivors and holding our breath wondering what might happen next. Our nation changed that day!!” — Kathy Wallace

“Just woke up that morning, after coming off a rig in Brazil.” — Dan Mostyn

“Driving up the interstate headed to Tuscaloosa. Was at MM 125.” — Judy Sutton