Where were you Sept. 11, 2001?
Where were you during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and how did you react? Also, how do you feel the world has changed since that fateful day? Those were questions posed to several of our county’s leaders.
Director of economic development for Alabaster
&uot;We were in a U.S. Air flight over Washington, D.C. and weren’t told until the plane had to make an emergency landing in Parkersburg, W.Va., where it was ordered down because of the events of 9/11.
&uot;The pilot came back with a sick look on his face and told us that planes has hit both towers of the World Trade Center. And at first we actually thought it was some sort of strange joke because we were so in shock we couldn’t think straight.
We were kind of numb.&uot;
Ward continued, &uot;We were supposed to go into Pittsburgh, but the terrorist plane the passengers forced to crash was on the ground ahead of us. When we landed at Parkersburg, bomb dogs sniffed our luggage at the airport.
&uot;I think people really want to spend more time with their families now. We just realize how short life can really be. I think we just realize sometimes we take too many things for granted, and life doesn’t always give us an unlimited supply of options in the world. Spending time with your family is realizing what is really important.
&uot;I think many people are on edge a lot more … a lot more cautious … probably a little more pessimistic about the world around us. But at the same time, we’re much more knowledgeable of the world outside our boarders. Two years ago, no one knew or cared about Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Talliban and Al Queda. We’ve become more educated.&uot;
Ward summed up Sept. 11, 2001.
&uot;It was the strangest
day in my life, because up until then, the most traumatic national event had been the space shuttle explosion. This was beyond anybody’s imagination.&uot;
Chief Deputy Chris Curry Shelby County Sheriff’s Department
&uot;I was here at the (Sheriff’s) office when for whatever reason someone became aware of what was happening. We turned on the TV and watched the catastrophe. We were stunned. Then we began to think about security measures … things we should address.&uot;
Curry said, &uot;It has made us realize our public safety is primary. Without that nothing else really matters.
&uot;I think we are doing a better job (of public safety).&uot;
But, Curry noted,
&uot;We’re not there yet. It is impossible to prevent any and everything … But we are trying to make it difficult, make (terrorists) have to adapt and change plans. When they think something will work, they discover we’ve got it blocked. I think we are doing a good job of that.&uot;
Principal at Vincent Elementary
&uot;I was at work. One of the parents came in and told me that a plane hit one of the twin towers. I turned on the television … When the second one hit, I knew it was serious. I went door to door to every classroom, we had a statement that said what happened just to let the teachers know,&uot; Corbett said.
One of the teacher’s husbands was a pilot for American Airlines. She was not sure where he was. His parents finally got in touch with her, and she found out he was actually in Texas. So we had a mini crisis with all the other stuff going on. It was sad and also very tramatic for all of us.&uot;
As far as what has changed, she said, &uot;I would say that people seem more focused on what matters in life, like spending time with family and not being so caught up in possessions.
&uot;Appearances don’t matter as much as they did before. Now it’s about helping one another, working together. It has been a whole reawakening of patriotism for our country which is exciting.&uot;
Mayor of Montevallo
&uot;I was still at home when it happened that morning and saw it on television … Well, it was just unbelievable, I never thought anything like that could ever happen.&uot;
Parker said since Sept. 11, &uot;We’re living in world where we’re having
to fight a war we don’t know how to fight because we have no experience.
&uot;In the past you had an enemy you could fight. Fighting terrorists …
they are not all in a wad together … they are all over the world,&uot; he said.
Bobby Joe Seales
Shelby County Historical Society president
&uot;I was at home, and I watched it on TV all day long. I was shocked. I was disappointed. And I was sad because of the fact so many lives were lost.&uot;
Seales continued, &uot;I was disappointed that the terrorists had done something like that … The fact they even pulled it off and did it. You can’t imagine someone in their right mind doing what they did.
&uot;It has made the people more fearful. But at the same it has brought the people closer together … more united.&uot;
Among other changes in the world, Seales said, &uot;I feel like people now realize that there is a God and that he has mended many broken hearts from the deaths suffered by the families.&uot;
A year later, however, Seales said the effect Sept. 11 had on us at the time and shortly thereafter &uot;doesn’t dwell in our minds and conversations like it did. We have become more complacent.&uot;
Shelby County Coroner
&uot;I was getting ready to leave to go to the office and had the TV on at home. When I walked in, the first aircraft had hit the first tower, and I thought, ‘My Lord, this is the most devastating thing that has ever happened to this country.’ And as I watched, the second plane came in and hit the second tower.
&uot;(The attacks were) just incomprehensible, unbelievable total devastation of those two buildings.&uot; He said he had been in the twin towers several times in the past and had seen them when they were being built.
He also said he thought at the time, &uot;It was unbelievable that (terrorists) were attacking just plain citizens.
&uot;Then as the fires grew and more floors were affected in the devastation, I was worried (the towers) were going to fall. And a few minutes later they began to crumble.&uot;
Ballard said of the day, &uot;I think it has been something that has drawn our country together more than any other event since Pearl Harbor.&uot;
But he said, &uot;I’m afraid we are becoming a little more complacent with our situation now, and we’re not realizing that something like that could happen again.&uot;
Shelby County Probate Judge
&uot;I was at work when it happened. I got a call telling me about it. After the first (plane) hit, I thought it was an accident. When the second one hit, it became apparent it was a terrorist. Someone brought in a TV, and we watched the coverage,&uot; Fuhrmeister said.
She said after that, &uot;The local Methodist church scheduled an impromptu service, and we all went to that. It was a frightening time. I was just so overwhelmed.
&uot;It seemed so impossible to me that (terrorists) would have enough organization to pull together something like that simultaneously. I felt for all of those people and the families of the firefighters, police and rescue workers. It was just a moment of overwhelming grief and sadness.&uot;
&uot;Now we have gotten back to business as usual which is good. We can’t let something like that effect our way of life,’&uot; she said. &uot;I think everybody feels a little less secure. For many people, it gave them opportunity to reflect about the things happening in the world after watching those events, and it made them think about what is really important and what is not.&uot;