9/11/01: Where Were You?

By Scott Sarvay

World Trade Center attack on 9/11/2001

September 11, 2011 Updated Sep 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - The following is a collection of memories from Indiana's NewsCenter Staff as they remember where they were when they recall first hearing of the attacks on 9/11/01.

"September 11, 2001, began as an average day for me. I was listening to a lecture in my social studies class at Wes-Del High School in Gaston, Indiana, when another student ran into the room and announced that a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center in New York City.

At first, everyone thought surely this girl wasn't being serious. However, as we turned on the television, like the rest of the world, we were shocked by the events unfolding before our eyes. I was instantaneously overwhelmed by a mix of emotions I couldn't immediately process - shock, sadness, confusion, anger, fear.

Classes and after school events were put on hold as all eyes remained glued to the television. It was the end of the world as I knew it, and the onset of a new sense of consciousness. America was not invulnerable, not beloved by all, not immune to attack.

Every year on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, I remember where I was and how I felt on that day. It has changed who I am and shaped my career in journalism. I recall watching the brave men and women relay on television what was happening in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Many openly broke into tears. I recognized the importance of journalism, and realized much of my life would one day be dedicated to searching for answers, processing information, and conveying it to others.

Not only was America forever changed that day, but I was as well."
-Megan Trent

"On September 11, 2001, I was on the air for the morning show at WOWO radio. I was not the regular morning news guy, but was filling in for someone who was on vacation.

As I prepared to go on the air with the 8:00 o'clock news (back then, Indiana was not on Daylight Saving Time, so we were an hour behind New York) the morning host Dave Macy pointed up to one of the studio televisions, at a shot of one of the towers smoking. We both assumed it had been a small plane, and I ad-libbed a short line or two about "a small plane that has apparently crashed at the World Trade Center," then went on to the day's other stories.

A couple of minutes into the newscast, the second plane hit and it became clear that this was not an accident. I spent the next few hours jumping from station to station within the Federated Media group, then finally ending up simulcasting on all 6 stations in Fort Wayne. There were several times that I had to step away, walk outside, and try to compose myself.

One thing that sticks with me is when I reported that the first tower had collapsed. As I was reporting that on the air, I was thinking to myself this cannot by true. It is the only time in my radio career that I thought that. Even though I had seen it with my own eyes on TV, I did not believe it, it was too far-fetched.

When I finally got home late that afternoon, I just had to turn off the television and go sit outside. That is another indelible memory of that day. The weather was perfect, and I just wanted to spend some time sitting in the sun, not watching or listening to anything."
-Kurt Deffenbaugh

"On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was taking 10th grade ISTEP in Snider High School's main gym. School administration did not tell us of the attacks during the test; and the sophomore class did not know until testing finished at 11 a.m.

At the end of the tests, an administrator announced over a microphone, "This is a day that will change your lives forever." My classmates and I cheered, thinking he meant we would never take another ISTEP exam. Little did we know what he actually meant.

After leaving the gym, I went to lunch. Two cross country teammates were talking about planes flying into buildings, hundreds of people dying and early indications of terrorism. With no idea about the attacks, I asked, 'What book are you guys reading?!'

They were stunned the Snider sophomores had not heard the news, and gave me any detail known at that point.

Snider had a sad, cold and scary atmosphere for the rest of the day. We were not allowed to watch TV coverage. Each class, students and teachers vainly tried to put the horror into words. Cross country practice that afternoon seemed to last forever. I just wanted to be home with my family. It was not until I got home at 5:30 p.m. that I saw the magnitude of such a horrible day for the first time."
-Eric Dutkiewicz

"I remember exactly where I was on the morning of September 11, 2011. I was walking to school and I stopped in the dorm office before leaving my residence hall. When I watched the second plane hit the second tower live on TV, I can still remember thinking, 'did that really happen?'

About 11 a.m. on 9/11, my school canceled classes for the rest of the day. My thoughts for days, weeks, and even months after, was still the same as when I watched the second plane hit the second tower live on TV, 'Did that really happen?'
-John Davis

"I was in the seventh grade at Portage Middle School on September 11th. The beginning of the attacks started as I was in gym class. With about fifty people in the class, the teachers spent the period watching a tv in the office without filling us in. By the time my second class started, the second tower was hit. Instead of having class, we sat and watched the live coverage of the events unfolding. This included the first tower falling and the breaking news of the Pentagon being hit. There were kids worried, kids ready to go home, kids not knowing what the significance of the event was. I couldn't believe someone could do something this big on American soil. The crazy part of that class, was when the power went out for a few seconds.That made everything very real and worried about what could happen next.

The following class began with our teacher telling us that we were not allowed to watch anymore of what was happening, but we were asked to write an entry into a journal about what were feeling. I wrote about the significance as well as about what could have been still happening, after all, the last we heard, more planes were in the air heading for Washington.

Only one more teacher out of a few, let us watch the coverage. It was history class and he said he did not agree with what the administrators decided. The other teachers pretended that everything was fine.

Another moment that sticks in my mind came after leaving school, stopping at the store. While my mom shopped, I stayed by a radio airing the news. I remembered the reporter saying the President was flying around on Air Force One, but no one knew where he was. This helped me understand how big and how much like war this became.

As this was around the time I started to realize that I loved news, I was ready to head home and check out the latest. I sat in front of the tv for hours. The coverage was on every channel and every station on the radio. Out of all the coverage, the thing that sticks in my mind is the sound of chirping, coming from the firefighters, helping identify where they are.

I was not old enough to understand the politics, but was at the age to understand what was happening, and the significance of the day.

The days after brought feelings I have never experienced before, like the somber moment of silence at the high school football game a few days later, or the patriotism of the car flags.

This day suddenly made the importance of the world around me more important, and in the year following, teachers, especially history/ government talked more about current times and the world around than ever before. For a kid who thought the world was safe and who was on the verge of figuring out what he wanted to do as a career, quickly realized we are not necessarily safe at home and the job for me was to be a news man covering moments that change life for so many."
-Christopher Darby

"I was only 14-years-old, not listening in a high school Health class, when our principal turned on the PA system and announced that a plane had struck one of the Twin Tower buildings in New York City. I had never been to New York at that point. I had seen the towers in pictures, but I admit, I understood very little about what exactly this meant, until I turned to my right and saw the sheer terror that struck my classmate's face. She apparently had family who worked near the area in New York. When the second announcement came on, I immediately heard a kid screaming in the hallway, 'My dad works there, I need to go home, I need to call him'.

That was second period. I sat through four more classes and lunch before a single one of my teachers allowed us to watch television, all claiming we didn't have time to interrupt class. So for me, that day was a whirlwind of anxiety that I couldn't pinpoint the cause of. When I finally did comprehend the tragedy that had occurred, I felt a new sense of fear I'd never felt before. Being so young, and witnessing everyone around me panic, even adults, I became scared for a while that I would be driving to school or playing in a soccer game and all of a sudden a bomb would drop and that would be the end. Looking back, though, I realize that day prompted me to become more aware of what was going on in the world around me and to appreciate all of the rights we are blessed with here in America."
-Cara Shirley

"I sat watching in disbelief. The pictures and video were unlike
anything I could have imagined. Home from school sick, I turned on the tv and watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center. It was just before my 13th birthday when it seemed that the world I grew up in had suddenly changed forever. It was also the first time I realized that I wanted to be a broadcast journalist.

As I look back at the events of 9/11, I realize it was a bittersweet
day in my life. I fully understood the gravity of the most chaotic
situation I had ever encountered, but it also became a calling of
sorts for me. I watched then ABC anchor Peter Jennings use his years of knowledge to fully describe the sights and sounds of an unthinkable situation. His calm, collected manner is what served as my ultimate inspiration to enter this business. Ten years later, I'm preparing to finish my first year in my chosen career path as we approach the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks."

-Max Resnik

"I'll never forget that sunny day in September ten years ago, dropping my young kids off at school and hearing the first reports that something had gone terribly wrong in New York. As it became apparent that we were under attack, some frightening questions began to arise in my mind. How powerful are the terrorists who pulled this thing off? Could Fort Wayne eventually be in their sights? Will our lives ever be the same?

Some things, of course, did change. Security measures tightened. We retaliated, getting the country caught up in two wars on foreign soil. But concerns about new attacks were thwarted, and our lives, for the most part, returned to normal. Still, for the first time, I felt vulnerable to something that had always been somebody else's problem. Now I don't like it so much when I hear the phrase, 'It's a small world'."
-Jeff Neumeyer

"I was expecting my parents home from Germany that morning and so when I was sitting at the breakfast table with my 9 and 14-year-old sons and we saw the whole thing unfold before our eyes I was very concerned not only for our country...but also concerned about what would happen to their flight...which ended up being diverted to Canada. I remember the most horrifying moment for me was the realization that the planes involved weren't small private aircraft...but large commercial airliners with innocent passengers on board. I had nightmares for several nights afterward about what those passengers must have been facing.

My sons were somewhat frightened by the awful events but I think they also felt insulated from the attacks because they lived in the middle of the country...removed from the action and they didn't appreciate that the ramifications would reach every part of the nation. We had just visited the World Trade Center the summer before, so they could relate to the location and size of the towers and were unbelieving when they just fell down. My younger son drew large pictures of the towers and the planes crashing into them for several days after. I think it was his way of working through his fear."
-Melissa Long

"The phone rang.

'Are you watching TV?' my friend from New York blurted out. We were.

My wife and I were living in Florida where I was working in television news, and I remember watching ABC’s Charlie Gibson talking about a ‘small plane’ into one of the World Trade Center towers. The whole thing had an ugly pall about it that told me that this was something extraordinary. Little did I know how that moment would change us - how it would change me – forever.

Terrorists? Here?

It was a hint of what the greatest generation must have felt on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor came under attack. Certainly, it was like nothing my generation had ever known. A dire gloom, sort of a continuous depression. I became less trusting and more cynical.

We live less securely at home, worry more about ‘what’s next’ and whether the dark-skinned man with the kheffiyeh is ‘one of them.’

My friend from New York and I served in the Air Force together during the Vietnam War. During the 'War on Terror' my son – like the sons and daughters of thousands of Americans, would serve in nondescript and ugly places in the Middle East fighting an enemy we had trouble understanding or recognizing.

My son came home safely, thank God. But I think of those families who sent theirs off to protect us and whose painful 'goodbye' would be permanent.

We’ve changed because of those many individual sacrifices made on that day ten years ago – and every day since. That’s what I think of most. And thanks to those, and my family, my friends and coworkers, I’m slowly finding hope again – a long ten years after September 11, 2001."
-Peter Neumann

"After the jets hit the World Trade Center I received a call from my daughter who was in class at her high school. She was crying while asking.

'What’s going on?'

Also had a fellow employee call me at work… he wasn’t sure if he should come to work …he did come in.

Looking at the live video of our fellow American’s in harms way, I saw the melting pot of our country, all races, ages , men and women being attacked by an enemy that was far from obvious as you could get.

Then the towers fell. We were never to be the same.

When the construction crew draped the flag over the Pentagon wall, it brought tears to my eyes.

It was wonderful to see our representatives and senators working together and offering support to our country as a whole.

I was in awe of the dedication of the New York Firemen, Police, City workers, and fellow citizens who gave their all to help others.

It brought an appreciation for the first responders from our area, knowing they’d do the same if called upon."
-Jim Turcovsky

"I started the day like any other. I got up, ate breakfast and watched the news before heading off for school in New Castle, Ind. where I attended as a senior.

I vividly remember watching a national news story that morning about aircraft crashing into buildings and other planes due to issues with radar at the air traffic control towers. About an hour later as I’m sitting in my first period art class I recall that the other art teacher came into our classroom and told my teacher that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

My teacher quickly turned on the TV that was in our room and we began watching the smoke come out of the first tower. A few minutes later we saw the second plane crash. At that time we all thought we were seeing a replay of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center but in was later explained by the broadcaster that a second building had also collided with the building.

After witnessing those tragic events we all felt shocked that something like this could happen. My initial thought was that of the radar issue at the air traffic control towers but was later told of the individuals on the planes that caused the crashes.

I was then released from my first class and was told to go to my next class. During my next class we all continued to watch the TV and learned that all air traffic in the United State was grounded and that there were additional crashes tied to the same event that also took place in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. A few students including myself all wanted to board a bus and head to New York to help with recovery at the main attack site. One of my classmates was in the process of joining the Indiana National Guard at that time and decided to call her recruiter only to be told to wait for contact since she was still being processed.

The rest of the day passed with only a few comments being made from the school staff since all information was coming from the TV. During the last class of the day our principal came over the PA and finally addressed what had happened and explained the day’s events ending with a moment of silence and the playing of “Proud to be an American.” I then gathered my things and left for tennis practice.

During practice we could see the contrails and hear the military jets flying over our school on high alert.

When I finally arrived home after practice I was finaly able to reflect on the event that left us all living in an upside-down world. It left us all feeling a small bit of fear, expecting that something else unexpected and tragic would happen again."
-Scott Sarvay

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