Sept. 11, 2001, lives on as a permanent memory for many, like the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor does for older generations. Many have strong memories of where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the planes hitting the World Trade Center towers. Here are the full stories from 9-11 shared by our readers:
Donna Casino, St. Anne:
"Our family vacation started and ended at O'Hare Airport on Sept. 11, 2001. Twelve members of our family were taking a vacation to California. Bill and Donna Casino, Scott Kathleen, Anniliese, Dalton and Brandon Ahrens, and Roger and Lori Smith and Logan Bertrand, Aubrey Schuh and Joshua Smith. Upon arriving around 7 a.m. for a 9 a.m. flight, our flight was 'on time.' Around 8 a.m., Scott called a co-worker about business and this person told him that a plane had hit the north tower, at this point our flight board said 'Delayed.' Soon several employees at the boarding desk started having a discreet conversation. Soon after, Scott's co-worker called back and said the other tower had been hit and it sounded like a terrorist attack. While Scott was telling us this information, another passenger said it sounded like the work of Osama bin Laden. Soon all the TV monitors in the airport were turned off and people started making a mad rush for the public phones. It wasn't very long before an announcement came across that all flights in the United States were grounded and we were to go to baggage claim to get luggage and leave the airport. That's when it got chaotic with so many people trying to get their things and leave. We had to wait until we got home to see for ourselves on TV the horror that had invaded our homeland."
Megan Kerulis, Wilmington:
"I was six when the Twin Towers fell. I was not aware of any of the events until I came home from school. I remember my mother picking me up and when we got home, we listened to the answering machine. There was a voicemail on there and someone was talking about people dying, New York being attacked, and I didn’t understand since I was so young. My mom quickly shut off the answering machine. I don’t think she wanted me to hear any of it. She was crying. I asked her what was wrong. And she said, 'Megan, something really bad happened in the world today.' I still remember her saying that to me really vividly to this day."
Kristine Condon, Homewood:
"I was teaching a computer course at KCC and had arrived in class to a group of students clamoring for information. I shared everything I had heard and seen, but we had no plasma screens posted on campus for students to stay informed. A group of students presented a petition to then-President Weber for that technology, which is now standard on the KCC campus. It was student advocacy in action, and it was an important reminder of why we teach in the first place."
Andrea Keith, Bradley:
"My husband, 18 month-old son and I lived in Kentwood, MI, about 7 miles from Gerald Ford Int’l Airport. On Sept. 10, we learned we would be expecting a new baby in the spring. I was looking forward to telling our church family at coffee time on the morning of 9/11. I was on staff and we often had meetings in the nursery where Brandon could play while we planned events. As we approached the door to the church that morning, Pastor Bob and our friend Betsy met us, and ushered Brandon and I to the office. There, our friends Marilyn and Scott were in front of a TV rolled in from one of classrooms. None of us could believe what was being reported. My husband Darin called the church and asked that Brandon and I come home. He was off work that day, as we had just come back from a trip up north. Immediately, my thoughts went to my brother, my pregnant sister in law, and their little girl. They had just left to report to his new Navy command in Italy but I couldn’t remember any of their flight information. The 10 minute drive home felt like a cross-country trip. Once home, with all of us settled, I called my mom and confirmed my brother & his family were safe. That night, our dear friends & neighbors were at our house, where we left the kids play and we watched the reports, trying to comprehend the hate, and the tragedy. A week later I miscarried. I don’t blame the emotion of 9/11 for the science of my body, nor am I ashamed to admit I was relieved at the time, to not bring another life into the world. Little things, like the daily white noise of airplanes over our backyard were a reminder of something missing in America. Eventually we regrouped as a country and we didn’t let the bullies win. We also regrouped as a family and welcomed our daughter the following summer, right before the one-year anniversary of 9/11. Our family visited Washington DC and the Pentagon Memorial. They had always heard of 9/11 but I don’t know if they fully grasped the real-ness of the loss with one visit to one memorial site, and stories of legends of people helping people through loss, grief and physical danger. Hopefully, all of the kids born before and after the 9/11 tragedy will know the real-ness and never let history repeat itself."
Rose Walls, Kankakee:
"I was working that day at Je-Neir Elementary School in Momence, Illinois as a SPED Coordinator. I was walking down the hall, and I was told an airplane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. My grandson Trystan Walls was on a Southwest Airplane to Birmingham, Alabama when the terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Tower, the Pentagon and passengers diverted a plane that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. My son, Reandre, and coworkers at Jones International were calling airlines to track Trystan’s flight in the event it had to land somewhere due to airport closures. Trystan arrived safely to Birmingham Airport. The airport closed immediately after Trystan, other passengers and crew was safely off. Danielle, Trystan’s mom, told him what had happened and took him to school. Trystan shared his experience with his teacher and classmates. Sadly, they did not believe him, and Trystan was very disappointed with their reaction to his experience."