Sept. 11, 2001: A day never to be forgotten
There are a few moments in time that are absolutely unforgettable. You are able to remember where you were when you heard the news, who you were with and probably even what you were wearing. My grandmother could tell you where she was on Nov. 22, 1963 — the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. And my mother could probably tell you what she was doing on Aug. 16, 1977, which is the day Elvis Presley died. Anyone who is any older than 20 years of age can recall in great
detail where they were 18 years ago on Sept. 11. Below, the Times staff shares their perspectives of that fateful day.
Gillian Kelk, Publisher
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was at the Hardee's restaurant by the mall in Terre Haute enjoying breakfast and my book before heading to work. I did this several mornings a week and had gotten used to seeing a group of elderly people in there drinking coffee and socializing and this morning was no different. I didn't usually listen in to their conversation, but I couldn't help overhearing the excited voice of one gentleman who was late to the gathering. He rushed up to the table and asked the group, "did you hear about the plane that flew into the World Trade Center?" they all indicated no and he followed up with "another one flew into it right after." Now that got my attention but I was waiting for a joke punchline which, obviously, never came. When it became apparent that this wasn't a joke I hurried up and got to work early because we had a TV there. I remember everyone else at work was huddled around it, not believing what they were seeing. I joined them and together we watched the events unfold. I remember that not much work got done that day, and, in fact, Honey Creek Mall closed early because of, if I remember correctly, a bomb threat. No one knew what to make of things or how safe we were. This was before the widespread use of cellphones so my mom and dad, who still lived in England, had no way of contacting me so they called my ex-mother-in-law, frantic to know that we were all safe. To them, the events of that day were in my backyard since they have no concept of just how big this country is. Other than this, I really don't remember a whole lot more, other than what millions of others do. The people jumping from the towers, the first responders, the video footage of the clouds of dust, etc. Everything after I got home from work that day just seems to be a blur. I do remember that at the time I didn't have any kind of TV service or internet so I had to rely on newspapers for my coverage.
Kristi Sanders, Managing editor
I was a first grader when the monumental attacks happened on Sept. 11. I remember teachers bringing TVs into the classroom and watching the twin towers burning. Some of my teachers were crying. Shortly after, my father picked myself and my sister up from school. At the time, my family lived on Main Street in Bicknell. I remember there being cars lined up down the street trying to get to the two gas stations in town. The adults around me were in shock from the events. I wasn't old enough to truly know what was happening at the time but I'll always remember that day.
B.J. Hargis, Sports editor
For me, Sept. 11 has always been about one thing — my father's birthday. I know Sept. 11, 2001 was a horrible day for America and people in New York City and at the Pentagon. The loss of life by people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and the brave firefighters and policemen who gave their lives and saved hundreds of lives certainly should never be forgotten. Today, my dad, James Harold Hargis, would have been age 90. He ended up working almost 30 years in a steel factory in Indianapolis until he was forced to retire. He provided myself, my sister and my mom with a pretty good middle-class living. I don't remember wanting for anything I really needed. He had many quips, but the one I remember the most is "I didn't do bad for a guy with a fourth-grade education."
Doug Smith, Graphic artist
I was working for the Vincennes Sun Commercial and our editor came out of his office and started talking about a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center towers. So we all gathered around the television in the newsroom and was kind of watching it. Everybody I guess thought it was probably some sort of accident. We were watching and watching, and it wasn’t long after that then the other one hit. We all kind of looked at each other like, “there’s something not right here.” It was right then people started — not thinking terrorism — but something that was on purpose. There was no accident. It was almost a clear, blue sky and there was no way after the second one.
Patty Morgan, Office manager
My day proceeded as normal. We still had a paper (the Sullivan Daily Times) to put out. I do know it was the week of Corn Festival and they were trying to decide if they were going to keep it open or not.
Lexi Pearson, Circulation
I was in kindergarten — Ms. Lueking’s class — we were actually getting ready to do a math worksheet on the board. I remember it so clearly. And it came across the intercom to all teachers to start packing up kids for the day, school buses will be here in 15 to 20 minutes to take them home. Of course, us kids had no clue, but we were excited because we got to go home early. The school buses came and picked us up and took us home. I just remember going inside — it’s my mom’s birthday — so I walked in and was excited to tell her happy birthday. We had this big entertainment center and we had an itty bitty TV on top of it and she was watching the news. She was crying and saying it was the worst birthday ever. My family was supposed to take my mom out
for dinner that night and there was like barely anything open.
Cassy Tiefel, Reporter
I was a sixth grader at Clay City Elementary on Sept. 11, 2001. That day my class had music class first thing in the morning. As my classmates and I walked from the music room back to our classroom, my teacher, Mr. Stoelting, met us at the door and, little did we know, the first plane had already struck one of the Twin Towers. I can clearly remember Mr. Stoelting saying, “Everyone, sit down and shut up!” He never spoke to us that way and we instantly knew something wasn’t right. He explained to the class what had happened. We then watched the news reports, which were on every channel. That was also school-picture day. The pictures were always taken in the back of the library and I recall seeing the raw TV footage on the large TV in the
back of the library as I waited in line to have my photo taken. After school, my mom, brothers and I went to my aunt’s house. My uncle drives a fuel truck for Ceres Solutions (formerly Grower’s Co-op). The phone was ringing off of the hook, as everyone was scared that there would be a lack of fuel in the U.S. That evening I remember President Bush addressing the nation and, for the first time in my lifetime, there was the talk of war.