Memories of 9/11 by Post Independent readers
My son Trevor and I occasionally watched the morning news while eating breakfast before we were off to school and work. Trevor was in the eighth grade at Basalt Middle School in September of 2001. Bryant Gumbel came on the morning news with commentary and pictures that announced a shocking story which turned out to be the first plane going into a tower of the World Trade Center. We watched in horror as the events unfolded with such great loss of life, and felt deep sadness for unsuspecting innocent people and their families and the country.Many young people who were children that day chose to take a route never considered previously. They joined our armed forces because they love our country and hated that so many unsuspecting and innocent people had been killed and families forever affected. Few of these young volunteers understood the individual consequences, sacrifices, or the future they were embracing. Trevor and his friend chose to join the Navy at 17, signing up before graduating from high school. Trevor has excelled, had some wonderful travels and experiences, made some very close friends, and grown into a fine example of America’s youth. He achieved an award attributing him with saving hundreds of coalition lives with his work in intelligence. Now he is an E-6, and for this non-military mom, it is apparently an unusual accomplishment for a person who just turned 23 to reach that rank among enlisted servicemen and women. And 10 years after 9/11, my smart and brave son has been told he will soon join the ranks on the ground in a place far away, where there are people who don’t know or care what a fine young man he is. Now we are forced to hope and pray for the safety of the children who sat by our sides watching those horrific events unfold that day in a war that often seems to make no progress and little sense.Thousands of young Americans have lost their lives or been forever maimed. Many more thousands of innocent people have been killed or maimed among the foreign populations in those countries. War is hell and not something that should be entered into in a cavalier manner. Our babies we adore turn into children we strive to do our very best for, and some of us have to watch them go away to do things we never ever thought would be their fate. I wonder how many of the babies born today and little ones living in our valley around us will be changed by tragic events and surprise their parents in the way mine surprised me.No one would have ever convinced me that day that 10 years after watching the events of Sept. 11, 2001, my son sitting next to me on the couch would be heading to the land where those events had been planned.Judy WhitmoreGlenwood Springs
While serving breakfast to our guests at our bed & breakfast on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, my son called from Aspen telling us to turn on the TV. Upon turning on the TV, and taking in the horror of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, it made all of us have a very different experience than we thought we would have. We sat silently for so long, said few words, cried, comforted each other and parted ways, as our guests wanted to get to their own homes. Changed forever . . . our America being attacked . . . how could it be? These 10 years have been filled with apprehension, insecurity, conflicts and yet, hope in a country that remembers its principles, its basic truths and its beliefs. God bless America.June Robinson, former owner of Back in Time B&BGlenwood Springs
Mountain Valley Developmental Services was scheduled to bring clients to my studio for an art day on Sept. 11, 2001. That morning, my husband awakened me to see the surreal horror of the twin towers crumbling. The director of programming called to ask, “Do you still want to do this?” “I can’t think of a more appropriate thing to do,” I responded.Upon arrival, we took a little nature walk. Then the clients chose which table they wanted for creating. The Mountain Valley staff told me that the clients had seen the planes explode into the towers that morning on TV and were quite agitated. I asked everyone to draw something that expressed how they felt.One man who had no verbal skills had taken a rather remote table and worked diligently while making sniffing and snorting sounds. When I went to him, I saw a perfectly rendered drawing of planes flying into towers with flames emerging. This man could not talk about what he saw, but he could draw it. Having completed his work, he turned to me, began to point at the piece and cry. The grief he had been holding since viewing the tragedy was released. For me, it was a true confirmation that art saves lives.Wewer Keohane, artistOneirica Art Ranch, Cattle Creek
I woke early that day with a determined goal to accomplish: write a letter to my ex-wife in Huntsville, Ala., regarding how I would contribute to my son’s (Austin James) college education at Auburn University for the next four years. This letter was already in my head. Having accomplished raising my daughter (Tara Kristin) from 15 to 24 years old, she was a warrior in waiting, a lady and mother ready to blossom. She had just endured a tragic loss of her friends in ol’ Bonedale, and we were starting anew in Silt in our new home. As I was composing that eventful letter, my attention was being diverted to CNN and other TV stations. It was surreal and cataclysmic as I watched, undeterred to finish my letter. The events of 9/11 sent chills up my spine and pure anger toward our president and more pertinently to Vice President Dick Cheney (not to mention the ensuing chaos). Where were they? Why did Osama bin Laden’s family suddenly leave the country? Bush under cover and Cheney hiding out! What gives? I finished the letter, and we’ve all done the best we could since that day. Jim “Tappin’ Tip” Tippett Silt
Around 7 a.m. local time I was heavily sedated and being wheeled into the operating room for a hip replacement. As my gurney was being wheeled through the doors, I noticed a large TV in the area. I also noticed that the scene on the TV was one of the Twin Towers in New York City – where I grew up – was in flames. Was I hallucinating? I asked those with me, “Why are my towers burning?” Then, total darkness. Several hours later, I woke up in a recovery room with my daughter standing nearby. Her first words to me were, “Don’t worry Mom, everyone in New York City and Washington, D.C., are OK.” I was very confused because I had told my daughter that when I came out of surgery she should call my family in New York City and my friends in D.C. and tell them that I was OK. My daughter then proceeded to turn on the TV in the room and said, “There’s something that happened that you don’t know about.” My memories of those first viewings of the devastation in New York City was feeling totally numb. I was hooked up to an IV of morphine. I was feeling no pain, but I also was not feeling any emotions. I could not even cry. There I was, totally bedridden and strapped up to IVs. If there had been any other atrocities committed that day, even in our Glenwood Springs, I would not survive. The morphine kicked in once more and I was asleep again. Bernadette JulichGlenwood Springs
That day started off with me taking my mother to the hospital for her scheduled hip replacement. I had taken the day off to be there for her when she woke up. I remember the doctor marking my mother’s hip with a big orange “X” so they knew which hip to replace. I turned around and saw an image on the TV at the nurse’s station. It looked like a small airplane had run into a skyscraper, and the coverage was very confusing about what was happening. I turned around to my mom as she was being wheeled into the surgery area, I told her that something was happening in her home town on the news, but I would know more by the time she woke up. The next four hours (the time it took for Mom’s surgery) were some of the most awful hours I have ever witnessed. I watched the coverage after the first plane had hit. I watched in total disbelief as a second plane hit the other tower. I started to cry when I watched the first tower crumble to the ground. It was unbelievable that something like this was happening in real time. The collapse of the second tower left me speechless. I started thinking of all our relatives in New York City and who may have been on their way into the city that morning. I called a few people to tell them what I was watching on TV and I told them they better get to a television set. No one knew quite yet. I watched those four hours alone in the waiting room at the hospital. My mother got through her surgery just fine. When she woke up I told her what had happened, but she was a little groggy and not too cognizant about the reality of the situation. Her recovery was tough because the nightmare visions were all the television stations could show. Our relatives had escaped unharmed, so that was good news. The rest of the world came to know those hours as 9/11. When the broadcasters figured out the date coincidence, then we knew true evil had come to our big country and our Big Apple.Robin JulichGlenwood Springs
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, my husband and I were on the last leg of our journey traveling from Brookfield, Wisc., to Carbondale to attend the wedding of our daughter, Crista Towne to Joseph Ray Barlow III, which was to be at the Flying Dog Ranch the following Saturday. We were gassing up at a station in Kearney, Neb., when the customer beside our car asked if we had heard about the plane hitting the World Trade Center. After our negative reply we were given limited information. Continuing our journey we listened to the radio to receive the ongoing happenings of that day. We periodically scanned the sky and were amazed to find no aircraft at all. After our arrival in Carbondale, we had the caterer adjust the menu many times over the ensuing days. The guest list dwindled as out-of-town guests called to tell of their inability to obtain flights to the wedding. Unbelievably, five people did fly in, but unfortunately the groom’s parents from Smithfield, Va., were not able to do the same. But with the help of a beautiful day, local guests and a great band, the day was saved. And 10 years later, Crista and J. Ray are about to celebrate 10 years of marriage. Sandy TowneCarbondale
Standing by the window of my office in Stamford, Conn., I saw the billowing smoke from the World Trade Towers coming from across Long Island Sound. I remember feeling helpless and turning to a coworker and remarking that thousands of people were dying right before our eyes. For days we could see the dispersing smoke from miles away. The terrorists chanted that America was the The Great Satan. Americans demonstrated to the world that the U.S. was the Good Samaritan. Our hero first responders showed courage and unbelievable sacrifice as they came to the aid of victims. When the Twin Towers came crashing down, they did not crush the American spirit. The falling towers did not shake the faith of Americans. The terrorists committed bloodshed, we shed tears and demonstrated great compassion and love. Sept. 11 changed my life in an unusual way. I was an illustrator and artist. But after 9/11, I decided to pick up a camera that I had inherited and focus on documenting tributes to America. Flag tributes to America began to spring up everywhere. Flags sold out and homemade ones were created. The flag came to life in new ways. I have had the opportunity to photograph more than a dozen flag-painted houses. I started off taking photos in my hometown and then eventually branched out, traveling to 43 states. Ten years later, I believe I have captured the American spirit through my more than 30,000 photographs. Robert CarleyDarien, Conn.
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was living in New York City. I hadn’t yet left for work. I was watching “The Today Show” when they cut to the fire caused by the first plane. Right away, I called my parents in Glenwood Springs, and we talked about what was happening. I didn’t yet understand the gravity of the situation, so I ran out to head to my meeting. I got on the crosstown bus that went through Central Park. On the bus everyone was talking and the rumors were flying. By the time we reached the West Side, it was announced that all public transit was now shutting down. I started walking across Central Park, back to my apartment on the Upper East Side. It was eerie, as we all felt like anything could happen at this point. What was amazing is that everyone was talking to each other, and suddenly people in Manhattan weren’t strangers anymore. Once we made it out of the park, TVs were placed in store windows, and we all watched as the WTC towers came down. Even from the East Side I could see smoke coming from Lower Manhattan, and my heart ached for the people. Cristine GairBasalt
I was driving down the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut when my husband called to say that a plane had just flown into one of the Twin Towers. I told my husband that I was going to midtown, so one plane flying into a building in lower Manhattan would not affect my day.I did not realize the gravity of the situation until I walked into my client’s offices in Norwalk. The company had a corporate bar area right behind the reception area. Every TV was on and everyone in the entire building was in the bar area watching … speechless, some crying, some barely breathing as we watched people jump from the top floors of the towers. I remember leaving that office with what I thought was an understanding of the depth of the changes that were about to occur in my life. On the way back to my office in Stratford, I watched as all of the southbound traffic towards New York changed from cars to firetrucks and ambulances to heavy machinery. By the time I left work that day and headed to my home in the Litchfield, every exit ramp had a National Guard Hummer. The first time I went back to my New York office after 9/11 was the first time I was ever scared to be there. I may have grown up in Connecticut, but New York City was my playground, weekends at the Met, hanging out at Bleeker and McDougal. I loved that place, but sitting on the train home hoping to get out with my life, I realized that New York was no longer my home and no longer the playground of my youth. Genie JohnsonGlenwood Springs
“I just saw the World Trade Center explode,” was the text I received. The text message was from my son, Michael Mille. So that day began. Michael was teaching deaf students at a building a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. I called him as soon as I received the text. He and all the people at the school were huddled together, not knowing what was going to happen next. When I finally got through to him, they had just witnessed the the second plane hitting, and people jumping from the high tower. Since the phones were jammed and no one in the school knew what was going on, I told them about the Pentagon being hit, and as many details as I could give them. At that time no one knew what was going to happen next. They all worried that an attack on the whole city may become a reality. The decision was made to leave the school and lead the children out of the area. Michael led his class onto the street, where they witnessed the collapse of the first building, and the thick smoke and dust. They walked past the hospitals with filled gurneys, past people covered with thick dust and dumbfounded by the chaos. Sirens, sirens, sirens. Michael led the students away to safety, all 26 of them. At one point they stopped long enough to see the second tower collapse. By then, Michael said, everyone was numb and terrified.After Michael got the students to a safe place, he walked several miles to his apartment. He himself lost his hearing for three days, unable to hear anything but the screams and rumble of that day. I am not sure the screams ever go away for him, nor the sight of the people jumping. Olinda NevonenRifle
We would have never thought that a trip we had planned for a while would end as never-forgotten memory. We drove away from our home in Colorado to spend a week at the condo on the lake just north of San Antonio, Texas. On Monday, Sept. 10, we visited the Alamo and strolled around the riverwalk. We shopped and had a great meal and a great time. As we were leaving, we saw a horse-drawn carriage and decided that we would ride it around on Tuesday, Sept. 11, which was our 25th wedding anniversary. Well, that Tuesday morning as we got up with the TV on, I looked at the screen and noticed fires. As a volunteer firefighter of 20 years at the time, I had to turn up the volume to see what was happening. Oh no! This cannot be happening!We will never forget our 25th anniversary, the 343 firefighters who gave their lives and all the other people who died that day.Mike and Donna DunlapRifle
Sept. 11, 2011, was a day of excitement, nervous anticipation and promise. After years of talking and months of planning, Mom and I were leaving for Europe to tour Switzerland and the Czech Republic, my parents’ homelands. My father had died without ever visiting his father’s hometown in Switzerland, but Mom and I had determined to find the village for ourselves, along with her grandmother’s home near Prague. Our noon departure from Denver meant leaving Glenwood Springs at dawn. My brother drove us and we spent the time in transit chatting and planning the day-long journey that would end 22 hours later in Switzerland. As we left I-70 and started out on Pena Boulevard toward Denver International Airport, we caught glimpses of flashing lights in the distance. Some VIP must be coming or going from the airport, we assumed. Soon we could see the roadblock; every car stopping, some going on, some turning around. As we came to the head of the line, the patrolman asked my brother, “Are you meeting someone or dropping someone off?””Dropping off,” he replied confidently. “Not today,” came the totally unexpected response. “There are a few more flights coming in but the airport is closed down.””For how long?” we asked, bewildered.”Don’t know,” he said, “Haven’t you heard what happened in New York?”No, we had not heard. We drove back into Denver, attempting to contact the tour company and learn about alternate plans. There were no alternate plans. As we were in town, we decided to visit the Tattered Cover bookstore and get some lunch before heading home. The bookstore was nearly empty. Cherry Creek Mall was closed. We finally saw some TV coverage and began to get an idea of the breadth of the event. Somehow, not seeing it live gave us some distance that helped insulate us from the overwhelming impact it had on so many.Then and now, I give thanks that we were not already in transit that morning when the tragedy began. We could have been marooned in any number of places, unable to get home and unable to go forward with our plans. We finally did make our trip five years later.Barbara Hauptli, with June Hauptli and Mark HauptliGlenwood Springs
I received a phone call from my wife telling me to turn on the television because there was a fire in one of the World Trade Center’s buildings. In the beginning there was complete confusion as to why an airplane would crash into one of the towers in broad daylight, but all became apparent rather quickly when the second plane came crashing into the second building. At the time, I worked as a registrar for Nebraska Indian Community College in Macy. I was trying to get ready to go to work, but torn over whether to go or to watch the tragic events on television. It turned out that the decision was made for me. The school called to tell me to stay home, because colleges and universities were considered quasi-military and emergency installations, and were closed because of a declared national emergency. This was the first clue that this was a much larger situation than was perceived on television. I told my wife, Gretchen, who was employed as a city planner for Sioux City, Iowa, to be prepared for a similar announcement at city hall. By this time the first tower had fallen and the Pentagon had been struck. From that moment on, I perceived us to be in a state of war.As the days progressed after Sept. 11, my wife commented that to her, what was most chilling was the silence. There was no noise overhead from commercial aircraft – just the roar from fighter jets scrambling night and day. Sioux City’s airport was home to a fighter wing, which provided tactical protection to Omaha’s Offutt Air Force Base, home to the Strategic Air Command, and the place where President Bush was taken after the initial attack on Sept. 11. It was very unsettling because we never knew why the jets were scrambling. Ernest L. Ricehill Jr.Rifle
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