CMR Stampede staff gives community’s account on 10th anniversary of terrorist attack on 9/11


Mike Ransdell/Kansas City Star/MCT

Stampede Staff

Katie Hodges

Understanding the reasoning behind the terrorists of 9/11 is difficult for many adults. But explaining it to children? For Kathey Hodges, it was almost impossible.

“Even for adults, it’s incomprehensible. How do you make sense of that to kids?”

Hodges, however, did not have the luxury of allowing teachers to explain the horror of the day to the 6- and 7-year-old daughters.

Hodges, who homeschooled all four of her children, said that her daughters were studying the Five Pillars of Islam and the Koran at the time.

“[They] really picked up that [the] Islam that justified 9/11 didn’t reconcile what they were studying and learning about Islam.”

Hodges feels that the world has become more suspicious and distrustful since 9/11, and that the country has become less compassionate.

“We’ve lost sight of the fact that we’re all human beings,”


Whisper Harris

Hopeless people jumping from the Twin Towers. This is the most vivid image of Sept. 11, 2001 for Sue Briggs-Harris.

“The whole world has changed,  some for the better and some for the worst, 9/11 has affected everything and everyone” Briggs-Harris said.

Learning to be aware of everything that is happening around her locally and worldly is a lesson that Briggs-Harris said she has learned, on that horror filled day.

In remembrance of that fateful day ten years ago most people recount on what has changed, what they remember, and what they have learned since then.

“The entire world has changed” said Briggs-Harris. “Evil can strike anywhere at any time.”


 Alecks Leavey

As the world still upon seeing the World Trade Center collapse in smoke, so too did Laith Kalai. He was 11 and being rushed out of his Syrian middle school.

“I was afraid,” Kalai said. “I remember kids were getting taken home by parents and everyone was panicking.”

While those in New York and America dealt with the dilemma on the home front, across the globe in the Middle East people feared the worst. Born in Syria in 1990, Kalai was raised in dual cultures with a Syrian father and Greek American mother. Yet, he was afraid after the catastrophe that people would solely see his Arabic descent and automatically picture 9/11.

“Bin Laden was an extremist with views far different from the majority,” Kalai said. “I’m not even Muslim. I’m Roman Catholic, but would people even care to ask? Or would they just assume I’m related to terrorism because of my heritage?”

Kalai admits that the relationship between nations can be tense as a result of the war on terror, but he is optimistic about the future.

“You know, I was born on July 4th, America’s Independence Day,” Kalai noted. “I like that: the Syrian with the same birthday as the United States of America.”

Beth Stanley

As the second plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Robert Stanley watched on live television while he got ready for the day. While panic and fear were the first things on the minds of many others, Stanley was more focused on how this event would change his career in nuclear defense.

“I thought we would respond with nuclear weapons,” Stanley said.

Being an active duty military officer, Stanley has had to adjust to changes made in the Air Force after the events of September 11.

“With my job in nuclear missions we have had to work with fewer recourses and less people to employ,” Stanley said.

Though military defense has been greatly affected by this catastrophe, it is not the only aspect of America’s society that has changed. Since Sept. 11th, airports have increased their security, schools have buckled down on weapons policies, and the country as a whole has gained a new sense of protection for their land.

“When I get on an airplane I look for suspicious people and come up with a plan,” Stanley said “I always sit on the aisle.”

Lindsey Buck

Rumors around a preschool were enough to send Jennifer Buck home praying one September day.

“I was dropping my son off when the other parents told me what was happening. I was shocked; I had never lived through anything like that in my lifetime,” Buck said.

On Sept. 11, 2001, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. Later discovered to be terrorist driven attacks, the crashes sparked a set of new security in the U.S.

“It’s the unimaginable that anyone would ever do that. It makes you realize how quickly things can be over,” Buck said. She said that one of her biggest fears that day was for her sister and brother-in-law who lived in New York City at the time.

“I went straight home, prayed, and turned on the news,” she said. According to Buck, one of the most horrible parts of Sept. 11 was watching “people jump to escape burning alive.” However, even through all of the terror that day, Buck said that she still remained hopeful.

“I was inspired by the people who gave their lives to help others. There was a lot of fear, but also we were encouraged and inspired by the heroes.”

Deja Lacey

The first thing that she saw was the faces of men and women covered in soot. Their eyes looking lost and the overhead screams from the people witnessing the tragedy of September 11,2001. Becky Rate stopped dressing her 5 year old daughter and watched.

She had no idea what was going on, “I thought that somebody was bombing New York, I didn’t think that there were plains crashing into the towers.” Rate said.

I was scared and heartbroken for them but today the event of September 11th doesn’t really affect me, Rate said. One of the biggest changes that have affected Rate and her family would have to be in the airports.

“I think that whoever is in charge needs to screen the TSA better but if I have to get padded on so that I know that my family is safe then ‘git-r-done’,” She said.

Rate also finds herself questioning people from other countries more than she had days before. “I don’t want to be prejudice or racist but it’s just like I find myself wondering if they have an agenda and what’s on it?”

The 9/11 tragedy has made Rate hesitant about visiting big cities but it has also taught her some lessons in life, “I think that it shows that it’s important to be appreciative of other people and to be thankful for what you have, and what you could lose.”

Caitlyn Aakre

When a school is flooded with parents, it’s usually for graduation or for a sports game. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, a Marysville, Ohio elementary school was filled with parents for a different reason: a terrorist attack.

“As soon as I saw the twin towers go down [I went to sign my son out],” Sheri Yost, mother of then nine-year-old Jake said. The school was already overflowing with parents with the same agenda.

“I was really afraid. I was. I was really scared,” Sheri said. Ten years later, it is still apparent that the day leaves a scar.

Yost is just one of millions of Americans affected by the historic day when two planes were hijacked and run into the World Trade Centers of New York City. Yost was online when she found out.

“I was on the computer, checking my email. They started talking about it [the attack] in the chat room,” she said.

“I turned on the TV and there it was,” she said. Yost’s husband was at home with her at the time, and they watched in horror as the second plane crashed into the second tower.

“The next thing I did was call my friend LJ in New York to see if he was okay. He was far away from New York [City]. He was all right,” she said.

In the coming days, Yost had to go back to work at WalMart.

“Everybody was in shock,” she said.

“Where I lived, and where I worked, there were lots of people from Iraq and Iran. People would get into fist fights and yelling matches [with them] in the store,” she said. She said that patriotism was high among coworkers, but racism against Middle Eastern people was also prominent. Yost said the day is one she will always remember.

“It was a horrible, horrible experience all together,” she said.

Caroline Perkins


As Karen Perkins dropped off her two boys at school she heard something that day that she never forgot.

“The feeling that they gave their lives, they tried to do something,” Karen said when hearing about the plane crashing into the field, “they fought back.”

September 11, 2001 all Karen did was sit in front of the TV at her house waiting for the next report of information on the two towers and what was happening.

“I remember exactly what I did when I heard it, but I can’t remember anything else that day, it was like a blur. All I remember are the reports,” she said.

9/11 was the tragic day citizens of America heard and saw the disastrous news of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.

She remembers the people that were screaming on the TV and the way the city was consumed in smoke.

“I changed the way I do things, since 9/11.” Karen said. “I treasure each day because each day could be your last, no more cautions then before. I just live life.”

Corey Allen

The image of the second plane striking the twin towers on the news repeated in 7 year old Meagan Wilson’s mind over and over. Though her day started with preparing for school like any other, Wilson said the day forever changed her view on the world.

Wilson’s family was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force base in California at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The base quickly went into lockdown, and she said most families rushed into her school, which doubled as a bomb shelter.

“I didn’t know what was going on, I was worried for my parents, and they were scared,” Wilson said. The most troubling image that stuck out that day was the people jumping out of the windows to escape the fire, she added

Many Americans no longer felt safe in their own homes, and called for action. Racism and stereotypical behavior towards Muslims became a serious problem, Wilson stated. For young and innocent Wilson, the biggest thing she learned was that there is evil out in the world.

Even years after, the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, the changes to the world that ensued are ever-visible in Wilson’s eyes. The attack brought about two wars, which in turn caused severe debt in the United States. However, it can be argued that the biggest impact that 9/11 had on the public was terror, Wilson said.

“I learned that there are really small minded people out there that would rather judge on a stereotype before they actually get to know them.”

Ida Andersen

It seemed to be a perfectly, nice normal Tuesday afternoon for Belinda Andersen as she headed to work. But a few hours later, she learned that it was the most abnormal Tuesday she would ever experience.

“I was at work, all bored, listening to a beautiful Celine Dion ballad, when it all of a sudden was interrupted by a news broadcast, reporting on the terror attack,” Andersen said.

The news of the planes crashing in to the twin towers spread all over the world, and so did the fear. When will the next attack be? Everyone wondered. Andersen sat on the other side of the planet and watched live pictures from New York. She said that it was the worst thing she had ever seen, and that she wasn’t able to think of anything else for a long time.

This didn’t just affect the American people. It affected the whole world. Besides sharing the shock and grief, countries like Norway also started working hard with terrorism preparedness.

“You know, the word “terror” wasn’t really a part of our vocabulary here in Norway before 9/11, so this was all new. Unfamiliar,” she said.

However, the term terror was brought up again when Norway was attacked on July 22,, 2011, close to the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. Andersen was quick to compare the terror attacks in Norway with the attack of the Twin Towers in New York.

“In both cases, innocent people were killed, and it affected us all.”

Jake Settera

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 Senior Master Sergeant Michael Settera of the MT ANG sat at his desk going through his morning routine. After the second plane hit, he watched as security posture spiked, and waited for orders as the nation began looking at recall.

Of course, America didn’t immediately retaliate with our collection of nuclear warfare, the image that Settera remembers most is the two towers actually collapsing, and realizing that such a mass could be so quickly turned into a pile of dust and ash.

“My way of thinking that the United States are on a moral downhill spiral totally flipped over, with such disaster America could pull together as one country with each other,” Settera said.

Remembering 9/11 isn’t the best time of the year, or now at the end of one decade later but we can remember that in times of trouble America can be one nation under God, after all.

Jennifer Verzuh

Rudy Verzuh didn’t know it but as he was finger-painting with his youngest son one September morning something was happening thousands of a miles away would eventually come to change his family forever. That day was September 11, 2011.

“I was at preschool (with my child) and I called my work and my boss told me something strange happened, that a plane had crashed into the twin towers,” Verzuh said. “I didn’t know what to think. I was just kind of in disbelief.”

Immediately after getting off the phone with his boss Verzuh went in to his job, which was on Malmstrom Air Force Base.

“When I drove into (work) it was really different. It was very omniscient, because it was such high security,” Verzuh said. “Our whole country was under attack.”

For the next week Verzuh had to work the graveyard shift as part of the “nation’s response to the attack,” he said.

Ten years later Verzuh said he and his family are still feeling the impacts of those terrorist attacks.

“It changed my life in that now when I travel and work there’s a lot more security I have to go through.”

Verzuh’s life has however been changed in a much more dramatic way as well.

“My son went to a war because of this,” Verzuh said. “No one would care or know about Afghanistan if it wasn’t because of 9/11.”

“I don’t think anyone who was around then will ever forget that day, where they were, what they were doing.”

Kaidin Phelan

For military veteran Dean Phelan the horrific memories of the 9/11 terrorist attacks will never fade.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 Tech. Sgt. Phelan was on his way to work when he heard the shocking news of a plane slamming into the side of the first tower.

“I remember thinking of what was happening in New York and preparing for all the work I had in store for me because of the attacks,” he said.

The most vivid thing he said he remembers is the terrified voice of the reporter as the inferno inside of the tower rapidly grew.

“As we found out what had really happened I think the country woke up as a whole and realized we aren’t untouchable” Phelan said.

After the attacks the security of military bases has increased drastically.

“Malstrom [Airforce Base] has had many more inspections since” Phelan said.

A lot has happened since then, some good and some bad.

“The country can be a little happier now that we have killed the man behind the attacks” Phelan said.

Keeli Telleen

It is a day that will live infamy.  A day that for Erin Telleen shattered the perception that America is invincible. On the morning of Sept.  11, 2001, Telleen was following her regular routine of catching news on the Today Show, when it was interrupted with the image of a tall, smoking building in New York City.

She remembers marveling at the scene and then, “seeing the second plane hit live and knowing it wasn’t a coincidence.”

Telleen is just one of millions of Americans who cannot help but reflect upon the catastrophic events of 9/11 as they occurred 10 years ago. Images of the towers collapsing and workers pulling victims from the rubble still stand vividly in her memory.

“I called my husband,” she said who  was in Alaska at the time. “And I couldn’t help wondering if they were done, or if this was just the beginning.”

For most people in the Midwest United States, the tragedies of 9/11 did not involve closely personal ties, but they did involve many empathetic emotions and fears.

“I think kids had to grow up faster,” she said. “The feeling of being safe was no longer given.”

Kelsey Smith

The only thing Grant Smith contemplated during his usual morning drive to work on Sept. 11, 2001, was whether the news that he was hearing about possible terrorist attacks were in fact real.

“At first,” Smith said, “I thought it was just a joke,” to Smith, this was not just the average newscast, and the devastating news was a lot to take in.

As more information flooded in pertaining to the attacks on the proclaimed Twin Towers, and the Pentagon, so did the footage from various bystanders who witnessed them and were able to record them on their phones, or cameras.

A specific image that depicted, “people running for their lives as they attempted to avoid ash and debris,” stands out most in Smith’s mind.

For Smith, it was not just about the fact that the towers were hit, but it was more of the people that the attack affected.

Smith, “worried about where our country would go to move forward,” as well as, “what new programs would come in place because of the attacks.”

The aftermath of 9/11 was not just limited to airport security becoming a federally mandated program, along with the implementation of the Patriot Act and increasing the war on terrorist programs, but also brought America together.

New York cab drivers quieted their horns, people went out of their way to help others, and for the few short weeks following the attacks, the people of New York seemed to live in soliloquy.

For Grant Smith these attacks were not simply a question as to whether the radio was using the attacks as simply a, “joke,” and instead became a hard reality with its effects.

Kendra Hix

When the haunting eyes and gray faces were shown on the TV that September morning the only thing Carol Hix felt was disbelief.

“There was a gray cloud that covered everyone,” Hix said. “People were hurrying and trying to help one another at the same time.”

She turned on the news and watched as they showed the towers falling again and again, and she said she couldn’t help but cry. When tragic things happen people think that the world will change but as they go on with their lives the ones lost are forgotten, she said.

Four hijacked airliners killed thousands of people on September 11, 2001 and impacted even more.

“We don’t know what the next five seconds will bring. It takes something like that to figure out what friends and family mean to us, that’s what life is,” Hix said. “That’s what life is.”

Kristi Gange

In the midst of rushing to get out of the house on time, Vicki Day knew she didn’t have time to answer the phone that wouldn’t stop ringing in the kitchen. As she picked it up and listened to her friend tell her to turn on the news, the furthest thing from her mind was being on time.

“I turned on the television and sat in utter shock,” she said.

As the 10th anniversary of Sept.  11 draws near, the country is remembering this tragic day more than ever.

There are many disturbing images that stick in the minds of Americans who witnessed the attacks, but the one that has stuck with Day the most was the towers falling.

“It came down on the people below and just spread for miles,” she said.

Though the nation has made great attempts in order to tighten security and eliminate terrorism, Day said this hasn’t completely restored her faith in national security.

“I always still doubt it. Especially since the anniversary is near,” she said. “I took for granted that our shores were safe.”

The tragedy of 9/11 has consumed our nation for so long will long be remembered by this generation and many to follow. While it seemed almost impossible, Day took a valuable lesson away from a traumatic experience.

“I just realized how quickly it could all be gone,” Day said. “I value my relationships so much more.”

Meg Smith

Pacific Steel and Recycling manager Steve Smith crowded around the small TV at his office as he watched his employees’ faces phase through awestruck, fear, then anger after the second plane crashed into the towers.

He recalls the vivid moment when the plane exploded into the second tower and he recognized “the panic of the people on the streets”.

Smith, along with the American public, is reviving the painful memories of 9/11 in honor of the ominous tenth anniversary this year.

“The threat of change in the world forced everyone to admit that the U.S. is not as secure as we thought it was,” Smith said.

This lack of security allowed Smith to acknowledge the terrible loss of human life it had caused.

“I was angry over the waste of innocent life,” Smith said. “[The victims] died for no reason.”

In order to remember these people that lost their lives, Smith recommends, “showing the crashing of the towers on every anniversary.”

Peyton Fulbright

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Sunny Fulbright had a pit in her stomach.  She was fearful for herself and her family’s safety.

“I woke up, and turned the TV on, and found out. I started crying, but struggled through making breakfast, so I wouldn’t scare my son,” Fulbright said.

Sept. 11, 2011, is a devastating moment in the mind of any American.

Some Americans panicked and melted down, and others — like strong willed citizen Sunny Fulbright—remained calm. She said she didn’t want to frighten her 4-year-old son. She said she forced herself to turn the television off, but got online to keep updated.

“Phone calls poured in all day from friends and family the whole day,” said Fulbright, recalling what she remembers most from the day.

9/11 has had lasting personal and national effects.  There are the obvious, such as upgrades in security, and people having to become more aware. But there are more subtle effects as well, such as people becoming more jaded to religions.

“After 9/11, there was a feeling of rage, but it turned into people wanting to show their support for the country,” Fulbright said. “Everyone wanted to go out and buy flags to display.  There was a definite feeling of unity.”

9/11 has burned the images of people jumping from buildings and dying helplessly into everyone’s mind.

That day has also put a few good images in the minds of Americans, such as President Bush standing on the heaps of rubble with his arm around a fireman, she added.

“9/11 taught us not to take anything for granted.”

Ryan Murphy

As a 7-year-old, Sue Murphy recalls the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the only experience she can relate to the horrific events on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Everybody was crying, the whole school was crying, the whole nation was crying,” Murphy said.

She started to tear up as the events that occurred on those two horrific days began to swim in her head. Especially vivid in her mind are the moments when the second plane struck the World Trade Center.

My stomach dropped, she said. One plane, that’s a “freak accident.” A second plane, that’s “incomprehensible.”

When she watched the second plane collide with the tower, she was at work. Huddled around televisions with coworkers, little got done that day, she said.

However, as word came through the news networks that United Flight 93 crashed due to a passenger uprising against the hijackers, she felt an overwhelming sense of pride.

Even in light of this, Murphy says the mood stayed somber and attentive, until the attempted plot of the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, was foiled.

They showed pictures of Reid’s shoes, she said. The shoes were plastered in such a pitiable and ramshackle way. She began to question, is this what we’re really afraid of?

Shayna Leonard

Upon waking up on Sept. 11, 2001, Jamie Leonard had no idea that she would be doing more than watching her young children. She would instead have her eyes heavily glued onto her Sony television.

“We were just standing still in front of the TV,” Leonard said. “No one was saying anything.”

As the 10th anniversary of the terrorist strike on the Twin Towers approaches, Leonard said that she has been feeling reflective.

Many aspects of her day are vivid in her mind, she said, but the “shock and raw feelings have worn off.”

However, she said that her feelings toward her country have been more patriotic since the incident.

“I think more about the country and the people who serve,” she said.

And she hopes that our country will “not take all of our blessings and freedoms and all the good things we have for granted, because they can be taken away.”

Stephanie Mouser

Early morning on Sept. 11, 2001, young mother Teresa McCracken was getting her daughter ready for school.  The news flashed on to an unforgettable horror — a plane crashing into the first twin tower.

“Today, I remember most clearly all the people on the fourth plane, they were on their cell phones saying good bye for the last time to friends and family,” McCracken said. “The pilot dove to the ground knowing he would kill everyone on the plane, instead of crashing into Camp David.”

9/11 is known to the entire world as the day America became a terrorist target. As citizens come upon the 10th anniversary of the fall of the twin towers, and thousands of peoples’ deaths, the country still mourns for their loved ones, she said. Many Americans also recall the heroic acts of fireman and civilians that risked their lives to save another.

Even though McCracken didn’t lose any friends or family in the catastrophe, she said she learned one important lesson.

“America is not safe. It is open to terrorism just like every other county.”

Tayler Korb

Not realizing how the crash happened or what was behind it, Julie Korb was stunned to hear about the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Just the thought that our country is not immune to attacks on United States soils,” she said. “This just shows that our country is not invincible.”

Still teaching at East Middle School when the first tower was hit, Julie did not know about the attack until after the second tower was raided. By this time she was at the Great Falls Public School District offices.

“When I had heard the news about the attack all I wanted to do was find my family and be together to know that we were all safe,” Korb said.

All the way in Great Falls, Montana, people such as Korb, were being largely affected by the catastrophe in New York. Along with many Americans, she too was feeling unsafe.

“The people this happened to had a normal life one minute, which ended or changed forever in a second.”

Zach Pottratz

Sept. 11, 2001 was just a regular work day for Myra Pottratz, but it turned out to be anything but ordinary.

“When I arrived [at work], the news said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center,” Pottratz said.

Pottratz later said that while walking into work, she wondered if the pilots crashed with the intention to. Shortly after the first plane hit, Pottratz later learned that a second had also.

“The scariest part,” Pottratz said, “is when the second plane hit, and as the towers were falling, you could see the people falling.”

Pottratz’s world has changed since 9/11, adding that she “[Doesn’t] take security for granted. Just because we’re on American soil, doesn’t mean we’re safe.”

She also realizes how vulnerable America is, and that the country doesn’t really trust a lot of people anymore.

“We’re a lot more careful as a nation,” she said, “we finally learned vulnerable we are, and security is a lot tighter now, people seem to be a lot less trusting then before.”

Mandi Monroe

On a seemingly ordinary early morning Kim Monroe was sleeping peacefully on the west coast, when suddenly she was jolted awake by her mother-in-law’s phone call crying over and over in her ears.

“We’ve been attacked! Our nation is under attack,” Monroe heard.

After a quick explanation, Monroe said they ran down the stairs, turned on the TV and were in shock that something like this could happen to America.

 “That someone could fly into our twin towers, our symbol of super power economy at the time,” she said.

9/11 was a day that millions of Americans woke to find the World Trade Center towers flown in to by hijacked airplanes and another hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon. These collisions were done deliberately by terrorists. Monroe’s reaction to the horrific event is not so unique in her country.

“We heard about the crash into the Pentagon and the other plane that was supposed to crash into the Pentagon –we had friends who worked there,” Monroe said.

Monroe’s husband Todd is in the military and because of their connections to the forces they knew friends in those important buildings under attack.

“It was such a shock and a sad day,” Monroe said. “But it united Americans. We have always been patriotic, but that day made us more aware of everyday heroes.” 

The first responders were the ones who were there right away on those scenes, the firefighters and EMTs, she said.

“What those heroes that stood up to do made you think we cannot be compliant,” she added.

“I remember that big jet flying into the tower and people jumping out the windows, I couldn’t believe it,” Monroe said, “And those firefighters, those firefighters going in and not coming out.”