In the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, the world for everyone who was alive at the time changed forever.
At 7:46 a.m. local time (8:46 a.m. New York time), American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The 76 passengers and 11 crew members, as well as numerous workers in the building died instantly.
By 8 a.m., the world was watching live on national television as all the major news programs broadcast live feeds of the burning tower. At that time, authorities were still trying to figure out what had happened. First responders were live on the scene. Eyewitnesses on the scene were phoning in reports to the media. Evacuation was underway in the entire World Trade Center complex.
At 8:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower. All 51 passengers and nine crew members died, along with many that had yet to evacuate the building.
At 8:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 37 struck the Pentagon, killing 53 passenger and six crew members. Another 125 military and civilian workers on the ground die in the fire caused by the crash.
Finally, at 9:03 a.m., Flight 93 crashes into a field in rural Pennsylvania. The crash kills 33 passengers and seven crew members after passengers lbierate the plane from hijackers. Authorities believe the plane’s destination was the U.S. Capital Building.
The attacks killed 2,977 individuals, and injured another 6,000. According to the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital, 10,000 first responders and others who were at Ground Zero have developed cancer due to the attacks, with many officially dying from 911 related causes.
Details of who was involved in the attack have been rehashed countless times in the national media during the last 20 years. But on September 20, 2001, The Journal-Enterprise had an opportunity to speak with a Webster County native who was working near Ground Zero and had a first hand view of everything that happened that day.
In memory of the 20th anniversary of the devastating attacks, we would like to share that story from our archives.
In the midst of the danger by Gwen Bolin (from Sept. 20, 2001)
As our nation pulls together and citizens unite in support of our leaders and a newly strengthened patriotism, individual stories emerge. Many families within Webster County have loved ones in both the city of New York and Washington D.C.
Several spent agonizing hours wondering if family members were safe in the aftermath off last Tuesday’s attack. Johnnie and Gracie McKinsey were among those waiting for word. Johnnie’s sister, Brenda, works in lower Manhattan in the shadows of the World Trade Center.
A Providence native, Brenda (McKinsey) Moore witnessed the entire attack on the World Trade Center from her office building only five blocks away.
Moore, a 1967 graduate of Providence High School, has worked for the city of New York for the past year as a Human Resource Specialist in the Teacher’s Retirement System, an agency of the city.
Following is a first-hand account from a Webster County eye-witness of the terrifying acts of terrorism:
“I work in lower Manhattan, about five blocks from the World Trade Center,” said Moore. “I have to be at work at 8 a.m., so naturally I was sitting at m desk in front of my computer when I heard the first plane.
“It went by and was extremely low and very loud. I knew immediately that something was wrong. I got up and went running to the window. I saw the plan hit the center.
“Everyone in my office was at the window and we were wondering how in the world it could have happened...then we saw the second plane.
“We watched as the second plane hit the tower. We began screaming ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ It was just unbelievable to us.
“I was standing next to someone who’s sister worked in the second tower. Before the second plane hit, he was trying to call her to tell her to get out of the building. When the second plane hit, we knew that she hadn’t left.
“When we saw the building collapse, we knew that hundreds and hundreds of people had just died. Then we saw people jumping out the widows of the other building.
“People in our own building were telling us that we had to use our own discretion as to what to do. They couldn’t completely guarantee that our building was safe because of the close proximity to the trade center. But they also told us that it might be more dangerous to leave because of panic in the streets.
“We already had a lot of smoke in our building because we had the windows open. We soon closed them, but the smoke was still in the building.
“I decided to evacuate. I was on the 13th floor. We ran down the stairs and were handed masks as we left the building. We put these on because of the smoke and debris. It was very scary because we didn’t know what was going to happen at the time.
“We all just started walking north, away from the trade center. There were thousands of people on the street walking in the same direction. We kept walking but looking back in disbelief and amazement. It was horrible.”
Moore said she generally takes the bus or the subway to work each morning. Each evening after work, she returns home via the subway. That day there was no subway train to catch.
“I started to walk home,” Moore continued. “It’s about four miles from my office. There was no other way to get home. I had to walk. But there were other people that walked much further than I did.
“Our apartment is next to Queensboro Bridge which is the bridge from Manhattan to Queens. There were thousands of people walking across that bridge. They closed the bridge to traffic and people were just walking.
“Some people were even walking to the Bronx. Shoe sores along the way were selling out of sneakers because people had on their dress shoes for work. They were having to buy shoes to walk home.
“It usually takes me 30 minutes to get home from work on the subway. I’m not sure how long it took me to get home that day. I just can’t remember. But it was not like a normal day to walk.
“There were thousands of us walking along and we had to keep getting out of the way of emergency vehicles. Plus, we were stopped along the way by people trying to find out information about where we were coming from.
“There were several water stands along the way where we could stop and get water. Our throats were dry and filled with dust.”
Moore made it home safely, but the shock of witnessing such disaster will no doubt linger for a very long time.
In the days since the attack, Moore has noticed a difference in the people of the city.
“New York has changed completely in a matter of days. It’s a different city that it was on Monday,” commented Moore. “The mood of people on the street is very sad. Even in this big of a city, you either know somebody who worked there or you have a friend who had a family member there.
“It’s really sad for the whole country. For one thing you wonder what’s going to happen next.
“My husband (Colin Moore from Morganfield) and I are very fortunate. We live in mid-town, away from Manhattan. Of course, I haven’t been able to go back to work. I don’t know when I will be able to return.
“It’s very hard to accept. I’m still in a daze and can’t believe it happened. I don’t think it has sunk in yet.
“Where do we go from here?”
20 Years Later by Matt Hughes
The events of 9/11/01 happened around a year after Brenda Moore and her husband moved to the Big Apple. Although the terrorist attacks changed their lives forever, it did not drive them out of New York City. They remained in the city until 2006 before work took them elsewhere, with them eventually settling in the Nashville metro area. But regardless of where they go, they will never forget that day, or the days that came afterwards.
“I think we realized that there are some evil people in the world who want to do us harm,” Moore said. “New Yorkers seemed more somber, less optimistic, more reflective. We became more aware of our surroundings. If you see something, say something became the motto. There was also a closeness, a willingness to help each other—at least in the NYC agency where I was employed.”
Eventually, following her long walk home, Moore was allowed to return to work.
“It was two weeks before my office was reopened,” Moore said. “I went back as soon as it reopened. Some colleagues came back a little later; some never returned.”
For many, that day formed bonds that time has not undone. Sharing in such tragic events has a way of bringing people together.
“It was a day I will never forget,” Moore said. “I stood watching from the window standing with friends who had relatives in the towers. I saw people jump from the buildings. I saw people walking in the streets covered with white dust. I am still in contact with friends from there—we still call each other around this time of the year.”
Contact Matt Hughes at email@example.com or 270-667-2069