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Remembering tragedy of 9/11

Sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of one of the worst days in United States history. On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four passenger jets and conducted four coordinated suicide attacks. Two planes were crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, another into the Pentagon and a fourth, carrying terrorists, was taken control by passengers and crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., to avoid its intended target.
Nearly 3,000 people ‘ the crew and passengers on the planes as well as numerous firefighters who responded to the Twin Towers to render aid ‘ died in the attacks.
Harrison County Veterans Service Officer Marion Wallace was living in Texas at the time of the attacks and was on his way back to the Lone Star State after visiting his mother’s farm in Byrneville in northeast Harrison County.
‘I was in West Memphis, Ark., getting gas heading back to Texas and I overheard people talking about something weird,’ Wallace said. ‘I thought they were talking about a movie.’
After driving a little while longer, Wallace said he told his wife something was going on, so they turned on the radio and heard the news, including that all aircraft had been grounded.
‘I looked up and saw an airplane and noticed it start to bank and turn around,’ he said.
Wallace and his wife stopped for lunch at a rest stop in Hot Springs, Ark., and were able to watch the news unfold on television.
Wallace said he dealt with terrorists as an embassy Marine in the early 1970s.
‘It’s nothing new; it’s something that’s always been there. It’s just larger, more frequent and more threatening now,’ he said. ‘The American people need to better understand it and be ready to stand up against it.’
Wallace said he thinks the country’s alertness and safety has been enhanced since that day 10 years ago. He said safety has come at a great cost, both with lives of military men and women and financially with two wars and homeland security.
Jane Yeager of Elizabeth is like so many people who remember exactly what they were doing when they first heard about the terrorists attacks.
‘I was in the front den cleaning the windows when it came on TV,’ she said.
Jane’s husband, Harold, said he was outside at the time of the attacks.
‘One of the worst days I can ever remember,’ he said.
Both agreed the country is safer since Sept. 11, but Harold said there’s ‘so many people after us that it’s going to get through again.’
Jane said she fears for children at school because they could be targets.
Randy West, who was editor of this newspaper at the time of the attacks, was in the Big Apple with his wife, Diane, on Sept. 11, 2001.
‘We couldn’t believe this was happening in New York City, and we were afraid,’ West said. ‘After all, when was the last time the U.S. had been attacked? Pearl Harbor? Oklahoma City?
‘We felt helpless because so many innocent people had been killed, and we were unable to leave a massive city that quickly became a ghost town because the streets were empty, except for emergency vehicles,’ he said. ‘On the other hand, this country quickly became unified like never before. We went to a Red Cross Center near our hotel (about five miles away from the World Trade Center) to give blood that day. They didn’t need any, partly because there were so few survivors and partly because there were so many donors.’
His wife said all Americans were unified as brothers and sisters, ‘simply by sharing with one another our grief and shock.’
West, who retired as editor in 2005, said he definitely thinks the United States is safer now ‘because of all the public transportation precautions and our government’s intense focus on the Al Qaeda network all over the world.’
A New Salisbury resident has been busy working on a piece of artwork to commemorate the tragedy.
John King, creative director at Bruce Fox Inc. in New Albany, helped design and produce the structure that includes a piece of metal from the World Trade Center towers. The artwork will be unveiled later this week in New Albany.