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The Coyote Caller

The Coyote Caller

The Coyote Caller

Teachers and staff will never forget where they were on 9/11

Cyril Attias
World Trade Center 9/11/01 attack memorial photo (Creative Commons License)

Teachers and staff at West Creek shared their memories of 9/11. From being in college to elementary school, students’ memories of this day remain etched in their minds.

Ms. Sampson: “I was in the first grade and I came home off the bus to my mom looked terrified.  My dad was in special ops at the time. So, she was scared of what was to come next.  Also, at school, after we got the news school routines were put to an end, which was nerve-racking thinking back to it, because we were only first graders. However, we can tell adults were scared of what just happened.  Things were pretty silent and gloomy on 9/11 at Hazelwood Elementary. ”

Mr. Sensabaugh: “I was in the 6th grade and our sixth-grade team was working on an Egyptian project.  When the first plane hit, I was in my history class and we were building pyramids out of toilet paper. When the second plane hit, I was in science, and we were mummifying chicken legs. A student went to the restroom and came back and told us what was going on. We stopped and watched the news most of the day.”

Ms. Baron: “I was a senior at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, finishing my final year of English and Secondary Education degrees. My part-time job was working the front desk at a residence hall. I had the Today show on the television, and I was doing school work while buzzing people into the building and saying goodbye as they left. I remember the news talking about the first plane’s impact like it was an accident. ‘A plane has hit the World Trade Center here in NYC.’ I remember calling my then-boyfriend, now husband, who was at home in Minnesota finishing his degree. We both had the TV on and were talking about normal things until we saw the second plane hit the second tower. I remember the fear and the uncertainty. I remember watching TV for hours just trying to get some understanding of what was happening. I remember the shock on people’s faces as they walked away from the building covered in white dust, probably ash. I remember hearing about the impacts in DC and PA. I can still feel the fear and uncertainty; we didn’t have any clue what was happening.”

Ms. Lewis: “I was a sophomore at Lenoir City High in Tennessee. We would watch “Channel 2″ news every morning before school. I was in my Algebra 2 class with Coach Berrong. The TV turned on and then stayed on. None of us really knew what was happening, and then it hit us. We went on lockdown because we were so close to Oak Ridge and Y12, and they didn’t know if it would be hit. One of my friends was running down the hall crying because her dad worked at the school and was in the National Guard and they told him to get ready to deploy now. My husband was my high school sweetheart. He decided to join the military after that day. He was a freshman. He joined in 2005 and is still in.”

Ms. Johnson: “I had just graduated high school that May, and in July I had just finished my first associate’s degree. I was working at Target on Wilma Rudolph and was part of the truck team. So I was leaving work to drive home when the first planes hit. I had to cross the river, and they were shutting the bridges down. As I drove, I listened to the radio, and then  I turned the TV on at home. When I had been leaving Target, they had CNN on the TV with it happening live. And having to sit and see if they would let us cross the river.”

Ms. Ligo: “I was living in Fort Polk, Louisiana, at the time and a stay-at-home mom.  I was heading to an event at church when someone called and told me what happened. I decided church was a good place to be and continued on with my plans.  As I was walking past a room full of people watching a TV of the events, one of the towers collapsed. There was a collective gasp. and I saw people step back.  I didn’t realize, at the time, that I was seeing the tower collapse in real-time.

“We had a friend who was stationed at the Pentagon. I called his wife to make sure that he was okay and she told me that he had survived.  When the plane crashed into the Pentagon, the force threw my friend into some nearby lockers. He was stunned for a moment and then his training kicked in, and he initiated an evacuation of the area he was in.  Shortly thereafter, the floor collapsed.”

Mr. Irby: “I was in my eighth year of teaching in west Tennessee. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning.  Back then, every classroom had a television. Every class tuned in to CNN.  At first, we just thought it was a really weird thing that had happened in New York, so we kept teaching while watching TV.  When the second plane hit, you could hear screams from other classes.  Then the first tower fell, and the principal sent word that we all needed to turn the TVs off to ‘get back to normal.’   Most of us kept the TV on.  A lot of parents dismissed their kids at that point.  My son was four months old that day. My wife and I talked about how this was going to change his world and also worried about our friends and family in New York.”

Ms. Sullivan: “I may have only been in kindergarten, but living in a commuter town in Connecticut to New York City had an impact on my family. My dad lost two friends in the towers. Later in life while I was working for Broadway in Manhattan, a mile away from the now-memorial, my coworkers shared their experiences of being in the city on that day. The world shook and turned gray. Chaos filled the streets. And they had to walk home to the other burrows. New York is one of the greatest cities in the world and continues to be with its heart at Ground Zero.”

Ms. Schmucker: “I was a freshman at APSU. I had skipped my morning drawing class that morning. I woke up and wondered why my roommate was home in bed watching war movies; that was not her style. She told me it was real and that everyone had been sent home from classes. We both sat on the edge of our beds and watched in stunned silence.”

Ms. Simmons: “When 9/11 happened, I was a senior in high school. I was sitting in health class, and we were watching the news for whatever reason, and it came across the screen that the Twin Towers were being attacked. Then the next thing we saw were the planes going into the buildings. It was so sad to see on the television.”

Ms. Combs (tech coach): “I was teaching fifth grade at Sango. My daughter was in first grade. I heard that a plane had hit the World Trade Center as the buses were unloading and remember thinking how could a pilot not see a building that big? In my mind, I imagined a prop plane. A little while later when we heard there was a second plane, I knew this was not an accident. We tried to keep the students from hearing too much, but they knew something was up. My daughter’s teacher had a son who worked at the Pentagon. She did not know if he was there or not when the plane crashed into it. Thankfully she found out by the end of the day that he was there, but was in a different part of the building.”

Ms. Healy: “I remember being in third grade in Florida, and we went on a lockdown, and teachers turned on the news, so we were watching it live. Some students got picked up early. I remember getting home that night and watching the news with my mom and just feeling like the whole world had stopped.”

Ms. Vasquez: “I was a sophomore in high school in Denver, Colorado. I was sitting in my journalism class when my teacher received a phone call. I remember seeing his face go white and his shoulders dropped. After hanging up the phone he said, ‘Something has happened. There has been an attack on the towers in NYC. We are currently on lockdown until they tell us the next steps.’ Everyone immediately stopped talking. Our teacher turned on the TV inside the classroom and put the news on. There was no movement in the school building, there was no change of classes, and we were not allowed to leave school unless our parents picked us up. I remember sitting there watching this nightmare unfold on TV. I watched people jump from high above because they had no other option but to sit in that burning building and wait for someone to rescue them. Watching the towers collapse in real time was so heartbreaking to see. I visited the memorial and museum in 2018. The respect and silence that is given by all the people visiting is truly an amazing experience. The memorial sign on the bottom floor read: ‘No day shall erase you from the memory of time.'”

Ms. Darr: “I had been widowed for about 2 ½ years, going through many changes, including my oldest son joining the Army. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I walked into work like any other day, when a fellow co-worker approached me about the tragedy. They were concerned for me because my son was in basic training at the time. I’m not even sure how I felt, except for a sense of dread for many reasons, one being my son was going to be heading to war.

“The TV was on playing and replaying the scene, as we watched in horror at the devastation happening before our eyes. My heart went out to individuals living the nightmare, to the emergency personnel working tirelessly to rescue and save those in need, and to the families who were directly affected. The worst part was constantly seeing the destruction over and over again. Learning new details each day and wondering what it meant for our country.

“9/11/01 was a day that rocked our land and my world because it meant my son was going to war.”