By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

09/11: Letter to Readers

In those shocked, bewildering days after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, people did what they could -- attending a vigil, honoring the flag, laying a wreath or donating blood.

Adding flowers to a memorial on Sept. 12, 2001, Priscilla Axtell of McMinnville told the News-Register, “Everyone is feeling this tragedy, but no one can comprehend its magnitude.”

A generation after the 9/11 attacks, are we any closer to that comprehension?

In this edition and on Sept. 10, the News-Register observes the 20th anniversary of the tragic, world-changing events of New York City, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania. That day, terrorists hijacked four airplanes, causing thousands of deaths and mass destruction at three sites on the East Coast including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, murderously redefining humanity’s sense of place and proportion.

We remember local residents’ words and emotions of the day, and other reactions to unprecedented horror:

“I can’t say I’m surprised by this, because I’m not. I expected something like this a long time ago. But it’s still a total outrage. This should not be condoned.” -- Air Force veteran Bud Abbott of Sheridan

“I would ask that all of you remember today’s victims and families in your thoughts and prayers. Pray that these events have ended so that we can move forward without a sense of fear in our future.” -- then-Mayor Ed Gormley of McMinnville

“New York and Washington, D.C., are a long way from McMinnville. But our hearts felt the reverberations from this unconscionable attack as surely as if the suicide bombers had struck here instead.” – then-News-Register Managing Editor Steve Bagwell

“I had not given blood in about a year, but I have O positive blood and whenever something like this happens, that’s the type they’re all looking for.” -- Joyce Tresham of Newberg

The words were resolute, angry, hopeful, stoic. In the moment, people attempted to comprehend the magnitude and find courage in the face of horror, doing what one always does “when something like this happens.”

We look back again to describe, and perhaps comprehend, the magnitude of 9/11.

In this edition: A McMinnville resident recounts working at Ground Zero in the weeks after, and a Willamina resident remembers opening her preschool on Sept. 11, 2001.

In Friday’s edition: Readers reflect on where they were and what they felt on 9/11 and interpret its enduring impacts, and writers consider 9/11’s other meanings.


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