• 

9/11 20 Years Later: Readers respond

Photo courtesy of Christopher Anderson ##  “A sacred place”: The Ground Zero memorial in New York City holds deep meaning for local residents who have visited the former World Trade Center site.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Anderson ## “A sacred place”: The Ground Zero memorial in New York City holds deep meaning for local residents who have visited the former World Trade Center site.
Photo courtesy of Kent Olsen ##
Kent Olsen, at Evergreen Aviation Museum, flew for Evergreen in 2001. Near Manhattan on 9/11, Olsen recalls, “It was hard to go outside, walk to a restaurant, without looking three miles across the bay at the smoke and destruction.”
Photo courtesy of Kent Olsen ## Kent Olsen, at Evergreen Aviation Museum, flew for Evergreen in 2001. Near Manhattan on 9/11, Olsen recalls, “It was hard to go outside, walk to a restaurant, without looking three miles across the bay at the smoke and destruction.”

News-Register asked readers to write about the impact of 9/11 on their lives. Our thanks to the respondents. Here are their words, as submitted:

City of caring

I am a Navy veteran and I was stationed on the USNS Comfort for two weeks at the Port Authority of NYC during the clean-up efforts. My biggest memory from 9/11, is not from being 10 miles from the Pentagon, stationed at NNMC Bethesda watching the second plane hit, or being in lockdown for three days, or how I met Robin Williams the weekend prior in NYC. It was the silence; you could hear a pin drop on the streets of NYC, a city known for its toughness, and grit, its honking cabs and yelling pedestrians, it was a ghost town. As we walked the streets, you could feel the love from each person you passed, compassion embraced everyone in a city filled with devastation.

— Christopher Anderson, McMinnville

 

Smoke and destruction

My experience while in the Navy was during Vietnam but I spent 3 of my 4 years in San Diego in a training squadron training crew members how to find submarines. So to me Vietnam was on the news and in the paper.

Twenty-five years later I was flying for Evergreen in the DC-8. I flew into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for about 7-8 months, carrying rockets, bombs and sometimes mail. I landed in Riyadh about three hours after the war started. Thirty minutes after landing they had their first “incoming Scud missiles” warning, false alarm. My next two trips, no refueling, just off-load and get out, the Scud warning was real. Both times the tower said “incoming Scud missiles, we are abandoning the tower, take off at your own discretion.” Which we did, turn south and push the speed up to the max.

All of this was “war” to me. Military fighting military. No one likes war but it is what it is. In the next ten years I flew into the Middle East many times. Things changed and now there were people wrapping explosives around themselves and blowing up innocent civilians.

So here I was in New York on Sept. 11. My crew and I were stuck there for four days. It was hard to go outside, walk to a restaurant, without looking three miles across the bay at the smoke and destruction. We couldn’t imagine the thousands that died and what their family and friends were going through.

What had we done, that could have been many, many years before, to these people that would bring them to our country and kill so many innocent civilians? There can’t be any pride in this part of the Muslim faith, and maybe no mirrors that they could look at themselves before and not look away.

— Kent Olsen, McMinnville

 

Radio at its best

On that day, I was still working in Anchorage. I walked into the ARCO tower about 0700 hours, and a TV was on and the lobby was crowded with people watching. It was the first time that I heard about it myself. The second tower had just fallen. I went upstairs and turned on the radio, and was surprised to hear Howard Stern still on the air live. I got to hear the second half of a show that I can only describe as radio at its spontaneous best. Whatever guests he had at the beginning were gone. He was relating what he saw from the WKRK studio, and staff were coming in and out doing the same. He and Robin were on that day for six hours total.

— Leonard Karpinski, McMinnville

 

Proud of our veteran

September 10, 2001, our son left for boot camp. I stood at the PDX Airport gate until our son left my sight. Easing my tears, my husband sweetly told me, “our son will be okay.” 

The next morning would be a day that forever changed our lives, our family. Our son would be embarking on a life-changing assignment for our country. Having spent 10 months in Fallujah, Iraq, during his four-year enlistment, our son honorably served our country.  9/11/2001 is a date that will forever tug on my heartstrings until my dying day. Proud of our veteran son, Matthew P. Williams of Newberg.

— Dave and Linda Williams, Nampa, Idaho

 

Commute of despair

Watching TV wasn’t part of our morning routine, so we were unaware what was unfolding in NYC as we prepped for work and school. I turned on the radio a few miles into my commute and, instead of hearing lively banter, heard the DJs talking in hushed tones. I heard “Twin Towers” and “possible terrorism,” but I would drive several miles down the freeway before they broke for a news update and I would finally get the context. I felt immediate despair and vulnerability. It didn’t help that I was getting farther from home and family with each passing minute.

— Susan Wilson, McMinnville

 

Recipients of grace

I was teaching seventh grade at Patton and had had a girl from a Pakistani family in class the year before. I stopped by their store (Chevron station across from McDonald’s) to ask if they were all right, knowing that with the horrific tragedy having been perpetrated by Middle Easterners, they might be recipients of wrath. They said they had had no problems, something that speaks well of the community.

— Scott Phoenix, Newberg

 

A train delayed 

September 11, 2001, I was on an Amtrak train making my way to Georgia for my grandson Nicholas Smith’s wedding.

As we crossed Texas those who had phones began receiving messages about what was happening in New York.

Outside of San Antonio, in an isolated area, they stopped the train. We were instructed to gather our luggage and get off. They searched every bag. They also inspected track at vulnerable locations along the entire line. We were able to continue our journey after the search.

When I reached my destination we were 13 hours behind schedule.

At Paul King’s residence in Valdosta, I watched as television channels repeatedly showed what had happened.

What should we have learned? Be patient — be vigilant — help those in need.

— Verdella Speer, McMinnville

 

That sacred place 

Taking our team to Ground Zero in NYC was quite possibly one my favorite all-time experiences while at Linfield. It meant an awful lot to me, as obviously I still remember the day we watched in horror as those buildings came down and people leapt to their deaths to end it quickly.

I wondered how impactful it would be for our players who were barely born in 2001. But I believe for our players, it was just as impactful. Seeing the memorial in person, at night ...  well you could just feel the power of that sacred place. 

On the walk back to the Staten Island Ferry, our team was extremely moved by the NYFD Firefighter Memorial Wall outside of Engine Ladder 10. I can still see our young men quietly pausing at length and taking in the full impact and emotion that the bronze pictured wall brought out. I know the thought many were having while looking at what those heroes did on that day is: “how would I have responded on that day, if I were in their place?”  

I will never forget our trip to Ground Zero, and it was an honor to take my team there, and something I am very proud of.

— Joseph Smith, head football coach, Linfield University

Comments

@@pager@@