Today: Jul 17, 2024

Southern remembers when tragedy struck

There is a saying that when traumatic events happen, people will remember those moments for the rest of their lives. Ten years ago, a traumatic event hit home. Two planes struck the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington was also attacked. 2,749 lives were lost on that day. Americans and people across the world watched the terror unravel on their TV screens. The age-old question, “Where were you when it happened?” changed dramatically. To this day people still remember where they were and what was going through their mind when they heard about the attacks. These are the stories of four Southern community
members.
Dawn Cathey, First Year Experience Inquiry professor-

Dawn Cathey, FYE professor

“When the planes hit the towers and the Pentagon, my
parents were actually on a flight in the air right at that time
going into Chicago O’Hare airport. I remember it very clearly,
like struggling to find out what plane they were on and trying
to remember where they flew out of at that time, but knowing
I couldn’t get in contact with them for a while. I also remember
my 5-year-old was home that day, and he came into the
house and he happened to see the Twin Towers, saw the plane
go into the Twin Towers and I remember him saying, ‘Wow
that pilot made a big mistake.’ I think I found out where my
parents where going. I was clear on what their flight was and
by that time I was clear on what flights were affected, but I
remember they weren’t able to get home for a while, because
there was no flying for a long time and I remember them trying
to figure out how to get home. I think they ended up getting
rides back with people in Chicago because people carpooled
for a long time because there was no flying. Specifically for me,
there wasn’t a lot of processing going on that day, but the first
time I saw a plane up in the air I remember thinking how eerie
that was. And because we travel a lot in and out of the City, I
remember bringing my family to the City to see Ground Zero,
and I remember not wanting to be scared but still being a little
afraid bringing my kids to the City. That took a long time…
to get acclimated to being able to go back. And then to see a
plane flying in New York City – I remember that clearly and
just feeling very uncomfortable with that.”
Laura Azevedo, sophomore-
“I was 21. I was driving to Central; I don’t even know

Laura Azevedo, sophomore

why I was driving to Central, but I was parking in the parking
garage and the guy on my radio station that I was listening to
cuts into a middle of a song and said, ‘A second plane just hit
the Trade Center.’ And you know I was like, ‘What’s going on,’
because at that point I lost radio contact. So I went onto the
campus and it was complete chaos. Everyone was out of class
running around everywhere. I finally found a student lounge
with the news on and we just saw—over and over again—this
plane come in and hit the second building. At that point I
freaked out because my mom was working in New York that
day and her office building was like a block away from where
all this was happening. So I called her office, spoke to her
secretary (because obviously she wasn’t in) who told me that
her business meeting in New York had been canceled. So
she was in the Stamford office for the day, thankfully. I just couldn’t reach her on the cell
phone because all the cell phone towers were down. Then we
found out about the plane hitting the Pentagon…My uncle works
there in security and they had a security lockdown so it was 12
hours before we found out that he was okay. So it was a very, very
traumatic day. That was probably the only time I was on Central’s
campus. Finding out my uncle was OK – I mean we were already
going to drive to Virginia to stay with my aunt, because it seemed
like they wouldn’t release any information for a couple of days
and we were just making those arrangements when she called and
told us he was okay.”
Kristina Santoro, graduate student—
“I was sitting in my freshman English class. I was 13-years old

Kristina Santoro, graduate student

and the principal came on the announcements to make the
big announcement and all of a sudden work for the rest of the day
stopped. Nobody did anything and we just watched TV. Any classroom
with TVs just turned on their TVs immediately and we sat
there intently watching. People got really emotional, because we
are in Connecticut and many people worked in New York City. I
know my father sometimes went up there and I didn’t know where
he was that day. So I was just very concerned and nervous…We
had an emergency early dismissal and I went home and my mom
was sitting glued to the television just staring like, ‘Oh my God
did you hear what just happened?’ I remember…at first no one
really knew what was going on and we were all discussion whether
or not if it was an attack or just a fluke; people – even after the
second plane – were like, ‘Maybe its just a fluke.’ But obviously
it wasn’t; it was planned. Especially when the Pentagon got hit,
everybody knew. But there was a lot of speculation in the early
hours. But yeah, the whole school went on lockdown and then
sent us all home. So I remember this one girl screaming down the
hall when they hit. She went screaming down the hall, ‘They’re
bombing New York! They’re bombing New York!’ Everybody was
so confused; no one knew what was going on. I remember very
vividly sitting in Ms. Roden’s English class and just my jaw dropping.
I couldn’t believe it; it was very sad. We watched the second
plane hit. It hit so close to home. I mean, then you never heard
of attacks in America – especially at that point. We were so safe
here…but then when it came home it was like, ‘Wow this is real
stuff ’ – especially for a 13-year-old. First year of high school, I
was so concerned with other silly things in comparison, and then
this happens and it was a very humbling and sad experience.”

Benjamin McNamee, Freshman Orientation Coordinator-
“I was 12 and in seventh grade. When it actually happened

Benjamin McNamee, Freshman Orientation Coordinator

I was in Spanish class, but they didn’t let us watch TV; they didn’t
put it on, so nobody saw anything. We figured something was up
when we went back to our homeroom after Spanish class and all
the teachers weren’t in the room. They were down the hall talking
to each other. And then we had an assembly where they told us
something happened in New York and that we all had to go home.
Like we all went home early. We all got back on our bus and went
back home and that’s when I found out. I guess the only thing that is
personal is my dad was in the International Guard for a really long
time. He joined in the 70s and he actually retired from the International
Guard Sept. 9, 2001. He retired two days before the attack,
so he was calling all his friends at base making sure if they were
going, he was going to try to go with them, even though he retired.
I remember going home and he was freaking out on the phone and
he’s usually very calm and nothing ever agitates him really. But I
didn’t know what was really going on until I got home. Looking
back at it now, I think that’s the first time I was aware of 24 hours
of news coverage on anything. I think it probably happened before
that, but that was the first time I was like, ‘Wow there is coverage on
everything 24 hours…you can watch everything on eight different
channels and they are all going to report the same thing.’ And I just
remember everyone was glued to the TV watching the news and
seeing what was coming out of that – every single day listening to
new reports of what was happening and developing. And obviously
we went to war a little later, and then there was 24-hour coverage
of that too. Everybody was more jumpy and I remember the wave
of patriotism that came out of that and it was something that was
eye-opening. That was something I never experienced before.”

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