We can all remember where we were, what we were doing, who we were with on September 11, 2001. Walk through the day we will never forget with some of our residents as we honor all of the victems on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Jan Havre and her husband, Pierre, awoke to television scenes that looked like those from a Bruce Willis movie. Jan thought they had left a movie on the night before, and when she realized she was watching actual footage of events taking place in New York City on ABC, she was horrified.
They were supposed to be flying to Boston the next day, but Pierre, a retired airline pilot, knew all flights would be grounded. So they drove – for the next couple of days – from Idaho to Massachusetts. One of Jan’s most vivid memories is of the rows and rows of cars on the highways with red, white and blue American flags flying behind them. The sense of American patriotism was one she had never experienced before.
After returning to the east coast, they went to their timeshare in New York City. Not knowing what to expect, Jan said the city felt different. People were talking to one another. They were welcoming, and they were kind. She recalls that the city and the people were the best they had ever been in those days and months to follow – together and united as one.
Carol Nelson woke up on September 11, 2001, to prepare for a flight out of Houston, Texas. She had been staying with her son and daughter-in-law and her two grandsons, George, who was three, and new baby Dan, who had been born just weeks before. She remembers walking into the kitchen, dressed and packed and ready to leave for the airport. George excitedly greeted Carol, eager to have breakfast before she had to leave for her airplane ride. Carol wasn't paying attention to the television, but she will never forget when George turned away from the TV to say, "That airplane just crashed into that house." When she turned to see what he was referencing, she could not believe her eyes. At that moment, her son came racing into the room to turn off the TV. That's when he told her that the Twin Towers had been attacked. After realizing all flights were cancelled, and she wouldn't be flying anywhere that day, she recalls they ate in silence because there was nothing to say. They were all in shock.
Days later, when she was sitting on an airplane headed home, she remembers everyone in the plane was silent. She said they all looked like zombies - faces still stunned about what had happened. Today, George is 23 years old. He doesn't remember that morning, but Carol will never forget it.
Bob and Betty Porter weren't sure what to expect the day they sailed into Long Island Sound. Most likely a typical day, running errands along the harbor and enjoying the beautiful sights that sailing near Manhattan offered. This led Bob to lift the anchor at 8:00 AM to sail into the brief period of peacefulness that seldomly lasted on the river. Betty recalls the feelings of shock and disbelief while sitting at the helm.
In disruption, a voice spoke the words over the VF radio, "a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center." They had no idea what sights would unfold before them as they sailed into the harbor. The smoke and dust rising from the Towers looked just like an atomic bomb cloud no more than five miles away.
Beckoning closer to Manhattan, the coast guard stopped the Porters and prevented them from traveling any further. They were encouraged to travel back to the anchorage where they started, only able to watch as the towers billowed smoke into the air in the distance. This would be the last time the Porter's saw the World Trade Center standing.