Remembering 9/11

As a part of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack, Culpeper Times asked local community members to reflect back on that day to share where they were and what they remember. Submissions were edited for clarity and grammar.

I was getting my day underway at work like millions of others. I was paged to take a call from my wife. She relayed that the plane had hit the Pentagon and perhaps others were inbound.  Our son’s daily metro route took him through the Pentagon Station at this very same time. We could not reach him and knew that we would be turned back if we tried to go into the NoVA region. Very anxious for sure but soon we heard from our son that his train was routed back to his home station. The tragedy that unfolded that morning, along with the associated feelings, will never be forgotten. - Tom Boyd, Culpeper Car Wash 

Like so many Americans, 9/11 forever changed my life. I was only in middle school at the time, and I could not understand why all my friends at school were crying. My mother picked me up from school and her face was pained. I could see the tears forming in her eyes. I asked my mother why her and everyone around me was crying. My mother hugged me tightly and said that an airplane had crashed into the Pentagon. I later learned that so many innocent American lives were lost from a despicable and cowardly act. However, I also witnessed the relentless American fighting spirit. Americans from all backgrounds were banding together. It was then engraved in my mind that our freedom is not free. Our military has made and continues to make the ultimate sacrifice for our everyday liberties. I will never forget. - Amanda Johnson, AR Johnson Law

I lived in Minnesota on 9/11/01. It was a beautiful fall day with crispness in the air and autumnal colors everywhere.  My two children had left for school, and I was working at my desk from home. My children’s father called, emphatically saying, “Turn on the TV!  Turn on the TV!” I did just in time to see the second plane fly into the Twin Towers. I watched with terror as the first one and then the other collapsed. Later, our children came from school, and I tried to shield them from the TV images.  But, as with all things 9/11, the images remain in our hearts and minds. Something changed in us forever. - Dr. Janet Gullickson, President of Germanna Community College

On 9/11, I was in my office in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina where I did commercial lending and leasing for another bank at the time. I was getting reports coming in from people about something happening at the World Trade Center and other places. A lot of us were all huddling in local restaurants in downtown Charlotte trying to see what was happening on the news. We were all in shock. It was a scary time with us being in one of the largest banking centers in the world and not knowing what was happening with our friends and families in New York in the financial world. I had unexpectedly lost my dad on July 2, so I was thinking I was so glad my dad was not around to see what was happening. I will never forget the heroic things people were doing for others at the risk of their own lives. I was proud, and still proud of those who gave all for our great nation. - Tonda Hopkins, Atlantic Union Bank

I actually grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey - about a 10 minute drive to the George Washington Bridge near Manhattan. ​​I was in 7th grade when 9/11 happened. I remember being in the Algebra 1 class and looking out the window, spacing out. I saw a huge cloud of smoke come from the direction of Manhattan. Soon, we had a vice principal come into the room and tell our teacher to turn the TV on. We watched it on TV while it was happening. The school ended early and everyone was told to go home. My dad worked as a limo driver and he was in the city that day, so I remember being really scared. He was allowed to leave the city when they lifted the travel ban on the bridge. He told me that he was several blocks away from the Towers but his suit and car were all covered in dust when he got home. We had school close for a few days because we had many students whose parents worked in the towers and many of them did pass away. - Hansol Park, ESL teacher at Liberty High School

Like many others, I was shocked and horrified at the attacks on America on 9/11. My husband and I were in the process of opening our new business on main street when the attacks occurred. We were sitting at the cattle auction waiting for the sale to end. The radio was off so I could study for a test in a class I was taking. When we went into the office to collect a check, everyone was staring at the TV. I thought they were watching a special report on the Oklahoma City bombing. The woman looked at me aghast saying it was happening right now in New York. We were shocked! The next week was a struggle. No one would write us an insurance policy to open. With help from our landlord, we were able to obtain an insurance policy. Finally on September 17th we were able to open Integrity Automotive on main street. The memory will always be with us, especially now as we are in our 20th year in business. - Diane Morris, Integrity Automotive

On 9/11, I was standing in the Culpeper Star Exponent newsroom watching a plane fly into the Twin Towers. No one was in editorial, and my publisher was out of state at a publishers meeting. I put in an emergency call to him and discovered none of the publishers knew anything. I asked and got permission to put together a special afternoon edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent. I was the advertising director at that time and, to the best of my knowledge, it was and is the only special afternoon edition printed. My personal reaction was one of horror as the second tower was struck, as the Pentagon was hit, the third plane full of passengers, the death toll rose and the skies went silent as it became clear we were being deliberately attacked. Someone was killing Americans on our soil. - Dyanne Holt, former advertising director for Culpeper Star Exponent

I was on my way to Virginia Beach to work that day and stopped at the Exxon across from Spotsylvania Mall. It was an extraordinarily clear day, late summer but no humidity, almost fall-like. When I went in to pay, the first plane had just hit the North tower. Without knowing the full details, I started driving and continued listening to the unfolding events. I got to my hotel, rescheduled my appointments and drove home the next day. My mom passed away one week later on Sept. 18, so it is a time that I will never forget. - Gary Walker, Ace Hardware

On September 11, 2001, I was in my office in Warrenton at the other storage facility I was running at the time along with the Culpeper Storage location. As any other morning at work, I got my day started, turned on the TV to get caught up on the local news when I heard of the attack on the first of the Twin Towers. I was horrified at what was happening. I called my husband to let him know what had happened, not knowing that more attacks were to come that day. I said a prayer for all that were impacted by the attacks. - Greta Lohr, Culpeper Self Storage

I had just taken my son and daughter to Farmington Elementary School and was working at my store on Main Street when the announcement came over the radio. I remember being shocked when the first tower was hit and thinking it was a terrible accident. When the second tower was hit, everyone knew it was no accident. I remember being very apprehensive about what was going to happen next. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that terrible day. - David Ferlazzo, Rice Tire

Twenty years ago, I was processing customer's photos at our print lab in Meadowbrook Center. I had family working in the arts, living in downtown Manhattan. It took most of the day to get a call that they were safe. I knew this was an event to change the way we perceive our daily lives and our safety. - Tim Carlson, Study C Photography

For me, September 11, 2001 still stands out as a day that I shall never forget. As I worked in my business with my wife, the events of the day overtook anything else that we may have planned to do and we were glued to the news as things unfolded. It was indeed a sad day! The attack on American soil was absolutely horrific in our lives and in our country, and I still have painful visions of that day. I pray for healing for our country as we move forward in an effort to unify in spirit. - Skip Price, Village Frameworks & Gallery LLC

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