‘I remember’

Editor’s Note: The Photo News asked an array of people for their thoughts on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack on the World Trade Towers and America. There were common threads in the responses: How blue the cloudless sky was. How the day began with mundane activities like dropping a truck off for repairs or making lunch and then getting the kids off to school. And how out of this tragedy came unity. At least for a while. A number of writers compared what happened 20 years ago to events happening today. Another essayist called Sept. 11 a date of demarcation: The world before that day and the world since then. The conclusions, of course, are personal.

| 08 Sep 2021 | 10:47

‘I remember’

Sept. 11, 2001, began like every other day. I dropped my daughter off at Monroe-Woodbury Middle School then off to my office, Plaza Optical in Monroe, to do some paperwork before the day started in earnest. It was quiet and peaceful.

My peace was shattered when my husband Paul arrived at work and told me what happened: He’d seen the second plane hit Tower 2 on the news at home. I felt like the only person on the planet that didn’t know.

The news went on immediately. We were all glued to the coverage. We watched the Towers fall, along with our tears, taking with them the sense of safety we enjoyed as Americans.

Early in my professional career I worked Downtown. I remember the joy I took seeing the progress from week to week as the towers went up, reaching toward the sky. They were nothing short of an engineering marvel.

Then just like that, on a clear September morning, they crumbled in front of my eyes.

Everyone who came and went from our office that day, like us, moved around in a trance. At the time we had been in business in Monroe 26 years. We knew so many of people that worked in the Towers as well as the brave first responders, personally and from the community. The images of the day are forever engraved in my mind.

I remember grieving for the innocent lives lost and for the loss of our country’s innocence. I remember the bravery and selflessness of the people on Flight 93, the firefighters, the police and others that day who ran toward the fire.

I remember how that horrible day brought Americans together, united in our grief and resolve to stand with one another.

Betsy Utnick

Monroe, N.Y.

‘Who can count on us now?’

On 9/11 I was working in a new job at the U.S. Military Academy. I had found myself there starting a second career after 24 years in the Army.

I had been stationed there in the 70’s and 80’s as a soldier, I liked the area.

I must say that the initial news reports I looked at and went back to my office. I was either in disbelief or denial.

How could this happen in America?

A day later in the late night I was outside walking. It was eerily silent until I heard a familiar sound of two jet fighters passing overhead in close formation and quite low, a tear came to my eye. There were no planes except for military aircraft.

It was real and it was sad. I saw America come together in a way I hadn’t seen since JFK was assassinated.

Today we are closing out a 20-year war in Afghanistan. I’m again in disbelief.

The actions of many “leaders” saddens me but also brings about rage.

My fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who went to Afghanistan gave some and some gave all. For what?

That place is now run by terrorists, maybe the same terrorists who planned and executed 9/11.

My heart goes out to the tens of thousands of Afghan civilians who aided my brothers and sisters like the humble villagers that protected and saved Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell.

We owe them our lives and our country has abandoned many of them. I’m so sad for our country. We were once a great land, but I fear those days are now numbered.

Who can count on us now?

Jack Collins

Master Sergeant, US Army Retired


‘Before and after’

Twenty years is a blink in time but the world is a different place since September 11, 2001. We measure time “before and after,” and nothing testifies to that more than the difference between pre-9/11 and post-9/11.

For me, it was a day of both great joy and unfathomable sadness.

My first grandchild was born about 6 a.m. that morning and I was thrilled.

Three hours later, along with the rest of the world, I saw tragedy unfold of unbelievable proportions. Everything had changed forever. I don’t think the world we live in will ever be the same.

That is not all bad; while tragedy and horror can happen in a single moment, the dawn of the 21st century and the darkness of 9/11 are reminders that there are brave and kind people who come to the forefront in moments of our lives, whether it be due to terrorism, floods, pandemics, poverty, or all the other events that can leave a black hole in our minds and hearts.

Fred Lindlaw