September 15th meeting at the Fairfax Historical Museum

by Larry Parsons

Mike Cain, President called the meeting to order and had a brief business section. There was some comment about Pearl Harbor and some were asked when we saw pictures as there was no TV then. I said it was a week or weeks and first saw it on movie tape news at the theater. There were all kinds of newspapers on the Towers fires and the Pentagon crash. Each person was asked - Where were you? Patricia Carrington, a Free Press correspondent, had a tape recorder which was pressed into service.

Albert Rich - "I was a home, saw it on TV and watched all day.

Ralph Ellsworth - "Listened to it on TV".

Larry Parsons - "Saw first Trade Center fire at 8:50 a.m., no one seemed to know what hit it other than a plane and I knew that it was no Piper Cub. a few moments later I saw the second plane bank at about 30 degrees and hit the other trade center tower with a fiery explosion that went all through the building. I continued to watch TV and saw the Pentagon burning and word that the other hijack was overcome and crashed in Pa.

Mr. Wilcox - "I watched on 22 news and talked of the tower collapsing".

Henry Raymond - "I was at the Fanny Allen Rehab Center where my wife was with a therapist getting her wheelchair fitted. The husband of the therapist came in and informed her that a plane had intentionally crashed into the Trade Center and another into the Pentagon. We listened to the radio on the way home from the hospital and immediately turned on the TV when we got home".

Joyce McCuin - "I was in the kitchen and watched it on TV".

Art Webb - "When I was told of hits on the Trade Centers, I just couldn't understand why".

Margie Cain - "My brother Mike called me at work where we had no radio or TV. Mike held the receiver to the TV and called back when the second building was hit. I was formerly from NYC and had trouble believing this".

Margaret Webb - "I was in the kitchen and turned on the TV to see the second crash".

Sally Sweet - "I was listening to WWSR and turned on the TV. I was mentally drained and later decided I had to do something. I rounded up t-Shirts and gloves to send down to NYC".

Keith Billado - "I work at Century Arms and the day started out just like any other day. We were listening to Vermont Public Radio when the news came on saying that an aircraft flew into the WTC. At first we didn't believe it and one of my co-workers said that it must have been an accident. However, when the second plane hit, I knew that it couldn't be an accident. The rest of the day was spent listening to the radio as the coverage unfolded.

It was like being in a daze all day knowing what has happened, but not picturing the amount of devastation and the horror of what happened. Then, later in the day, upon arriving at home from work I lowered the flag to half-mast. I went inside and turned the TV on and couldn't believe my eyes and wept. Seeing the pictures was a lot worse than anything I could imagine.

We watched for hours in disbelief.

Sally Billado - "I manage The Woolen Mill Health Club in Winooski. My day started as normal on the fitness floor and in my office. One of my members yells across the room from the treadmill, asking me if it is okay to unplug the TV (the TVs can be listened to through an FM Radio). Of course my response was "no", that's why they are plugged in so that we don't hear them. Then she said that something is wrong with the WTC in NYC, something has hit it. I ran down to the other end and just couldn't believe my eyes. I unplugged both TV's so that we could listen to the breaking news. While we were watching the breaking news, we actually saw the second plane just smash into the other WTC building. We all just couldn't believe what had happened. Our membership consists of a lot of corporate and senior members. We have quite a few come in for their lunchtime to work out. Everyone that walked through the door was shocked, stunned and horrified. Everyone was glued to the TV all day long. People that worked upstairs in the other offices came down to look at the breaking news.

Lunchtime came around and we went out and bought everyone lunch (comfort food). I got pizza, chef salad (big tray) and chocolate chip cookies. Everyone was told that they could stay as long as they wanted to.

It was difficult to get any kind of work done, however, you have to do what you have to do! As time progressed with more and more disasters happening one after the other, it was important to get back to work.

At the end of the day, I was listening to the radio on the way home and it wasn't the same as watching the events unfold on TV. I actually held up great in front of people at work and also in my car, but as soon as I turned into the driveway I saw our flag at half-mast and I totally lost it. My husband and I watched the news in disbelief for several hours. Then it was getting to be too much, so we shut it off".

Mike Cain - "I work nights at BFA, Fairfax as a custodian, so my mornings are free. I was watching the KTLA Morning News off the satellite dish when anchor Emmett Miller said "we have breaking news, this is a live shot of apparently a fire at the World Trade Center". I then switched to a New York City Station where they were talking to someone on the phone who witnessed the event. The person was claiming that a plane had struck the building, a commercial plane, not a personal one. I then shut off the dish and began watching WCAX where CBS News Bryant Gumbel was interviewing a woman on the phone. The woman's window looked out on the south side of New York City.

I was thinking of calling my sister, Margie, who was at work in South Burlington and began picking up the phone. Suddenly, there was an explosion in the lower left hand corner of the screen and the woman began screaming "Another Plane has hit the building"!

My sister did not have a radio or television near her, so I held the phone receiver towards the TV so she could hear what was happening. I kept calling her back with updates, like when the Pentagon was attacked, and when the buildings collapsed at the World Trade Center".

Pauline LaVallee - "When I was told of hits on The World Trade Center, I could not watch and went to the hardware store where it was totally quiet".

Paul LaVallee - "I had just returned from my school bus run and saw it all on TV".

Omar Khan - "I was just starting to see patients on the wards in Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington. I heard from a nurse that an airplane had crashed into one of the trade towers and I thought, 'Oh My God'. I started going about my work and was concerned the patients may become too upset (this was on the psychiatric ward). Soon after I heard of another crash and was horrified yet again, this time because I feared - correctly - that this was no accident. My first thought was of anyone we knew in NYC or DC, and then as to my baby son, who was with a babysitter near home. Probably irrational - who would attack us here in Fairfax? - but I felt fearful regardless. My next thought was to the welfare of our patients and the violence they were seeing on TV. The rest of the morning is a haze of undescribable sadness......"

Salwa Khan - "I was in an Anatomy Lab in Burlington. We were working as a group on various structures and parts of the body. The instant we heard, many of us started crying. As a group, we had a brief and emotional discussion, and decided to finish our immediate task as best we could. No one could continue and we adjourned soon thereafter to grieve in our own ways and to contact our loved ones".

Chris Santee - "On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001 world news ripped through Fairfax. Our nation had been violated. I was on the phone when my friend in Florida said "Oh My God! Oh My God! Oh My God!" He told me to turn on my television, that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I clicked on CNN and saw a smoking tower, when suddenly BANG, the second tower exploded. I was shocked and confused, but I remembered I had to get to BFA-Fairfax to pick up my wife at 9:30 for a doctor's appointment. We're going to have a baby real soon.

I called Val French at the elementary school, where my wife, Terri, works and Val already knew. Having some flight training, I thought the gauges might have been "off", causing the altimeters to misread. The odds of that happening twice were astonomical. "Could there be human error on the ground? I wondered. I drove, in shock, to the school. My wife was waiting outside, "I'm always late" I thought, but it was 9:30 on the button. She hadn't heard.

As we drove down 89 to Burlington, cars passed us and the people in them looked shocked. The news was reporting that this was the act of terrorists. Once again, The World Trade Center was a target.

In New York, people were rushing out of The Twin Towers to save their lives, while Fire and Rescue personnel were rushing in to save other's lives.

My wife went into the doctor's office and I returned to the car to listen to the radio. I sat alone, in my car, in disbelief as the reporter said The Pentagon had been hit. This WAS a terrorist attack. Was there more to come ? How big an attack was this ? I prayed for my family. I prayed for us.

The rumbling sound of the first tower collapsing is something I will never forget and then I heard it again moments later. I wished my ten year old son, Colin, could be with us. I was glad to know he was safe, at BFA-Fairfax.

At the school, the high schoolers and middle schoolers were notified of the situation. The principals decided not to discuss the situation with the elementary students as they believed the issues could be overwhelming to the younger students and parents were better suited to have these conversations.

After my wife finished her appointment and I found out everything was fine (maybe one more week, or so, to go), I filled her in on the news from New York and we headed home, where we saw the horrific images played over and over from many angles.

I tried to call my mother in Florida, but I couldn't get through. I tried my friend, who I had been talking to when this started, but I couldn't get through. His cell phone was not working either. I headed to work at Steeple Market.

Many of you came by the store that night and stories started to come in of relatives and friends, who were missing. More stories came in of relatives and friends, who had barely escaped.

One regular customer, Tony Bunbury, told me of his nephew, a member of The New York Fire Department, who had been on duty for 24 hours and got off work just before the attacks began. He went right back to work and as far as I know, he's still working now. I pray for his safety.

I was notified my niece, Johanna, who had recently graduated The University of Virginia and took a job in the financial district, had a 9:30 appointment in one of the towers. She saw the fires and returned home. I thanked God she was safe.

We had a television on in the deli and the radio on at the registers. Many of you paused to watch, listen and share your shock, disbelief and outrage. We got angry together and we got sad together.

With the new day on Wednesday, clean up was underway and so was a patriotic movement that has swept The Nation. We shipped water out on Friday to New York City from Steeple Market. We may soon send troops from Fairfax to other places. I'll keep you posted.

The following e-mail was received from Lisa Kliever who lives in Euclid, Ohio, a suburb (east) of Cleveland.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at the dining room table with my son, Alex, working on schoolwork (he is homeschooled). A little before 10 a.m. my oldest daughter, Rachel, called from work and asked me if I had either the TV or the radio on. I said "no" why?", and she told me to go turn on the TV right away. I remember saying "why, did something bad happen?" and she told me what they had heard at work. Alex and I sat glued to the TV and were watching when the second building collapsed. It was awful to watch, and yet we couldn't turn away. I have been to New York several times and have my own pictures of the WTC. We can't pretend they never existed. I will try to remember them for the beauty they added to the skyline and not for what happened just a mere two weeks ago."

Mark Sustic -"My wife Deborah and I got trapped in Washington in the wake of the national crisis, and after waiting a day, with no clear plan, worked our way back north via a combination of cabs, trains, buses and rides with others. After walking out of the hotel in Washington a little before 7 a.m., and a day of improvising where and how to go next, we finally got home a little after 11 p.m. via Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York City, Poughkeepsie.....It was traumatizing that the only route out was to go through Manhattan, in full site and only a few blocks from the disaster at what used to be the World Trade Center. The train out of New York City was jam-packed, full of people who had been at or near the World Trade Center. Many of them were visibly shell-shocked with a singular purpose of getting out of the city as soon as possible. I'm on the one hand grateful for being in the 'eye of the storm' and on the other hand delighted to be as far away from all of that as possible.

I feel like I spent a day in 'hell's kitcben' on Tuesday. Although I didn't know it was a plane at the time, I actually witnessed the explosion at the Pentagon from across the river while I was in a cab leaving the Watergate complex. I had just heard about details of the World Trade Center situation from the cab driver, so when I saw the explosion, ball of fire and smoke, it appeared to be the first volley of bombing on the capital. I've never seen or felt such terror as traffic became grid locked and watched and heard many thousands of people desperate to get out of the city. My wife and I were separated for several hours, but we finally caught up with each other in the hotel where we had left our bags, to be picked up after our meeting with you on the way to the airport.

The whole experience was like seeing the worst of what the world and its people can do. I am disgusted and sick with these actions, only slightly more than I am sickened and un-assured by the saber-rattling I've been hearing and seeing the wake of these terrible events. I mourn for the several hundred innocent people on the airplanes that were high jacked and crashed, the likely thousands who have perished in the World Trade Center, the untold number who have died in the Pentagon, and the many, many rescue personnel, firefighters and police who died trying to save others.

Like my son Thomas' death in July, this serves to highlight the important things in life."

Dan Gross - "On September 11, the day was going to be like most others. In started out at the Eastern Regional Office for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. I was there to attend my annual 8 hour secession in EEO training. Like most everyone else, my attention was focused on getting through another day. Our group was in the middle of a quick break when someone came back in the room and stated that there had been an explosion in New York City and it involved the Word Trade Center. We pulled up CNN on the Main screen in our conference room only to see 'live' the second plane crash into the second tower. It was a moment that I will never forget.

Less that two minutes went by when one by one pagers and cell phones started going off. We were all getting called back to our 'home offices'. The instructor made a plea from us to stay until noon, but that was NOT going to happen. That 'normal day' went south quickly, some 13 hours later I was calling it a day. The next several days seemed to be just one long continuation of more of the same. There is no 'going back to normal', and now some 8 months later. . . no change. There are days that I would give anything to be a millions of miles away from all of this, and others when I am glad to see that some things I am doing are making a difference."