Archive for Wednesday, September 11, 2002

How we’ve changed since Sept. 11

September 11, 2002

One year ago, a nation stood breathless as the long-arms of terrorism and hate touched American soil.

We were at home or at school. We were at work or on our way.

We watched the television images and huddled around radios.

We saw the World Trade Center perhaps the world's greatest symbol of free enterprise collapse in seconds like toy blocks.

We witnessed the Pentagon be destroyed in an attack even the brilliant military leaders housed there couldn't have predicted.

We heard of the passengers who overtook a plane in Pennsylvania and crashed it into the countryside instead of letting terrorists use the plane as a guided missile.

Yes, every American will remember Sept. 11, 2001.

For younger generations, Sept. 11 rings with the same memories Pearl Harbor and President John F. Kennedy's assassination brings to older ones.

There is little doubt that countless lives changed forever, seemingly without reason.

On some fronts, fallout from the attacks played into the hands of the terrorists that perpetrated the deed: gas prices soared and panic ensued.

Action on the stock exchange was halted for five days. Parents pulled their children from schools. Americans everywhere were buying gas masks and canned food.

But amid the panic and fear came a new sense of patriotism, heroism and generosity that rose from the ashes, rubble and dust left by the attacks.

We watched and came away with a new sense of respect for public servants as heavy-hearted New York police and firefighters bravely searched for survivors.

We responded with record-setting donations for victims. We showed our loyalty to America by buying flags and hanging them proudly.

But did that patriotism wane, and if so where did we divert from the path? Where was the fork in the road?

Our panel says no, the patriotism shown a year ago is still alive today.

The lives of the people below are intertwined with Sept. 11.

From the Basehor graduate living in New York who saw the destruction firsthand, to the local firefighter and career military man mourning the loss of his New York breathren and vowing to return to duty when his nation calls.

Here are their voices.

The New York resident

Tracy Lingo is a 1996 graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School. She lives in Astoria, Queens, about 20 minutes outside Manhattan.

She has lived in New York for two years.

She works as a placement manager for Cameo Placement Group.

"I think the city has pretty much recovered as a whole. I don't think a lot of people are looking forward to this week. It's going to bring back a lot of bad feelings that people are trying to forget."

"I don't think people will ever forget."

"I don't know what I was feeling on Sept. 11. There were so many feelings at once I don't know. I think I've kind of blocked it out."

The police officer

Basehor Police Chief Vince Weston has worked for the police department for 13 years.

Before becoming a police officer, Weston was in the Army. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam.

Weston has a son currently in the Army and his wife is in the Air Force air guard.

"It was very evident people were looking at us and at firefighters under a new light after Sept. 11."

"Everyone else is running away when there's a situation. We're running towards it to secure the scene."

"After Sept. 11, we all became aware of the fact that weapons of mass destruction can be delivered here."

"America is heeling and life is getting back to normal. The main concern now is the economy."

The firefighter, police

officer and soldier

Basehor resident Richard Nemchik has served in just about every form of public service imaginable.

He served 20 years in the Air Force and is still on reserve status. He was a Leavenworth and Basehor police officer. He is a volunteer firefighter with Fairmount Township Fire Department.

He currently works for the United States Postal Service.

His son is in the Coast Guard and was deployed to New York last Sept. 11 for homeland defense. His son-in-law is in the Army.

"I love my country and consider (Sept. 11) an act of war."

"I said if I get activated I'm going back in. I'd leave today if they needed me."

"They lost whole fire departments in New York. I watched and saw the buildings collapse. I could have been dead if I was a New York firefighter."

"It's a sick feeling knowing we've been attacked."

The parent

Ellen Knight is the counselor at Basehor Elementary School.

Her youngest son, Aaron, lived near where the World Trade Center towers were located in New York City.

She has a son-in-law that worked at the Pentagon last Sept. 11 and Knight has friends living in Pennsylvania.

Her oldest son, Erik, is a military police officer currently stationed in Afghanistan.

"Erik's been in a lot of different places, but this one has more emphasis. It's more personal somehow."

"I worry about him every day. I try not to watch the news."

"When I heard what happened, I was fearful because I have a younger son in New York and he lives a mile from the World Trade Center. And when I heard about the Pentagon, I had a concern because my son-in-law works there."

"I think (patriotism) has waned a little bit. As Americans we tend to move on with our lives, but I think it's definitely stronger than it was before Sept. 11."

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