BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — We can all recall where we were and what we were doing when news broke of the Septemeber 11 terror attacks.
CBS 42 spoke with people of different ages and backgrounds who shared their stories of how the attacks impacted them 18 years ago and the effect it has on them today.
Michael Thomas is a former Sergeant in the U.S. Airforce and says he knew terrorists were behind the attack before that information was confirmed.
“I woke up watching the TV. I saw a plane flying into the building. I jumped up and said hey what’s going on. My brother walked in and said a plane hit the building in New York. It was chaos after that,” said Thomas. “Everybody started calling. It wasn’t ten minutes and we had fifteen phone calls. People calling, you know, asking have we seen what was going on. By the time I answered the first call. That’s when the second plane hit.”
Mikesha Harvill was 21-years-old at the time.
“I was actually working that day at a bank, and just conducting business as usual. It hadn’t been too long since we had opened around nine or so. And one of the customers actually told me about it and then we went to the back, turned on the news, and it was on every station just about,” said Harvill. “And we saw it just in disbelief, could not believe that it was going on.”
Marion Williamson lived in Hueytown under a plane route from the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport and noticed something did not feel right.
“I use to work at night so I would get off at six o’clock in the morning. I was really at the point where I was getting ready to go to sleep. And I heard airplanes, one right behind the other. Instead of me turning on the T.V. I went outside to see what the issue was. I kept seeing one right behind the other. So I cut on the television, and I looked at the Today Show and saw the airplane go into the building, and it was a very traumatic experience,” said Williamson. “I just couldn’t imagine how those people that [were] there felt at the time, and their loved ones wondering if everybody was ok.”
Reginald Patrick was in elementary school. He did not understand the magnitude of what happened but knew it was very bad.
“We [were] sitting in the classroom early in the morning, maybe like eight and nine. That whole day had felt crazy anyway. But then right after morning announcements, they turned on the T.V. and was like y’all need to watch this. They came over the intercom and was like everybody needs to watch this. And we saw the plane going into the World Trade Center,” said Patrick.
Michael Thomas, Mikesha Harvill, Marion Williamson, and Reginald Patrick say that day changed them forever and they now question their safety at times.
“I felt angry at first that someone would attack us. And then I felt just numb really for all the people that had lost their lives, and all the drama that was going on,” said Thomas. “It made everyone afraid. It made the country on pens and needles so to speak.”
“I just remember the fear, being scared. I didn’t want to be around crowds,” said Harvill. “To be honest that’s still in me today. I’m very cautious in crowded atmospheres. That just changed a lot. It took away a lot of freedom we took for granted.”
“I have grandchildren that live in Texas and the fly here often. They’re 16 and 15 and I [am] worried about them when they get on the airplane by themselves and until they get here and I see them,” said Williamson. “I worried about if something happened to them because I can’t call them on the plane.”
“I know it probably won’t happen again but who knows,” said Patrick. “You know what I’m saying. I like to drive everywhere. I don’t care how far it is, I’m going to drive.”
People we spoke with feel Americans came together in solidarity following the attacks.
“It’s still etched in my mind basically, very tragic thing that happened,” said Harvill. “But I just pray that we continue to grow from this and learn from this as a nation and just remember that love is really truly what we need to bring us together and not divide us.”