Alabamians recall traumatic 9/11 attacks 20 years later

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Those in Alabama may have been hundreds of miles from the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001, yet many still remember how traumatic the day was.

Between those who can barely remember and those who will forget, the events of 9/11 forever changed America.

“Andy in Mayberry is gone,” Birmingham local Roger Appell said.

Appell got the news secondhand.

“I was in my office and my wife called me. She had seen it on TV, the (World Trade Center) towers coming down. Next thing I knew, I saw the planes, All the planes starting landing at the Birmingham airport,” he recalled.

Appell said he watched dozens of airplanes from his office window downtown, as all air traffic was grounded.

“It was just unbelievable,” he said. “Nobody knew what was next. I didn’t really think anything was going to happen to Birmingham but I have family and relatives all over the country.”

Brigitte Johnson remembers thinking it was initially an accident.

“Then, I think when the second one hit. Oh my God, it was not an accident. And then my mind went to racing. I will never forget that moment,” Johnson said.

It was the moment Johnson said she knew America was under attack.

“We were devastated. It really hurt,” she said. “Like we were all one and everybody was experiencing this together, so we all came together.”

For a younger generation, the significance of that day took years to set in.

“Everything just shut down. Dad came home. I kind of thought it was a holiday or something,” 24-year-old UAB student Dylan Hicks said. “Clearly the gravity of the situation was lost on me at the time.”

Now, every American lives with the lasting impacts of 9/11.

“Things have just changed. We’re in a whole different world,” Appell said.

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