Remembering the sadness, anger, pride, hope
Craig residents look back at a day that changed the face of America
One year after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers and the pentagon, Craig resident Al Martinez still prays three times a day for the victims of the attacks and for those left to deal with the aftermath.
And there’s a lot to deal with but people must be strong, the 65-year-old Craig native said. They must put aside fear and place their safety in God’s hands and have confidence in his love.
“I remember that morning vividly,” Martinez said of Sept. 11, 2001.
Martinez said he always gets up early enough to watch the news, which was interrupted to show a plane crashing into the World Trade Centers.
“It was a total shock to hear because I’m old enough to remember when the plane crashed into the Empire State Building,” he said. “Of course, that was an accident, and at first that’s what I thought this was, too.”
As soon as he heard the Pentagon was being attacked, Martinez said he knew it was a terrorist attack.
“Before they even said it, I knew it was an attack. I realized it was an attack on our country,” he said.
Martinez spent the rest of the day glued to his television.
Though his thoughts are filled with prayers for everyone touched by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Martinez is adamant that people do not live in fear.
“I still don’t live in fear and I don’t think we should, but I think we should be more diligent,” he said. “I know America stands for freedom … is freedom, but we need to have tighter security on the people who enter our country legally and attack us from within.”
Without tighter security, and, perhaps, even with it, Martinez believes America is still susceptible to
“Of course it could happen again,” he said.
But he believes the current administration is making decisions that could prevent another tragedy. “I respect and stand behind the decisions of George Bush. These are harsh measures in a country that values freedom, but they’re necessary.”
Like so many other people, Martinez erected an American flag on Sept. 11 in memory of those who died.
He plans to fly that same flag today in observance of the attack.
“Sept. 11 will never be forgotten,” he said. “In my lifetime, what’s left of it, I won’t forget.”
Candles glowed in the windows of Craig resident Dorothy Overby’s home from the time the twin towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001, until they burned out.
The candles symbolized a prayer for the survivors, a prayer for the dead and prayer for America, which she believes is still susceptible to attack.
Overby’s memories of that fall day remain as clear as if the attacks happened today, instead of a year ago.
“I was sitting having coffee and my phone rang after the first tower was hit,” she said. “A friend called and told me to turn on the news. She said ‘They finally did it.'”
Overby was still on the phone when the Pentagon was hit.
“I was scared at the fact that there’s a power plant here and all those military facilities are in Colorado,” she said. “My worst fear was that something worse would happen.”
Overby, a chef by trade, moved to Craig from Portland, Ore., because she felt safer here away from the easy access ports provide. The day the World Trade Center was attacked, she realized nowhere was safe.
Any place could be a target.
And anyone could be a victim.
“I was bothered by the possibility of a mandatory enlistment a draft I’ve got nephews that would affect,” she said.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed most people in some way, Overby said, and she is no different.
“The biggest change for me was how I look at friends and family and what they mean to me and how I value them,” she said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Even her perception of people changed. She said she isn’t suspicious of strangers, but she is more cautious.
“I’m not a prejudiced person,” she said, ” but I question some of their (immigrants’) legitimacy to be in the states. I wonder what their hidden agenda may be.”
Overby said she’s tried hard to be open-minded, but has come across some people who aren’t.
On a trip to Utah with a friend, she was pulled over by the Utah State Patrol for no other reason, she believes, than her companion’s Middle Eastern appearance and dress.
President Bush has responded strongly to the threat of future terrorist acts, but not strongly enough to make Overby feel safe.
“The new airport security doesn’t make me feel any safer,” she said. “The fear factor is still there.
“The government’s responded adequately, but the type of security changes proposed will take time to work,” she said.
The events of Sept. 11 were not without their lessons.
“The whole thing has brought the whole community of Americans together,” Overby said. “My neighbors watch each other’s places and are more concerned about each other. I think everybody’s more aware.”
So aware that on Overby’s Sept. 30 birthday party, many of the neighborhood children who came to tie-dye shirts chose the same three colors: Red, white and blue.
Tom Bengston became a Rush Limbaugh fan in the days after Sept 11. The 68-year-old Craig retiree had heard the conservative radio talk show host prior to moving here from Wisconsin 12 years ago, but the dial was never set on the program.
Something, which Bengston said is tough to pin down, changed when terrorists slammed planes into buildings and killed thousands.
“He’s making sense and I’ve been listening ever since,” Bengston said. “I just accidentally hit the knob on the radio one day.”
Those grim images on television changed everything. Bengston was cooking breakfast and watched the first airplane crash into the World Trade Center.
Terrorism was the last thing he suspected.
“I thought, well, this guy might have been drinking or something,” he said. “I told my wife to come watch, ‘There’s some dummies slamming into one of the towers in New York.”
With the second plane, there was no doubt about what was happening, he said. The couple watched stunned for hours, and Bengston talked to his brother, who called from Wisconsin.
Not much changed for him in the days and weeks after, he said. A man of Middle Eastern appearance wouldn’t necessarily make him uneasy.
“Not in particular, unless they’re a tough-looking type, you know what I’m talking about,” Bengston said.
A year later, he said he’s feeling good about his country, its direction, and perhaps the reminders and lessons from Sept. 11.
“It brought the country together and it’s going to get better, too,” he said. “People seem to be getting rid of the small stuff. They’re appreciating what they have.”
Patrons these days at Alex Cleverly’s Yampa Avenue barber shop talk about hunting, chronic wasting disease, the latest corporate weasel to ruin his or her company, or the well-being of friends and family.
But the community sounding board was eerily quiet the morning of Sept. 11.
“I had one guy that morning and for two to three hours nobody,” said Cleverly, owner of the shop for about two years.
“Everyone was home watching it,” he said.
Cleverly, 36, was on the road between Meeker and Craig, when his tuned-in radio station broke into programming with news of the deadliest terrorist strike on United States soil.
A radio in the barbershop blared the tragedy, as initial estimates of dead crept toward 10,000 in New York alone.
“I didn’t know what to feel exactly,” Cleverly said. “I felt very bad for the people in the planes. I thought we would be going to war soon.”
Cleverly said that while bringing the country, and the community, closer together, Sept. 11 illustrates the ever-shortening attention span of Americans.
“When we’re not being bombed or attacked, it seems we could really care less about a lot of things like our freedom and ability to makes choices,” he said. “It worries me that we seem to be apathetic as a nation.”
Opinions abound at the barbershop, which, despite the silence on Sept. 11, weren’t killed by the attacks.
“People were shocked, worried whether or not it would happen again and where the targets might be,” he said. “We came out feeling pretty vulnerable.”
But his customers still are never short on words or debate.
“Not that we solve any problems,” Cleverly said, “but we sure talk about how to solve them.”
One year after Sept. 11, Jacque Forquer won’t step on an airplane.
“It cured me of that,” said Forquer, a 32-year-old Craig resident for the past 12 years.
Like so many others, Forquer’s day had just started when the unbelievable unfolded before stunned eyes on live television.
“I was getting in the shower when I saw it,” she said. “I just stopped and watched it, shocked, and later angry.”
Those balled-up emotions stuck with her going to work that morning at a Hayden beauty shop. There, disbelief was just as strong as the concern for a Hayden couple, owners of a deli just across the street from beauty shop, who were in New York that day.
“That was the talk for a long time,” said Forquer, adding she would often grab lunch at the deli. “We were all worried about them. They rented a car and drove back.”
Forquer’s car soon had an attached American flag, as did her home.
“You would stop and think about it again when you saw the flag,” she said.
Of all that had changed as a result of that day, Forquer said her worries haven’t necessarily grown.
“I don’t know if anything bothers me more,” she said. “You just deal with it I suppose.”
“Can’t believe it has been a year already.”
In Tom Williams’ estimation, Sept. 11 was a hard-learned attitude adjustment for a country in which patriotism for some was dated like yesterday’s recycled red-white-blue Britney Spears’ Pepsi can.
“People had sort of a lackadaisical attitude about patriotism and toward their country,” said Williams, 56, who lives on a ranch outside of Craig.
Williams heard about the attacks at the ranch, listening to the radio. His plans for the day shifted like millions of others to listening and watching in stunned silence, hoping, praying, while seething at the same time.
“I called my wife at the hospital (TMH),” he said, adding she described what she’d seen on television there.
Williams said he never imagined such an event happening on United States soil.
“It gave me the idea that the world might be a little more fragile than I thought it was before,” he said. “I’m more thankful for what I have and what I am than I was before, probably.”
The same goes for the country as a whole, he said.
“It made people realize that we live in the best country in the world, and we need to keep it that way.”
Sarah Wiseman was in the grocery store when she first heard a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
“A friend told me about it and I was shocked,” she said. “I went home, turned on the T.V. and watched for the rest of the morning.”
Wiseman said she disagreed with many of the opinions that circulated after the disaster about a lack of gun control being the reason why the planes were hi-jacked.
“It was frustrating to hear how many people are too secure with the government,” she said. “Afterward, when everybody was saying guns were the main cause, I disagreed. We need to be able to protect ourselves. People have become too secure with the government.”
A year later, Wiseman said she hopes people begin to look to the future and not dwell on what happened a year ago.
“It’s in the past,” she said. “Let the water flow under the bridge and get on with life. It was sad that so many people lost family members but we need to keep going.”
On the morning of Sept. 11, Brenda Walsh heard on the radio that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.
She and her husband had just moved and they didn’t have their television hooked up yet.
“My husband went outside and stuck the dish in the ground right away so we could watch what was going on,” she said. “He got it hooked up and that’s all we watched all morning. That’s all that was on.”
Seeing it on television was when she really felt the impact of what had happened, she said.
“When I first heard it on the radio, I didn’t realize it was as bad as it was until I saw it on T.V.,” she said.
Even though she could see what was happening on television that almost made it more difficult to grasp, she said.
“It was so totally unexplainable,” she said. “A person can understand a bad car accident or earthquake, but this made no sense.”
Reflecting back, Walsh said it changed her life.
“I don’t take as many things for granted now,” she said. “It changed my perspective on life.”
The morning of Sept. 11 started normal enough for Rhett Loomis as he went to the kitchen and made himself a cup of coffee.
Coffee in hand, he turned on the television to
watch the morning news.
“I snapped on CNN and saw a building burning,” he said. 3I
thought it was just an explosion of some kind but then I heard them talking about how a plane might have hit it. I sat down and watched and
that’s when the second plane hit. Then a report came on that there
was an explosion in
Loomis then went and woke up his wife and told her what was happening.
“I just knew it was something catastrophic,” he said. “I knew history was taking place and knew that something was happening that was going to be life changing for the whole world. But that’s when it started to soak in that people’s lives were being affected as I watched.”
Loomis said it scares him to think what terrorists might be thinking about on the one year anniversary of the attacks.
“I’ve got a feeling down inside that if terrorists want to put the fear of God on people they would try something again on Sept. 11,” he said. “It would be a feather in their hat to get us when we’re at our highest alert. It would really spark panic in the hearts of all Americans. I hope it’s not the case.”
It will be difficult to watch it being played out on television again, he said.
“Watching the clips again, it breaks your heart,” he said. “It’s a crazy world we’re living in. I don’t even like to see an animal hurt. To think they did this under the banner of God.”
Life is precious, Loomis said.
“The main thing when I think back is how we all take life for granted,” he said. “You never know when some plane is going to slam into a building. It’s a horrible thing. If we can learn anything from this it’s that we can’t take life for granted.”
For Cathy Gush the attack on the World Trade Center Towers brought two things to mind. Her son, Michael, who had just flown into Logan Airport in Boston for a naval transport two days before the attack Sept. 11 and the images of a visit a year earlier to New York.
“It cut to the core of me as a human being because the images of New York were very real and my son would probably be the one having to defend what had been done,” she said. “I was deeply hurt for the New Yorkers because they had been so kind and sincere to me when I visited.”
As far as her thoughts since the tragedy, Gush said like many other Americans she has been trying to figure out why people would do such a thing.
She also said that a terrorist should be afraid if they ever threatened something when she was around.
“When it comes to my own personal safety I have no fear,” she said. “I would be afraid for a terrorist if something were to happen with me around.”
Susan Relaford was at home helping her son, Wyatt, 5, get ready for school when they turned on the television for the routine news watching in the morning.
“We watched the second building get hit live on
T.V.,” she said. “Initially I felt unsafe and didn’t want to take my son to school.
“I was upset that someone could do that and really took it personally,” she said. “Throughout the day I was at home upset and crying.”
Relaford was pregnant at the time with now four-month-old Dylan. She said she now feels a little safer for herself and family with all of the precautions that the FBI and local authorities are taking.
“While I don’t condone war and violence something needs to be done,” she said. “We have to show the people responsible that we didn’t take the deaths lightly.”
Rosemary Crosthwaite, 66
Pre-school teacher Rosemary Crosthwaite learned of the attacks from a parent of one of her students. Dealing with such young students Crosthwaite said her first priority was to get them to think about something else.
“We first wanted to know if there were any direct concerns for the children,” she said. “After that we just kept them occupied with other things that would keep them happy.”
Crosthwaite said she learned from the Columbine shootings that if she watched something terrible on T.V. it depressed her and it was bad to show her students a depressed attitude.
“I listened to the radio three or four times a day,” she said. “But I couldn’t watch it on T.V. until the weekend because I didn’t want to take the emotions it would bring with me to school.”
She said while there hasn’t been any big changes for herself she felt the world had changed.
“Everyone is more aware of the people they are with,” she said. “I also think people have learned that we need to treat each other with a little more respect.”
Les Armbruster, 79
The Hotdog Stand/Nancy’s Cards & Gifts
Les Armbruster said he couldn’t believe his ears on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I heard that a plane had hit the first tower, but I didn’t know if it was just a small plane or what,” he said. “When I found out it was terrorists it took a long time for what had happened to settle in.”
Armbruster said that the biggest impact for him was a drop in sales at his Hallmark store in the mall.
“People were still frightened and didn’t get out much,” he said. “People didn’t know what to do with their money, either to invest it or spend it so they did neither.”
As for thoughts about his own life Armbruster said he didn’t change much.
“I’m older so it didn’t really change the way I live,” he said. “I have a limited future already, so I didn’t think about my own lifestyle too much.”
The retailer did say he lost some faith in humankind.
“Usually I’m somebody who takes everybody for what they say,” he said. “But the attacks put some doubts in my mind about different people in the world.”
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