After 20 years, the attack on American soil that changed the course of history forever has not been forgotten as locals came together Saturday in remembrance of the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Cathy Estep said she remembers 9/11 vividly as the planes crashed into the World Trade Center’s North and South towers.
Estep said in the 80s, she was able to visit Windows on the World Restaurant located on the 107th floor of the North Tower.
“I remember looking out the window in awe at the beauty of New York City. In the far distance, I could see the Statue of Liberty. It was being renovated. There was scaffolding all around Lady Liberty. I remember being amazed at the height of the Twin Towers,” she said.
Moving forward, Estep said she will never forget the day that changed America forever. Sept. 11, 2001, was imprinted on her memory.
“I was at work at Harlan Middle School, where I was the school counselor. One of our teachers, Bobbie Dixon, came into the office to tell me and Emily Clem, the assistant principal, that we were under attack.
“The World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. Soon after the first plane hit, another plane hit the second Tower. We knew that America was being attacked by an enemy. That day was like no other day in America.
“Within a couple of hours, after the two planes crashed, the Twin Towers collapsed. Two more planes crashed, one at the Pentagon and one in Pennsylvania. There was a panic that embraced Americans. The scenes on the news were so horrific, there were people leaping out of the towers and debris covered New York.
“The brave first responders rescued many people, but many themselves perished in the rescue efforts. We did not know exactly what was happening, we did not know where or when we would be attacked again.”
Estep said she never thought about terrorism until 9/11, and after school that day, all she wanted to do was keep her own children close.
“After one of the most horrible days in America’s history, I remember that Americans came together and we helped each other. We prayed for each other and that our nation would heal. We displayed our patriotism by waving American flags from our cars and our homes,” she said. “We proudly wore our flag lapel pins. We pledged to never forget the day that changed America forever. There was no evil that would ever defeat The United States of America. We were united.”
Danialle Williams-Arvin said watching the footage of the hijacked planes striking the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and one crashing in Pennsylvania was gut wrenching.
“My father and I both were first responders at Loyall Volunteer Fire Department at the time, and we were suppose to have picked up a truck in New York City for our department that week,” Arvin said. “It was found at a later date when we secured the truck, that it was used at the Trade Center. The same day, we all volunteered to go to New York City as search and rescue, if needed. We never thought twice about it, just asked where we sign up.”
Arvin said her father, at the time, was Captain of Unit 301. Her father lost a close friend he went to school with at Cawood, who had later moved and began work in the World Trade Center.
“He later told me, when he was ill, that I would bury him on 9/11,” she said. “Eleven years ago today, I buried my hero, my captain, and my father at Resthaven Cemetery.”
Though he was a baby at the time, Trevor Nantz, a corpsman in the U.S. Navy, said he realized how the events shook the nation when he was nine years old as a teacher began tearing up while discussing 9/11.
“I can remember as a kid hearing about all the tragic things happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had family deployed over there. My grandma’s cousin, who was like her sister, was sick every day thinking about her son in Iraq,” Nantz said. “As I got older, I realized I wanted to be a part of the group of Americans who stepped up after the attacks. Even though I was a child, 9/11 still had an impact on me joining the Navy. I chose to be a corpsman, in the hopes of being assigned to a marine unit. It’s given me a lot of pride and a sense of service to something bigger than myself.”
The Harlan County Heroes event was held in remembrance of 9/11 at the old Loyall High School, dedicated to the memory of those lost in the terrorist attack.
Loyall City Council member Clark Bailey thanked those who came together to support others in honor of 9/11 and for those who made donations.