Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?


By Zach Spicer | The Tribune

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Country music singer Alan Jackson wrote and released the song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in America.

He shared his own experience of that September day in the song.

Now 20 years later, The Tribune asked readers the same question Jackson posed in his song: Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?

Michelle Elkins

I still remember that day so vividly. I had just gotten home from dropping my children, ages 8 and 6, off at Brown Elementary. I hadn’t been home very long when my phone rang.

My friend, Susan, told me to turn on my TV. I tuned it on and saw a plane had hit one of the towers. I thought it must have been a horrific accident. Then the second plane began to hit, and I had a huge lump in my throat. What was happening?

My dad needed a ride to drop his van off at the mechanic. In the car, I heard on the radio that another plane had hit the Pentagon. At that point, I knew we were under attack. I remember thinking the whole country was going to be hit. All I could think about was getting my boys home from school and wondering if they were OK.

I went home and was glued to the TV. It was one of those things that you don’t want to see, but you can’t turn your head — people jumping out of windows of the flaming buildings, the panic in the streets, that huge cloud of ash and dust that was covering the city. It was the stuff nightmares are made of.

I remember thinking that surely Seymour was far enough removed from any major city that we would be OK if there was an attack in Indianapolis or Louisville.

The phone lines at the school were jammed with parents trying to call and check on their kids or wanting to come pick them up. I remember that huge feeling of relief when my boys were finally in my car and I knew they were safe. I wanted to take them home and lock them in a bubble to shield them from this horrific event. Was it over? Would there be more attacks? Could I protect them? Such a terrifying time for everyone.

Afterwards, that feeling of community and caring was so strong. We were all united, and the little things didn’t seem to matter as much. Community church services were going on everywhere. I remember singing in the choir at Seymour First Church of the Nazarene and how emotional it was. American flags were proudly flown everywhere you looked. It was amazing how something so beautiful could come of something so tragic.

DonJay Rice

I remember growing up, my mother and father told me over and over how they remembered exactly where they were and what they were doing when John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. As a child and even a young adult, I thought, “Really?” Then the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, happened, and I never doubted again.

I remember it was a slightly cool morning for Seymour for that time of September. It was sunny. The sky looked beautiful. I was sitting at my desk speaking with a client over the telephone. I remember exactly who that client was.

In the middle of our conversation, a video popped up on my computer screen. My employer, Edward Jones, had the ability to force video out to all of their offices via the computers at that time. It was one of the news networks, and they were showing that the first tower had been hit.

I stopped mid-sentence with my client to view it. I told him to turn on his television. He did, and although we were both still on the telephone line with each other, we did not say a word. We both watched in silence. I told him I had better go, that it would probably be a busy day.

At that time, I thought a plane had just ran into the tower by accident somehow. As I was contemplating how that could be possible, the second plane hit, and then I knew this was no accident. My heart sank.

For the next four days, the stock market was closed. I remember calling as many clients as I could each day. We did not talk about investments. That seemed all so trivial at the time. I just wanted to let them know I was here for them, if they wanted to talk, if they just needed a hug. I remember ending each call letting them know I was proud to be an American.

I remember everyone flying American flags in the days that followed. I had bought a flag from Fred Moritz down at Union Hardware, but I was not confident I could attach the flagpole properly to my brick porch post. I called Andy Royalty at Royalty Companies, and the next morning, Darrell Couch showed up and attached it. I never received a bill for that work.

But we all did a lot of things for our friends, our neighbors and strangers in those days and never cared about being paid. We were just proud to be Americans.

Glenda Greathouse

I was home from Shelby Materials that day, and my husband called from there and ask if I had the TV on. I didn’t. I had to watch alone, and it was the worst day of my life.

This needs to be taught in school so the kids know what can happen so they can help save our country. I know God blessed all of the people who perished or were affected. We have to care for our country and world as best we can. That day will never be forgotten by me.

Amy Boling

I was asleep on the couch and heard breaking news coming through the TV. I watched one-eyed as the second one hit thinking the world was ending. I think everyone will forever remember where they were that eventful, sad day. RIP everyone lost that day not only in the towers but the Pentagon and the brave ones who took their plane back and crashed into a field.

Missy Robinson

I worked at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. We all gathered and watched TV in the book-in and dispatch areas, and I’ve never seen the inmates so quiet. They all were gathered in their day rooms quietly watching the news coverage.

Valerie McKain

I was sitting in high school taking the ISTEP test. I remember someone telling us to stop and put down our pencils. The TV then turned on, and we watched as all of us were in shock and scared.

Jackie Garmon

I was watching “The Today Show.” I saw the smoke from the first tower being hit, but when the second plane hit, I thought they were showing a video that someone took of the first plane when I realized the building was still smoking. I cried when the buildings fell. When my kids got home from school, we just hugged each other and prayed for all of the ones who lost their lives that day.

Larry Horning

I was working with a project team on the 23rd floor at Nine West 57th Street in New York City. After the first crash, we all went up to the roof and watched the first building fall, then the second attack and collapse. I spent the rest of the day walking around the city until the ferries started running again to get us back to New Jersey.

Our team had just completed the offices for Bank of America on the 84th floor of the first building. Unfortunately, a 32-year-old project manager for us was visiting the floor and died trying to save his aunt, who also worked in the building.

Marla Wilson

I was delivering mail. I remember the exact address when I decided to turn on the radio. The DJ was talking about the plane hitting the first tower. Less than a minute later, he said a second plane had collided. I was numb for the rest of the day. My youngest daughter was due in six weeks, and I remember wondering what kind of world I was bringing her into.

Jeremy Helmsing

Fort Stewart, Georgia, in our company motor pool. Year 2 of a four-year enlistment (which stop-lossed into five) in 3rd Infantry Division. The base was closed to any and all traffic, so we were essentially locked in awaiting orders. I knew that day that I was about to receive more than I had bargained for.

Terry Fordice

Working at Aisin in Crothersville. They brought in TVs to the break room so we could keep up on what was going on. I’ll never forget the sight of airplanes hitting the towers. A rush of mixed emotions.

Evan Murphy

Brownstown Elementary School third grade Mrs. Gillespie’s class. Her phone rang and she instantly started crying, and we turned the TV on and she explained that her son worked right down the street from the Pentagon. We didn’t really understand what was going on, but we were scared to death. I remember getting off of the bus and asking my mom and dad if we were going to be OK. Definitely will never forget 9/11.

Nikki Herzner

I was in high school first period U.S. history. The teacher came, in took attendance and turned on the news. Not another word was spoken the entire period.

Lori Rollins

I was in the production office at Dicksons. A supervisor came in and told me what was happening. We went to the breakroom and watched some of it on TV. Sad, sad day.

Zabrina Nicholson

I was giving ISTEP at Crothersville to sophomores. When testing was over for the day, we all just watched the TV the rest of the day. Total disbelief over what was happening. All activities that evening were canceled so students could be at home with family. It was the last time I drove my husband’s 1965 Dodge Coronet 440.

Amber Zumhingst-Barnard

I was working at Optimed Labs. We weren’t allowed radios in the workrooms. A coworker from the warehouse came and told us a plane had hit the Word Trade Center, then again when the second one hit. None of us knew what was going on and continued to work our shift. I spent the evening cradling my 1-year-old watching the newscast show the towers over and over wondering what kind of world would she be brought up in now.

Anna Young

Stranded at Portland, Maine, getting ready to board a plane. All flights were canceled, and no phone to call home. I live in Columbus, Indiana. My sons drove me home, and we saw the towers burning. So sad and praying for all who lost their lives that day. We were going to the airport to board American Airlines. God was with us that day. We were there on an AIDS benefit ride. We had 2,700 riders from Canada to Portland. My sons then flew to Texas out of Indianapolis praying.

Kerri Reynolds

I was in the hospital recovering from a C-section. My twin daughters were born Sept. 9. I can remember my doctor and nurse waking me up to check on me as the second plane hit the tower. We all stared in shock at the television. I remember being terrified. And that night, I remember looking out my hospital room window at Tipton Street and not seeing a single car.

Wanda Gray

I was working at a factory in Brownstown called Dura. A great silence took over our factory that day. I will never forget that day.

Shanna McClellan

At school. I was 15 years old. I had a terrible head cold that day. I went to a Christian school, so I was lying down on one of the pews to rest when our principal announced what was happening.

Justin York

I was in high school. i was late for my English class, but I saw every TV in all of the classes were on the same channel. I got to my class and found out what happened and was in shock.

Sonia Foster

I was driving my son to school. I still remember how blue the sky was that day.

Karen Corcoran

I was living in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area. It turned into the most silent day. No airplanes flying over, Fort Bragg closed post access, military guards everywhere, tanks everywhere, barricades everywhere and the silence was so scary.

Jodie Warren

Mrs. Ferguson’s sixth grade history class. We came back into the classroom after lunch to find her crying watching the news. We spent the whole class watching it all happening on the news channel. Mrs. Ferguson passed away the summer after. I’ll never forget her or that day.

Clarissa Tucker

I was teaching preschool ages 2 and 3 in New Albany. My grandparents bought their very fist television on that day so my grandpa could keep up with what was going on in the world around us.

Natalie Jennings

I was driving to my college classes half-listening to Bob and Tom in the background thinking it was some weird sketch about a plane crash but not paying much attention. I arrived at my programming class, where no one knew anything yet, and took my seat at the back, firing up my computer as usual and checking my favorite news sites while I waited for the professor to stop small talk. I soon realized what I heard on the radio wasn’t a sketch and something very confusing and terrible was happening and raised my hand to get my professor’s attention. Shortly after, he came to read over my shoulder and someone burst in the room and said we should all go to the common room to watch the news on TV.

Opal Roark

I was at home, just woke up because I worked second shift. Just sat in disbelief watching news on TV. I never forget because this is the date I celebrate my birthday.

Kathi Hackney

I heard about the first tower being hit on the radio on my way to work. I was in Mrs. Russell’s first grade class at Brown Elementary when she received a phone call. I’ll never forget her turning to me and saying the second tower has been hit. We knew then it wasn’t an accident. We didn’t turn the televisions on in the elementary due to maybe scaring the kiddos.

Dovanna Gregory

I was working at Taco Bell on post at Fort Leavenworth. I was already signed up for basic training. I remember being scared and thinking we were going to war. I left for basic training for the Army nine days later. I had to fly to South Carolina for training, and it was my first time ever on a plane. I was terrified.

Laura Stahl

I was teaching first grade at Jackson Elementary. We did not have TVs in our classroom, but I had taken my students to music and walked through the library. Mrs. Early, our librarian, and some other teachers had gathered around her TV. I couldn’t leave what I was seeing. Pure terror chilled my body. As the week went on, my students posted small red, white and blue stars for each person killed on 9/11. They hung them in the hallway on the wall as they could now fathom the size of the number of losses. Such a sad day.

Kristen Miller

I was in the sixth grade, but I was home that day for a procedure at the hospital. I watched the second plane hit with my mom. At the receptionist desk of the hospital, the lady sitting there checked us in and asked us, “Do you know that our country is under attack right now?” I never forgot her words. Monsters are in movies and TV shows. These monsters came from thousands of miles away and they were real.

Rikki Gregory

I was sitting in my sixth grade science class. We were all watching the towers come down on the TV. All I could think about was wanting to go home to my mom. They locked down our school. They wouldn’t let anyone in or out. We were all so scared and confused. That is a day that I will truly never forget.

Staci Reynolds

I worked second shift at Aisin, so I was asleep when the first plane hit. My mom called me and said, “America is under attack.” I will never forget that feeling. That evening at work, they gathered us around the flagpole, and we joined hands as my dad led us in prayer and it was his 51st birthday. He never wanted to celebrate that day again. I remember how America joined together, people prayed, churches were full and everyone watched out for each other. It’s sad that in a short 20 years, we are so far opposite as what we were then.

Jeanne Nichols

I was teaching school in Columbus, Mississippi. The principal came on the intercom and asked that the teachers not turn on their TVs. I later went to the office and found out what had happened. It was scary because my husband was a traveling salesman and I didn’t know where all the bad things were going to happen.

Ashley Mikel

I was at the co-op working when my coworker came in and told me about it. I was enlisted at the time, and my phone started ringing. My friend, Don, was the first call checking up on me. Such a horrifying day that led to so much heartbreak and chaos.

Ashley Parker-Bohn

I was a senior in high school, and I was in my first period class. We had the TV on, and my teacher was pacing the room, locking the windows, clearly bothered. She said, “Remember this day. Remember where you are. This is definitely a sad point in history.” When I left school, I was shocked by the extremely long lines out into the roads at all of the gas stations in North Vernon.

Carol Darring

We were at the Newark airport trying to get to Manchester, New Hampshire, for vacation. Needless to say, we didn’t make it. We could see the towers through the windows at the airport.

Brenda Mayfield

I was at work at the IUS library and heard it on the radio. After the second attack happened, my heart stopped. I knew for sure it was no accident.

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