As this September 11, 2011, marks the 10th anniversary of the most tragic day in modern American history, a few of the faculty and staff of Reinhardt University share their memories of that day.
I was a parish administrator for the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Cartersville at the time. My priest and I were working on the bulletin for the next Sunday when a parishioner called and wanted to know if we had heard the news about a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. We immediately turned the radio on to WSB and listened in horror as the events of the day unfolded. After both towers collapsed and the Pentagon was hit and the plane went down in PA we got on the phone and the computer notifying all the parishioners of a special service to be held at noon the following day.
As the service was about to begin Wednesday the church filled up with parishioners, non-parishioners and folks who just worked in town; most of us bewildered and numb. But the thing I remember most is that all three of the downtown churches, Ascension, First Presbyterian, and First Baptist, began at noon tolling their big steeple bells in unison… in memory of all those lives that were lost. Teresa Gregory, bookstore manager
I was doing the same thing I am today – working here in the Registrar’s Office :-). I can remember a former co-worker coming in to tell us about the first plane – at first we just thought it was an odd thing that could have happened ..then she came in and told us a second plane had hit and that’s when we knew that it was no accident.
The next minutes and probably hours consisted of the whole staff in the administration building huddled around the TV’s in the Admissions Office (where financial aid is now) and Bonnie’s Office. Many were also making phone calls to check on loved ones. It seemed even in those first moments that the Reinhardt family was affected somehow – someones husband worked downtown in a building that was on lockdown, some else’s father was scheduled to fly to New York that morning, another person’s friend was in Mexico and wouldn’t make it home for days later due to the grounding of planes.
None of us though as affected as the loved ones of the thousands that lost their lives. Personally, I was horrified, shocked, sad and angry. I went home that evening glad to be able to hug my son – struggling to find words to explain to an innocent 5 year old what had happened that day. There was no escaping talking to him about it, because even in kindergarten he had already heard bits and pieces.
Over the next few days, I watched, as many others did, everything that I could surrounding the attacks and how we responded as a country to our fellow citizens. I can vividly recall never in my life being more proud to be an American! Brandi Berger, records and registration coordinator
I flew into Orlando, Fl on Sept 10th arriving almost at midnight due to a flight delay. I was in town for customer service training at the Disney Institute but came in a day early to go to Discovery Cove the next day. While getting out of the taxi at Discovery Cove on the morning of 9/11 my friend and I overheard someone on the radio saying that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Towers. The announcer didn’t sound panicked and that was all we heard. We got out of the taxi and assumed it was a small plane flown by a inexperienced pilot that hit the building.
We registered for our day and went about all of our activities at Discovery Cove never knowing what had happened until we were at lunch and a man seated behind with a strong northern accent (he was from NYC) was on the phone and was very upset. As we heard bits and pieces of his conversation I went to get my pager out of our locker where I read “2 planes crash in the World Trade Center Towers…..Disney World is shut down for the first time in the history of the park”. I called work (Cartersville Medical Center) and said, “what is going on?” they responded, “your joking right?”. We had no clue and no one at Discovery Cove told us anything. So we like to say we were the last people in the United States to know what happened. It was approx. 1230 pm when we found out. We finished out our day at the park, took a taxi back to Disney World where we stayed in the room since the park was closed. On 9/11 I called my boss and said, “Can I rent a car on the chance it might be hard to get a flight out?” He obliged and I am so glad I did. We couldn’t get a car for 2 days so we hung out in the room the next day while the park was closed then spent the next day (9/13) in the park-probably one of the slowest days in DW history.
DW took us in a van to the airport to get our car. The gentleman (can’t remember who he was with) on the van told us that there would be men with machine guns when we stepped off the van and not to make any sudden moves and to go straight to the counter to get our rental car. I just knew I would trip and fall and end up shot due to being clumsy. Sure enough there were men with machine guns and I took every step as slow as possible off that van. We had to walk straight to the counter, then to our car and leave immediately. A long, long drive with so many cars on the road but I was oh so glad to be home!
So when people ask “what were you doing when 9/11 occurred?” I answer, “swimming with the dolphins and clueless!” Jennifer Wiggins-Matthews, alumni director
I remember being at work, hearing someone say that one tower had been hit and thinking “no way”. I thought they were pulling my leg. I was working for a department store and we gathered in the break room around the T.V. to watch in disbelief. Management closed the store for the day to allow us to track the story and if any employee had friends/relatives working in the towers or living in New York to make sure all were safe. I remember the day felt surreal. Mary Gilreath, museum assistant
*all of the stories, statements and opinions in this post are not those of Reinhardt University as an institution.