By Terrica Hendrix
It was the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, that will be forever engraved in American minds.
Four coordinated terrorist attacks on the United States claimed the lives of 2,977 people that day (not including the 19 hijackers), and more than 6,000 received non-fatal injuries.
Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, Americans still vividly recall what they were doing and the emotions they felt on that tragic day.
“I was working in Dallas for a telecom company,” Casey Parker said. “I was getting ready for work and walked down to the lobby of the hotel to get coffee. I heard lots of chatter and saw folks huddled around the lobby TV. I walked up just in time to see the second plane hit the tower.”
The Dierks native said he thought he was in a dream. “I just remember feeling like it was a dream and how quiet the room got. Then shock gave way to sadness and anger. I’ll never forget that moment. I was currently with Charlie Company 1/153, the Guard Unit out of De Queen. We were about a year and a half back from a deployment to Kuwait.”
Parker, who is a veteran police officer for the Nashville Police Department, explained that seeing the attacks on television lit a fire in him to seek justice. “I think it hit all of us the same and we all wanted a chance to go back and get even, just like most Americans felt at the time. We finally got our chance in 2003 and were activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom 2. We spent a year in Baghdad in 2004 and 2005. I met tons of troops who joined or re-enlisted because they felt the sense of duty to do so after 9/11. I always respected those guys,” he ended.
“I was teaching and my co-worker Krissie Talley came in my room to tell me that the twin towers had been crashed into,” Nashville Elementary School teacher Kristi Vines recalled. “I remember feeling so solemn just in complete disbelief. As new details came in, I remember feeling horrified for those who were trapped in the buildings, thinking of the children in the daycare, of the chaos created for so many volunteers and rescuers. The United States of America, which I had always believed was a safe haven, a place of protection in a hostile world – was no longer safe. Fifteen years later, I remember that day like it was yesterday. I came home from work glued in to the television consumed with the devastation and the heroes of 9/11.”
Vines said that America is resilient. “When it matters, we can be a united nation. I still have a deeper admiration for our police, firemen, National Guard for the way they selflessly put their lives on the line without hesitation. I still think of all the babies that were born without their fathers, and as teenagers how their lives and their families’ lives were changed. For me that day is embedded in my mind as a day of devastation and loss. Today I have a deeper love for our country, deeper sense of patriotism and a closer walk with the Lord knowing He can bring us through anything.”
Bryan L. Chesshir, then Howard County deputy prosecutor, worked all night on Sept. 10 at his office in Nashville. He said he “woke up and turned the TV on right after the first strike of the tower.”
Chesshir, who is now the prosecutor for the Ninth West Judicial District, knew that America was going to take action for the terrorist attacks. “I thought we were about to be in a war. I sent my four employees home to be with their families for the day. It was a somber and scary day,” he said.