Sept. 11, 2011: Your memories of the fateful day

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As Americans across the country honor those who lost their lives 10 years ago in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Auburn Journal readers shared where they were on that fateful day and how they think our country has since changed. They pulled over on the road in their RV “My wife and I left Auburn on a six week trip in our motor coach to visit relatives in Florida, and then had traversed our beautiful country on our way to Michigan when the World Trade Center came under attack. We stayed the prior night at the RV Resort on the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky, home of the famous race horse Secretariat. The Horse Park’s expansive grassy knolls had an eerie misty fog that greeted us early that dreadful September morning. It was to be an omen for what was to come for us that day. As we motored our way from the RV Park merging onto the interstate heading north, our coach’s in-motion satellite displayed the awful site on the television my wife was watching. I pulled over to the side of the highway and we sat there and watched in disbelief for the next several hours, trying to comprehend the attack on our country. Being several hours ahead of Auburn time, we called home and awoke neighbors and friends to tell them to turn on their televisions. Once we fully understood the totality and horror of the carnage, it created an intense sense of rage! How could somebody, anybody, kill so many innocent people and for what purpose? How could we retaliate on people that had no regard for life, theirs or anyone else that believed that mass killing brings dignity to their cause? In my view, what the terrorists committed on 9/11 is what Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor did to ‘awake a sleeping giant’… America! Despite the protracted wars and the strife terrorists have caused our beloved country and the sacrifices we are currently enduring, true patriotism still holds us together as a people. Bruised and bloodied, we always have and always will survive and be stronger! Joyce and I will be flying Old Glory in the front of our house on September 11 to show support of our troops and being counted as proud Americans, we hope you do, too!” ~ Jim and Joyce Petruk, Auburn It was just ‘another work, school day’ “On 9/11/2001, I was at home with my 6-year-old daughter in the morning; another work and school day. When the first plane hit the towers, I was watching the Today show and Matt Lauer opined that this was a bad plane crash. My daughter then came downstairs and was sitting with me when we saw the second plane hit the other tower. Matt then announced that he felt that this was now an act of terrorism. I just looked at my daughter blankly and don’t recall what I said to her, but I knew in a manner of minutes that this had changed our lives forever. I took her to school and drove (in a stupor) my 45- minute commute from Fairfield to Sacramento. When I arrived everyone was talking about it and I asked my boss if her family in New York was OK. She sent us all home. On both trips, I was canvassing the sky looking for planes because by then all of them were supposed to be grounded. I was concerned for the first time about living so close to a major Air Force Base. I should mention that my salesman husband was in Salt Lake City on business that week and thus, could not get home. He eventually shared a rental car with some strangers to get home. Since this occurred, he, like so many others, have to get to the airports super-earlier than they had pre-9/11 for security measures. Our nephew was, at that time, planning a career in law enforcement, but put that on hold to join the U.S. Army and returned this year unscathed — at least physically — from Afghanistan. Everyone’s lives changed that day. I loved the sense of patriotism that sprung from the nightmare; all of the flag pins and other jewelry and car magnets showing our devotion to our country. Although that behavior has faded a bit, I still am assured that I live in the greatest country in the world.” ~ Barbara Alvarez, Auburn Wonders if she’ll ever see her overseas friend again “On September 11, 2001, I was scheduled to visit a friend in The Netherlands. Fortunately the first part of my flight was to leave Sacramento at noon. I packed and locked my suitcase the previous day in addition to placing snacks in my carry-on bag. A friend was going to drive me early to mid morning from my home in Auburn to the Sacramento Airport. When we heard the news about the attacks we did not leave my home. I kept my luggage packed for several days and then faced the fact that the trip would not be possible so unpacked. The friend I was visiting in Zoutleande, the Netherlands phoned me shortly after the attacks. We had planned spending several days at her home and then on to Paris and Amsterdam. She took care of cancelling that transportation and reservations. Now 10 years later we still have not gotten together. And now 10 years later we are both in our 80s and possibly will never see each other again. We do correspond regularly and have phone visits several times each year. I am very grateful that I had a noon flight. If it had been early morning, who knows where we would have been forced to land and spend several days probably in a crowded plane with many other frightened passengers and living with an unknown future and with unknown food and sanitary conditions for an unknown time!” ~ Audrey Meyers, Auburn 9/11 reminds her of Kennedy assassination, Pearl Harbor attack “On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I drove out to DeWitt Center to my 8:30 a.m. meeting for a committee I was on for the Placer County grand jury. I walked into the meeting room and everyone was sitting around the table in silence with sad faces. I asked what was the matter? Someone said they bombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I didn’t believe them. Then others began giving more details. When I realized it was true, I called my husband to see if he had on the TV. He didn’t know. He said, “Oh, no!” in horror. I said turn on CNN. When I got home I was glued to the TV coverage, as probably most people. I had never felt that emotionally moved since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was similarly eerie and a threat to our country. The bombing of Pearl Harbor, which got us into World War II, affected my father and he wanted to go to war. I remember that as a little girl. Life goes on! There is no place like home. I love Auburn.” ~ CAROL WALLGREN, Auburn