Local community reflects on 20th anniversary of 9/11

This fiberglass replica of the Statue of Liberty is on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City. In the weeks and months following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he stood outside a Manhattan fire station.


MACOMB COUNTY – Nearly two decades have passed since the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.

9/11 is the 20th anniversary of a series of events that have become a fixture in the identity of Americans old enough to remember the day.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks that day when 19 individuals associated with the militant group al-Qaeda hijacked four planes and carried out suicide bombings against American targets. Two of the planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York; a third plane hit the Pentagon near Washington, DC; and the fourth plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

To commemorate the anniversary, C&G Newspapers spoke with local residents who shared their stories from this time in American history.

Staff Sgt. Drew Schumann, of the 127th Wing public affairs office at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, said 9/11 was his first day at community college in New Jersey.

“I was driving on I-676 in South Jersey and I remember not seeing any planes in the sky,” he said. “It was right in the flight path of Philadelphia International Airport. I thought it was scary and there were signs that Lincoln Tunnel and Holland Tunnel were closed. It never is. .

Schumann said he heard on his clock radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.

L’Anse Creuse Public Schools Superintendent Erik Edoff was at the time a teacher at L’Anse Creuse-Nord High School in Macomb Township.

“I remember exactly that day,” he shared. “I don’t remember exactly the first whisper or the first conversation, it was obviously before smartphones and streaming. We had televisions in the classrooms, but they had live television.

At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower.

Edoff remembers turning on the television and seeing the towers still standing, shortly before they collapsed. The south tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m., the north tower at 10:28 a.m.

“I remember it was very quiet in the class,” he said. “The students were watching.”

Edoff recalls a few kids not paying attention to the media coverage for a second, and he and his teaching partners said “we don’t know what’s going on right now, but this might be the next event.” most important in your life. until now. Your attention please.”

Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts said 9/11 was one of those life events, like when President John F. Kenndy was assassinated, that people know where they are. What stands out for him in the weeks since the attacks is how the United States has come together.

“You think about it now with what’s going on in our society and think back to then, we had an understanding of who we were as Americans,” he said. “Regardless of our differences and how we thought about things politically, we knew we were all Americans and that was the most important bond we had.”

Macomb Township Fire Chief Robert Phillips said what he remembers most about 9/11 is that the emergency responders were all ordinary men and women who got up that morning- there, put on their uniforms, went to work, doing exactly what was expected of them.

“Probably a lot of them know what the outcome would be,” he said. “It didn’t faze them, it didn’t slow them down. They did everything to save lives. »

The Never Forget Project website says the New York Fire Department, or FDNY, lost 343 firefighters on 9/11.

Phillips said positive public sentiment among first responders peaked on 9/11 and shortly after the attacks.

On September 11, Macomb Township Firefighter Joe Warne was working at a car dealership.

“One of the guys came down and said a plane had hit the building, and we all said yes, that’s impossible. Then the second plane hit and we watched it live,” said Warne.

The Macomb Township resident said he was probably like every other American seeing what was happening.

“I was angry and wanted to catch the people who did it,” he said. “Over the years you always get angry looking at the pictures. Knowing what I now know about cancer has put occupational cancer on the map for firefighters.

For three years now, Warne has walked 140 miles on foot, with funds raised to benefit firefighters with cancer.

“A lot of other people, other than the 343 heroes that went up, knowing they were going to die, a lot of the guys digging through the rubble ended up getting cancer from being in those fumes and the jet fuel and all those toxins,” said he declared.

Looking back on this time in American history, Warne said September 12, 2001 was truly the iconic day.

“Everyone loved each other that day,” he said. “There were flags flying over every house and every building.”

At the time of 9/11, Major General Darren Werner was 33 years old, a major in the Army, and stationed at Fort Hood, Texas as part of the 4th Infantry Division.

Werner, of Macomb Township, is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, Army Materiel Command. He is based at the US Army Garrison-Detroit Arsenal in Warren.

“I walked into my office that morning, and there were already a few people there,” he said. “The morning news was on the radio, and I remember the broadcaster talking about what was going on. The way they described the first plane was an unidentified small plane that veered off course. As the day unfolded, it went from a plane in distress with mechanical problems to something that changed everything from that moment on and the world we live in today.

Werner said his division was preparing for a monthly equipment readiness review that day.

“We had a whole new sense of importance when we sat down that day,” he said. “We knew we would soon be loading the equipment onto a ship somewhere.”

On 9/11, all military installations in the United States were placed in Force Protection Condition, or FPCON, Delta and restricted to military personnel only.

FPCON DELTA, the highest alert, describes a situation where a terrorist attack is taking place or has just taken place in the immediate area. In addition, on September 11, all United States airspace was closed by order of the Federal Aviation Administration. It was the first time in history that the order was given.

“Right after the planes entered the tower, the whole country stopped,” Werner said. “Fort Hood closed – no one came in or out until we figured out what was going on. I know that soldiers with whom I have worked in the past told me that they were in different places and that they had to drive across the country to return to the Pentagon.

On several occasions, Werner has traveled to foreign countries on the anniversary of 9/11 and witnessed a recognition of this day quite unlike what one sees in America.

“We are very vigilant in the days surrounding 9/11 because there is a lot of emotion in what they did in attacking our country,” Werner said. “Their reasoning is linked to their emotions and on the anniversary there are countries in the world that may not have the same ideals, which in some cases celebrate the attacks on the United States . I’ve been to some countries where it’s been the deal.”