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Alabama Public Radio listeners share their stories on the 9/11 terror attacks-- part 2

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Pat Duggins

The twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is tomorrow. APR asked its listeners to share their stories on where they were and what they were doing during the attacks on New York City, the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Many of these remembrances were from people who saw the attacks on television or heard about it on the news. Still others were actually in New York or Washington, D.C. on that day, or served as first responders in the aftermath. That was the case with Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack. He went to New York as part of a national response team after the attacks. The Sheriff spent 16 days in a forensics unit working to identify human remains found at the site.

“It's one thing to see it dimensionally on a TV,” Mack recalled. “Because when you get there, all your senses are aware of what’s going on, smell, sight, taste, feeling, everything. And I think just standing there was just the enormity of it. You could not look 360 degrees as far as the eye could see and not see devastation. Even though a lot of the buildings did not fall, as Tower A and Tower B did, every building within a giant radius was damaged. So I think it was just the overall enormity of the site itself.”

Pat Duggins

“This is Heather Elliott in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on nine-eleven. I was working for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court of the United States. And, we were right across the street from the capital which we quickly realized was a potential Target. The court finally was evacuated. After quite a bit of time wondering what was going on and seeing the smoke rising from what we later found out was the Pentagon.”

I'm Sarah Bryant and I teach for the University of Alabama. I was just out of college and had moved to New York in August of 2001. I lived in Brooklyn and worked as an assistant for book designer in Midtown. I remember that it was a beautiful day. I was riding the train from Brooklyn over the Manhattan Bridge when I heard someone say, 'oh my God.' I looked out and saw that both Towers had been hit. Everyone in the train was silent just staring in shock out of the windows. And I remember bizarrely wondering if people in the lower floors were still working then we plunged back underground and the train didn't see the first station. I didn't know what to do, but go to work. So I got off at 34th Street and walked to the office. My boss is there, the internet was out, we didn't have cell phones. So she and I just need to walk out of the building to see if we could tell what was going on. We were standing in a souvenir shop on 5th Avenue and saw the towers go down on a tiny TV.”

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Pat Duggins

My name is Geoff Lindell, currently living in Magnolia Springs, Alabama. And, on September 11, 2001, I was in New York State. I was actually employed by New York State. I got to Ground Zero probably about noon time on the 11th, and I worked there for three months on the rescue and recovery effort.

I’m Colleen Dolan and I work at The Plank Center at The University of Alabama. I’m from Brooklyn and went to school in Brooklyn heights right across the river from Manhattan. It was my first day of junior first grade when it happened. I remember hearing the loud explosion, seeing the ashes falling on my school, and feeling the panic of everyone around me. We didn’t know what was happening at first, but we knew it was something really bad. My mom picked up my brother and me and took us to my grandmother’s house nearby to wait it out and see what was happening. My dad worked at my school, so he didn’t come home until much later that day because he had to make sure that all of the kids and teachers got home safe. I remember just sitting by the front door at home, worried, looking out our window waiting for him to come home and hoping everything was okay. Thank you to all of our first responders who showed up that day and for months after – including three of my uncles who are firefighters – you are heroes.”

Thanks again to everyone who shared their stories ahead of the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Special thanks to Caroline Vincent, Jeff Deneen and APR Gulf coast correspondent Guy Busby for their production assistance.

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