Twenty years later

September 11, 2021 marks 20 years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

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(AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)

The twin towers of the World Trade Center burn behind the Empire State Building in New York, Sept. 11, 2001. In a horrific sequence of destruction, terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center causing the twin 110-story towers to collapse.

Jonathan Dekleva, Editor-In-Chief

This year marks 20 years since the September 11 attacks. The Bulldogger talked to 17 people to find out where they were when the attacks happened.

Law teacher Jason Drake was in Bellevue when the attacks happened. Bellevue is home to Offutt Air Force Base. “I was working in an office and I was leasing a strip mall location to a Footlocker; I remember it verbatim,” Drake said. “A lot of Air Force people were on edge, because they were going to get deployed.”

“Everybody was puzzled, [wondering] what happened to cause the fire in both of the towers,” Drake said. “I remember when the first tower fell, I was working with the guy from Footlocker. One of my coworkers came and got me, and we all started watching the TV.”

I remember when the first tower fell, I was working with the guy from Footlocker. One of my coworkers came and got me, and we all started watching the TV.”

— Jason Drake

“The President got on Air Force One, and he flew into Bellevue. [Drake and his coworkers] went outside of [their] office and here came Air Force One in over our heads and landed at the airfield.” 

The President was at Offutt AFB for about 90 minutes, according to the base’s website.

U.S. History teacher Casey Werkmeister was in college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, heading to his eight-o’clock class. “I walked into the library and saw some kids sitting around the TV, kind of in astonishment and I decided to settle in and watch, you know, to see what was going on.” said Werkmeister. “You kind of ponder, how do you make the mistake of hitting a skyscraper with a plane on a clear day?”

“You kind of ponder, how do you make the mistake of hitting a skyscraper with a plane on a clear day?””

— Casey Werkmeister

After the second plane hit, Werkmeister knew it had to be an attack. “I think anybody that was old enough to put two and two together realized that it was more than just an accident; it was deliberate,” Werkmeister said .

Emily Kearney, freshman English teacher, was in college in Lincoln, NE. “A friend of mine had sent me a message, as I was getting ready to go to class, telling me to turn on the TV. I didn’t believe him, and was running late, so I just kind of walked out,” Kearney said . “I walked in the [journalism] building, and they have TVs set up all along the wall, and that’s how I found out what he was saying was actually real. I just saw the smoke streaming off the building.”

U.S. History teacher Jimmie Pack had surgery two days before the attacks, and woke up to the attacks on his TV. “I remember opening my eyes and it was on ESPN. At the bottom, the ticker just said, Planes Attack New York. In my head, I thought that I was going to change the channel to FOX or CNN, and see fighter planes zipping in and out of buildings,” Pack said. “I changed the channel and all I saw were those two big holes. It took me a bit to process.”

The number that pops into my head is 343. That’s how many firefighters died that day. Those guys and ladies went to work that day with no idea that they weren’t going to be going home and seeing their families again.””

— Jimmie Pack

Pack says that hundreds of heroes died that day. “The number that pops into my head is 343. That’s how many firefighters died that day. Those guys and ladies went to work that day with no idea that they weren’t going to be going home and seeing their families again,” Pack said . “What we forget is how many heroes ran into those buildings when everyone else was running the other way.”

Special education teacher Tiffany Negley was teaching at Ogallala High School at the time. “Things started happening before I even got to school, I had turned on the TV, which I usually don’t do during the morning. We were getting ready to leave the house, and that’s when I learned what was going on on the other side of the country,” said Negley. “My heart kind of just sunk, because I knew that the Twin Towers were full of people.”

Cheryl Hall was walking into work when it happened. “My coworker was in tears, and I asked her what happened. She asked if I had seen the news, and I had not. She showed me what was going on, and she was really emotional because her husband was in the National Guard,” said Hall. “I was scared, worried and nervous.”

Abigail Persinger was also working at the time. “I worked for a psychiatrist at the time, and I had the radio very low in the background, and I heard the news report come, saying that America was under attack. I had never heard anything like that happen before,” said Persinger. “People told each other that we loved them, because we didn’t know what it meant that we were under attack.”

World History and American Government teacher Danny Whitney was in his sophomore year of college. “I was about to get up for a Tuesday and Thursday military history course,” said Whitney. “We had no idea what was about to happen or what was going on. We expected [the professor] to have a big profound thing about it, but he said that we don’t really understand history until 20 years after it has happened, which surprised us but made sense.”

Jill Kulp is a Family and Consumer teacher at NPHS. She was teaching in Callaway, Nebraska at a high school. “I had four students who were all girls in my room, and the business teacher came in and said to turn on the TV. When we turned it on, we could see the second plane hitting the tower,” said Kulp. “I was concerned about the students because they were panicking. I don’t think that they had ever witnessed or realized that someone could attack our country, they were highly upset and crying.”

None of the students at NPHS were even born yet. These are the stories of many teachers and staff members who were willing to retell the story.