Shepherd University students reflect on 9/11 terrorist attacks

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A Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department engine displays a 9/11 flag as part of their remembrance of the tragic day 14 years ago.

(THE PICKET)- Fourteen years ago on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaeda, took place killing nearly 3,000 people and injuring thousands more.

Four passenger airlines were hijacked by 19 terrorists and flown in various directions.

At 8:46 a.m. the first plane was flown into the World Trade Center’s North tower in New York City, followed by the second plane hitting the south tower less than 20 minutes later. By 10:30 a.m. both towers had collapsed.

The same morning at 9:37 a.m., the third plane crashed into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense in Alexandria, Va. Following the third plane crash, the fourth plane, headed for Washington D.C., crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa.

These attacks marked the deadliest incident for both firefighters, killing 343, and law enforcement officers, killing 72.

“I was afraid I would not be able to fly to Bulgaria, where I had a job lined up,” Arend Holtslag, professor of political science at Shepherd University, said while recalling the events.

“I had actually quit my job and three days later I had a flight to Zurich and then to Bulgaria. So I was laying in bed, watching it.”

Dr. Grant Prillaman, a Shepherd University Spanish professor, said, “I was on the road with my business partner going to Fredericksburg, Va. from up in this area to do a training for a juvenile probation unit, and we listened to it on the radio driving down. We didn’t believe it. It was just too startling. We didn’t know what to think of it. And, of course, a lot of it was happening as we were driving. So when the second plane went in, it was like what? You know, because now it was all live and it was on the radio and it was unbelievable. We couldn’t imagine this really happening. We were driving along trying to picture it. It was very startling.”

Several Shepherd University students were randomly selected and asked what they remember about Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was in the first grade when 9/11 happened and I still remember those moments as clear as day,” Tyrone Begums, a Shepherd University student, said. “We were watching it all unfold as a class on television. At this point, nobody knew it was a terrorist attack and being at that young age there were several comments from classmates saying how they thought it was a volcano on top of a building.”

Begums said that he was the only student to notice that it was a plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center. “Soon after the second airplane hit the school did an early dismissal,” Begums said. “Not knowing the seriousness of the situation I was just glad to be going home early.”

Caroline Kirkpatrick, 20, a secondary English education major, was also sent home early from school.

“I was really young so I didn’t really understand,” Kirkpatrick said.

“I lived in Ohio at the time. They closed school down early and we all got sent home. We were all really confused. My parents weren’t home yet so it was just me and my sister. At that time, it didn’t really affect me, but the older I got, it just made me upset towards that kind of terrorism and more patriotic and proud of where we’re from.”

Leah Jenkins, 42, a secondary English education major, was at work during the time of the attacks.

“I had two family members that actually worked at the World Trade Center,” Jenkins said.

“When I heard what happened, I panicked. I went down the hall to the cafeteria and I watched as the second plane hit the building on the news coverage. I remember feeling very sick at that point, worrying about my family who worked there and not knowing whether they were still a part of my life.”

Kevin Cantarilho, 21, a senior criminology major, was in an elementary school in Montgomery County, Md. on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Teacher was teaching a normal lesson, we were just kids doing our thing. All of a sudden, we hear the PA system go off. Our principal told us we were going into a code red emergency, and told all students duck and cover underneath the table. The teacher was calm but I was freaking out because I had no idea what was going on.”

Cantarilho said, “I remember my dad was traveling on a plane, and I thought my dad had gone into the towers; he was flying over New York. Thankfully, his flight was delayed and he took a later flight.”

“I was in second grade at the time so my teacher turned on the TV for us to watch it,” said Raven Webster, 21, a Shepherd University junior. “We actually saw the second plane hit one of the towers, and not long after that my mom came to pick me up. It wasn’t too long after 9/11 that my dad was sent to Afghanistan.”

“I lived in California at the time on a local navy base with my family, so due to the time changes when I woke up things had already happened,” Anna Hail, 21, a Shepherd University senior, said.

“My father was sitting on the couch, which was weird because he should have been at work, but instead he was watching everything unfold on TV. I was six at the time so I didn’t fully understand what was happening, but I could tell that something terrible happened and it freaked me out. My dog also died that day, so it was an overall bad day in my memory.”

Quote contributions from Brooke Binns, Mike Morris, Keegan Brewster, Katie Gayman, and Da’Shawn Long.

Hayley Butler is the Arts and Style Editor for The Picket. She can be reached at hbutle01@rams.shepherd.edu or followed on Twitter @haybutler