Jeremy Vanderbol, funeral director at Buchanan Funeral Home: "I was working at the Newton County Sheriff's Department when some one in the administration office radioed me to turn on the television. I was in shock. By the time I saw it, both planes had hit the towers, and it was obvious that it was not an accident. The public's perception was terror, not knowing if it was an attack on the entire country or just the New York area. People were lined up for three to four blocks waiting to fill up gas tanks. I believe that people really thought that the world was coming to an end. If anyone says they were not scared, they were lying. The tragedy made me realize that our country's sense of safety can be violated in just a blink of an eye. It shows us how fragile our lives are and how fast it can change. This is something I hope none of us have to witness again."
Darrin Newbold, president of Community National Bank: "When we were just starting to open the bank, I was working in the living room at home. I took my daughter to school and came home and turned on the news. They cut away to show the plane going into the first tower. I thought it was a terrible, random accident. I was watching it live when the other plane hit the south tower, and it was evident it was an attack. That is what I did all day, sat in front of the television watching this all unfold. I was at home alone watching all of those people losing their lives, which made me feel even more alone. The event definitely changed the way I live my life and how I look at life in general."
Mitzi Doss, owner and operator of Mitzi's: "I heard about the tragedy at home before I went to work. It was completely devastating. I listened to the radio all day long and then watched it on TV when I got home. It broke my heart for all of the families affected. Even today, I don't feel some people have closure because not all loved ones were found."
Bob Markovics, vice president of UMB Bank in Monett: "It was my birthday, and I was driving through Velvet Ridge, Ark. I heard about the tragedy on the radio, and I have an aviation history. I knew the air space was tightly controlled and that it would be highly unusual for anything like that to happen. My first thought was that it was a hijacking. Twenty minutes later I pulled into a title company to find out exactly what was going on. In 1976, I was in the towers and I knew how big it was and I put it all in perspective. When I saw the hole in the north tower, I knew it was a wide body aircraft and intentional because the plane flew square into the building. While we were watching the coverage, I saw the second plane hit. We knew there were multiple attacks. Later in the day, I found out that one of the flight attendants on the first plane was a customer and I had talked to her the week prior. Sarah Lowe wasn't supposed to be on that plane. She was covering for a friend that was sick. The tragedy has changed aviation and turned it upside down. Attacks have been prevented since that time, and I am very thankful that our government is aggressive to ward off the threats. The 9/11 attack changed us as much as Dec. 7, 1941 (the bombing of Pearl Harbor)."
John Henry, associate pastor at New Site Baptist Church: "I was headed to preach at the afternoon session of a Barry County Baptist Association meeting. I heard about the first plane hitting on the radio and stopped at the ambulance station in Cassville to watch it on television. I was in disbelief at first and thought that the pilot had to have made a terrible error. I didn't believe it was terrorist but then the second plane hit and then Pennsylvania, so it became very real. I left and went to the church where I was supposed to preach. I'm not sure anyone heard the message; we were all distracted. When I left the meeting, I stopped at the ambulance station again then picked up my wife and children. You couldn't get into a gas station in Cassville. People were convinced that there was going to be more attacks. The attack made the world smaller. What had always been probable in the Mideastern countries...it brought it all home on a very large scale. The hardest was watching the first tower go down and watching people disappear in the rubble."
Janell Patton, director of community relations and volunteer services at Cox Monett Hospital: "I will never forget Sept. 11, 2001. I was at home on maternity leave with my three-week-old daughter, Abby. It was a typical busy morning caring for a newborn, catching up on housework, etc. I didn't realize the tragic events of the morning had occurred until a bit later, when I finally turned the television on. I remember I picked Abby up out of her swing, held her tightly in my arms and like millions of Americans, watched in disbelief. I couldn't believe this was happening to our country. I immediately wanted to help but didn't know how. I felt helpless, alone and afraid. Looking back, I realized I was also home on maternity leave with my son, Aaron, when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred. I remember all the same feelings from April 19, 1995, suddenly resurfaced on Sept. 11. God Bless America."
Nadean Merritt, retired teacher from Purdy: "The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, my daughter, Janet, who is a flight attendant for American Airlines, and I were getting ready to go to Silver Dollar city. I turned on the television to set the VCR, and when I first saw the screen, I thought I had a movie on. While setting the VCR, we realized what was happening, so we watched it for a while then went on to Branson. We were halfway to Branson, when Janet's cell phone started ringing. Her friends were calling to see if she was okay, afraid that she might have been on one of the planes. She did find out that two of her flight attendant friends were on the planes. That was one day I sure was glad I knew my daughter was at home. She was to go back to Dallas, Texas, the next day, but was here another week, as planes were not flying."
Debbie Berger, owner of Mocha Jo's: "I was teaching sixth grade creative writing at Monett Intermediate School. I was in the middle of class and I had no idea what was going on. Some of the teachers came down the hall during a break with a real panicked look, and we asked what was wrong. They began to tell us. I could not fathom what they were saying. I could not see any television or hear any radio in the classroom. We spent the next couple hours truly not knowing what was going on. As teachers, we were trying to keep the students calm. The kids heard bits and pieces but it wasn't something we could understand until we took our lunch break. Our principal, Peg Bryan, had the TV on in the break room. By then both towers had fallen. She asked us not to talk to the children about it. Once the kids went home, all the TVs went on in the building. In my writing classes for the rest of the year, I heard kids saying were were going to get Saddam Hussein. They equated Saddam with that. A lot of their writing was about what happened on Sept. 11."
Glo Abramovitz, emergency management director for Pierce City and Monett police dispatcher: "I was working as a paramedic for Barry-Lawrence and Cox Ambulances. I stopped by my boyfriend's house (Bill Mahl, a Monett fireman) to give him a birthday cake before I went to work for Cox. Bill had a giant TV, so when I walked in, the images of the Twin Towers on fire was the first thing I saw. At first I thought Bill was watching a fictional movie. The look on his face told me differently, though. When Bill explained to me what had happened, my first feeling was fear for my children, wondering if there was more terrorism headed our way. My next feeling was worry for the people of New York, wondering if there would be enough help. My third feeling was of anger that someone would do this to my home. Then the guilt set in. As a paramedic, I feel like I have to take care of and save the world. Knowing the magnitude of that day, it made me feel small and helpless. That's not a feeling I was used to having. I went on to work in Springfield. Everyone I saw that day, from my patients to the doctors, had the same look of shock on their faces. Even my patients with their own lives at stake asked me what was happening in New York . As the day ended, I learned of the number of my brother and sister firemen, police and EMS that lost their lives trying to help their people. I still cry for them, and remember to respect them. In rememberance, I have a picture hanging on my wall--one half is a picture of firemen raising the flag at Ground Zero, the other half is a picture of soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima. May God Bless New York and the USA."
Pete Rauch, Monett utilities superintendent: "I was in my office at Monett City Hall that morning when my wife, Betty, called from high school to tell me that the first plane had hit the World Trade Center. My first thoughts were that it was a terrible accident like the B-17 flying into the Empire State Building during World War II that I had read about. I turned on the TV in my office, and it was just a few minutes later that the second plane hit the other tower. I was just stunned and of course knew that it was no accident. I don't remember how long it was before hearing the report of the plane crashing in Washington, D.C., and then it got very personal because our daughter was in the Air Force and stationed in the D.C. area. It was several hours before we could get in touch with her and that was certainly a welcome phone call. I remember all planes being grounded in the entire country and that was just an amazing thing and then came the report of the plane crashing in Pennsylvania. What a heroic intervention that was and possibly saved many hundreds of lives by not getting to its intended target. I remember being riveted to the TV and watching in absolute disbelief as the towers fell one after the other. I still remember the overwhelming feeling of kinship with all Americans and how united we all felt in the days following with everyone flying flags and giving the thumbs-up when someone would pass flying the flag from the car window or antennae. I'm sorry the country has become so polarized in the 10 years since, and I am sorry for the families of our fine military men and women who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan or had loved ones terribly injured. I miss that unified feeling we all seemed to have, and I wonder if it will take another such terrible event to unite us ever again. I hope not."
Dr. John Jungmann, Monett R-1 school superintendent: "I remember Sept. 11 vividily. I was still a teacher in Lamar. Our first daughter had been born on Sept. 7. We had just come home from the hospital on the 10th. We had just woke up with our daughter and were glued to the TV when we saw the tragedy. Obviously, it was a difficult day of unknowns and fear and what was going to happen next; a day you will never forget. On one hand, there was the great feeling of having a newborn in your hands, and on the other, what that day meant to our world and what it would mean to her life, and how that has played out in last 10 years. That remains vividly in my mind."
Larry Eden, Monett Rural fire chief: "I got off duty as a Monett firefighter that morning and had gone home. I was watching the TV and heard a special report come in of what I thought was a small plane hitting the Twin Towers. I went on and did others things, came back, saw what happened and thought 'How could a plane get so far off course?' Then the second plane hit. It kind of grabs you by the heart, that's for sure. As the day unfolded, I stayed glued to the TV, heard other reports about the other planes, then started getting mad. The biggest things were all those firemen and police going into the buildings. They went in to work that morning as a routine day, then over 300 of them didn't come home. You do the same thing that any fireman does. They go in to work the morning because that's what they do; if they didn't, they wouldn't be there. It's something you can't really explain. To know their life was taken by an act of cowardice . . . I wondered, can it happen to us? The whole fire department was really in a daze. We contacted the union to find anything we could do. There was not a whole lot we could do but pray."
Deborah Schoen, Freistatt village clerk: "I had been up since 6 a.m. that morning but for some reason had not turned on the news yet that day. My husband left for work around 8 a.m. My brother, who was on his way from St. Louis to Jefferson City that day to talk to legislators about a bill he was trying to get through, called me on his cell phone and told me to turn on the news. He said someone flew into the Twin Towers. I turned it on just in time to watch and tell my brother what they were showing--the first and then the second building collapsing. My brother, hearing that, immediately turned around on the interstate and told me he was going back home for the day. We were both in shock too much to say much more to each other except 'be careful going home.' I called my husband who had not yet heard the news. He turned on the limited stations he had at his business, watched for a short time and then told me he was coming home. As they mentioned on TV the possibility of 'terrorists,' I remember wondering what kind of hatred existed out there in the world. My husband and I both stayed glued to the television for the entire day, evening and partially into the night. All the important things we had planned for the day changed immediately to non-relevant. I put our flag out at half staff outside. I especially remember President Bush's heartfelt statements of encouragement and determination to Americans, something I felt we all needed to hear at that moment in time. I remember the stories of heroism in the following weeks. I will never forget that moment in history. While we were both angry at the events that took place, we both felt our American pride strengthening in the days and weeks to come, because we saw how Americans were standing together as one nation under God."
Don Weber, financial advisor, Edward Jones Investments: "I was in Springfield on appointments and the first comment I heard was about 'the craziness going on that morning in New York City.' I didn't understand what that comment meant until I turned on the TV later that morning and saw the footage of the first airplane hitting the tower. Obviously at that point, it made you sick and took your breath away all at once, to realize what was happening. I just continued to watch the footage. It changed the course of my whole day. I ended up coming back early to the office to help work through all the questions and calls that we were getting on the disruption in the stock market. Because of all of the problems in lower Manhattan, they closed the market, and it stayed closed for a little over a week. It was the first time in history that had happened to the market. We didn't know how long markets would be closed and how much of a disruption there would be on world market. When my wife and I got home, we tried as best we could to explain what was happening to the kids, who were fairly young, just exactly what has taken place and why."
Zona Crabtree, writer: "Sept. 11, 2001, started out as an ordinary day. I was cooking and doing housework but had the television on. When the first news flashes appeared, it was as if one of the many special effects movies was in progress. None of it seemed real. Like much of the country, I don't remember much of what happened the rest of the day except for listening to the horror unfold. I remember some of the events and feelings from World War II. Those events took time to reach us. this was instant, as it happened, something like having the air knocked out of you."
Tom Kerr, retired Tyson Foods employee, and Yvonne Kerr, retired school teacher:
Tom: "I was working on the production line for Tyson. A fellow employee came by the line and said the World Trade Organization had been hit. Sinces he mistakenly said "Organization" instead of "Center," I was unsure as to exactly what had been hit. By the time break came at 9:40 a.m., I, like everyone else was glued to the TV during break. I believe I can remember thinking, 'What else is going to happen?'"
Yvonne: "I was watching a Spanish channel news program, "Despierta America" ("Wake Up America"), when the news announcer said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. They did not yet know any other information. I immediately switched to an English news channel (CNN) and watched the news all day long as new events developed. It was especially shocking as I watched live as another plane hit the second tower, as the buildings later collapsed, and as the plane hit the Pentagon. It was like reading a thriller novel, wondering who was perpetrating these acts and why, as well as wondering what would happen next."
Linda Schelin, retired daycare operator and former Monett R-1 School Board member: "I was at my father-in-law's home, Harold Schelin Sr., making my regular check on him on Sept. 11. Rachel Knepper had just arrived and told us she had heard Peter Jennings' voice crack with emotion announcing on the radio that 'The tower is down, the building is gone!' We turned on the tiny TV in the kitchen, and the three of us leaned against the cabinets watching with unbelief as the
second tower was hit. We remember Harold Sr. saying 'Oh, this is not good. I made those elevators.' What he probably meant was that when he lived in New York, he worked for Otis Elevator Company. I recently heard that some were actually saved by being in an elevator. I'm not sure Harold Sr. ever received that piece of information. On Sunday, our St. Stephen's Episcopal Church choir will be singing an anthem that our choir director, Betty Rae Norfleet, has written. It is entitled "A Prayer of Assurance." The text is: "O Lord, support us all the day long until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, in Thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a Holy rest and peace at the last.' That prayer is for the repose of the souls who died as well as their families, friends and co-workers."
Lois Pruitt, past library and museum board member in Pierce City: "I had flown out to Pennsylvania to see my sister-in-law, Jane Pruitt, for her 70th birthday on Sept. 6. I was going to fly out of the Scranton/Wilks-Barre Airport on Sept. 11. I had been packing and hadn't had the TV on all morning. We drove to the airport and were saying goodbye outside the terminal. There was a lady there on a cell phone who said a plane had hit a building in New York City. She was not particularly concerned. After Jane went home, I was sitting in the airport when they came out and said our plane had been delayed. A man jumped up and got on his phone, trying to find out what had happened. No one said anything about New York City, which is only 100 miles away. Ten minutes later they announced our plane had been cancelled. We went to get our luggage. I found the phones and called Jane collect since I didn't know how much change it would take. By now, she was frantic. She said my kids in Pierce City had called, and she'd told them by now I was in the air. She said she would call them back and come and get me. So I went down to the end of the baggage line. By then, reporters were there from the TV station asking people what they thought of things. I stayed away from them. By the time I got outside, there were no cars allowed to get to the entrance. I saw a state trooper with a rifle on guard. I was the last one to leave. It was five more days before I could get a flight out. Every church in the city was open that night, and they had nightly prayer meetings all week. A couple years later, I went out for another visit. My sister-in-law and I drove to New York City to see Ground Zero. It was just like looking down a big hole. You could see floors underground sticking out. We also went to Shanksville, Pa. They had set up a makeshift memorial with a marble market out in a field. The crash site was about a mile away in the trees. There was a gravel area by the memorial where people were leaving things. A man was standing around. I was watching him. His wife finally came, and he went with her. When he left the gravel area, he put his hat back on. I don't know why, but that touched me so much."