NEW YORK CITY — Sept. 11, 2001, changed the world forever. For most Americans, it’s a day to reflect on a terrible tragedy that claimed nearly 3,000 lives. For those who were inside the twin towers, it’s a day they’d rather forget.
“I was in my living room in Minden, Nevada,” said Roy Hutchings, from Baker City, Oregon, “I couldn’t believe my eyes, just like everybody else in America that day.”
“I was living and working in Washington D.C. It was really a weird morning, the blue sky and chilly,” said Dot Hoffman, who lives in San Francisco.
“My son was four years old and I was taking him to childcare,” said Tina Demarco from Cincinatti, “I get in the car and turn on the radio and instantly I hear that the airplanes crashed into the towers.”
“Probably took me 45 minutes, maybe an hour to actually draw in that this wasn’t Orson Wells and ‘The War of the Worlds’, it was actually a true event that was unfolding 3,000 miles away,” said Hutchings.
Almost everyone in America can recall where they were on September 11, 2001.
“I worked for C&L commodities. We worked in 4 World Trade Center and I was coming out of the elevator when the first plane hit,” said Paul Leale.
His office was located on the seventh floor at the World Trade Center. He was able escape by using the stairs.
“While we were standing there, we saw papers coming out, then some bigger objects coming out. Then we realized it was bodies jumping out of the building and we heard it on the other side of one of the trade centers just hitting, pounding,” he remembers, “A buddy of mine that worked in the commodity exchange with us stopped in a convenience store to get a water and picked up just a throwaway camera. Just started snapping pictures of everything.”
Twenty years later, this day is still a vivid and painful memory.
“I still haven’t been down there to this day,” Leale said.
“I keep thinking about going down there to see the new freedom tower, see everything they’ve done, but I don’t want to go down,” he added.
Leale was not able to make it to the memorial for the 20 year ceremony, but tens of thousands of Americans did.
Hutchings was among them. His country was affected by the terror attack.
“I went back into the Marine Corps. again and I went overseas,” Hutchings said, “As soon as I found out about it, I put my name in the hat and I went back overseas again.”
Hoffman holds the memorial in special regard.
Although she is now based in California, she traveled to New York this week to see the Freedom Tower.
“I always come when we come to New York, we come down to say hi because I do feel like this is where he is,” said Hoffman.
“He” refers to her brother Stephen, who was one of 2,977 lives that were lost on that fateful day.
“He was just a force to be reckoned with,” she said.
Hoffman said she misses her brother every single day.
“I miss my family as it was before he passed, I still miss his family,” she stated.
Leale is sensitive to the pain of those who have lost loved ones. He treasures the time he has with his family.
“I would never have seen my kids graduate. Grammar school, middle school, high school, college. You know, I got to see all that,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get to see my daughter get married, my son get married, all that wouldn’t have happened. They would have had their whole life without me if it had worked out differently.”