Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Combined Arms Research Library Staff Remembers September 11, 2001




Do you remember where you were on this tragic day of American history 12 years ago? Many of the staff members at the CARL remember clearly. Some were at home, others working on a different military base or away from Fort Leavenworth, a few sitting in class, and several working in this very building. Where ever we were, whatever we were doing, everyone old enough to remember the events have clear memories of their surroundings and often the days following September 11. Here are multiple accounts of the CARL staff member’s activities on that day:


I was working in cataloging with my other co-workers. A TV was brought in, so we could work back there and keep on it.  It was too hard to concentrate as it was so unbelievable & horrific. We were sent home a while later and were off work for a couple of days.  I felt sad and depressed for quite a while. Everything changed as in the long lines to get on post, the cars that had to be searched & staff had to cover the door way to check ID's. I imagine a birthday or anything special on that day would overshadowed. Today is my brother-in-law's birthday. (Betty, Circulation)

September 11th changed many lives. I was watching the events on the TV in the break room and never knew how much it would change our lives.  I was watching and thinking that this can't be happening and worrying about my kids in school here in Leavenworth. Since that day my husband has been called up for many days at a time and now he has been called to war 3 times, for over a year at time each time, even in the past 12 years. (Heather, InterLibrary Loan & Circulation)

I heard about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center on the radio as I was ready to leave my house to drive to work. I turned on the TV quick to see footage and saw the second plane hit.  At that point I knew we were in trouble. I called work to tell them and talked to another librarian.  She said they had not heard anything about closing or such, so to go ahead and come to work.  I drove on the post through the front gate as usual at that time. Front gate was just a pretty drive onto post with a forest of trees on your right and a small stone visitor’s center.  I did not see any military police or anything. By the time I got to work, the few TVs we had were on the news. The Pentagon was hit and it felt very personal. They closed everything on post and sent us home at 1030.  A couple of people had to stay to help search the building for any bombs. I watched TV the rest of the day and we were home the next day also. (Kathy, Special Collections)

I remember being in my 8th grade English class.  I think it was just a general reading time, because I was reading Edgar Allan Poe.  One of the other teachers came in to tell my teacher something – my teacher then turned on the TV and said something was happening in New York City.  Class continued, with some students dozing off, some students reading, and some watching the TV.  The rest of the day continued like that, like nothing had happened.  It wasn’t until I got home from school that day and saw my father had been sent home from work early from Fort Leavenworth that I realized something truly bad had happened. Years later, in college, I started dating a man from New York City and he told me how he had volunteered for the Search & Rescue then Search & Recover teams during that horrific time.  He told me how scary it was to search through the rubble and see the devastated families looking for loved ones.  Until that time, I hadn’t actually met someone who had been personally affected and for me, it was like reliving the tragedy all over again. (Kelsey, Circulation)

I was sitting in my 9th grade World History when the teacher took five seconds to announce that indeed two planes had flown into the world trade center and we were currently facing a national crisis. Then he went back to teaching his original lesson plan, despite the fact that history was being made right in front of our eyes. It wasn’t until I moved on to second block that I heard more details and the rest of my day was spent watching news coverage in my remaining classes. After school I remember the huge lines at every gas station (one of which we had to sit in because my sister actually needed gas, as usual) and coming home to talk to my father, an active duty soldier, about what he thought would come next. I don’t think I could ever forget that day. (Mallory, Reference & Acquisitions)

I was TDY on 9/11, in Wilmington, Delaware -- was working at the Army National Guard Headquarters.  I turned on the TV just in time to see the last plane hit The World Trade Center.  I actually thought what I was seeing was a "joke" -- didn't realized that it was live national news. Called back to Texas -- talked to my children's father -- he was not aware at the time that anything had happened.  Fort Hood and all military installations around the world were locked down -- my son who was active military at the time, was flying cross country.  He said they really didn't know what was going on -- but were notified by air traffic control to land at the nearest airport and they were given guidance -- all of a sudden there were 2 F15 Fighter jets on the opposite of each wing, which escorted them to the nearest airport for safe landing.  Our lives have been changed forever, I will always remember this day. To get to work each day at the Fort Hood, Texas Army installation would take 2-3 hours; this went on for about a month. (Marilyn, UFMCS Consultant)

My ex-husband at the time had called me to get to a TV to watch the developments in New York when the first airplane had just hit into the 1st Tower. I was working in Documents' cataloging and somehow we found a television to watch and that's when we saw the second airplane hit. My stomach ached for all those people who died. An hour or so later we were told to go home (around 10:30). All day I was glued to the television watching all the events -- Pentagon (found out that the side that was hit was where the Library was and they had some personnel injuries; United Airline Flight #93, etc...) The next day, we tried to get on the Post—it took over 4 hours to get into one of the entrances. Cars were back up all over on 4th Street, Metropolitan, 7th Street, etc. Some of the staff just gave up and went home. Later, we had duty at the entrances for ID checks. (Mary, Cataloging)

I was at home watching cartoons and got a call from my mother about the first plane hitting.  I turned on the TV just as the second plane hit. I had never before experienced something so immediate.  I couldn't stop thinking about all the kids without family on the planes. I stayed on the phone with my mother for a bit and then we started calling New York.  We had family there and spent the day trying to make sure they were okay.  We finally got through that afternoon; they had gone out of town for the day. I had friends stationed at the pentagon that were on TDY. It was a day almost for me and mine; luck was with us that day as it wasn't with so many others. (Name withheld)

I was in Aurora, Colorado, with my husband, his two brothers and their wives. The guys were having a family fishing trip in the Rockies. They went fishing and didn’t hear about the attack until they came out of the woods two days later. The wives had daily shopping trips planned, but stayed in front of the television watching the news.  We had flown there and because of the flight restrictions, we had to rent a car to get home. Gas tripled in price overnight! (Theresa, Reference)


Take a moment to remember September 11, 2001. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing? Can you relate to any of the situations described above? Share your memories with us to further piece together the history of heartbreak felt across the country on that fateful day.




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