Calvin faculty, staff and students remember where they were and what they did on September 11, 2001.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four commercial jetliners and flew them on suicide missions into three American targets. Five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center (WTC), and five more crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the WTC’s south tower. Yet another five flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Passengers overpowered the four hijackers in control of United Airlines Flight 93, and it crashed in a field in Shanksville, Penn., killing all aboard. More than 3,000 people from many countries died that day. Recently, Calvin staff, faculty and students shared their thoughts and memories of 9/11.
Doug Koopman, political science professor
I was actually in Washington D.C. that day. I had flown in that morning. I had never been so frightened in my whole life as far as what was going on around me. It was scary ... I flew in in the morning to Reagan National at 8:30 for a morning meeting. I walked down the airport, and on every T.V. screen, one of the World Trade Center towers was on fire. So, I took the Metro downtown ... and by the time I got off the Metro maybe 20 minutes later, the other plane had hit. The meeting was held in a room that looked over Washington, and all of a sudden, you look out your window and see the Pentagon with a huge plume of smoke coming out of it—and, as I'm looking, I'm seeing the same image on my T.V. screen. People are on their cellphones, and they can't get through because everyone is calling ... There are rumors: 'There are more in the air?' 'Are they going to hit the White House?' So, we had to evacuate. We had to walk down 11 flights, and by the time you get to the street, nobody is moving, and the only thing you hear in the air are fighter engines. They have a very low, hoarse engine ... and I realize they're scrambling over Washington D.C.—and I thought: 'Well, this will be an interesting way to die' ... We reconvened, and then all of our thoughts were with our families ... I finally got through to my wife, and she wasn't worried, but it was nice to make that connection. I actually stayed with a friend of mine in Washington until Friday ... The subway goes right underneath the Pentagon, and I realized I must have been in that location 10 minutes before plane hit.
Kristin Otte Groom, Youth Writing Festivals director
I was living in Chicago, and my sister worked at the Sears Tower at the time. She called and said the tower was closed.
They were evacuating ... I think the strange thing that day was the lack of busy-ness of Chicago. There was this eerie silence. Nobody was on the street.
Nick Thompson, physical plant building services manager
I remember exactly where I was. I'm from Ireland, and I was working for a chemical company. A friend of mine was on the road, making sales calls on customers, and it was lunch time. He was in a shop, and he'd seen a plane crash into the Twin Towers on the news. That was a shock, and at that point, we thought it was an accident. And then he called and said another had crashed. We had a T.V. upstairs, and at that point, we brought it downstairs and pretty much glued ourselves to it ... . It looked like it was some kind of disaster movie, and the fact that it was real life was kind of shocking. My dad had flown from D.C. to Ireland the night before, so you kind of think about how God moves in strange ways ... . Most Irish people love America. There's a lot of contacts and family, and most of Britain stand with America. There were plenty of British people killed in the Twin Towers. There were a lot of Americans, but there were a lot of other nationalities too.
Simon Veldkamp, 20, junior, elementary education
I was at my locker in the morning. I was in fifth grade, and all my classmates were talking about how the World Trade Center towers had been attacked and destroyed. And then we went in the classroom, and our teacher said we should be calm about it and have a normal day ... When my mom picked me up, I asked about it, and she said the towers had been attacked—and we turned on the T.V., and we could see the towers burning. That was actually the first time I'd heard of the World Trade Center, and we watched the news every night for a week.
Rebecca Moon, English department administrative assistant
I was at work at WorldCom Telecommunications. I was at my desk; I was the assistant to the sales manager, and he came out of his office and said, "My wife just called and said, "Turn on the T.V." There was something about the Twin Towers. And we turned it on, and we were speechless—and then the second plane hit. People in the building kept coming into the conference room, and it was the quietest gathering of people in that conference room ever. It was 10 years ago, and it still makes me want to cry.