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I am an employee at the Pentagon with over 41 years of service. On 9/11 I was in class in downtown Washington, D.C., at the USDA Building. I drove (Gainesville native) Ms. Edna Stephens and her brother Marvin home for her father's family reunion.
Her family and my family " Rev. Willie T. Jackson" have been connected since the early 1950s. I had a dream of her in a plane crash in August 2001, but I said to myself she doesn't even like to fly. It has been 10 years and I still miss my friend Edna. I reflect on the talks and great times we shared. I know that God has our destiny in his plan and I go on.
It took a while before I could visit the memorial here. Every Sept. 11, it takes me back again to that horrible day, a day I will never forget. When she called me the week before her death and asked me to come home with her I said I would call her back in the middle of the week and let her know if was able to go with her.
Edna and I had been planning to come to Gainesville for years, but this time things was different, and I told her "yes" I would travel with her. It seems as though this trip was planned by a higher power. There was something "special" about the way we departed that Sunday upon our return from Georgia.

Peggy Jackson, Management Analyst, PBMO

I was living in Connecticut but from New York. My aunt lives on the upper West Side but worked down the street from the World Trade Center. I was on the phone with my mother as we both watched the second plane hit.
I worked in the same building that headquarters United Technologies, who have government contracts. The building was immediately evacuated. Also, the bridge that crossed over to Groton, CT was evacuated as both a naval station and Electric Boat, who build submarines sit on the banks of the Thames River.
I could not stop watching the news. I had to see everything even though it was so hard to watch. I had a friend whose husband was in one of the towers, above where the plane hit. The only way to identify him was to obtain his dental records.
My youngest son was in fifth grade. They let school out early but didn't tell the children why. My oldest son had just started college in MO. He called, and the first thing he said is, "What the hell is going on?"
Do I feel safe? At times I do and other times I don't. I just feel that there was life before 9/11 and now life after 9/11 - it's just different.

Karen Clavette

On September 11, 2001 I was at Centennial Elementary School teaching students about 9-1-1 and fire safety.
What has changed in my life after 9/11?
The world appreciated public safety more, if only for a little while. The world became more religious and went to church more, if only for a little while. And the world became a little more cautious--but that too is dwindling. Oh, how quickly we forget. New words entered my vocabulary as a firefighter after 9/11. Words like anthrax, terrorists, Homeland Security threat level, etc. Is this just the new norm for us Generation X'ers? I also have a greater sense of pride in being a firefighter/public servant and living in the best country in the world. However the biggest change is the sense of urgency I have to fulfill my duty as a Christ-follower.
On this years 10th year anniversary I plan on wearing a HCFD T-shirt in remembrance of my fellow public safety officers that lost their lives and will remember all others as I replace the faded American flag on my house.

Capt. Scott Cagle, Hall County Fire Marshal

9/11 has affected me in many ways. It has made me appreciate life more than ever before and is a constant reminder to cherish each moment with my family.
I was in New York City when the planes hit. My friend, Kim Backman, and I had flown into LaGuardia the morning of 9/11, arriving at 8:30 a.m. to be guests of the Ananda Lewis talk show, which was to be on heart disease. Kim had just lost her daughter, Jessi, due to a heart condition.
We were being driven into the city to the TV station when the first plane hit. We had just passed the entrance to the World Trade Center. Needless to say, there was total chaos and disbelief all over the city.
Upon entering the studio, we were taken to the green room at which time we were notified the second plane had struck the trade centers. The show was delayed and later canceled when the Pentagon was hit.
We were rushed out of the station and told to go straight to the motel being provided by the show and to stay out of tall buildings. As we were heading across the street, I observed one of the most surreal sights I had ever seen. Banks were being boarded up as were most all the buildings around the city.
We were to fly in for the day and fly back out that afternoon. Needless to say, that did not happen. Finally, we were able to get home on Friday afternoon after boarding a bus that morning for a 24-hour trip back to Gainesville. Two to three times per day beginning on Tuesday, we attempted to schedule other transportation, but a terror warning involving trains and buses prevented us from doing so.
To realize we were in the air space with the terrorists the morning of 9/11 is very humbling. Kim and I feel very blessed that God allowed us to escape serious injury and possibly death.

Betty Suggs, Gainesville

In this time of the 10th anniversary of the invasion of American soil by those that would like to destroy America, it is a good time to reflect on our feelings.
Sorrowful: for those who died just because they were there.
Fortunate: that I still live in the land of the free and the home of the BRAVE!
Sad: that I lost my feeling that the places I frequent are safe, as 9/11 was an example that no place is exempt from terrorists.
Prayerful: that our children will never see anything like this again in their lifetime.
How has it changed me: I didn't fly for many years. I would drive long distances just to avoid a plane. I also changed my spending habits. Strange to think, but personal possessions just didn't mean the same to me after 9/111. All I thought that day was how insignificant personal tangible property really is.

Alice Brock, Gainesville

The attacks on 9/11 were devastating. They were caused by "terrorists" who hate us, and so we created a war, and the Department of Homeland Security so we can be "safe." But I feel indifferent.
In fact, I could say that they've taken away more of our liberties/freedoms than they have given us security. A war and another governmental department will not solve anything.
Why can't we just try to get along someway, and stop trying to make enemies of countries by killing off their people? It's all an ugly, stupid cycle: they attack us so we attack them so they attack us, etc., etc.


I was 14 and living in Miami. I'll never forget how everything in my life was changed. I saw the second tower hit and how the towers fell. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I looked at my fellow classmates' faces and each and everyone of them had tears in their eyes.
Ever since that day I had learned I'm blessed for each and every day God has given me. I don't have any regrets and I learn from each mistake I have made so far.
I think about the people who were robbed of their lives that day and I make sure to live life happy because you won't ever know when your life is up.

Jessie J. Norris


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