Thinking back: 9/11 memories from KHQA reporters

Eleven years have passed since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Memorial ceremonies have already taken place Tuesday across the nation, recalling the deaths of more than 3,000 people at the hands of airline hijackers eleven years ago.

For many, it is important to keep the memory of 9/11 victims alive by sharing personal stories surrounding the events of that ill-fated day.

We decided to offer our perspective and stories with you on the day that will live forever in the minds of Americans.

Please join us and share your stories and comments below and on our

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On September 11, 2001 I was working at KRCG-TV in Jefferson City.

I got a call from a co-worker minutes after the first plane hit the first tower.

I could do nothing but stare at the screen. At first glance everyone just thought it was a terrible accident. No one dreamed America was under attack. But as the morning went on and we learned about the attack and the crashes in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C, the magnitude of this attack became clear.

The journalist in me kicked in. I immediately drove to work before my shift to help facilitate the new information coming in at every turn.

I remember being so focused on getting the stories on the air that the impact of the crash didn't immediately set in. Only hours later when I finally paused from work did it hit me - and when it did it was like a ton of bricks. The loss of life, the tragedy, my country under attack -- the realization drove me to the bathroom where I cried my eyes out. I mourned the losses we were only starting to fathom.

~Melissa Shriver

September 11, 2001 started off for me just like any other day. I was actually in the shower listening to Y101 radio. Dennis and the Big Dog came on and said a plane had hit the world trade center.

I immediately flashed back to June of 1997 when I was visiting New York City and had actually gone on top of Tower 2. I took a picture of a plane that was flying nearby. I remember back then, the plane seemed awfully close to the Trade Towers.

So in the shower, I began thinking of the plane crash into the towers and the people on board.

D.O. and the Big Dog came back on and mentioned a second plane had hit the other tower. Instantly I knew this was a planned terrorist attack.

I quickly got out of the shower and in front of a TV, where I would've been glued all day had I not had to go to work.

That day I was scheduled to cover a trial in Northeast Missouri. I called the station and asked if I was needed, but was told to stay with the trial. Every time there was a break in the trial, I called the newsroom asking (begging) if I could come help with the terrorist attack coverage, but I was told to stay put.

On the way back to the station that afternoon, I remember driving through West Quincy, and the price of gas was upwards of $5.00 and the lines at all of the gas stations were long. I knew then that the America that I had grown up with and loved would never be the same.

~Chad Douglas

I was back home in Sedalia, Missouri on that day. My mother called me and told me to turn on the television because a plane had crashed into the one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

When I turned on the news the commentators were speculating on whether or not a pilot had crashed a plane into the tower. Some were saying that the hole seemed too big for a personal plane and that it looked like a larger plane. Meanwhile the smoke was starting to rise from the hole in the side of the building. While that speculation was continuing, out of the corner of the screen, cameras caught what appeared to be a second plane headed towards the buildings.

And then ... silence.

There was a stunned shock that took over me, the anchors and I would imagine anyone else who was watching in that moment. Then slowly words like: on purpose, deliberate, act of war started to fall from the lips of the people on TV.

As for myself, I stood there and cried because I knew that something terrible had happened and that the world as we had enjoyed it up to that point ... was gone. Then came the chaos of trying to figure out exactly what had happened. I remember the news coming fast and furiously on all the media outlets trying to piece together the complex string of event that led to this attack. Then came the Pentagon, Shanksville and the falling of the towers. It seemed that the world had been turned upside down.

I cried again when I saw the towers fall. The fear and the panic that you could see on people's faces as they raced for their lives to escape that deadly cloud of dust and debris was almost more than I could stand to see. And then came the realization that there was nothing left, the people in those towers were gone.

We also subscribed to several direct New York local channels and when I turned to them I got a completely different perspective on this tragedy. In the days that followed, those channels became the central clearing house for people trying to reach their loved ones. At first the stations tried to restrict those messages. But I remember one station coming on the air and saying there were just so many people trying to find missing relatives and friends that it would take their calls, put as many as it could on their station and the rest on its website. Their reporters were the first on the scene at the New York hospitals, the fire stations and police stations. What I remember most was the complete mobilization of efforts to re-gather resources and rescue as many people as possible. I also remember people running up to television cameras with photos and makeshift posters with the faces of the missing on them, desperately begging for help from anyone who knew anything out their brother, sister, mother, father, friend.

And as that horrible day turned to night, the flags started to come out. In cars, out of windows, on rooftops flags started to slowly appear. And over the next few weeks you couldn't go anywhere without seeing " Old Glory" waving in the breeze. Echoes of Pearl Harbor and the resolve after that attack were heard around the country.

War was inevitable.

I'll be honest and say it's hard for me to look back and remember that time without a tear or two in my eyes. And every time I see video of that day, my emotions yank me back to the moment when the second plane hit and we knew that our nation had been attacked. The world that I grew up in, the America that my childhood was built on is gone. A new version of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave has emerged. One that will forever be linked to a beautiful sunny day in New York City when the world changed forever.

~Stephen Johnson

One of the young ones at the station, I was only 14 on September 11, 2001.

I was sitting in second period Spanish class in high school. I can't remember who came in, but someone came in and told us a plane hit "the World Trade Center" in New York. I honestly had never heard of the World Trade Center buildings until this day.

The teacher tried to continue class like normal. But no one really could focus.

Third period English came after. We had a substitute teacher, so she didn't really care what we did. She turned on the news and we watched the rest of the hour.

About five minutes into class I realized that my dad was coming back from Canada that day. At the time, I didn't know if he had a connecting flight, where he was flying out of, all of these thoughts racing in my mind.

I called my mom. Thankfully his flight was later in the day.

I remember the principal coming on the P.A. system saying the building was on lockdown. No one could leave, no one could enter. We tried to carry on like it was a normal day.

When I got home my mom and I watched the rest of the news coverage. And that's about all I can remember.

~Lindsey Boetsch

11-years-ago today I had just arrived at my part-time job at a bank while in college.

Before turning the car off and going in, I remember hearing some talk on the radio of some buildings blowing up in New York.

I quickly went into the bank and up to the break room and turned on the TV. An old turn dial black and white set that I had to adjust the antenna's just right to get a clear picture.

Still with live reports at network stations, no one was sure what was going on. It was at that exact moment the 2nd plane hit the second tower and I remember staring at the TV in shock. The networks kept playing it over and over again and I could not take my eyes off the TV.

We ended up taking the TV out of the break room and into the bank lobby so we could all watch. I couldn't wait to get off work so I could watch the coverage without interruption.

I remember seeing those images of people screaming as they were looking for their loved ones. My heart aching - hearing the voice messages that loved ones left when they knew they were not going to make it.

Those moments I will never forget, forever ingrained in my head. Going to bed that night was hard, knowing that people where still missing and many kids would never grow up to know their parents. It was a day that forever changed America and changed me.

~Tegan Orpet

It was second period, in Mrs. Eilerman's literature class. I was in 7th grade, still living in St. Louis.

I remember the teacher turning on the television for some reason and putting it on the news. The first plane had hit moments before. We still weren't sure what had just happened.

For a few short minutes, the class sat glued to the TV. Then, our principal walked in, whispered something to the teacher and quickly turned off the TV. He later made an announcement over the intercom to the rest of the school.

In a very vague statement, we were told a plane had crashed into the World Trade Tower and we were not to turn on the TV for the rest of the school day.

I remember being so frustrated and upset that I couldn't watch what was taking place. I did not have family in New York, but my passion for news began at an early age and this was about to become the biggest news of my lifetime.

I remember rushing home and putting in a VHS tape in to record the news. For hours, I sat in front of the TV, watching ... crying. I was young, but old enough to realize the amount of death that had taken place that day.

I will NEVER forget.

~Brooke Hasch

I will never forget where I was on 9/11. I was working at the University of Missouri-Columbia's News Bureau when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

I had walked several blocks to work that morning, because it was such a beautiful day. At that time, I was working on my master's degree at the Missouri School of Journalism and had a 9 a.m. class. I went ahead and headed to class to find out that it had been canceled.

Many journalism students, including myself, huddled around a big-screen television in a student lounge where we watched CNN along with all of the other networks' coverage.

I'll never forget watching a correspondent trying to stifle her fear, terror and anxiety while reporting the horrible tragedy in New York City. I'll also never forget the gasp that filled the room when a voice came over the television reporting that a plane had just crashed in Pennsylvania.

I didn't know the other people in that journalism school lounge, but the events that day will unite us forever.

I had just flown to NYC about a month earlier and thought about how that could've been me or anyone, for that matter, on those planes.

I e-mailed all of my friends and former co-workers in NYC to make sure everyone was okay, and thankfully, they were. I remember it was difficult to access the New York Times' Web site that day as there was so much web traffic.

That night, I went to a church service to spend a moment in silence and prayer to remember those who lost their lives, their families, the heroes who responded to the tragedy and the leaders who had to move us forward.

~Rajah Maples

I can still remember like it was yesterday. September 11, 2001 ... I was in eighth grade sitting in algebra class.

The principal came over the intercom and told us that there had been a terrorist attack in New York and two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. My classmates and I kind of just looked at each other ... not quite sure what to make of the news. We had a moment of silence and said a prayer and then we were told to continue on in our classes; although algebra just didn't seem very important anymore.

There were televisions in every classroom, but never once did I see them turned on during the day. September 11th was different ... every classroom I went to that day had the news on. Teachers just let us sit and watch instead of doing the scheduled agenda; they knew no one would be able to focus on anything else. It took awhile for the enormity of what had happened to sink in ... I remember thinking to myself over and over, "how could this happen?"

When I went home that day, I remember my mom trying to shield me from the news ... but quickly gave up that fight. We sat together in front of the t.v. for hours ... just watching. I will never forget what happened that day, and I will never forget those who gave their lives to save others ... and those who still give their lives to protect us.

~Katherine Tellez, KHQA Producer

There are a few times in your life that you remember exactly what you were doing or where you were at when something happened and I remember vividly what I was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001.

I was standing in the KHQA newsroom and shortly after the first plane hit the tower, the CBS Morning Show was reporting that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Video and live coverage followed and people were guessing as to how it happened and "was it an accident?" There wasn't a lot of panic, but people were being very quizzical.

Then as I continued to watch the live coverage, I actually saw the second plane hit the second tower and at that point, I knew this whole incident "wasn't an accident."

From that point on, I went into "news mode" and wasn't being a bystander who was glued to the television.

The feeling that I had come over me after the first tower collapsed and then the second tower went down is difficult to describe.

As the morning progressed, a co-worker and I went out and bought a rather large U.S. flag and hung it from the exterior wall of KHQA that faces 36th Street.

At that point, you knew as a citizen of this country, the United States would make a remarkable comeback despite being a victim of a horrendous attack by terrorists.

I think in the end we should all remember the victims of the attack, not just in New York and at the Pentagon, but we especially need to remember the people on Flight 93 that brought down that plane before it had a chance to inflict even more tragedy.

It is an event that will remain in my memory for a lifetime. My parent's generation had Pearl Harbor and remembered that event for their lifetime. My generation had September 11th and "We will always remember."

~Jim Whitfield

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