Here, three members of the American Encore team reflect on 9/11.

Here, three members of the American Encore team reflect on 9/11.

September 11, 2017


I rarely watch television in the morning, so the first indication that something was wrong was a call from one of my colleagues in the Congressman John Shadegg’s D.C. office. I turned on my TV just minutes before the second plane hit. I was dumbfounded. It was a hard to believe that this was real life.

A couple hours later, when the first tower collapsed, the sense of pure dread at the loss of thousands of lives was overwhelming. I was scared and my heart was breaking, but I was also starting to get angry. Anger that someone would be so ruthless as to kill thousands of innocent people.

The world changed that day. And our country united like never before in my lifetime. One of the moments that is seared into my memory is when President Bush was visiting ground zero and he was trying to address the rescue workers. The crowd was a little noisy and someone said, “We can’t hear you.” He responded, “I can hear you. I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

I don’t think the nation has ever been more unified than at that moment. It is that unity we must strive to regain so that we can remain the land of the free and the home of the brave.



I was in an elevator. I had just turned 19 and started college less than a month before. As a freshman at Iowa State University I’d naively scheduled an early class every Tuesday and Thursday. I believe it was 8:00-9:00am, so I would have been walking to class when the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46ET (7:46CT) and have barely sat down when the second one hit at 9:03ET. I don’t remember the subject of the class. But I remember being in the elevator going back up to my dorm room. A now-faceless young man said to me, “some plane hit the World Trade Center . . . maybe even two.” It seemed like an odd comment and I didn’t really register the information. I was not concerned.

Not until I turned on the tiny T.V. in my dorm room and saw footage of the second plane hitting. The grave faces of the usually over-chipper morning anchors – mostly New Yorkers themselves – fighting back tears. At that point in my life I had never been to New York City. But this was a major attack on my homeland. Something I had never experienced. I later found out a man from my small hometown (population 15,000) was in the WTC on business and had died that day. One of my math professors had been on vacation that week and, later, his class was unexpectedly taken over by another professor with no explanation. It could be a coincidence. But there were whispers that he’d lost family or died himself.

In my memory, it was a warm, sunny day. But is that because there was a blue sky in Iowa or because all my mind can remember is the haunting juxtaposition of the black smoke in the beautiful blue sky hanging over New York on a tiny T.V. in a college dorm?



I don’t remember much about that day. I was so young and didn’t really understand what was happening. When the first plane hit, a boy, maybe 2 years older than me, came storming into my third grade classroom. He looked sick to his stomach and anxious. “A plane just hit the trade center! A plane just hit the trade center!” So my teacher turned on the T.V. and we started to watch and that’s when the second plane hit. I think my teacher gasped. I knew it wasn’t good but I didn’t realize what this meant for our nation. I didn’t understand the finality of it all. They eventually turned it off. I don’t think they wanted the younger kids to see it anymore. I treated the rest of the day like any other day, but I could tell the adults were off. When I got home my parents had the T.V. on and they seemed upset. Still, I didn’t realize how bad it really was.

It’s crazy to think about and fully understand what people were feeling that day. I recently watched a video of all the news reports leading up to the attack and throughout the rest of the day. It brought me to tears. When the second plane hit, my heart sank.

It's Time for an American Encore