Seven years ago today, one of the biggest tragedies in the history of the United States occurred in New York City.
From 8:46-10:28 a.m., Eastern Time, on Sept. 11, 2001, four commercial passenger jet airliners were hijacked by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda. Two of the jets were crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, a third was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., while the fourth crashed into a field in rural Somerset County, Penn., after passengers and members of the flight crew attempted to retake control of the aircraft. There are no known survivors from any of the flights.
Excluding the 19 hijackers on the flights, a total of 2,974 people from more than 110 different countries died during the attacks, which also caused the Twin Towers to collapse.
Area officials recently spoke with The Brazil Times about where they were that fateful day and how they feel about how the majority of the country perceives the events today.
The day was especially difficult for Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw.
"My mother had been sick and we took her to the hospital that morning," Bradshaw said. "We were able to see the events happen on the television at the hospital and it made me feel sick to my stomach. With the stress and worry about my mother, it made the day all the more unreal."
For Brazil City Police Captain Dave Archer, the events of Sept. 11 put a temporary halt to his patrol duties.
"I was working the day shift when I heard about it on the radio and I rushed back to the station to see exactly what was going on," Archer said. "I got back and saw the second plane hit the other tower and I was immediately shocked and thought it was the beginning of something bigger."
Archer added that he hadn't really thought about the country being so vulnerable and felt like the whole world stopped.
"I remember seeing the assassination of President Kennedy, and it brought the same type of emotions," he said. "It sort of felt like I had lost my innocence again."
Like many people, Brazil City Fire Chief Jim Smith and Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton were in their living rooms watching the events unfold before their eyes.
"I couldn't believe that something of that level could happen and that the buildings could come down so fast," Smith said. "My heart went out to the people involved along with the firefighters responding because we knew some would probably be lost. Fire Departments are kind of in the background until we are needed and this event showed how dangerous our job is and how much of a family we all are."
Heaton said while the events were as tragic as they were, the physical and emotional wounds could be healed.
"You never totally forget something as big as the Sept. 11 attacks," he said. "But with any tragedy, time can heal all wounds."
Archer believes in the past seven years the country has "drifted back to sleep."
"It seemed that the country pulled together at first," he said. "But with the constant images on television and so much extra security everywhere, people had the tendency to become annoyed, and I am a little disappointed that the country hasn't remained supportive of the efforts to protect the lives of the people."
Smith said the perceived callousness to the events is due, in part, to how quick information can be brought to the masses.
"If this was 50 years ago, we would have a black-and-white television with breaking news coming across every half-hour or so as information became available and people would be on the edge of their seats," he said. "Today, there are cameras everywhere and everything is instant. The world is smaller and we are able to observe the world as it happens."
He added while we shouldn't forget the attacks, the country needs to move on.
"The country has a shorter memory than it did before," Smith said. "I'm not out to disrespect what happened because it was a terrible thing, but we can't dwell on the past."
For Heaton, the Sept. 11 attacks changed how he, as well as other members of law enforcement see their jobs.
"The 911 system is a constant reminder for us," he said. "While everything seems to have fallen back to the norm, the job of a road deputy has changed and we now have a more structured response system in place for tragedies now.
Heaton added that CCSD will be honoring the memories of the lives lost today.
"Law enforcement and emergency responders will never forget what happened," he said "We have black badge covers that we wear when a fellow officer is killed, and we will be wearing them today to honor everyone who died in the attacks. It is another reminder that something like this could happen again anywhere in the country."
By the numbers
The following statistical information about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 was compiled by New York Magazine:
* Total number killed in attacks: 2,974
* Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343
* Number of NYPD officers: 23
* Number of Port Authority police officers: 37
* Number of WTC companies that lost people: 60
* Number of employees who died in Tower One: 1,402
* Number of employees who died in Tower Two: 614
* Number of employees lost at Cantor Fitzgerald: 658
* Number of nations whose citizens were killed in attacks: 115
* Bodies found "intact": 289
* Body parts found: 19,858
* Number of families who got no remains: 1,717
* Estimated number of children who lost a parent: 3,051
* Percentage of Americans who knew someone hurt or killed in the attacks: 20
* Number of FDNY vehicles destroyed: 98
* Tons of debris removed from site: 1,506,124
* Number of days the fires continued to burn after the attack: 99
* Estimated cost of cleanup: $600 million
* Estimated amount of insurance paid worldwide related to 9/11: $40.2 billion
* Estimated amount of money raised in support of funds dedicated to NYPD and FDNY families: $500 million
* Estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder as a result of 9/11: 422,000