On that Tuesday morning 18 years ago, I was in the newsroom at the Georgetown Times. I was supposed to meet then-Mayor Linwood Wilson at Georgetown City Hall and two members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Mayor would be signing a proclamation marking September 17, 2001 as Constitution Day. That’s an annual recognition of one of the core documents of our country.
Jesse Tullos was editor of the paper, and I think he may have been the first to tell us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York City. The American Airlines jet hit the north tower at 8:46 a.m.
Like most Americans, we thought at first that it was just a horrible accident – somehow.
Publisher John Burbage had a TV in his office. He wasn’t in the building yet, but Jesse got a key and turned on the TV.
We watched in horror 17 minutes later when the second plane – a United Airlines passenger jet – slammed into and through the south tower of the World Trade Center. Then at 9:37 a.m., another American Airlines plane crashed into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C.
The horror still didn’t end.
The south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 9:59 a.m. Four minutes after that, at 10:03 a.m., a United Airlines flight crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
At 10:28 a.m., the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
In less than two hours, the world changed.
We didn’t know it at that time, but later we found out that 19 men had hijacked these planes and crashed them into these four places.
The terrorists operating under Osama bin Laden killed 2,977 people in these four coordinated crashes.
President George W. Bush told the nation and the world there would be a long war on terror. As we know, that fight is ongoing.
While still numb from what we’d seen live on TV and read and heard from various news sources, we had to focus on getting information for our readers.
It was important, too, that I go over to get pictures of the signing of the proclamation of September 17 as Constitution Day. The terror attacks were made on the core of our country – and the proclamation serves as a reminder of how important the rule of law is to the United States.
911 Memorial at Midway Fire Rescue
The purpose of this commentary is not to get into any sort of debate on the terror attacks or our military response. Rather, it’s to help us recall the events of that date and to honor those killed in the crashes and the firefighters, police and other first responders who helped, who raced into burning buildings and the many who gave their lives.
It’s also vitally important that we teach these things to our children and grandchildren.
Midway Fire Rescue has a 9/11 Memorial outside its headquarters station in the Litchfield/Pawleys Island area. Erected in 2011 for the tenth anniversary of the 911 terror attacks, the Eagle Scout service project by Austin Meares has a piece of a girder from the World Trade Center encased in Plexiglas. It’s on a pedestal at the base of the flagpoles outside the station.
Meares and Midway Fire Rescue wanted the display to be open to the public. The location by the flagpole is accessible at any time.
On Sept. 15, 2014 a number of Cub Scouts, leaders and parents and family members of Pack 323 visited the Midway Fire Station. They had a chance to learn about fire fighting and fire safety, operate a fire hose and then close out their visit with time at the 911 Memorial. As young as the boys were on that day five years ago, they still understood that the girder is a piece of America’s history and commemorates sacrifices by so many people.
The fire station is at 67 Saint Pauls Place in Pawleys Island. That’s just off Willbrook Boulevard. You may contact the fire station if you have a group that would like a tour.
You may also find other resources for more information about the terror attacks of 9/11. When you do, keep in mind the events of that day and the world’s response, and share this history and information with others.