Saturday, Sept. 11, the nation commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Perhaps you were glued to the TV watching the emotional tributes to those who died and the horrific video images. If you’re old enough, there’s no doubt you remember that day. You likely remember exactly what you were doing when you heard the news of airplanes flying into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon, and another crashing in Pennsylvania after passengers took action.

Echo Journal Editor Nancy Vogt stayed home from work that morning with a sick first-grader, sitting on the recliner with her watching TV when the news broke. An airplane had flown into the World Trade Center building in New York City.

“We both watched, and to this day even she remembers where she was as a 6-year-old when terrorism struck our country,” she said.

Vogt’s mother, Arlene Newman, said the December following 9/11 they took their granddaughters downtown to Dayton’s to see Santa and the Holidazzle parade.

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“Nicole asked if we would be safe in the building,” she said of that 6-year-old.

Echo Journal Staff Writer Travis Grimler remembers being outside of his Pine River-Backus High School history class with friends when the word started spreading in the hallway.

“It took us a while to understand the gravity of the situation, but when we did it was something we wouldn't forget,” he said.

We put a call out on Facebook for others to share their memories of Sept. 11, 2001. Here are community responses:

  • John Wetrosky: Where else would I have been other than a (Pine River) Chamber of Commerce board meeting. One of our members took a call from his business telling him of the first plane hitting the tower. I turned on a small black and white TV set in time to see the second plane hitting. The whole room went silent. We adjourned the meeting at that point and everyone headed home or to their business to watch what came after. I personally could not believe my eyes when the first tower came down. A site I hope I never witness again. Jolting. I remember.

  • Cindy Myogeto: I was watching “Good Morning America” preparing for work, complaining that the only story for the past many weeks was the NASA mom who drowned her children in the bathtub. I remember saying. “Why are they continually sharing this awful story? Is this the only thing taking place in the world that’s newsworthy?” At that very moment the news channel broke to New York.

  • Tina Foster: I was a homeschool mom of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old and we were having breakfast and getting ready to go to the Minneapolis Children's Theatre. As usual I had my little kitchen TV tuned to the news and as soon as I saw the burning building I changed the channel. Had no idea what had happened. All I knew was that it wasn't appropriate in that moment with my little tiny girls sitting there having breakfast.

A half an hour later riding in the car with my mom and the girls, I noticed that Peter Jennings was on the radio. He was not a normal voice to hear on the morning radio. Wasn't really even listening to what he was saying but recognized his voice. Said something to my mom about it and we started listening.

By the time we got to the children's theater we were in sort of a state of shock. Our homeschool group met and went in and were seated and we sat there for probably an hour after the show was supposed to start before an usher came to us and said they won't let any of the public school kids come - they turned all the buses around. They reported that they were shutting down all the buildings in the Cities and that we needed to just go home.

There were probably about a dozen families in our group that day and by then we had figured out what was going on. We left the theater together, moms and dozens of children, and went to the park. Somebody had a radio that we listened to the news on while the kids played in the park. I remember being so grateful that my kids were with me and not somewhere else that day. I remember the days after that just feeling surreal and very scary.

Ideal Township Fire and First Responders had Ladder 11 on display Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in remembrance and honor of all the lives lost 20 years ago in a terrorist attack. 
Contributed Photo / Ideal Township Fire Department
Ideal Township Fire and First Responders had Ladder 11 on display Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in remembrance and honor of all the lives lost 20 years ago in a terrorist attack. Contributed Photo / Ideal Township Fire Department

  • Jenna Anderson: I was a junior in high school at Pequot Lakes. We watched the news all day. Teachers and students crying. We played Sebeka in volleyball that night and during the national anthem I looked up and all of the adults were weeping in the stands. I will never forget.

  • Michell Folkeringa: My birthday is 9/11. It has never been the same since 2001. We had just moved to East Gull Lake. Both my kids were at school. I was home unpacking boxes and had the news on. I was in utter shock, especially after I saw the second plane hit.

  • Kathleen Stephan: I was at work in a nursing home. The news came over the many televisions on. My sister, Colleen, and her husband, Joe, both worked in New York City so I immediately panicked. I left work so I could call them from home. Joe said he saw (from his building nearby) people leaping out of windows and was watching when the second tower was hit. It was so hard to fathom the number of lives lost. Traffic was at a standstill.

  • Tessa Kriesel: I was in Mrs. Rollins’ cooking class when it happened and we started watching it on TV. It was surreal.

  • Stephen Olson: I was taking the standardized test at the time. The proctor got a phone call, stopped the test and tuned on the news.