Where were you?
By Brian Mock
Last week, 18 years ago, the American people faced a horrible tragedy. September 11th, 2001 was a day that would be the last for many. The last time that they would be able to see, kiss, hug, or hold their loved ones.
Meanwhile in Albion, and all over the country, people were turning on their televisions and tuning into radio stations. It was almost as if the world went on “pause.”
But what went on back in Albion, as the terror of the World Trade Centers crashed one after another, then the pentagon and finally flight 93? How did it affect our community and the people in it?
Mr. Zoucha, the high school social studies teacher, and his family were going to Lincoln for a funeral when they heard the news on the radio. The station they were listening to, was normally a comedy station and they weren’t sure if these radio hosts were playing a cruel joke. But when they turned to another station, they learned that the news was very true. The Zoucha’s didn’t talk about it at all that day but, Mr. Zoucha said it was definitely weird not seeing any planes in the sky.
Mr. Zoucha felt this tragedy from more than just home and certainly as more than a teacher. He had a friend who worked at the Pentagon. His office would have been on the southwest side where the plane crashed into. Luckily that part of the building was under renovation and he was not in his office. He had to hitchhike home and catch a ride back to his house. He didn’t get back until nine that evening and his wife didn’t know where he was or even if he was alive.
Mr. Zoucha had some former students who were even deployed with the national guard over in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were shot at and wounded, but not severely.
School was a different atmosphere on the twelfth day of September 2001. Things changed from the way people thought and went about their days. Kids had a lot more anxiety about things. There was a lot more talk of national security from people everywhere.
During an interview with Mrs. Paulson, the band teacher, she recalled the events of September 11th as she marched the fields of Lincoln Southeast’s football field. She was only a junior in high school but remembers that day very well. She remembered clearly that when the band students went inside the routine had changed, they did not go put away their instruments or their shoes, they did not even sit down, they all immediately gathered around the piano and watched the events unfold on the tv.
Mrs. Paulson remarked, as many did, that this day would be one of those days they would never forget. It was one of those life changing events, similar to the day JFK was assassinated. She somehow knew it was bad but didn’t want to admit that this could have been done on purpose to the American people.
Lastly, Mrs. Zweiner, a high school math teacher, was in what is now part of Mr. Sup’s room during 9/11 and was teaching calculus. Mr. Arnie Johnson came into the room and said “Jeanette, turn on your tv.” And sure enough something was going on. The first tower had already been hit and the whole class saw the second tower being hit. One of the students asked, “Mrs. Zwiener, what’s going on?” and then Mrs. Zwiener remarked, “I think we have been attacked… this might be the start of a war.”
For me, as a student, who was only about 9 months at the time, I have no recollection of September 11, 2001. I am one of the few of my classmates who were even born during 2001. It really made me sad that we didn't do a lot to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks throughout middle school and high school career. So my junior year, I wrote a dedication in honor of the victims, first responders, citizens, and anyone else who was involved with helping or was in the attacks. I try to give my dedication speech every year at one of the sporting events during the week of 9/11 as a tribute to help remember the 2,000+ innocent lives who were lost that day. It still makes me emotional even though I was too young at the time to understand what was happening. Freedom comes with many sacrifices, we just didn’t know what those sacrifices would look like until 9/11.
Photo credit to: https://cycloneshockey.com/news/2012/09/september-11-2001we-will-never-forget