Just about everyone remembers that moment on September 11 when he or she first heard that hijacked airliners had flown into the World Trade Center. Here, 101 men and women tell how that moment that changed the world changed them.
Pat Runsbold, 63, is a teacher from Carlsbad. “I was getting up to go to school and my husband called me in to the television and said, ‘Look at what’s going on!’ I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw the second plane hit the tower, and it was just unbelievable. I couldn’t believe this was happening in America, but at the same time, I felt the panic for those people there. I was very concerned, because I didn’t know how they would ever get out. I prayed to God at that particular moment, because I thought that that was the only way that any of this will ever be solved or in any way resolved. I spent the day at class, and I told the children that I teach that a very bad thing had happened in America. Most of them were aware of it, but I think because I teach kindergarten, they weren’t aware of the depth of the tragedy. It was hard to sleep for a couple of nights. The damage had been done, and I had said all the prayers I could say.”
Sheila Sample, 44, is a licensed nurse who lives in Shelter Valley, between Julian and Ranchita. “I was standing in my living room. My husband had the TV news on. It was total horror. All my family’s back there. I have a nephew who is a firefighter, a niece who is a police officer, a sister and a niece who both worked in a restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center. They were all safe, but my nephew and niece both worked in the rescue operation. It was a nightmare. I cried and just watched. When the airplane hit the second building, you knew that this wasn’t an accident. No words can describe it. I was zoned out all day, glued to the news, trying to get through back East to find out if everybody was okay. A lot of people that I knew back there lost family members and friends. It was a real trying time. I was too horrified to sleep, because I didn’t know if parts of the building were going to come down on my family while they were working on the rescue. That lasted about two or three weeks.”
Delmy Horman, 26, lives in Tierrasanta and is a lieutenant in the Navy. “I was onboard the USS Harper’s Ferry and we were almost at Camp Pendleton and we couldn’t come to the pier because of the incident. We had to wait a day or so to come down and unload the Marines. It was total disbelief, I just couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a fire or something, and I didn’t think that the two towers were coming down. There was just total silence on the ship when they announced it. I tried to e-mail my husband to confirm it, but they shut off the e-mail because of Threatcon. The rest of the day I was meditating on what was happening. You think that we’re a world force and we’re invincible and indestructible, but we’re not. It was an eye-opener. I had trouble sleeping. I was thinking a lot, wondering if we were going to make it back to San Diego at all or go back to the Gulf.”
Father Louis Solcia, 70, is the associate pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Little Italy. “I was watching TV, and I started to pray for those people, because I knew that a lot of people were killed. That was my first thought, to pray for them. Then I said the Divine Mercy Chaplet for them. For the rest of the day, I heard the news and continued to pray in the church for them. It was a little hard to sleep, because I continued to pray at night before falling asleep. The first night I didn’t sleep for at least one hour.”
Matthew Warren, 12, lives in Ramona and attends Olive Peirce Middle School. “I was at my mom’s. I just woke up and she had turned on the radio and I thought it was some sort of joke. I went and turned on the TV and it was real. It was just crazy. The first thing I did was call my dad. I just watched the TV all day. It was real hard to sleep, because I was thinking about it all night.”
Bernard Miller, 51, is a custodian from Sherman Heights. “I was at work and I called my friend that morning and he told me that a couple of planes had crashed into those buildings. Then I found out that it was the terrorists, al Qaeda, what have you, that pulled a suicide mission. I thought it was just a tragedy, all the people that died, all the innocent folks. I just turned on the news after that to confirm everything that had happened. I just kind of grieved and mourned for the rest of the day. It was hard to sleep for the next two or three weeks. I ended up going to a little vigil at St. Paul’s Cathedral.”
Shiloh Hall, 26, is a mortgage banker from Carlsbad. “I was getting ready for work in the morning. At first, I didn’t know if it was a joke, like in 1984, or if it was real — like a radio hoax. I went down to turn on the TV to see if it was a joke or if it was real. Then I went about my day and got on the train to go to work. I work in a high-rise — 550 Corporate Plaza — but they closed it down, so I went back home and watched TV all day. I slept all right that night. I had been watching it all day and it was very surreal.”