I remember it like it was yesterday.
Yet, 20 years have passed since terrorists drove two airplanes into the Twin Towers, and another one into the Pentagon in the worst terror attack to ever hit the U.S.
I was sports editor at The Emporia Gazette, and had been there less than a month. I was still getting acclimated to designing pages while preparing for the fall sports season that included 17 schools and Emporia State.
We had a television in the newsroom and it was tuned to coverage of the first attack.
Everyone in the newsroom stood around the television, debating at the time whether it was a horrific accident or was a purposeful attack.
Then we stood amazed, shocked and in silence as we watched live the second plane hit the Towers.
We had no time to comprehend what we had just witnessed, live on television. We were reporters and were quickly ushered into a conference room to discuss scrapping our already-created news pages and shifting gears to what became the 9/11 issue.
In some ways we were fortunate: We were an afternoon paper with a normal noon deadline — unlike many newspapers that printed before the sun came up and were on doorsteps in time for breakfast. Therefore, we were able to put out a 9/11 edition the same day.
I honestly don’t remember much that day. I know I hastily scribbled out a column reflecting on what we had just witnesses and trying to tie it into the sports world. I remember sending my front page to the press, then making a correction that resulted in part of my column cutting off on the “jump” page.
I vaguely remember calling my then-wife and her taking care of kids and school.
Honestly, the only thing I can clearly remember about that day was watching that second plane plunge into a building containing thousands of people.
I often wondered what went through their minds as some of them watched the first tower engulfed in flames. I’m sure many people watched as that second place headed right for them.
Others were trapped, either about the site of the crash or the immediate floors below. Others frantically were trying to make their way out of the building as I’m sure power was knocked out, rendering elevators useless. I’m sure some were stuck in those elevators, frantically trying to escape.
I cannot imagine being there live, or knowing someone who was in the towers.
I remember as a teenager living in the ghettos in southern California when a drunk driver took a corner too fast, plowed through our chain link fence and struck our duplex right at the front door.
We were getting ready for bed when we heard the strange sound of metal being struck, then what felt like an earthquake before the duplex filled with smoke and dust.
I ran out of my room and claustrophobia immediately set in. I fought through the dust and made my way to the garage, where I was able to pry the door open just enough to squeeze under.
I recalled that incident in the days and weeks following 9/11. Of course, my emergency paled in comparison to those trapped in the Twin Towers, but I was able to get a small sense of what they must have felt.
I never want to feel that way again. And I hope I never see our great nation brought to its knees like that again.
Sports editor Joey Sprinkle can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.