The bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The Kennedy assassination.
The 9/11 attacks.
It seems that every generation has its moment in history – a time that is forever frozen by the sheer horror of an event.
And although people would just as soon forget it ever happened, they somehow find solace in discussing their connection to it – their personal story of where they were when the event unfolded. Whether the conversation takes place hours, days, years or even decades after the event, it transports people back to the exact time and place. Following are some memories of the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago offered by Great Bend Unified School District 428 personnel.
Paula Laudick, Great Bend High School secretary: “Because we were in the process of building our new house and I was working there, I had no radio or TV at the time. I got a call from my mother-in-law, hysterically telling me that WW III had just started! It was a long 17-mile drive back into town to see what was going on.”
Jackie Cook, Great Bend Middle School English teacher: “I remember it was my first year at GBHS teaching physical science. It was a Tuesday and we were in class when another teacher came to my door and told me to turn on the television in our room because ‘something horrible has happened.’ My class was very quiet and we turned on the television. The TV was full of the pictures of the bombing and smoke and devastation. The television reporters were so confused and kept trying to figure out what it was they had on camera. It was so stunning that all the students were spellbound and shocked. Pretty soon several classes came in to watch with us. Then, we saw the second tower hit. I remember thinking how quiet and attentive the students were and how sick I felt in my stomach when I saw some of the people covered in ash and dirt running around. It was one of the long-lasting memories I have of teaching at GBHS.”
Lisa Thompson, GBHS Spanish teacher: “I remember the attacks clearly. It was my first year of teaching. When the news of the first tower being hit came to us, I immediately turned on the TV in my room. My students and I watched as the second plane hit. Now being a new teacher, I didn’t like the idea that we were glued to the TV, but I felt that something was going on that would have great impact on us. We discussed whether it was a fluke or not, you know, special effects or real. Who would want to do this? As class proceeded, we continued to monitor the situation. We watched as both towers collapsed. I remember my hand coming to my mouth and a tear in my eye. I thought of all those people in the towers. That day had a profound impact on everyone that was watching. Now that things have started coming full circle, I hope that people can continue their pride while coming to peace with the events.
Matt Mazouch, GBHS industrial arts teacher: “I have a view of 9/11 unlike most of the faculty at USD 428. I was a student at the high school at the time of the attacks. I remember sitting in Mrs. Poland’s class that was just west across the hall from the auditorium. Someone from the office came and told her about the attacks at the door of the classroom. She gasped and said, ‘Oh, my God!’ She told the class what had just happened and we turned on the TV to watch. For the rest of the day, a lot of the classes at the high school watched the coverage. I didn’t realize it that day that the event would have such a large effect on the United States and cause us to go to war.”
Myrna Holthaus, elementary music teacher: “I was in the Park School office during planning time and Judy Fox came in asking if we had heard the news. None of us were aware of the planes hitting the towers until then. I remember running to my room to turn on the TV and standing there horrified that people had died and were dying. Then when the towers fell, I think my heart fell, also. I believe I let out a yelp and tried hard not to cry. Then hearing that a plane had hit the Pentagon, I wondered what was happening in America. I guess I had hoped America was so strong that this could not be happening. I remember all the planes in America air space were told to land at the nearest air strip they could find. And the only planes over America were our fighter jets. Very scary times.”
Ruth Heinrichs, curriculum director: “I remember one student asking me that day how many buildings had been hit by planes. He had seen the video of the twin towers so many times, and in his mind, it was a different building each time.”
Mary Rossman, Riley School second-grade teacher: “9/11 happened my first year of teaching. I remember being in the office while my students were in PE and music. I was shocked and scared as to what was happening while I watched the TV in there. I thought maybe the world was ending and it was only my first year of teaching. Since I didn’t know what was happening, I did not tell my students what was going on. Besides, they were only second graders and I didn’t feel like they would understand. Incidentally, those students are now seniors in high school.”