September 11, 2013

Three stories I wrote on 9-11 for The Bristol Press

Just wandered back into the archives to find out what I'd actually written that day, since my memories of 9-11 don't include typing up anything for the Press....

All across town Tuesday, people watched television and worried about friends and family in New York City and Washington.
“It feels like war on America,” said Robley Newton, the city’s emergency planning coordinator. “It’s a dark, dark day.”
School board member Barbara Doyle had some anxious hours as she worried about her daughter, Eileen Doyle, who works about 10 blocks from the World Trade Center.
She said that when she finally spoke with her daughter, who’s the director of financial aid for a law school, she was “very much relieved after two hours of agony.”
Eileen Doyle told her mother she could hear the noise and explosions.
“She is extremely shaken up,” Barbara Doyle said.
There were scores of Bristol residents in New York at the time, but most were far from the sickening scene at the World Trade Center towers – including Patricia Ward, the wife of Councilman Art Ward, who was planning a day of sightseeing at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Ward said she never got close to her destination because of the terrorist attack.
Newton said one of his co-workers had family who worked in the famous twin towers. He couldn’t get through on the phone to learn their fate, Newton said, and “just paced all morning.”
Mayor Frank Nicastro said he called local emergency personnel, including key police and fire representatives, to meet Tuesday afternoon to review procedures, check phone systems and more.
“We jumped on this right away to maintain safety and security in the city,” the mayor said, to make sure “our children are safe, our citizens are safe and our businesses are safe.”
“We have the capabilities to meet everything that comes our way,” said Newton, “but there’s concern from our offices.” He said that in a crisis now it isn’t clear the federal government would be able to help quickly.
Nicastro said he “spoke with ESPN early this morning to make sure they were handling security on their end.”
He said, too, that police officers were issued information Tuesday to keep an eye out for particular activities and to pay particular attention to possible terrorist targets, public and private. He said he did not want to identify any of them.
“Bristol Hospital is on alert,” Newton said.
Ward, a former marine, said he’s ready to go help get the people who committed the assault.
“Kick their ass,” Ward said.
Collin Seguin, a junior at Boston University who graduated two years ago from Bristol Central High School, said he knew three friends who worked in the area of the World Trade Center.
“It was scary wondering if they were OK,” Seguin said, “and then it was even scarier when I realized that there had been a terrorist in Boston, just a few miles away from where I am.”
One of the hijacked planes had been flying from Boston to Los Angeles.
“My stomach gets sick just thinking about it,” Seguin said.
“To know I could have lost friends that I care about, and to know that there was some sicko in this city, and nothing was done about it just really, really scares me,” Seguin said.
One Bristol mother, Cindy Sirianni, breathed a sigh of relief when she heard from her daughter in New York after the explosions.
Her daughter, Francine Keynejad, was slated to move into the World Trade Center with her office next week, she said.
Many of her co-workers were already there, Sirianni said, and tracking them down occupied the day. One man escaped the disaster because he got caught up in traffic.
“He was cussing at the traffic and little did he know it was saving his life,” Sirianni said.
One of her daughter’s friends was on the 45th floor of one tower. When the plane hit, the woman felt the rumble and saw papers fly.
She and co-workers dashed out and, Keynejad told her mother, “I think she just ran until she got home.”
Sirianni said her son-in-law, Barry Keynejad, an engineer with the Long Island Railroad, spent the day at Penn Station helping get people home.
Nicastro called on local residents to give blood to help the many injured in the attacks on the Pentagon and the 110-story landmarks near the tip of Manhattan.
“Today, our country suffered a national tragedy that wasn’t brought on by hurricane, flood or tornado but by the cowardly acts of individuals who are unknown to us,” Nicastro said.
“We will all, regardless of party affiliation, rally together to see to it that justice is done,” said Nicastro, a U.S. Navy veteran who served for decades in the Connecticut National Guard.
Former Mayor Bill Stortz, a Republican, called the attack “a cowardly act, one where many, many innocent people were involved.”
“I would hope that the United States, and the rest of the free world would respond in a strong and forceful manner so as to show that we will not tolerate this type of unwarranted killing and maiming of innocent people,” Stortz said.
“I personally support the president in any forceful and meaningful retaliation,” Stortz said.
Sirianni said the disaster is almost too much to believe.
She recalled the wonder the twin towers once created.
“What a view it was” up there, she said.


Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Barbara Franklin said Tuesday the terrorist attack on Washington and New York “makes us feel sad, then vulnerable, then angry.”
“There will be monumental repercussions, here and around the world,” the Bristol resident said. “This was a watershed event.”
From her office in nation’s capital, she said she “cannot fathom this tragedy, the lives lost, in the buildings, the airlines, on the ground” and that the attack has the “earmarks of a very carefully planned and executed terrorist attack.”
Franklin, who served in the administration of the first President Bush, said that the “numbers of things that had to be done in tandem by the terrorists in order for all this to come off boggles the imagination.”
“The fallout will be incredible,” Franklin said. “What will we do in response? And, how do we protect ourselves from such acts?”
“What will be the reaction around the world?” she wondered, and questioned whether the attack will “trigger a more concerted effort to attack terrorism.”
Franklin, an international business consultant, said that the days’ events were “just devastating.”
She said that just last weekend she was in the Battery area at the tip of Manhattan and “walked through the lower part of one of the World Trade Center buildings,” both of which collapsed after two hijacked airplanes dived into them Tuesday morning.
Shortly after, another hijacked plane plummeted into the south side of the Pentagon, which withstood the damage better.
Franklin said that the area of Washington where she lives and works – near the Watergate complex, not far from the State Department and Kennedy Center – seemed quiet in the aftermath of the attacks.
She said she had planned to go to the Capitol Hill area for lunch Tuesday but she stayed put.
“I can hear sirens,” she said Tuesday morning, “and there is a lot of traffic, moving at a crawl, on Virginia Avenue, which leads to the Rock Creek Parkway going out of the city.”
By mid-day, Franklin said, the city was “closed for security reasons” and people were walking with their briefcases, driving and more as they tried to get out of Washington.
She said there was “gridlock everywhere in the District and on the roads all around it” with “things just closing down.”
Franklin said that many commentators who are speculating about the effect of the disaster on American consumer spending and the economy are off the mark.
“Contrary to some of those people,” Franklin said, “I don't think this will turn out to be detrimental.”
“We could have just the opposite effect -- with people showing strength, determination, and a bit of anger,” Franklin said.
“The American people are very resilient and that spirit that will to show itself,” she said.
“We'll not let terrorists disrupt us, our economy and our government,” Franklin said. “I think there will be a strong sense of unity.”
“Then comes the hard part for our government -- figuring out how to better protect the U.S. and its citizens from such things in the future and finding out who did this and bringing them to justice,” Franklin said.
“We should also see a worldwide effort to eradicate terrorism, at least I hope so.”


The coordinated attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon Tuesday is “a very large act of war” that calls for “a very significant response,” said U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson.
The New Britain Republican called it “profoundly shattering that we could be so vulnerable” and that thousands of Americans could die “on our soil” at the hands of a hidden enemy.
“This carries as serious a connotation as Pearl Harbor,” Johnson said. “There is no question that we are going to have to respond forcefully and unequivocally.”
Johnson, whose northwestern Connecticut district includes Bristol, said the day’s events were “really a tragedy of staggering proportions.”
“It’s more than just a terrorist act,” the veteran congresswoman said from her home in Washington. “It’s truly awesome and terrifying.”
Johnson said the attack requires an international response to stamp out terrorism.
She said that if terrorism “becomes how we discuss our differences” among nations “it will be how we destroy our world.”
Leaders across the globe, particularly in the Arab world, need to “grasp that terrorism as an instrument becomes a power so great that it alone can ignite an international conflagration” that could consume the civilized world, Johnson said.
She said Arab leaders must sign on to the battle to wipe out terrorism.
If the Arab world continues to offer public and “silent support” for terrorists they are “going to have the capability to ignite World War III.”
Johnson said the nation has to gather information about what happened but the early indication points to terrorist organizations based in the Middle East.
Johnson, one of the most senior members of Congress, said that with Arab help, the United States can respond “in a targeted and responsive way that hopefully will end the development of this business of terrorism and the evolution of a non-territorial state that acts the same way as a nation state.”
Johnson said that she learned about the World Trade Center attack when she spotted a television report in someone else’s office. Later, back in her own office, she and her staff watched in horror as events unfolded.
After another plane smashed into the Pentagon, orders came to evacuate Capitol Hill offices.
“I was anxious for them to get off the Hill,” she said, so the hustled home.
Johnson said her staff carpooled home. She lives nearby.
Johnson said she is anxious to get back to work “as soon as the Capitol is safe.”
“We cannot allow terrorists to undermine either our spirit or our enormous capacity to work to defend ourselves and govern ourselves,” she said.
Johnson said it is “important that we pick ourselves up” and move quickly to lend a hand to those who are injured and the families of those killed. The country also has to reexamine its policies.
She said there are “a lot of things we have to learn” from this “multiple coordinated attack” for “our own self-defense.”
Johnson said the country has done a lot in recent years to get ready to face terrorism at home, but there is more to do.
“We frankly never conceived of this kind of diversion of domestic aircraft,” the congresswoman said.
“We as a nation and our people have to move forward,” she said, demonstrating to the world that America offers a model for resolving differences peacefully. That’s a key reason that “we are a free, strong people,” she said.
“We mustn’t let this break our stride,” Johnson said.

It's funny, but understandable, that what I remember are the images on television with my parents, talking to my wife who was out in Iowa, speaking with my kids, talking on the phone with U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Barbara Franklin and trying to coral student journalists across the globe to weigh in on the issue. How I got anything done for the Press I have no idea.

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