GREENSBURG – It’s now been 18 years since Sept. 11, 2001.
That date is still engrained in the minds of millions of Americans, the majority of which remember it all so vividly.
That morning, a total of 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes, two of which collided with the North and South World Trade Centers in New York City, one collided with the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the other plane, known as Flight 93, crashed into an empty field in Pennsylvania approximately 20 minutes from Washington D.C.
According to the 9/11 Memorial Organization, nearly 3,000 people from 93 nations were killed.
More than 400 firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel died that day.
In Decatur County, many local residents remember that morning, the events that unfolded and the days after that changed the country forever.
Greensburg Mayor Dan Manus, who was the local fire chief at the time, recalled watching the events unfold from the fire station.
“That day I was out at the firehouse and the guys were out training,” Manus said. “Before they left, they saw the first plane hit. While they were out, I watched the second one fly into the other tower. It was just unreal. God bless all of those people. We lost lots and lots of great people that day.”
Greensburg Fire Department Assistant Chief Brian Wenning also remembers that day from a firefighter’s point of view.
“We were here at the fire station when the first plane hit, and we thought it was an accident,” Wenning said. “We left to go do some training, and people were driving by telling us the second tower was hit, and then we had the realization it wasn’t an accident. It was a hollow feeling for me through the lens of a firefighter, knowing some of those firefighters weren’t going home that night. In a different sense, that could’ve been us. Every once in a while, you get that renewed perspective that this is a dangerous job.”
There are currently 343 flags in front of the Greensburg Fire Department to honor the memory of the firefighters lost that day.
Indiana State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg), also a former firefighter, shared his memories about the tragedy.
“I was on duty at Indianapolis Station 4,” Frye said. “I watched on the TV as the buildings filled up with first responders and with horror as the buildings came down.”
Local resident Dawn L. Barnes also remembers.
“I remember it so well,” Barnes said. “I had just dropped one of my children off at the high school. I was listening to a Christian radio station and they asked that listeners pray. I of course immediately began praying. I was on my way home and turned on the TV to see what I could learn. I saw the second plane crash into the twin towers live on TV. I remember falling to my knees weeping and praying. Was just utterly shocked.”
Katie Clark told the Daily News she was in middle school at the time, and how it affected her family.
“I was in eighth grade history class when our teacher got the call,” Clark said. “We were supposed to be doing ISTEP prep, but instead every classroom had the news on and we watched everything transpire. Many of us didn’t quite grasp the magnitude of the moment, but for me it was huge. I had family at the Pentagon that day and it would also lead to my brother joining the US Army. It’s a day I will definitely never forget.”
Decatur County resident Craig Brancamp was in the National Guard when the attacks took place.
“I was enlisted in the National Guard at that time,” Brancamp said. “Worked at Zimmerman Brothers Speed shop and was delivering parts to Acra Automotive on Lincoln Street. I walked in the door just like I had a hundred other times. I’ll never forget the look on Ron’s face as he said come look at what’s on TV. We watched the second plane fly into the WTC. I spent the rest of the day in disbelief and then every day after wondering when my unit would get activated.”
Melina Fox told the Daily News she was watching in real time as the events unfolded.
“When the 9/11 attacks happened, I was at the Indianapolis International Airport ready to board a flight to Washington, D.C,” Fox said. “There were many passengers at my gate area waiting to board a flight to New York City. Then, we heard all flights are cancelled. People from NYC and I watched on the airport TV screens as the World Trade Center in Manhattan came under attack.”
No matter how many years go by, those who remember that day will never forget it. Just as yesterday seems so clear, so does a day that occurred nearly two decades ago for many Americans.