'Such a sad, sad day ...'

·11 min read

Sep. 10—LAURINBURG — As the rest of the world watched on television in horror as terrorists slammed airplanes into the Twin Towers 20 years ago, a Scotland County resident saw it unfold in person

Mary L Williams had an almost front seat view when the plane hit. She remembers vividly the events that unfolded that day.

"I was still living and working in Brooklyn, New York, and was on the 15th floor where we had a view of the World Trade Center," said Williams. "I saw the plane hit the building and saw it come down shortly after.

"It is a day I will never forget," she added.

Seanna Hall had a view of the tragedy from another perspective.

"I was a soldier on Simmons Army Airfield located in Cumberland County," said Hall. "It was one of the longest, scariest days of my life!"

Other former and present Scotland County residents shared their recollections of the day ...

— Brattieslavia Araiis: "I'm from New York and was in the Dominican Republic. I was supposed to catch a plane back to New York to meet my mother. My flight was delayed and from the airport I watched it unfold."

— Rene Q. Monroe: "I was in high school in child care class, it came on Channel 1 news. Then I went to Mr. Ballard's English class and watched in awe at what was going on."

— Beachum McDougald: "I was at my morning Emmaus Group. As it finished, I returned to McDougald Funeral Home and Crematorium where I discovered that the North Tower had been hit by a jet. As I watched the event unfold; the South Tower was hit. The news later revealed that the Pentagon had been hit and another jet crashed in Pennsylvania. There was a feeling of fear that a coordinated attack upon America had begun, and the future was unknown. The same feelings unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C."

— Mitchell Medlin: "Sept. 11 is my birthday (and) I remember walking into school just as reports were coming in. I got to class just in time to see the other plane hit. Since I turned 18 that day, I had to go fill out my draft papers after school. I remember being terrified, but ready to go defend this great country if need be."

— Josh Coble: "I was in surgery that morning when the first plane hit. I awoke to nurses crying and the TV playing the news all day. I actually got to watch the second plane hit. I thought I was in a dream."

— Benita Ward Mullis: "I was at work (in Fayetteville), there was a big screen TV in front of the window in my office. I had no clue what was happening and then everyone started gathering around the TV so I gathered with them. The fact that most of the people around the TV were military spouses. (that's a whole other story). Such a sad, sad day ..."

— Billy Norris Jr.: "I was in college at the time the towers were attacked. I was sitting in math class when I found out. The professor ended class and we went to the dining hall and watched it on the news. I remember the sadness on everyone's face. It was a heartbreaking time. Let us never forget this tragedy, and the lives lost."

— Stuart Carmichael: "In 2001 I had just been one year into my own business. In between helping my mom deal with her Alzheimer's and that I was uptown working, but as soon as I heard I came home to watch it on TV ... I was hurt, angry and sad."

— Kathy McCallum: "I was at work at Burger King where I was a manager. We found out there because one of the girls working had relatives over there and one worked at the towers and she received a phone call."

— Angie Foster: "I was less than a month away from giving birth to my son. I saw the planes hit the towers just before I left home for my appointment, and as I arrived at the doctor's office and entered the waiting room, I saw the towers fall on their TV. My heart sank."

— Christine Johnson: "When the events on 9/11 happened, I was just walking into my Mom's house in Maxton and she was watching the news and began telling me what had just happened. As she was speaking the second plane hit the Twin Towers. We were all in disbelief and praying for the poor souls inside. I remember thinking, 'Lord what is this world coming to?' Never thought things could get any worse but it has, look at us today."

— Dr. Bill Purcell: "I was in a committee meeting of the North Carolina Senate when Sen, John Kerr of Goldsboro came into the meeting and announced that a plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers. Shortly, the announcement of the second crash was made and everyone knew then that it was not an accident."

—Donald Locklear Jr.: "I was in eighth-grade homeroom at Carver Middle School, we were preparing to go to our electives when our principal came over the intercom and told us that America was under attack! Those events that unfolded that day convinced me to become a firefighter. No, it's not FDNY but serving here at home in Laurinburg. In February 2002, I became an Explorer and now, 20 years later, I'm a fire inspector/training officer for the city of Laurinburg Fire Department."

— Deon Cranford III: "I was in my second year at UNC-Pembroke. I had stopped by my girlfriend's (now my wife) room in Belk Hall to meet with her before going to class that morning. We saw the events playing out on television in her dorm room, even saw the second plane hit live, but the reality of what was happening really didn't hit me until we left the building and noticed the clusters of students standing around campus. It was surreal — felt like something right out of a movie."

— Jessica Caulder: "I was going to classes at Gaston College in Dallas. As soon as the word started circulating on campus that the US was under attack it seemed like everything just stopped and we were all in front of a TV somewhere just in awe at what was happening! That's one day I'll never forget!"

— Sharon Rice Maag: "I was business office manager at Century Care on Hasty Road. My co-worker came in and said our home office in Gastonia had called and mentioned America was being attacked. We went down to the cafeteria which had a big television on 24/7. Several of us got there just in time to see the twin towers get hit. We were gasping and totally in shock over what we just saw. The rest of that day is a blur. It was a horribly sad day for the USA."

— Esther Lian: "I was at Poe Hall at NCSU in the lobby feeling nervous about a test I wasn't prepared for. A professor came out and hysterically turned the tv to the news. There was a building with smoke. Then a plane hit the other building. A girl from New York was crying and trying to call home. Calls weren't going through. I got her some tissue from the bathroom."

—Susan Funderburk Gainey: "I remember we were in 11th grade and I was sitting in Matt Brantley's Psychology class. We were all watching in disbelief of what happened and clear as day I still remember him saying "we're going to war and I could get drafted". Sixteen year-old me thought that was the craziest thing I'd ever heard because wars were our parent's generation. Not ours. Well sure enough look at the last twenty years.

— Misty Leigh Watts: "It was my day off from work at Scotland Memorial Hospital, I took my 4-year-old son Richie to pre-school, came back home and my 6-month-old Tyler and I went back to bed and a little while later my husband called me to tell me to turn on the news and then I went and got my son from school."

— Craig Shively: "I was in my ROTC class at Hoggard High School in Wilmington, I had just called the class to attention to recite the pledge of allegiance when the second plane smashed into the South Tower on the TV screen. I forgot the words to the pledge that morning. With the help of a classmate, we got through it, took our seats and many of us spent the remainder of the period praying. By that point, we knew it wasn't an accident."

— Devin Todd: "I was asleep in my bed at Francis Marion. My mom called and woke me up telling me to turn the TV on. I turned it on right as the second plane hit."

— Mary Lynn Melton: "I was in Bennettsville at Marble Park hospital working in a patient's room when I saw it come on TV I left immediately and went to get all my children together so we could be home together checked on my family in New York that night we had a vigil at the church holding hands with candles in the yard praying for everybody injured and dead and our country.

— Joni Davis: "I was at work, my son called me to tell Me about the first plane. I turned on the tv in the break room and we both saw the second plane hit. It was evident to us both that it was deliberate. Such a sickening feeling. I'll never forget and pray nothing like that ever happens again."

— Carrie Jones Rhynes: I was in chemistry class at FMU. Then I went to my very first day of work at the student medical center on campus. We didn't see one patient that day. All we did was watch the news."

— Erica Smitty Ratcliff: "I remember I was five months pregnant and working at Two Hawk on West Boulevard. They had a TV for training in the back, but this day our eyes were watching live footage of something we had never seen before. There I stood rubbing my belly, thinking to myself that I am bringing another child into this crazy world. May God be with us all."

— Sandy Kay Hunt: I was working home health at the home of Ms. Novella Morrison. I had just finished doing the dishes from breakfast and sat down with her to watch the news. We saw the plane hit the 2nd tower and both of us were shocked. All she could say was lord have mercy. It was a sad day in the USA that morning."

— Ashley Perry: "I was in child care class in high school in 9th or 10th grade. We were watching TV when we saw it happen. At the time, I believe my aunt lived in New York and I was so scared. I got home and started crying. My aunt was OK, thank goodness. That's a day I will never forget."

— Tamela Green: "I was in class and the whole school stopped that day and watched the news converge on TV."

— Jeff Maley: "I was living in Wilmington, at the time. I had a Motorola two-way pager that received news alerts. I remember thinking when I got the first alert that the pilot must have been drunk. The realization that this was an attack didn't hit until the second news alert moments later."

— Kenny Fore: "On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was on my way from Laurinburg to Rowland to visit a customer. As I was scrolling through the radio I stopped on a rock station where the DJs were following the tragedy live. I was completely shocked at what was being described. Sept. 11, 2001, in my mind, will always be the day that the world changed forever. God rest the souls of all those who perished on that fateful day."

— Vicki Jacobs: "I was home sick in the bed. My mom called me and woke me up and told me to turn on the TV and see what was going on. I was sick but laid on the couch and watched in disbelief."

— Eliz Ann Driggers Samuda: "I was getting a tire put on my car in Laurinburg. I saw it on their TV and when they put the tire on I rushed home and watched it and cried."

— Jerry Tucker Milligan: "I was walking in Clio, SC, and heard my neighbors talking about it. I immediately went in and turned on the TV. I was shocked and will never forget it."

— Betty Butler Giddens: "I was driving to court for jury duty. When I was standing in the hallway, I looked at others wondering if they had heard."

— Stephanie Cole: "I was in second-period history class in my high school in New Jersey. Our town was a military town so the entire day was silent. we didn't change classes. it took us two hours to get home on the buses because they were fencing off the entire military base and the traffic was unreal. I'll never forget that day."

INSIDE TODAY ...

— Sept. 11, 2001: A day we must never forget. Page 4A

— It was a day like no other. Page 4A

— As the decades pass, the act of remembering evolves. Page 8A

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