Most Mississippians were going about their typical morning routines on September 11, 2001, but it was one of those days in the history of the nation that everyone can recall exactly where they were when they learned the news.
Stephanie Bullard, Murray Collum and Amy Schepemaker were attending classes at Wood Junior College in Mathiston on that fateful day.
“Several of us were hanging out in the library at Wood Junior waiting for our next class to begin,” said Stephaine Bullard. “Someone came in and turned the television on when the news started reporting what had happened. I remember us all being in shock and disbelief hearing the news reports.
Collum said they did not continue classes that day, but about 250 Wood Junior students gathered at the flagpole to pray for the nation and the families and friends of those killed or injured in the attacks.
Jenny Moore was in class at The University of Mississippi that morning.
”I will never forget that day,” Moore said. “I was in class at Ole Miss. We watched the coverage on tv in one of the classrooms. We watched in silence and tears rolled down all our faces, for we knew what was going to come of this. I worried about my cousin’s husband because he was in the National Guard and I knew he would be deployed. He ended up serving three tours of duty in the war after that incident. I will never forget that day!”
It was school picture day at Eupora Elementary School that morning.
“When I brought my first graders to the gym to have their pictures made someone from the office pulled me aside and told me,” said Kim Herard. “By then the third plane had hit The Pentagon. I remember thinking we were at war and not sure who the enemy was at that time. Terrifying, tragic day.”
Melinda Allen said it is hard to believe but with limited internet at the time, but at Eupora Elementary School they were just finding out at the end of second period.
“Due to no television in my classroom, I took my ninth graders to the library with Debbie Bagwell,” Allen said. “The entire day was consumed with this horrific event. For 14 year olds, even they knew this was a life altering moment for them and for all those who lost loved ones that day.”
Mary Rumore was a second grade student and living in Dallas, Texas with her parents, Howard and Paula Rumore of Eupora, at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
“I was in second grade,” Rumore said. “My mom came and got me from school because the building she worked in near Dallas closed down. I remember how quiet it was because all of the planes were grounded at DFW airport. I think people my age remember it and knew the world changed that day even though we were young. I also remember a military-type plane flying low near us and being scared to death!”
Raleigh Richter of Maben was working with parking services on Mississippi State University campus that morning. Parking Services was partnered with campus police department at the time and that morning Richter said they were receiving all of the news over the Nation Crime Information Center.
Gail Dorroh was stripping wallpaper in her house that fateful morning.
“Andy called and told me to turn the television on and as soon as I got it turned on, the second plane hit the second tower,” Dorroh said. “I could not leave the tv. I prayed and cried the rest of the day.”
Throughout Webster County, church members gathered to pray that night for our country and national leaders. There was a general feeling of not know what may happen next. What would the world be like when waking up the next morning?
Michael Davidson of Walthall was in New York that morning. He and his crew of steel workers and brick masons were on helicopter rooftop of the Pan Am building. They could see both towers and both rivers.
“When the first plane flew over us, it was barely just off our deck, and as the angle of the sun struck the fuselage you could see the people’s faces at the widows,” Davidson said. “I saw a woman with blond hair with a look I will never forget. The plane went right down 6th Ave and crashed into the first tower in a yellow ball of flame …we were stunned. We had in the past seen low level flights before for the ‘tourist view”’ but nothing this low. We watched in horror thinking it was some terrible accident, until the second plane came from the south then it hit the second tower. It was then the FBI got on our radios and said ‘get down get down off your building your next!’ Because if you take down the Pan Am (Met life) you take out Grand Central.”
Because phones and computers were down, Davidson’s family in Webster County didn’t hear from him for two days.
“They were very frightened as my wife was fearful she had lost her husband and my baby girl her daddy,” Davidson said.
New York was like a different world.
”The city went from blue sky and lively to dark smoke and ash,” Davidson said. “Subways had ceased, food was scarce and the only way to get anywhere was on your own two feet.”
Davidson and the crew stayed in New York and volunteered for the relief effort. The crew drove heavy equipment to the staging areas.
“The American people are a strong people and can overcome any adversary,” Davidson said. “Our greatest problem is fear, and the politicians know that and use that for their own interest; that’s why this election doesn’t worry me .We survived and came back after 9/11 and we will survive and prosper against any political fear mongering .We are a great and can-do nation.”
It has been 15 years since the 9/11 attacks and that day has had a big impact on everyday lives in so many ways.
Mississippi District 35 Representative Joey Hood said 9/11 even had an impact on this year’s legislative session.
“I believer every citizen recalls where they were on 9/11 when we first heard that the USA was under attack,” Hood said. “The impact of 9/11 is still being felt today in our community, state and nation. In the 2016 Mississippi legislative session, we passed the Mississippi ‘See Something Say Something’ Act that encourages all citizens to report suspicious activity which they reasonably believe is related to terrorism.”
Eupora Mayor Dan Burchfield said from a person standpoint, 9/11 is his daughter’s birthday, and the solemnness of the day has always impacted their family on what should be a joyous occasion.
“From a community or social standpoint, I think 9/11 robbed America of its innocence,” Burchfield said. “We always believed geography and the oceans protected us from the ‘old world’ and its troubles. Now we see that being recognized ‘leader of the world’ carries consequences. The next terrorist attack, either from within or without, will come. It is not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’”