20 Years Later



Today the Sandscript is acknowledging a historic event that is tattooed in the minds of witnesses.  The terrier and utter confusion of individuals on September 11th, 2001 was unimaginable. It was a bright sunny morning yet no one knew how the events that followed would change the United States forever. Four ordinary airplanes would take off from three separate airports and would never reach their destinations. They were hijacked by members of the terrorist group, Al Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden. They had turned commercial airliners into weapons of war. At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. People were stunned. 

“No one knew how to react,” Mary Whitmer told the Sandscript.

17 minutes later United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. At 9:37 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon causing the White House and the Capitol Building to be evacuated. 


“Everyone was crippled with fear,” Mrs. Johnson stated.


At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed due to the plane’s jet fuel burning through the steel structure of the building. United Airlines Flight 93 was on route to crash into either the White House or the Capitol Building, but the brave souls on board prevented the disaster by crashing the plane into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. However, at 10:28 a.m. the North Tower collapsed destroying the World Trade Center complex.  Then at 5:20 p.m., due to debris falling on it and starting fires from WTC 1 and 2, WTC 7 fell, luckily with no casualties. Once the attacks finally ended the resulting body count was inconceivable.  2,977 innocent souls were taken by these events and today we are acknowledging those losses.

“One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 9/11. And here at this hallowed place, we pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice,” George W Bush: President of the United States 2001-2009.


The Sandscrip sat down with a few of Chesterton High School’s staff and asked them to recall and describe their experience on 9/11.


“9/11 is a topic I am very passionate about. I was passed on the responsibility of placing flags around the school for the purpose of enlightening those that walk by.  Unfortunately due to covid, I will not be able to.  Instead, I will hang the large flag and hope that those who walk past take a moment and recognize how devastating and traumatic the experience was.  It’s crazy to think that the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is creeping upon us, I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was working and the students were taking their Istep exams.  We were in the field house and I left to get extra pencils.  I looked at the TV and stood nearly paralyzed.   It’s strange looking back, how quiet everyone was.  No one knew how to react. I think 9/11 showed many of us to appreciate what we have because our family, friends, school, or anything we grasp dearly to our hearts can be gone in an instant ” Mrs. Mary Whitmer.  


“ I remember clearly what I was doing during 9/11.  I was in Saint Louis waiting to get on a plane to rejoin with my family in Chicago.  Every TV was lit up, everyone was crippled with fear. I remember vividly the feeling of being so scared beyond belief.  It finally sank when the airport closed down along with all other airports. I think it is important for students now to know that tragic things happen all the time, we can’t live in fear.  We need to be respectful of each other and what we might be going through. We are all in this together” Mrs. Johnson. 


“ I was a junior in high school and I remember being in AP English. We were about to take a quiz and someone knocked on the door.  My teacher went out to talk to him and we heard her saying ‘Oh my god’ over and over.  We didn’t know what was going on so we were all laughing.  My teacher turned on the TV and we watched the second plane hit.  Our teacher still had us take the quiz and she still graded it.  Overall, I don’t think any lessons were learned because well… Afghanistan” Mr. Joshua Coots.


“I think we need to recognize that all actions have consequences.  Our actions as an American government and an American society have consequences.  We feel like we are safe but in reality, we cannot control the actions of others the way we think we should” Mr. Phillip Long.


 “I remember Mrs. Zervos sticking her head in my doorway early in first block on 9/11 telling me to turn on my TV, and from the look on her face, I immediately knew it wasn’t good. One of the two World Trade Center Towers was already a raging inferno after having been struck by an airplane. There was some thought that perhaps it was an accident. However, we all then watched live on TV as the second airplane was flown into the second tower. We knew then and there that someone was turning our commercial airliners into guided missiles as we watched hundreds of people dying right before our eyes. It was the kind of day when every time we thought it couldn’t get worse, it did… it got much worse, all day long. In the wake of 9/11, there was a national unity born out of our collective grief as we struggled to process the tragic loss and devastation suffered at the hands of the attack. There was of course talk of vengeance as the shock of 9/11 turned into rage, and the hunt for Bin Laden and the 20-year war in Afghanistan is that legacy. But, there was also talk of working to better understand each other despite our differences so moderate-minded people in society can work to marginalize the radical-minded extremists. It’s a lesson we need to take to heart as a nation today, so we as a culturally, ethically, and politically diverse nation can learn to listen and respect each other despite our differences and compromise with each other for effective government, because democracy is not easy, and effective government in a diverse society is not a zero-sum game.” Mr. Robert DeRuntz.


9/11 would change the United States forever.  The detrimental actions of terrorists that day resulted in increased airport security and the Patriot Act.  As we think back to the terrible day, we must appreciate our friends and family along with the potential of others while setting aside all differences amongst us as individuals and as a society.