Washington Evening Journal

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Neighbors Growing Together | May 22, 2018

In remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001

Sep 11, 2017
In honor of those killed during the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Washington Fire Department hung its flag over West Washington Street. In honor of the 343 firefighters who were killed during rescue operations on the day. An empty firefighter’s outfit has been placed on the front of the ladder truck holding the flag.

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


It was math teacher and conflict resolution counselor Erik Buchholz’s prep period at the Washington Junior High School when he first learned of a jet airliner hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, New York.

Bucholz, now principal of Washington High School, said he was in the media center during his free time and the televisions were on when news of the impact came. He went to history teacher Mike Zahs’ room, and told his class that he thought history was being made as the events were happening, although he was unsure what was happening. Zahs then took his class into the media center, arriving in time for the students to see the second jet airliner strike the south World Trade Center tower about 20 minutes after the first strike.

“I guess I had the same feeling as many people in the U.S. had, which was just a feeling of disbelief of what was going on,” he said. “When the second one hit and reports going on at the time, and when the buildings actually came down, that was when your heart just kind of dropped to your stomach and you just have that pit of your stomach feeling of ‘oh my gosh, this is unbelievable.’”

History now remembers that on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 19 hijackers took control of four commercial airliners en route to California and taking off from Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. Two planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York, causing them to collapse. A third hit the Pentagon building in Arlington County, Virginia. The fourth crash landed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks caused the deaths of 2,996 people and the injuries of nearly 6,000 others. Weeks later the death toll climbed to over 6,000.

Buchholz said he didn’t discuss the incident in class that day, saying he didn’t know enough facts on what had happened to be able to effectively discuss the incident. The only thing he could tell them was the towers had collapsed. At the time there was no information available on what had happened or why.

In later days and weeks, it would be confirmed the incident was a terrorist attack from the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. The United States would declare a War on Terror, leading to military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Sept. 12, 2001, the students in the Washington School District observed a moment of silence in honor of those who had lost their lives in the attacks.

Buchholz said while the events were an important part of U.S. history, he still is unsure if he should have asked Zahs’ class to watch it, saying he was unsure of how junior high aged students would react to seeing an incident of that kind.

Today, 16 years later, Buchholz said high school students would have been way to young to remember the incident. The events are taught in modern history classes.

“A big thing to look at is as strongly as I believe in our defense, there are still time frames that people will act in a way they may be able to get around our defense and people in America could be hurt,” Buchholz said.

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