Archive for Friday, September 11, 2009

People ‘full of gray’ on 9/11

On the eighth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, University of Kansas students and Lawrence residents gathered to remember those who were lost on that day. People shared their memories and some held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the attacks.

September 11, 2009


Over the last eight years, Lea Orth has watched New York City recover from 9/11.

Still, Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center towers came crashing down, remains vacant.

“There’s been a huge empty space there,” said Orth, who lives in New York and is frequently in Lawrence for volunteer work and to visit her children and relatives.

It’s a hole that makes things different, even disorienting.

“The towers were so amazing that they really were the identifying feature there. You always sort of knew where you were down there, based on where the towers were,” Orth said during an interview on Thursday.

She had an office across the street from the World Trade Center in 2001. During the attacks, she was still in her Upper West Side home getting ready for an 11 a.m. appointment inside one of the towers.

She remembers the day.

“People walked by … everyone was just full of gray; their hair, their clothes, their briefcases,” Orth said. “People just walked out, it was very quiet. It was just an extremely eerie day.”

Orth knows people who lost loved ones. She knows people who escaped. She knows people who had to leave their apartments fast. She knows people who lost their jobs for a long time.

The tragedy has affected her in many ways. It’s a situation that’s made her more inclined to donate to food banks and made her respect for firefighters increase.

“When everyone else was running away, they had rushed in to help,” said Orth, who would habitually walk by the fire station and acknowledge the firefighters on her way to work.

As Americans commemorate 9/11, Orth will remember her close friend who witnessed a plane crash into the building and kill her granddaughter inside.

She’ll remember the clouds of smoke and ash that were visible for days, even in her neighborhood six miles away.


Christine Anderson 8 years, 9 months ago

That was an awful day. I was at work in a retirement complex. Had to open the door for a pharmacy delivery into the assisted living part of the facility. The delivery guy asked me, "Hey, did you hear about those two planes that crashed into the Twin Towers?" I told him, "So and so, that is a really sick joke." Only it wasn't a joke. I can't forget watching some very elderly folks crying as they viewed the news coverage on their t.v.'s. A couple were WWII vets who had survived Pearl Harbor. One of them said, " I never thought I'd live to see this again." Yeah, it's been eight years, but it's like a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that returns every Sept.

true_patriot 8 years, 9 months ago

It was a bad day. Really, a bad month or three.

It will be interesting to see in the long run how successfully our nation deals with getting sucker-punched. So far, the jury is out. We're far more divided today as a nation than we were before 9-11 and Iran is stronger, which is a victory for the terrorists. On the other hand, we are slightly less preoccupied with American Idol and reality TV and slightly more concerned about how the country is run, which I take as a step in the right direction, even if it's a baby-step.

If we self-destruct over getting sucker-punched by a puny, regional bully, it will be such a sad waste of glory of all those who have given their lives, from the American Revolution to our service men and women (and civilians) getting killed every day still in Iraq and Afghanistan.

bankboy119 8 years, 9 months ago


Completely unnecessary in this context.

For those looking for an inspiring story from this look up the story of Stephen Siller, a firefighter who ran 1.5 miles in a full 75 pounds of gear to help. He ended up perishing that day as well but there is now a run in his memory.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 9 months ago

You know I read this, then seeing all the old footage I agree, awash in a sea of gray.

Jimo 8 years, 9 months ago

bankboy - like you should talk. You've trampled this sacred ground enough. shush

salad 8 years, 9 months ago

"It will be interesting to see in the long run how successfully our nation deals with getting sucker-punched."

My father told me that the Monday after Pearl Harbor, all the guys who were 18, heck, even 17 were gathering in groups in the highschool halls getting everyone together to enlist en mass. The millitary recruiters offices were overrun. It was common for guys who didn't qualify for millitary service to commit suicide. My uncle had the same kinds of stories from a totally different part of the country. I taught in a highschool on 9/11, and let me tell you, NONE of those kids wanted anything to do with joining up. Their biggest concern was the disruption of their kooshy lives. Millitary recruiters only saw an increase in guys 35-50 wanting to join up, not the 18-22 year olds. 1940's = greatest generation
2000's = lamest generation

Jimo 8 years, 9 months ago

"It was common for guys who didn't qualify for millitary service to commit suicide."


"NONE of those kids wanted anything to do with joining up"

Maybe comparing today's military, as large and powerful force as ever known, versus the U.S. military 1940, an institution starved of resources and personnel for decades, isn't very apt? Maybe terrorism doesn't have a military solution?

KansasVoter 8 years, 9 months ago

salad (Anonymous) says… "NONE of those kids wanted anything to do with joining up."

1940's = brainwashed generation 2000's = most knowledgeable generation

Back in the 40's everybody believed anything that people in power said. Today we know that our government constantly lies to us, and george bush's war of terror has nothing to do with our national security.

salad 8 years, 9 months ago

Listen, Richard, my dad and my uncles were NOT brainwashed. And having actually worked with the kids of your current generation, they are truely the least knowledgeable generation. If we had to depend upon todays 18 yr olds to fight WWII, we'd all be speakin' German.

"george bush's war of terror has nothing to do with our national security. " True,...however, todays kids just don't wanna help with anything.

KansasVoter 8 years, 9 months ago

Yes, your dad and uncles WERE brainwashed, and I have to laugh when I see imbeciles like you try to claim that Germany had any chance whatsoever to conquer America. No country, not even the USSR, could beat America in a war, occupy our country, and force us to learn a new language.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 9 months ago

Maybe not then, but I'm not so sure about now. The Chinese are coming.

jonas_opines 8 years, 9 months ago

I'll try not to make comparisons about large groups of people mostly comprised of individuals that I haven't personally met, however any response to 9/11 that revolved around the military and large disbursement of troops was doomed to slow and painful failure by attrition. This has always properly been more a police operation than one of a traditional military battle. It's amazing that large nations Always seem to respond to guerrilla action in the same fashion.

StirrrThePot 8 years, 9 months ago

"1940's = greatest generation 2000's = lamest generation"

2000's = the iMe Generation, progeny of those dope smokin' 70's kids, I tell ya. They are plugged into their electronic gadgets telling their friends everything they are doing every minute of the day--OMG, SRSLY???

In all seriousness though, it was a different time and a different society. Today we are flooded with information coming at us from all directions and from many different sources. Some of those sources are completely legitimate, and some are not. We are having to sift through to find the truth and it is very difficult. What is important IMO is that we try to make sure our kids do not become the least knowledgable--that is, remind them of what their grandfathers and great grandfathers did, and that freedom is not free. To not repeat the mistakes in the past. We need to quit being friends to our kids and start being parents again, teaching responsibility and accountabillity and to seek out solutions to problems. It's a tall order, but we can do it--we have to.

One thing 9/11 did tell us, or at least tell me, is that we are capable of being a unified nation and put politics and all other bullcrap aside to try and make things better--to make this country better. I would love to see that unification again, though hopefully not due to another tragedy costing the lives of thousands of our people who were just going to another day of work.

gphawk89 8 years, 9 months ago

"No country, not even the USSR, could beat America in a war, occupy our country, and force us to learn a new language."


jumpin_catfish 8 years, 9 months ago

Why aren't everyone of the top terrorist leaders dead? We have failed the victims of this attack terribly and now we have a president that wants to close Gitmo.

Don Whiteley 8 years, 9 months ago

I was in Manhatten, 4 blocks away from the WTC on 9/11. We were evacuated from our office when the first plane hit, in time to see the fire ball going up from the 2nd tower.

That day was one of shock and disbelief. Afterwards when the millions of pictures of missing parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings and loved ones began to appear on every window and lamp post in the city; that was when it really tore a hole in your heart. It was the awful, acrid smell of smoke and concrete that filled the New York air for 2 months afterwards that reminded us every day of the murderous act committed against us.

I had always been down on New Yorkers, but during that time during and after 9/11, they made me proud to be among them. Volunteers came forward from every point in the city. American Flags flew in definance from every building, every car, even every bicycle and wagon. On 9/11, they had so many volunteers giving blood that the hospitals had to turn the rest of us away.

These people had experienced the horror first hand and the difference I felt in the response and the attitude between New York and Kansas was palpable on my return. Kansans only saw it; but few could really relate to it. As KansasVoter seems to know: it's the difference between reading about a Nazi concentration camp in the 1940s and living in one.

The affect on me lingers still. I knew and worked with people who were killed at the WTC, and the lingering sorrow and anger is permanently etched in my soul.

Arana 8 years, 9 months ago

We didn't want to fight because we didn't believe in what the war stood for. We didn't see how bombing another country could save what we had lost. It is difficult when a war is on a mindset rather than a people.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.