During the afternoon of September 11, 2001, people started coming to Canterbury Shaker Village until about 15-20 people gathered on the hillside near Garden Barn, overlooking Turning Mill Pond . Some were sitting on the benches or on the floor, quietly trying to figure out what had happened that terrible day. At around 5 a.m., Revere’s bell in the tower of the residential house started ringing, maybe once a minute until dusk and it was all gone. To this day, no one knows who was pulling the rope hanging in the central hallway that afternoon. Later someone who was there said that the spirit of the Shakers who lived there for 200 years was still present and wondered.
■ Robert O. Wilson, Hopkinton
On the morning of 9/11/2001, I was at our NH Infection Control and Prevention Epidemiology (NHICEP) meeting in Concord with other infection prevention specialists in our state. I will never forget the shock and the horror we went through. It was surreal. The attack forever changed our working lives – public health and emergency preparedness have become part of the job descriptions of infection prevention officers. I went to the University of New Hampshire to do my Masters in Public Health because of the attack. We had to learn about the imminent and very real threats from biological and chemical weapons, including anthrax, botulism, plague, tularemia and smallpox. Later, we experienced the problems of viral hemorrhagic fever, especially Ebola.
We have all had to become experts in surveillance and monitoring of infectious disease cases and outbreaks and in stocking supplies of personal protective equipment, vaccines and antibiotics. We have become very close to our friends at the NH Department of Health and Human Services and work closely with them to this day with the COVID-19 cases. The lessons of September 11 have taught us to be strong and resilient to manage the current pandemic. It is essential that we remember and continually strengthen our commitment to basic public health infrastructure which must remain prepared for future threats, whether man-made or natural. September 11 changed us all and claimed our innocence and naivety.
■ Lynda Caine, Loudon
Oh how it brings back memories. I was in grade 7 or 8 living in Conway and going to Kennett High School. It was nice and hot. I was standing outside my classroom waiting for it to start and a friend told me what had happened. I remember not believing it at first and then saw the news. I remember the silence was so strong. The shock and wonder of it all. I remember trying not to cry when I saw the second tower fall.
It was the day I realized the harsh realities of the world. The day when even tragedy can befall America. My world and my beliefs have been shattered. Even though we had no idea at the start of the cause, I knew deep down that it was some kind of attack. I think at first we were all speculating on Russia. It was the day I became a patriot. The day I truly learned the meaning of our national anthem and our pledge of allegiance. The day I learned what it meant to support America and its soldiers, police, firefighters and everyone else in need. I was humiliated. No jokes. No humor. To this day, I support my country and those who protect it from all ills, both foreign and domestic. God bless this beautiful country.
■ Robert Sirois, Epsom
I remember going to bed that night with the TV on and waking up trying to think of what to send my son for his birthday. I turned on the news. I lived in Yuma, Arizona, at Yuma Proving Ground. Most of the active duty members were special forces preparing to retire and were there and did. I was nanny for twins for an Army Ranger (E8) on his last tour before retiring. I was in college and taking care of the children while he was finishing his career. The world has changed. We were attacked and they came to our land. I’m a Navy veteran and knew living there with this family could change in no time. Fortunately no one was deployed to our house and I remember going to the military ball shortly after and the admiral told them all that they were not afraid of us and would continue to s ‘infiltrate our country. A religious coup that knows no borders or respect.
Of course, the base was locked and very conscious for a long time. People we knew died and were maimed by the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The only thing that comforted me was making spaghetti sauce and the song “The Day the Music Died” by Don McLean. I saw people skip laps, I called my pilot friends who had this route on Delta Airlines. I felt like it was a threat we still have to live with. Then there is the pandemic and drug addiction. I didn’t know it changed so much!
■ Jacqueline Jaye Wallace, Allenstown
On 09/11/2001 I was working for Saudi Aramco and I was living with my family in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It was late afternoon there and we had just returned from a dinner at the expat compound where we lived. Turning on the television as we normally would after dinner, we saw on the news a scene of the Twin Towers on fire. At first we thought it was an ad for a movie, but then we saw the chyron at the bottom of the screen, and we knew the truth. We stayed up all night watching the news. The next day at work, everyone was in shock, Saudis and expats alike, as we all focused on computer screens and watched the ongoing coverage throughout the day.
■ Paul and Linda Punturieri, Moultonborough
They went to work that day, so innocent and free. Take for granted our unique freedom. Men and women, those to be born, leaving behind families and friends in mourning. None suspected their fate, but hours later, until it was too late.
Meanwhile, the four-passenger planes boarded calmly, thinking about the day ahead, not realizing in a few minutes that they would all be dead.
As reports say, with knives and cutters, the hijackers cruelly wounded and killed surprised passengers, by strong-willed men. For no apparent reason, it seemed at that time. But American blood has been shed and people have died. Why, such an insane crime?
Then, with cruel irony, the terrorists “cleared” the passengers sentenced to a final goodbye. Their words were spoken, loved ones later shared, they knew their fate was near. Messages recorded, frozen in time, calmly telling a lasting love. What else did they have in mind?
Then, like those on board, the phone lines stopped. We know what happened next, they’ll never know. As the planes hit their targets, thousands of people died innocently.
Now, upon reflection, with a heavy heart with sorrow, We are not about to feel any real relief. Not only so many untimely catches, but fleetingly our freedom was also shaken.
Unlike the WTC which collapsed and fell, our faith is strong, our vision clear, we know what we need to do. So hoist those flags, sing patriotic songs. May many not have died in vain; God bless America, despite our searing pain.
A poem, written several days after September 11
■ Diane Lewis, Laconia