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Remembering Sept. 11

Christine Ina Casillas
Fire Fighters in Avon 9-10 MK/ Mk edit
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The Sept. 11 attacks on the twin towers in New York City have, two years afterward, left residents in the valley with mixed feelings – some say the memories will stay with them always while others say they’ve mostly forgotten about the disaster.

It has been two years now that the war on terrorism also became a theme in the hearts and minds of Americans around the world, and in the valley.

“When anniversaries come around, it hits people hard,” said Avon resident Josh Benedict. “Even though we, as humans, are so resilient, you still feel bad and are brought right back to that moment.”

For Avon resident Allison Krausen, the attacks will be in her memories for years to come. Krausen was a student at Princeton University and most of her friends and peers lived and worked in New York City.

“We hadn’t started school yet and there were a lot of memorials and vigils for the students at Princeton who died, Sept. 11,” she said. “The memory of it is still so intense. There were so many young kids who passed away in the fall of the towers.”

Abnormal day

On the morning of the attacks, Krausen woke up early to go jogging – it was a normal day for her. One of her roommates had left town, headed for home in New York, and Krausen had no clue that the first tower had been hit by terrorists in a hijacked plane.

“I was running and then I heard a TV with the volume up pretty loudly,” she said. “The first thing I heard was the announcer saying, “We’re looking at what is left of the New York skyline.’ It was crazy.”

Most students on campus stood outside, trying with their cell-phones to reach people they knew or loved in New York.

“Everyone was in awe,” she said. “We were all sitting in front of the TV, watching it.”

The collapse of the twin towers had killed thousands of men and women. And the days and months after the attacks left many people in limbo, wondering what had happened to family members, friends and simple strangers caught in the tragedy.

Phone lines remained busy as people tried to reach those who might or might not have been trapped inside the buildings or who were harmed outside the crumbling inferno.

Several months later, after the wreckage had been cleared, Krausen went to Ground Zero.

“Walking past (Ground Zero), there was such an ominous feeling,” she said. “There were walls full of photographs and flowers everywhere. You don’t have to be there to appreciate the tragedy.”

Miserable memories

Public safety officials from every state helped at Ground Zero, said Kathy Warren, spokeswoman for the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

“There were people standing on the sides of the roads lighting candles,” Warren said. “A lot of people helped with water and food so the firefighters wouldn’t get dehydrated.”

Elementary school students who attended a presentation Wednesday at the Avon Library in commemoration of Sept. 11 said they also knew about the attacks from television.

Other residents, with friends who witnessed the attacks first-hand, said they are still haunted by the attacks.

“Even for us, looking at it reflectively, it’s horrible,” said Avon resident Michelle Benedict. “After the attacks, there were people walking around the city seeing posters of people missing in the attacks. Wives looking for their husbands. The people missing – all their families looking for them.”

It’s hard to think about, said Josh Benedict.

“You think of all the people right now, and it’s an anniversary for so many of them,” Benedict said. “Almost everyone knows someone involved in the attacks.”

And for others, the war on terrorism still is a cause worth fighting for, said Doug Tom, a Breckenridge resident who works in Avon.

But he also said that he’s bothered by the continued coverage of the attacks.

“How long are we going to keep on showing the towers falling?” he said. “How long is this going to last?”

Tom said he hadn’t thought about the attacks in a long time.

“It’s been two years already,” he said.

Vail resident John Foster appeared to agree.

“I think a lot of people have forgotten about it,” Foster said. “But I continue to support the troops, and (I support keeping) them out of harm’s way.

“I think the whole war on terrorism … I think we need to continue to put pressure on terrorists,” Foster said, “and tell them to give up and leave us alone.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.


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