Remembering 9/11

Tonka teachers share their memories

Kaitlyn Minet, News Editor

September 11, 2001 is a sensitive  memory for many Americans and some remember the day clearly.

The Winnetonka High School staff have different stories of what they were doing, their surroundings and thoughts when they heard what was happening.

The attack brought America to its knees, but afterwards helped many communities and states bond with each other; as many relied on help to re-group and plan.

Physics teacher, Brice Jensen was 12 years old and at school during the attack.

“We were in class when the teachers kind of started to tell us what was happening but then they moved the whole school into the library and put on several TVs and we were just watching. No one was explaining because no one really knew what was going on, but they thought it was important that we were watching it because it was something pretty major,” Jensen said.

Many of his classmates did not know how to react.  They did not know if they should be scared or worried.

“I wasn’t scared because I was so young and didn’t really understand the global impact on how serious this was,” Jensen said.

Visual Arts teacher, Kerri Cassity was 36 and at home, when she was interrupted by the announcement.

“I remember being in shock when I saw the first few images, but then the LIVE feed showed the second airplane going into the World Trade Center and at that point I wondered if this was a hoax, if someone had altered a video. When I saw the Pentagon fire a bit later, I knew it was real and became scared, wondering if there would be catastrophes and when this would all end. I think I got a bit panicky then because I wanted to hurry and go to my daughter’s school to make sure that the building and my child were okay,” Cassity said.

The aftermath was just as devastating as the event itself.

“Seeing the crater in the earth where the World Trade Center towers once had been was not easy, but we had a more difficult time in St. Paul’s Chapel, the church across the street from the WTC that hosted the recovery workers.  It is in this church you see so many of the photos and mementos of 9/11 and it is emotionally overwhelming,” Cassity said.

History teacher, Robert Burdick was 39 and here at Tonka teaching like a regular day.

“I was here at Tonka on 9/11. I was walking down the B Hall by Mr. Wendt’s classroom in the old B4 when he popped out of his classroom and said, ‘Hey Bob, the craziest thing is on the TV right now. Someone accidentally flew a plane into the World Trade Center Tower.’ So I walked in to take a look. We had TV’s mounted from the ceiling in every room back then. I stood and watched the building with a hole in it and smoke coming out when a second plane smashed into the other tower. Joe Wendt and I watched as CNN kept talking and we discussed all the possibilities of why two planes might crash into two buildings on the same day. Terrorism was not high on the list, radar malfunction was on the list. We were mostly confused until later that day when the news helped to clarify things,” Burdick said.

After the attack no one knew how to feel. Cities all over the world were effected.

“I was not scared at the moment, mostly confused. The next week no airplanes flew anywhere in the U.S. Except military planes. There was one plane that circled KC every day in a big wide loop and that was an F16 protecting the city from any other possible attack. You could see it every day from the outer C hallway windows. It was weird to go outside and not see or hear any airplanes in the sky,” Burdick said.

Chemistry teacher, Jennifer Scott-Burns was 27 and driving her son to his check up at Ft. Leavenworth.

“I remember watching the second plane hitting and sitting there numb. I remember watching the Towers fall and crying uncontrollably, knowing that there where so many innocents dying. I remember hearing about the Pentagon and knowing that there were military personnel going about their daily jobs who lost their lives, not on the field of battle, but in a senseless act of violence. I remember learning about the passengers on the Flight 93 and their bravery. The days following though are a blur. I was busy trying to help my husband deal with his stress as a Navy Recruiter, with my older son and his emotions, with my own emotions in coming to grips with it all,” Scott-Burns said.

Everyone was shocked and confused. Nothing made sense because nothing like this had ever happened before.

“This was an extreme that nobody had envisioned. Then to see the Twin Towers fall, it was all just overwhelming. I think at first I didn’t want to believe it, maybe it was a mistake. Then the second plane flew into the the second tower with cameras rolling. At that point the whole country knew it wasn’t a mistake. As a military wife, I knew something was very very wrong and the military would be on high security alert,” Scott-Burns said.

September 11th was a big moment for America. Even though most of high school students do not remember it clearly from their own memories, it is still understood to be  important due to the impact it had on America and the world.