Your Week in History: 'Our very freedom came under attack' - Tucson News Now

Your Week in History: 'Our very freedom came under attack'

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The South Tower of the World Trade Center is hit by a hijacked airplane Sept. 11, 2001. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/TheMachineShops) The South Tower of the World Trade Center is hit by a hijacked airplane Sept. 11, 2001. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/TheMachineShops)
Smoke rises from the World Trace Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (Source: National Park Service/Wikimedia Commons) Smoke rises from the World Trace Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (Source: National Park Service/Wikimedia Commons)
A New York City fire fighter looks up at what remains of the World Trade Center after its collapse during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy) A New York City fire fighter looks up at what remains of the World Trade Center after its collapse during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy)
Aerial view of the Pentagon showing emergency crews responding to the destruction caused when a high-jacked commercial jetliner crashed into it during the 9/11 terrorists attacks. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Air Force) Aerial view of the Pentagon showing emergency crews responding to the destruction caused when a high-jacked commercial jetliner crashed into it during the 9/11 terrorists attacks. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Air Force)
A view of the World Trade Center 9-11-11 Tribute In Light from Jersey, City, NJ. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/KimCarpenterNJ) A view of the World Trade Center 9-11-11 Tribute In Light from Jersey, City, NJ. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/KimCarpenterNJ)

(RNN) - Everybody remembers where they were Sept. 11, 2001.

It was the first full week of my freshman year of college and I only had one Tuesday class – Sociology 101 at 8 a.m.

According to the timeline of events and adjusting the times to account for time zone differences, the first tower was hit about the time I would have been walking to class. That class was taught by a first-year professor and I don't think we ever stayed the full scheduled two hours.

The first day of a class was always uneventful and we were dismissed after about 30 or 45 minutes. I walked across campus to the bookstore. Along the way, I passed a girl who was describing something that sounded like a Michael Bay movie to one of her friends.

I didn't pay any attention to her, bought my books and walked back to my dorm room. My roommate didn't have class on Tuesdays. (This seems like a good time to note that strange and insignificant details have a way of sticking out when they're tied to something important.) He had gone to the bathroom, but the TV was turned to CBS, which was in the early hours of what turned out to be week-long live coverage.

I had no idea what was going on, and wasn't even totally convinced it was a real news broadcast. My roommate, who was an aviation student, came back in the room and explained what was happening.

I can't say for certain at what point this was, but I know both towers had already been hit (my roommate described watching the second impact live) and I think the reports from the Pentagon were just coming in. I'm pretty sure the fourth plane had not yet crashed and I don't know if the first tower had collapsed. (I estimate I got back to my room at 9 a.m. Central, which would have been almost exactly when it happened.)

I know the second one had not collapsed because I remember pointing out the obvious that they were the same building and it was just a matter of time before the second one went, too.

We stuck with CBS all day and all week, and in one moment of levity got some laughs at Dan Rather's expense when, after an extended cutaway, he returned to the camera with what we thought was a wildly different hairstyle. (I don't know if it was or not, but he at least had a pit crew come in and tidy him up a bit.)

There was brief speculation classes would be canceled, but it didn't happen. I went to Walmart that afternoon. I was studying architecture at the time, and the next day we were given our first assignment in a drafting class to build a model building that all of our drawings would be based off of.

The professor told us the model didn't have to be elaborate, and it didn't have to be sturdy because "no one's going to fly a plane into it." As it should have been, the joke was met with silence.

I still watch any 9/11 special if I know it's on. I also find it fascinating to go back and watch the news reports as they happened. The speech from President George W. Bush from the Oval Office is one I will probably never forget.

I know this is supposed to be about the week in history, but with all due respect to the deaths of Tupac Shakur (Sept. 13, 1996) and Huey Long (Sept. 10, 1935), the births of Colonel Sanders (Sept. 9, 1890) and Amy Winehouse (Sept. 14, 1983) and the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing (Sept. 15, 1963), I'm going to stick to just things from Sept. 11 this week, including things not related to terrorism.

Life and Death

The terrorist attack claimed 2,996 lives. Nearly all the notable people who died Sept. 11, 2001, are famous today because of the event. One exception, however, is TV Producer David Angell. Angell was aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which was the first plane to be hijacked, and he was killed when it struck the World Trade Center.

Angell was famous before 9/11 for being the co-creator of Frasier, for which he won numerous Emmys. He had also been a writer for Cheers and Archie Bunker's Place. Following his death, the American Screenwriter's Association named an award in his honor.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens died Sept. 11, 2012, during an attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Stevens was the eighth American ambassador to die in the line of duty.

Several famous people either have or will have Sept. 11 on their headstones, including one linked to John Wayne.

Earl Holliman was born Sept. 11, 1928, and appeared in The Sons of Katie Elder. He plays Matt Elder, one of Wayne's younger brothers in the film. Holliman also won a Golden Globe for his role as Jim Curry in The Rainmaker.

Two famous actors died on Sept. 11. Oscar winner Jessica Tandy, who played Daisy Werthan in Driving Miss Daisy, died in 1994, and Emmy winner John Ritter died in 2003, while filming his show 8 Simple Rules. Ritter had previously been notable for his roles in the Problem Child movies and as Jack Tripper on Three's Company.

Author William Porter, better known as O. Henry, was born Sept. 11, 1862, Dylan Klebold, who was one of the shooters at Columbine High School was born Sept. 11, 1981, and Janet Parker, who was the last person to die from smallpox, died Sept. 11, 1978. Parker was exposed to smallpox after a lab accident released the virus. She was initially misdiagnosed and died a little more than two weeks after the smallpox diagnosis was confirmed.

Three important football figures also have a connection to Sept. 11. Johnny Unitas died in 2002, and fedora-wearing coaches Paul "Bear" Bryant and Tom Landry were born in 1913 and 1924, respectively.

Overlooked Anniversaries

Henry Hudson discovered Manhattan on Sept. 11, 1609, Oh! Susanna was first performed Sept. 11, 1847, the Hope Diamond was stolen Sept. 11, 1792, and ground was broken for construction of The Pentagon on Sept. 11, 1941.

Something About Sports

Major League Baseball canceled all games following the terrorist attacks in 2001 through Sept. 16. The NFL canceled its games scheduled for Sept. 16 and 17, and Division 1 college football canceled its games scheduled to be played Sept. 13 and 15.

The first race at the Milwaukee Mile was held Sept. 11, 1903. It currently hosts NASCAR Nationwide Series and Truck Series races, and is the oldest operating racetrack in the world.

Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's all-time hits record Sept. 11, 1985. It was also the day in 1928 that Cobb had his last plate appearance.

The Week in Warfare

The Battle of Stirling Bridge was fought Sept. 11, 1297. William Wallace led his Scottish Army to a decisive victory by not allowing the English forces to cross a narrow wooden bridge. Wallace allowed a small group to cross the bridge to attempt an ambush and overwhelmed the small force, seizing control of the bridge and forcing the English to retreat.

In Braveheart, the battle is notable because it is where Mel Gibson gives his famous speech, but the battle - heck, the entire movie - is full of historical inaccuracies, the most notable of which is the absence of the bridge.

George Washington pulled out one of his famous win while losing escapes at the Battle of Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777. The Colonial Army lost three times the men the British lost and were soundly defeated after being outflanked due to a command blunder by Washington.

But a counterattack held the British off long enough to allow Washington's army to escape without being captured. The retreat, however, left the capital city of Philadelphia unguarded, and it was occupied by the British Army two weeks later.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Sept. 11 is No News is Good News Day. Seems appropriate.

Preview of next week

"O say can you see…"

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