Sarah Stultz: How will you honor the fallen from 9/11?

Published 10:46 pm Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

This week I have begun work on a special section that will come out soon commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

I was a senior in high school the day of the 9/11 attacks, ignorant at that time of many of life’s hardships. I lived in southwestern Virginia, blessed my whole life prior to that point by men and women who came before and who served to protect our country so we could enjoy the freedoms of this nation.

As a high school student, I think I took for granted many of the blessings we have in this nation — that is, until that day when our whole nation was forever changed.

I remember sitting in shock when another teacher came into my classroom and told my teacher to turn on the television. A plane had just struck the first World Trade Center tower, and soon after a second plane crashed into the second tower.

I remember feeling a sense of helplessness and horror initially as I watched these events unfold. Then came news of the Pentagon and a plane in Pennsylvania.

As the Roanoke Times, my hometown newspaper, described it the next day, it was a “day of terror” for this nation.

After that initial horror, however, I will never forget the feeling of unity that swept across our country — something that I wish so desparately would return and that I have thought about often the last few years. Our nation is everything but unified at this time.

This week I am interviewing local firefighters and police officers about their memories of the day, as well as a former Tribune photograper who witnessed the planes crash into the World Trade Center towers that day.

Reporter Tyler Julson will be interviewing a handful of teachers about their experiences in the classroom, and we also plan to share our own staff memories.

I hope you will take the time to read the stories and reflect on your own experiences from that day.

We have much to be grateful for in this nation, and there are many who sacrifice on a daily basis to protect our communities and country.

I hope this year we can all set aside a few minutes to honor all those who lost their lives on that unforgettable day 20 years ago and to recognize  those still here who continue to serve.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.