Citizens Still Mourn 9/11 on the 20 Anniversary


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The World Trade Centers after the airplanes flew into them. The first tower was struck between 93 and 99 floor and the second tower was hit 77 and 85. “Then I thought about how they were going to be fighting fires and doing rescues for days inside of those towers,” Thompson said.

Sierra Karner, Social Media Director

Smoke fills the sky for blocks on end.

A nightmare came true.

Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist group al-Qaeda attacked the United States.

The World Trade Center was a financial building complex in Manhattan. There were four airplanes hijacked by al-Qaeda in Boston that carried out the attacks. The World Trade Center was rebuilt and opened in 2014.

The World Trade Center opened in April 1973 and became a building complex. It was built a couple of blocks northwest of Wall Street. The buildings were a central facility used for businesses and government agencies involved in international trade. Mike Thompson, a former police officer and firefighter was able to go visit the Twin Towers before they fell down. 

Thompson was with the Ballardsville Fire Department and later became a police officer at the Louisville International Airport.“That whole day of 9/11 has an extra special significance to me. Not because of all the civilians that died but because of all the police and firemen that died. That was a very troublesome day because we sat there and heard everything live, the 343 as they were trying to save everybody,” Thompson said.

Around 8:30 a.m. the planes took off from the Logan Airport in Boston. By the time they got to New York, they still had almost a full tank of gasoline. So when they crashed into the buildings they were on fire for almost a month before firefighters were fully able to extinguish it. The next couple of days were so odd. “When we started watching it unfold on the news as it was happening, the thing that hit me was ‘Oh my gosh I’ve been there, I’ve been on top of that building.’ It added more of a realism to it, to have been there and seen it,” Thompson said.

Being a firefighter added a new perspective for Mike Thompson and allowed him to view the tragedy from multiple sides. “Not just the tragedy of all the civilians there but as a firefighter, you begin to think what would I do if this was in Louisville, what if I was there. Then all of a sudden, unexpectedly the first tower fell. You think ‘Oh my gosh’ because as a firefighter you know that there were firefighters inside of that building trying to rescue people,” Thompson said.

Nobody really fathomed the fact that the buildings could fall. You just thought that it was going to exist forever. “It’s weird because it doesn’t feel like it’s been 20 years, but I can tell you every year around this time there is a feeling. So it’s like the day that it happened, that whole day was kind of numbing to me personally because I was at work, and then as soon as I got home we were glued to the television until late that night. The next two days were so surreal because it was like you almost felt like you didn’t know how to feel because nothing like that had ever happened in our lifetime.” Thompson said.

When something as significant as 9/11 occurs, most people associate it with a specific thing that they remember. “I always associate it with the weather, the two days after I will never forget because they were kind of like a temperature like it was today and then the sky was absolutely clear. There was not a cloud in the sky and I remember standing outside of work and we would look up and just think we are seeing something that we’ve never seen before.” Thompson said.

There is now a memorial in place of where the Twin Towers once stood. There was a Callery pear tree that is now known as the Survivor Tree; it was nursed back to health and placed back at the memorial by the New York Department of Parks and Recreation, in 2010. The new World Trade Center opened in November 2014 and 71 of the 103 floors are office spaces. The impact of 9/11 is still present today with the remains of two victims being identified days before the 20 anniversary.

As 9/11 approaches every year we continue to remember the lives lost in this tragedy and friends/family continue to go and visit the memorial in remembrance of loved ones lost.