Gathered by Tom Holmes


Mary Colchamiro  Underwriting assistant.

 I was at work, in the cafeteria.  I was afraid as I remember my brother in law had worked in that building.  As it turned out he no longer worked there.  I called my mother who lives in NY.  She was at home and was fine.  She had been there the day before getting batteries for her hearing aid.  A day does make a difference.  Marty, my husband, was trying to call his sister and our niece, who we so worried about as they might be working in NY that day. [Marty and Mary moved to Oak Park in 1982.] It took a while to be sure that our family was ok, we were lucky.  After that, the terrible realization came to me of what they had done to my home.  Marty & I worked on Wall St. together  This was where I met the love of my life and now it would never be the same,  It was extremely personal.  As part of my business, I met people who worked at the top floor of one of the towers.  They told the story of how they escaped, how their co-workers didn’t.  My sister who worked at Sears Tower had to be evacuated twice that year because of threats and she would call me on her cell phone from the street and tell me how scared she was working there.  There were times when I looked out the window at work and would see a plane flying low, and be concerned.  Obviously, innocence was now gone.  I looked at thing differently.

Yoko Avramov, Preschool teacher

It was around 10am in the morning. I was at the playground with children. Suddenly, parents started coming to pick up the children from school. They all looked sad, and puzzled and said “you know, it’s because what happened.” , but didn’t want to discuss details in front of the children.   Many parents were working at Sears Tower: they evacuated and rushed to pick up their children. The school director explained the staff what happened later. Everything looked and sounded surreal to me. I remember the quiet, empty and clear September sky without airplanes on that day and following several days.

Hiroshi Yasuda, Musician

 I was in Denver CO, and I was in college. I was watching the TV at the school lobby with many of my fellow students, and felt awful about this attack. I could not believe what I was seeing on the TV, and the news made me sick.

Pete Neuman, Home inspector

 I was standing near my car on North Marion Street with real estate agent Steve Nasralla, having just completed a condominium inspection when we heard the news. 9/11 for me started  by thinking that the first plane to hit was just a horrible mistake. I remembered that an airplane had hit the Empire State building decades ago. As the events continued to unfold I found my way to a CNN broadcast and it was clearly an attack my reaction was that of disbelief and bewilderment. Those feelings gave way to horror in the hours and days that followed.

Marty Colchamiro, Office Manager for CPA firm in Oak Park

I remember seeing the event live on television.  It was mesmerizing watching this airplane flying along the Hudson and wondering why they were flying at such a low altitude.  Then a second plane and the crashes into the World Trade Center, where I had been many times before. [Marty and Mary moved to Oak Park in 1982.] I remember walking toward the building only to pause as a truck drove down into the garage.  I remember going to the very top to the restaurant.  Now on Sept. 11th I watched as two planes crashed into the Twin Towers and remember a truck going into the Trade Center and exploding.

 I was at home watching the morning new show.  I had a few extra minutes before leaving for work and then saw the images which are embedded in my mind and repeated on television.

I felt numb watching the events happen.  I was in disbelief that anything like this could or would happen.  I suppose you would say I was in shock.

I thought about the times I had been to the World Trade Center.  I remember my first date with my best friend and wife and took her on a helicopter ride from the Wall Street Heliport which flew to the face of the Statue of Liberty and then toward the, then being built, World Trade Center.  I remembered how I would watch the towers being built from my night job near Battery Park (lower Manhattan) looking out the window directly facing the Twin Towers and watching the progress day after day. I thought about the people who died that day and the horrors of how they died.


Mary Colchamiro

This Sept 11, I will feel sad for those who were lost, but proud that our country will has made a memorial at that site, that we are stronger and more aware, that we will always move forward coming back stronger no matter how hard the blow!  I do not think about my safety.

Yoko Avramov

On 9/11/01 everything looked and sounded surreal to me. I remember the quiet, empty and clear September sky without airplanes on that day and following several days.  This Sunday, I will probably think about the quiet, empty and clear September sky. I will think of the importance of peace not only for myself but for the children whom I taught. I was talking to a group of 5th graders the other day, and they asked” So, Yoko-sensei, what exactly happened on 9/11?” I was struck with the fact that the new post-9/11 generation is already growing up.

Hiroshi Yasuda

Recent Earthquake in Japan shows that there are many things that can threaten our life. Earthquake is a natural disaster and different from being attacked by Muslims, but I think how the Japanese government failed to protect people there by letting to build 54 nuclear

power plants throughout the nation. This is not a natural disaster; this is a man made problem, and so many countries have different problems in each area of the world. Humans created lots of problem on top of natural disasters.

Pete Neuman

10 years out my reflections are more about our reaction as a nation and less about the loss of life and violence of a decade ago. Washington’s rush to respond still has our military in two expensive and deadly wars while our most successful retaliation [Bin Laden] was accomplished with some great intelligence and a few heroic Navy Seals. Has it taken us 10 years to understand who our enemy is and how best to deal with him? I guess it’s true that armies tend to fight the last war.  I don’t think about being safer now, probably because [except for that day] most of us never really felt at risk. The country was under attack by a handful of radicals, not a nation, not an army and only for a few horrifying hours. The real assault, and much more successful, was on our feeling of security, invincibility and dominance as a society.

Marty Colchamiro

I will feel the same as I did on that day.  It is a milestone date but it doesn’t mean it is the only time I think about the event.  When I watch an old movie and the towers are in the frame I sometimes pause the video to look at them.  They were iconic and represented the skyline and focal point of lower Manhattan and of America.

 I will pause sometime during the day and focus on the NYC I knew and grew up in and the Twin Towers and loss of life on that day.  I will remember a former co-worker who was at the brokerage firm on the upper floors of the tower as well as people I did not know but mourn for.

 I have not changed other than to see not only the events of September 11th but other events where people hijack a religion or ideal and twist it to feel okay to kill people.  Whether it be NYC on September 11th or Oklahoma City where a building was blown up and people, including children, die for their twisted ideology.  I think that we are governed by the rule of law and think about the people who are governed by the rule of hopelessness.  The weapons of mass distraction very often walk on two legs.  We see and hear it every day in Iraq and Afghanistan and then we saw it on September 11th.

I certainly have not given in to the fear of that event happening to me, having flown soon thereafter and refuse to govern my life by those events.  Of course I am mindful of my surroundings, as all New Yorkers are, we walk like the rest of the country drives: defensively.  I will continue to live my life freely and not succumb to threats to shape my life.  I will exercise caution but I will exercise my right to be free.

September 11th changed us forever and yet there is a generation growing up where that it just a story.  The story is that we should never forget what freedom is about and what freedom might bring to us.  It is our resolve to be united in liberty which is what I believe America stand for.


Mary Colchamiro

I am now more aware of Muslims.  I feel bad that so many are blamed for the horrendous acts of the few.

Yoko Avramov

My opinion of Muslims hasn’t changed. They are polite and very respectful people. I think it is not right to judge Muslims because of a small group of radical individuals.

Hiroshi Yusada

The anger expressed toward America made me think about this country. I do not have much clear understanding or opinion about Muslims, but I do now feel unsafe being in this country. America is a powerful country, but the use of power is not making the world happy. 

Pete Neuman

My heart goes out to the Muslim community that must now shoulder the stigma placed there by

radicals justifying their world view and actions with the Koran. Unfortunately, this is the double edged sword of religious teachings that provide direction to most but are co-opted as weapons by evil opportunists.    

Marty Colchamiro

I had never really focused on Muslims and their religion but  I think that the majority of images that are shown on television is only of the radicals and hijackers of their religion. I do find that the fundamentalism of their religion is wide spread as I believe it is part of their belief system of their religion.  Of course there are fundamentalist Catholics and Jews but fortunately it is not radicalized the way it is in their countries or so I think.

Forest Park

Remembering 9/11

            This Sunday the thoughts of many people who live and work in Forest Park will drift back ten years to the day when Americans realized how vulnerable this country really was.

            Ernie Hines, a singer and songwriter who is in the internet music business, recalled,

The horror and disbelief of it all.  I was home waking up, flipping on                   the TV, in my bedroom (Channel 7) and began watching what the hosts                         were watching that mind-blowing morning.; I couldn’t believe my eyes.                      I was home alone and wanted to reach out and help those people in the                         “Twin Towers.” 

            John Wenglinski, now retired, was just beginning my new job as a reading specialist at Proviso West High School.

On 9/ll I had heard something about the first plane crash on the radio                 on the way to school and initially thought it was a terrible accident.                        As more information & speculation occurred in the course of the day,                        anger mixed with sorrow were my feelings.

            Sister Sarah Barrett happened to be on the campus of Southern Illinois University when the airplanes slammed into the Twin Towers.

Little did we realize then the ways life in the USA would never be the                 same.  This first attack against the country in the “lower 48” shocked us                        out of a certain sense of invulnerability.

            9/11 seemed to have a big impact on everyone who was interviewed.  Dave Feinstein, a nursing student, said that day will live in his memory forever, not as much because of what happened in New York but what happened to him in Gary, Indiana.

At that time, I was the owner of a restaurant/bar called the Old Har       Lounge in Portage, Indiana. Portage, Indiana boasted a 100% white            population. The town in a whole was very racist and closed minded.                        When someone is raised in a community like that, the views are passed             down and a lot of people share the racist closed minded ideals. It pains              me to admit that I was one of those people. We had just celebrated the                 Labor Day holiday with a giant cookout. I had to return grills to a location              in Gary, which is predominantly black.  While driving along Broadway in                 downtown Gary, a beat-up old car pulled up next to us. It was a young                        African man approximately 19 years old. He was dressed in gang colors                       and I became very nervous. The young man yelled at me from his car             window and said “I think they’re trying to kill us.” I responded by saying              “If we stick together we won’t let that happen.” He then responded with            “I love you brother”, and drove away. At that moment, my life was        changed forever. All of the prejudice views that I had seemed really                    insignificant. I wish I could find that young man and tell him how his             words affected me. At that moment I realized there is only one race, the                    human race. Since that morning, I do not pre-judge people by their race           or color anymore. I respect everyone on an individual basis.

            Hines said in anticipates reacting with anger to the recollection of the events which on Sunday which will be ten years in the past.

My blood will boil and my temperature rise as I experience/relive that                day all over again.  It affected me in such a profound way that I was moved to            pen the song, “ I Love America,” in defiance to the dastardly deed that had             been perpetrated against us.

            Wenglinski thinks he will feel differently on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

I  plan to pray for all of the victims & their families. I am more aware than          ever of how good Muslim people in general are; they nobly endure the various                   insults the ignorant hurl at them I am aware that in every group there are                fringe fanatics who bring only hatred .

            Wenglinski wasn’t the only one who had something to say about Muslims.  Sister Sarah said, “I have known many Muslims who are caring, hard working, wonderful people who were just as horrified as any other Americans.”

            In contrast, Hines said, “It can’t help be change the way you think about Muslims; who’s radical and who’s not; who wants to kill us, or who can we trust?”

            Yoko Avramov is the Director of the Montessori Language Academy in Forest Park.

I was talking to a group of 5th graders the other day, and they asked, “So, Yoko-sensei, what exactly happened on 9/11?” I was struck with the fact  that the new post-9/11 generation is already growing up.

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Tom Holmes

Tom's been writing about religion – broadly defined – for years in the Journal. Tom's experience as a retired minister and his curiosity about matters of faith will make for an always insightful exploration...