Readers' tales: How Sept. 11 affected your lives
We asked TBO.com readers how 9/11 affected them. Here are responses from Tampa Bay residents, some of whom were in New York at the time of the attacks, others who watched in horror from the Bay area. Many are still living with repercussions: loss of loved ones, fear of flying, loss of freedoms. Read reactions from TBO readers, then share yours in the comments section. Rich Jahnke, Tampa: "Americans realized for just a brief moment in time that others do make a difference. It is unfortunate that we all simply forgot and went back to our own lives. I am a very likeable person and do like to help others at all costs, but it does appear that I am in the minority. Will it take another tragic or catastrophe to simply start caring again? I hope not, but I do have my fingers crossed." Chris Paradies of Tampa: "I was just blocks away from the Twin Towers when the planes hit. In the weeks to come, I would become numb to the horror of so many faces of missing loved ones posted on bus stops and hospitals. The checkpoints eventually disappeared. Even the seemingly never-ending columns of smoke rising from ground zero eventually were extinguished, but I would never be the same. New York would never be the same."Scott Nichols: "I was flying into JFK that morning on a 7 a.m. flight out of Tampa and saw the Pentagon burning from the air. A man in the row in front of me was reading the news on his Blackberry and said that terrorists were shooting planes down. I've never fully recovered from the fear and strange silence that swept through the plane." Robert M. Reynolds, Lutz: "We have become a nation of sheep. We ignore the lessons of history; we allowed ourselves to surrender the Constitution to be safe (Patriot Act). We are treated as criminals now if we invoke 4th and 5th amendment rights." Melanie Gambone, Valrico: "My husband and I both worked as a pilot and flight attendant for the airlines. We had met before but never followed through on calling each other. After 9/11, he called me. I took a leave of absence and during that time we got to know each other while I was in Jacksonville and he lived here. We married in November of 2002, and have 3 beautiful children together. I try to think of something positive that came from that horrible day." Tom Paradise: "That day affected ever aspect of my life afterwards, my marriage, health, and my job. I was fortunate to have a wife to stand by me through these issues, but it was not easy and I was a not right for months afterwards. There is not a day that I don't think of what happened, I am still plagued by nightmares of that day and every time I hear jet flying close by I jump. I look at people now getting on a subway or plane and avoid crowds of people." Anthony Saitta, Apollo Beach: "Having lived through World War II, I find most wartime inconveniences after 9/11 inconsequential compared with what we contended with then. Everything from tires and gasoline to food and clothing were rationed and we had to submit our limited ration stamps each time we purchased such items." Bonnie C. Kauder, Tampa: "On Tuesday, Sept. 11, around 8:43 a.m. as I was sitting at my desk having my morning coffee, reading my New York Post, my boss walked into my office and said, 'a plane just went into the World Trade Center.' I took another sip of my coffee saying to myself, 'What is she talking about?' I begrudgingly got up and went to the big window in the common area and saw the burning building. The secretary said 'that's terrorism.' Then the second plane hit. Then my building shook. Then I looked at a colleague and we both said, 'Let's get out of here,' and we walked over 100 blocks to her apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I will say what got me through that walk was thinking about the Holocaust and the forced marches, and if they could do it, I could do it, too. I was thinking about Israel and the people of Israel who deal with this all the time. That's what gave me courage. And the streets, silent, not a sound! How eerie is that? "I will never look at a plane flying through the air without thinking that it looks like a bullet and wondering if that isn't what prompted bin Laden and friends to even think about using an airplane." Sharon Mikolay, Tampa: "The one thing I will never accept and get used to is all the lives lost. I had both family and friends perish in the World Trade Center and that is one fact of life that will never, ever change, even with the passing of time. When I fly, it brings back memories of loved ones. When there is a bombing or killing by terrorists, I can't help but think of the horrific act that took place on 9/11. When we have a fire drill in our building and because I'm on the 33rd floor, I think of all those people trying to get out of the World Trade Center and can't even begin to imagine what they went through or what they must have been thinking that day." Susan Porter Burwell, Tampa: "I lived in Piscataway, N.J., on 9/11. My next-door neighbor of seven years was killed in 9/11; his name was Harry Glenn. He was married and had one son, Jalen, that was 7 years old at the time. Jalen's birthday is September 10. My now ex-husband survived the second attack on the World Trade Center only because he woke up late. It affected my entire family's life. My friends and neighbors, the Glenns' lives have been forever stalled in time and Harry's widow, Sharon, has never recovered from losing the love of her life on that day." Marianna Stephens, St. Petersburg: "My children will never know the excitement of watching a plane arrive, pull up to the gate and greet a family member as they walk through the gate. Nor will they be able to sit with a loved one until the very last moment before they board the plane. Both were family traditions. I'm angry that I will never get to see the world from 'Windows of The World' restaurant. Every time I get a full body scan I feel as if the terrorists are sitting behind the screen pleased that an American is subject to this kind of search all in the name of national security. 9/11 has made me angry with our government for their flaccid response to all terrorists of the world. To close with a positive, 9/11 has reaffirmed that one must seize every opportunity given, because it may not be offered again. Carpe diem!" Marilyn Melendez, Tampa: "My Birthday is 9/11. I will never celebrate my birthday again, because I remember that day so clearly. Every year now sadness of that terrible day is all everyone remembers. Why should I celebrate my birthday on that day when there is so much sadness?" Kevin Snyder, North Port: "As of now, 9/11 has cost me a job, and increased the amount of power and influence that the Right Wing has. Our rights have been diminished, and fear is still rampant. And to boot, we have lost way too many young men and women in the name of the 'war on terror.'" James Sikorski, Tampa: "My wife and I are both 68 years old and we were in the planning stage for our retirement when 9/11 occurred. We could not recognize the financial impact it would have but since then investment interest rates have plummeted and it is very hard to live on a plan that just doesn't provide the necessary day-to-day income. This coupled with no Social Security increases for the past three years is forcing us to make life choices that we never thought we would have to make." Christina Guarneri: "I lost many nights sleep, and the second I found out that bin Laden died I cried my eyes out." Gaylee Mendenhall, Tampa: "The biggest effect on me was attending the funeral of a student, Jonathan Rossi, who had been killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. Nothing has the effect like seeing a kid in a casket dressed in his dress uniform. I remember having him sign a piece of artwork he had made in fifth grade, so when he grew up and became famous, I had an original." Anthony Connor: "We now must be groped and seen naked to board a plane while the elite bypass security. We must show our I.D. at the bank while corporations rape the public treasury to the tune of $27 trillion dollars and endless bailouts." Marion Smith: "I am more patriotic, not toward glib politicians or those whom I call 'MISleaders,' but toward ordinary Americans who pull together in times of crisis, who support our military, and who put their own lives at risk when they are needed." Darrell Glenn Parks, Thonotosassa: "On 9/11, I was at work when I heard on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show that the Towers were struck. I went into the office and told the boss to turn on the TV. I couldn't believe what I was listening to on the radio; I had to see it. Whoa, I said, we are going to war again." Jerry Martin, Apollo Beach: "As a hazard material truck driver (gasoline tanker) I've had to jump through hoops to renew my driver's license and other background checks. As a dependent born overseas to a military dad I've had to dig up documents to clear security." Frank J. Currie, St. Petersburg: "I choose to fly far less frequently for both business and pleasure. Business is done by videoconference or phone. Family travel has been cut way back. Family trips went from every 8-12 weeks, to only once or twice a year." David Gertsch, Port Richey: "I have witnessed media cover up item after item. I have watched our representatives vote on laws they have never read or discussed. I have watched the laws passed create bureaucracies over which there is no control nor do Congress people try to rein them in. I've watched wars created on the flimsiest of evidence and banks fleecing everyone in sight but not their friends and now we don't have the money to pay for their errors." Leslie Kidd, Riverview: "Two of the women (I worked with) had firefighter husbands, and we bought commemorative T-shirts to help fund the effort. My son, now almost 23, still has his, and wears it occasionally. One of the other women suggested that we convert our 'casual Fridays' into 'patriotic Fridays' and wear America's colors to show our support. It is this that I have carried forward. Though I've moved on to another job at another office, most Fridays you'll find me wearing red, white and/or blue, even if it's just jewelry." Ruth Howard, Tampa: "Ten years later, I find myself truly disappointed with many of my fellow Americans. They are going about their lives as though nothing ever happened, as though the security measures which are so very necessary are an irritant and an invasion of their 'privacy.' They complain about body scans, about having to take off shoes and belts, of occasionally even more personal security measures and on and on. They castigate those who attempt to carry out the security necessary to keep us safe." William Histed, Polk County: "The results of 9/11 changed virtually everyone's life. Our Middle East policies have become even more dysfunctional and costly and they have helped to drain our country in many ways, including economically." Sandy Kraff, Lutz: "My life has forever been changed because of 9/11 because, for the first time in my life, I felt the sadness of not being able to go home again; with the wondering as to whether I would have a home and people to go back to. Now, I know how people, on both sides of the Middle East feel. I remember my hesitancy of going to Israel for years because of the fear of visiting a war zone. And, when I went there, soldiers with guns in the streets and having my bag searched almost everywhere I went, was quite unsettling. And now this fear came home to me. Although other people gripe at the airport, I am so glad airport security has been stepped up. I gladly exchange a few extra minutes of inconvenience for never having to fear not being able to go home again." Ed Raciborski: "Every time my digital clock or watch show the time as 9:11, I remember the murders that took place that day and resent the thousands of Palestinians who celebrated the deaths of Americans and wonder why we continue to give them aid." Mary McCarthy, Tampa: "We try to remember that there are young men and women in the Middle East whose lives have been put on hold. This is something we quite often had forgotten but no longer do. We pray for them and for our country. Prayer is now a part of our daily lives; its importance is now on the forefront instead of in the background waiting for a time when we need God's assistance or to thank Him for a blessing." Dina DeMaria, Clearwater: "I take nothing for granted anymore. I take the time to smell the roses and eat more dessert and do all of the things I want to do. I don't put anything off anymore either. If I want to do something, I do it. I have come to realize that more and more, and its especially true as we grow older, that life is truly a gift and a precious one at that, that can be taken away in a blink, in a heartbeat, in an instant. Your world and the people you love that are in it can change. I make sure I laugh more. Feel more, love more deeply, appreciate my friendships, just enjoy everything I do more, much more. I try not to be critical and not care so much at small-minded people who still have no clue that we are here to appreciate, enjoy and love each other and make the most of it." Richard Crannell: "9/11 has taught me what my priorities needed to be, God, life, family, friends and country. Through it all, each of us who have been so deeply touched by the horror of that day have become a better person, husband, father, friend, neighbor, patriot, team member, citizen and, yes, American." Deb Hall: "Since then I've traveled in the Middle East, visited mosques, shopped in souks and met lots of people who view the world from an entirely different perspective. It's something I probably never would have done otherwise. My new normal is that now I live my life exactly as I see fit and if a terrorist has a problem with that, he's going to have to drop an airplane on my head." Richard and Marie Hartley, Sun City Center: "The most important 'new normal' that we face from day to day is having our servicemen & women serving in countries like Iraq & Afghanistan. Why we are still over there is so upsetting to both of us. What is the purpose of this? Would any of those countries come to the aid of The U.S.A. if needed? Definitely not." Jim Schuppel, Tarpon Springs: Yes, 9/11 has changed my life. It showed to live your life with virtue, honesty and showing help to others bears its rewards. We will never forget the men of 9/11 who were the heroes of the madness of terrorism." Marion Smith: "I am more patriotic, not toward glib politicians or those whom I call 'MISleaders,' but toward ordinary Americans who pull together in times of crisis, who support our military, and who put their own lives at risk when they are needed. That is because they are motivated by better ideals, by concern for friends, neighbors, and even for strangers." Michael Blitch, Brandon: "9/11 has led to an absolute reduction in our freedoms due to fear and panic. The terrorists won." Roger Freeman, New Port Richey: "My attitude is the most affected. Firstly by sharing in the collective fear generated by the 9/11 attack. This fear has positioned itself within my psyche and remains there." Kellie Harmon, Brandon: "I've found myself second-guessing everyone who might not be from this country. Every year I spend my wedding anniversary (9/11/2000) remembering the horrific events that took place on the day my husband and I were supposed to celebrate our first year together." Elizabeth Hughes, Land O'Lakes: "For me, the events of 9/11 haunt me on an almost daily basis. Not because I lost a loved one. Nor was I in N.Y. on that day. What I share with this day is the fact that it's also my birthday. Every time I have to recite the date of my birth for someone, I can see the look in their eyes. The worst is when someone notes how horrible it is to have been born on such a day, always forgetting that when I was born, 9/11 was just another day on the calendar. While this may seem insignificant, for anyone born on 9/11, we will always be linked to the horrors of this day. While everyone else celebrates a birthday with family, cake and ice cream, our day has a backdrop of continuous news footage of a plane hitting one of the twin towers. Somehow celebrations seem out of place. Family and friends act almost guilty saying Happy Birthday." Bobby Watkins: "9/11 made me enlist into the Marines in 2004 instead of going to college and playing football. Two tours in Iraq and now I am currently working for the government in the Middle East. My goals in life changed, attitude, personality and me as a person. I have completely changed 180 degrees since 9/11." Stephanie Hartmann, Safety Harbor: "I am a New Yorker and I used to work with a man that worked in one of the towers. When I heard that he had died I just could not believe it, that and that so many others died as well makes me mad every time I think of it or see a movie or a TV show with the New York skyline. Life goes on but we will never forget." Marcia Santino, Odessa: "My nephew was just 16 years old on Sept 11, 2001. The events of that day would affect him deeply and set the course for the rest of his life. He joined the Army on Sept. 12, 2006, and was deployed to Afghanistan in Aug. 2009. A few weeks into his mission he encountered a suicide bomber that snuck onto his forward operating base disguised as a police officer recruit. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, but completed his tour and returned home May, 2010. He passed away last month due to complications of his injury. He was the youngest of my brother's two children and a terrific, kind and gentle young man with loads of potential. Our family will never be complete again without him. He will never get married. He will never have children or watch his parents grow old. He is as much a victim of 9/11 as anyone killed that fateful day." R. Swain, Tampa: "I have not flown since 9/11, and I'm ashamed to say I viewed all Middle Easterners with a wary eye for about a year afterward." Kevin Snyder, North Port: "We have lost way too many young men and women in the name of the 'war on terror.' God keep us all safe." Fran: "I won't fly anymore." Tim Thompson, New Port Richey: "I was a 9/11 emergency responder to the Pentagon. I am a retired DC. Fire Department Paramedic Lt. Everything has changed from how we work to how we look at people. We are a more suspicious society." Jill VanderPol, Ruskin: I'm still angry about 9/11. All of the innocence lost and the more than 3,000 lives lost. Not to mention the families still grieving. My husband is a pilot and our lives were forever changed. I worry about his safety everyday. And, while I'm fine being scrutinized going through a security checkpoint, I think the TSA is irresponsible with its screening process. This week, my two-year-old was patted down at Cincinnati's airport. It's absurd. There's too much PC nonsense going on and not enough reality-based profiling. We should profile, because it was radical Muslims who killed our citizens. "I thank God everyday that my husband is alive and that he wasn't one of the pilots who had his throat slashed on Sept. 11, 2001. The best way I can describe my feelings is 'innocence lost.'" James: "Won't fly due to asinine government interventions that violate passengers and don't make us safer."