9/11 anniversary: Share your story - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

9/11 anniversary: Share your story

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Picture courtesy Patti Eick Hutzel Picture courtesy Patti Eick Hutzel

As the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, WTHR wants to hear your story.

Where were you when you heard what was happening that day, and how did it change your life?

How do you intend to mark the anniversary, and how best do you think the people who died that day should be honored?

Leave your comments below, or if you have a longer story, please email us and we may add them to this page. Please also let us know if you'd like to be contacted for a potential on-air story.

Time lapse of the building of the 9/11 memorial in New York City


From Ellen Farrow:

On 9/11/2001 I had one brother in law working in the shadow of the Twin Towers @ Chase Bank and another in the air on the way to a business meeting. When the planes started going down we did not know where the brother in law in the air was at that time and could not contact him. The brother in law @ Chase had been calling my sister in NJ to tell her what was happening. He went outside with several employees to watch the towers a few blocks away.

The brother in law in the air called us about an hour after the last plane crashed and the only concern for him was how would he be able to get home. Planes grounded and he was trying to rent a car.

The brother in law was outside the office when the 1st tower fell. My sister could not call him. We did not know how close he was when the tower went down. For 2 hours we were terrified he had been killed. We were the lucky ones. He had run for his life and dived into an open shop. When he could finally leave there he went back to his office and collected all the employees and walked them to another office across a bridge to get them to safety. From there he call my sister.

I remember the eerie silence of no planes or helicopters in the air. Sobbing in the car when I heard the mayor of New York had requested 6000 body bags just in case on the radio. Hearing the panic in my sister's voice on the phone trying to make sense of the unimaginable.

I went out to NJ 2 days later on a bus. 22 hrs later it was like being in a war zone. Police were around the bus station. On the way to my sister's house from the station you could see the smoke & glow from the fires still burning from the towers. The kids were home from school. The ONLY thing on TV was the fruitless search for survivors. Requests to bring personal items from the missing so DNA testing could be done. People did not walk the streets. If you went out at all it was by car and you went to your destination, practically ran in to the office or store, and the ran to the car on the way out. You went straight home. No side trips. Lots of flags in windows & lots of fear.

10 yrs later my nephew who developed Asthma when he lived in NJ after 9/11 no longer has the problem now that they live in Chicago. The brother in law caught in the fall out developed tonsil cancer 2 yrs ago. To date he is cancer free and still struggles to have a normal life again. The move to Chicago was a direct result of the attack.

My story is small and has a happy ending. I wish all stories had ended this well that day.


 From Patti Eick Hutzel:

During the time of the events of September 11th, I was working in the NY Metro area and we were immediately and directly affected within minutes of the first plane hitting the towers. Concerns initially came from a business standpoint as we had offices located in the Trade Center and our Business Continuity Plan was immediately in effect to secure business personnel, confidential information and insure an uninterrupted course of daily business.

Upon witnessing the impact of the second plane, concerns grew immediately deeper, not only from a business continuity standpoint but also from personal direction for our employees. It was clear that this was more than an accident and not only did so many of us have colleagues in the buildings, but family members as well. Though we were located off of Manhattan Island, this was happening in our front yard. Our office building was located a very short distance from Sikorsky Aircraft as they were a large client of ours.

Our building was locked down and our day was suddenly taken from a regular business day to a day of bustling, phones ringing, locating personnel, War Room meetings, discussions of how to support various world military organizations since they were clients of ours as well, and reassurance to the many Middle Eastern foreigners that were in the US working for us on 90 day visas. In the weeks to follow, we quickly moved from assessment to response to rescue to recovery, all the while reassuring those around us while trying to reassure ourselves. The entire surrounding area changed...no longer was it the hustle and bustle of the NYC attitude and the quiet bedroom communities that were on the other side of the water. Some communities were all but lost and there wasn't a single one that didn't witness a funeral in the coming months.

Several years later, I found myself living in Indianapolis, working for a different company and making new friends. I found myself talking with another newcomer in our office fairly regularly and our conversation somehow turned to our experiences that day. He had recently moved to Indianapolis from the DC area and had been working in the metro area when the Pentagon was hit. His description of the chaos, panic and attitude change that he witnessed were all too familiar to what I'd witnessed myself in the Northeast. Both of us clearly were effected even years later not only personally but in such a way that it refocused our careers on "rebuilding". We both worked in the construction industry...I as a designer / construction project manager, and he as a contractor / construction project manager...both of us now with disaster preparedness and recover experience.

We quickly found that this was only one of various similarities that we had. After a short time of dating and a fairly long engagement, we were married last fall. When we were choosing dates, September 11th was open. Both families expressed that they'd rather we not choose that date. Over the planning period, plans and decisions changed as they do and we found ourselves getting married on a day and in a place that we had not planned in advance for. Due to some family considerations, we changed our plans, simplified and moved our event East. We were married not 20 miles from where I'd witnessed the events, on September 18th, just one week after, on a day as clear as it was that day. Though the two events are otherwise unrelated, I can't help but make the association in my head when someone asks when we were married.

Just this past spring, only a few months after our wedding, we finally had a free day to spend together and woke up to a forecast of rainy weather. It was a dreary morning and seemed to be a perfect day for a matinee movie, something we rarely do. Upon exiting the theatre, much to our delight, we were happy to see that the sun had come out, clouds had virtually disappeared completely and it was still early in the day!

I don't believe we were even out of the theatre parking lot yet when we'd heard on the radio, simply by coincidence, that there would be a welcoming ceremony for steel from the WTC Towers arriving at the War Memorial downtown in about 30 minutes. Without conversation, we both knew we wanted to be there. We made a very quick stop home to retrieve my camera and discussed our best bets for parking given we would be rushing to arrive at the last minute. It seemed only appropriate that a former NYer and a former DCer be there together in Indy to see a portion of that day be respected. With haste in our step, we crossed Meridian just north of the Memorial as The National Anthem was being sung. I, being only a little over 5'-4" could not see the flag over the heads of those in front of me so sought out a spot on the small knoll just west of the path. It is from this vantage point that I took the photo accompanying our story.

When I got home that evening and was going through the photos I'd taken that day, this one stood out above them all. It was a moving ceremony and honorable memorial to not just those who perished that day but those who survived it as well. The Airman photographer is nameless to me but as he was capturing a symbol and moment of sacrifice for our country, I was able to capture him as well as symbol in a moment of pride for us. I feel lucky to have captured this image of him literally standing above the rest.

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