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The Anniston Star • Sept. 11, 2011 • 1G

IN MEMORY The Anniston Star

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The day that changed america september 11 | 2001– 2011


The Anniston Star

Page 2G Sunday, September 11, 2011

— WHAT’S INSIDE —

THE DEPOT: A decade later, the depot slows down | Page 3

PATRIOTISM: Old word takes on new meaning | Page 4

PEARL WILLIAMS: J’ville mother honors memory of son | Page 5

WHERE SEPTEMBER NEVER ENDS: At McClellan’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, memory of 9/11 is always fresh | Pages 6–7

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

A test of the Tribute in Light rises above lower Manhattan, Tuesday in New York. The memorial will light the sky this evening in honor of those who died 10 years ago.

UNITY 9/11 brought us together ... we thought an essay By Liz Sidoti Associated Press

9/11 SCARS: Muslim Americans face uphill battle after terror attacks | Page 8

— ONLINE —

See The Star’s original 9/11 coverage from 2001 online at Annistonstar.com

— CONTRIBUTORS — Brian Anderson Laura Camper Matthew Creamer L.E. Forster Stephen Gross Ashley Hall J.C. Lexow Tim Lockette Laura Johnson Matt Korade Patrick McCreless Richard Raeke Angela Reid Nathan Solheim Cameron Steele Trent Penny Bill Wilson Cover: AnnaMaria Jacob

WASHINGTON — We were one. Or so it seemed — for a while, at least. “America is united,” President George W. Bush proclaimed a decade ago after the horror that terrorists wrought. And it felt that way. Not Republicans. Not Democrats. Just Americans clinging to one another as we coped with the attacks on our freedom, on our security, on our way of life. We mourned together, raged together, resolved together. But it wasn’t long before the perception of a united America gave way to the reality of division. Political polarization became the norm. And partisanship, gridlock and a loss of faith in institutions returned in force. As diverse as it is, is this country capable of being truly united? And if we were, would that really be a good thing? Americans come together spontaneously or, perhaps, instinctively at times of tragedy and trauma. We always seem to be on the same page when it comes to our core principles. We want America to be free. We want America to be secure. And when those tenets are violated, watch out. Consider the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and WWII, perhaps the last time the nation was — or, rather, felt — truly unified. That is, until 60 years later when war came to America again. In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, there was almost unanimous support for going after al-Qaida, an anomaly for an American public that usually agrees on little. We wanted to win, to make the bad guys lose. At the end of the day, al-Qaida was not targeting Republicans or Democrats. It was killing Americans. And Americans on the whole wanted to fight back. But was that unity? Or was that simply a hunger, a yearning for it in a nation whose motto for nearly two centuries was the Latin “e pluribus unum” — “Out of many, one”? Whatever the answer, it was rare — and fleeting. Ten years later, our politics are a lot like they were before 9/11. And, perhaps, worse. Americans, and the leaders we elect, struggle to find common ground, if they’re trying at all. At a time when so many hunger for it, is unity anything more than a passing thought? We face enormous, decades-old problems. Our willing work force can’t find jobs. Our housing market is weighing down a fragile economy. We face mounting debt threatening to crush generations ahead. Our safety net — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid— is in critical condition. Our schools drastically lag behind those of other nations. Conventional wisdom would say it’s frustrating, maybe even sad, that our leaders can’t seem to come together to fix these woes — no matter which political party is in power. But it’s also totally understandable. A diverse nation of people with vastly different ideas can never truly be unified. And here’s something else: Maybe, just maybe, it shouldn’t be. Doesn’t a healthy democracy depend on dissenting viewpoints? And don’t controlled disagreements make us who we are? Wouldn’t actual unity prevent growth in a nation whose best times have come with — or come from — great change? Yet if unity is unattainable, disunity can be toxic. Just look at this summer’s debt debate. It further soured an already surly American public on the ability of the federal government to work, much less solve the nation’s problems. Nevertheless, there are moments when we’ve

spoken together as much as is possible. The period immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, was one of them. The following weeks saw Congress pass bipartisan measures to create a Department of Homeland Security and give law-enforcement agencies sweeping search and surveillance powers over U.S. citizens. And Americans across the ideological spectrum supported their leaders. But not indefinitely. That one-nation feeling started unraveling within months as the sense of unity gave way to our differences. Political polarization rose, not just on Capitol Hill but in communities across America. So did anger, particularly over the Bush White House’s reasoning for pre-emptively attacking Iraq. And although many expected it, we didn’t get hit again. But we also didn’t catch Osama bin Laden or crush al-Qaida quickly. So, predictably, Republicans and Democrats starting seizing on that reality to try to gain power. “I have no ambition whatsoever to use this as a political issue,” Bush said in January 2002. That same month, White House political adviser Karl Rove urged Republicans to make the war on terrorism central to the fall congressional elections, saying: “We can go to the country on this issue.” After the 2002 election, a Pew Research Center survey showed that partisan polarization had reached a new high as both Republicans and Democrats became more intense in their political beliefs. That helps explain why the 2004 presidential race so split the country. The campaign was centered on 9/11, national security and questions of character. The partisan polarization persisted well into Bush’s second term. By January 2006, Rove was vowing to again make the “war on terror” a central campaign issue, saying: “Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world. And Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world.” It didn’t work. Democrats swept back into power, taking control of both the House and Senate. The country was divided, and bitterly so. Then came Barack Obama. He stoked the notion of unity from Day One of his presidential campaign with these words: “In the face of a politics that’s shut you out, that’s told you to settle, that’s divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what’s possible, building that more perfect union.” Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, invoked the 9/11 attacks, spoke to our common principles and, perhaps, seized upon our yearning for unity, saying: “Politics doesn’t have to divide us on this anymore — we can work together to keep our country safe.” People flocked to him. His message resonated. And he won the presidency. As Obama took office, the nonpartisan Pew polling institute found that public expectations for partisan cooperation were as great as they were in January 2002. But that feeling didn’t last, either. As Americans mark a decade since Sept. 11, 2001, who among us thinks that the nation today is one of unity, of a single sense of purpose? In May, as he announced that American forces had killed bin Laden, Obama re-summoned that spirit. “Tonight,” he said, “let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.” And, for a few hours, most of the United States of America again felt united — even if we never really were, even if that’s a notion that a seething, bubbling, contentious democracy of 300 million people can never really achieve.


The Anniston Star

Sunday, September 11, 2011 Page 3G

A decade later, the depot slows down By Cameron Steele

lion in total sales revenue the depot generated in fiscal 2010 — including revenue from pubCalhoun County’s livelihood lic-private partnerships — came has long been connected to war. from the sale of combat vehicles Ten years after the Sept. 11 or parts to foreign countries, attacks that spawned the wars depot public affairs officer in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, Clester Burdell told The Star in an economic recession and the March. looming end of those wars means That’s a small percentage, but decreased work at Anniston one that’s growing. Army Depot. “We’re doing more work for And decreased work at the foreign militaries. It’s becominstallation — which employs ing one of the bright spots,” Hill more than 7,000 people, includes said. Meanwhile, Sumners has a payroll of more than $400 milbeen spending time working with lion and has an estimated $1 leaders in D.C. and serving on billion economic impact on Calthe Alabama Military Stabilizahoun County — has local officials tion Commission, an organizaconcerned. tion recently created by the state “The concern is you don’t Legislature to work with all of the know the impact, but you cerAlabama military installations in tainly know there’s going to be the face of tough economic times. an impact … from the ending The commission met for the first of the wars and the economic time on Sept. 1, Sumners said. recession,” said Nathan Hill, the The chamber president said military liaison for the Calhoun the new commission is a good The Anniston Star/file County Chamber of Commerce indication of the importance ABOVE: Workers refurbish Stryker vehicles recently at the Anniston Army Depot. and Army officials. the state government places on BELOW: A building at the Anniston Army Depot on Sept. 11, 2001. The future impact may be installations like the depot. unforeseen until the end of the “The depot is absolutely vital fiscal year, when the federal gov- surges as well as the core skills to the economy of our county, ernment decides on the budget, the region and even the state,” needed to operate efficiently. which carries a potential of $600 Sumners said. “If you fall below that core billion in cuts to the DepartIn addition to the billionlevel, you risk losing that compement of the Defense. But in the dollar economic impact to the tency and skill,” she said. meantime, Army officials have county, Sumners pointed out At the height of the wartime approved 550 early retirement the depot indirectly affects more efforts, when the depot was probuyouts at the depot for fiscal than 25,000 businesses in the viding refurbished and repaired 2011 and 2012 to help cope with region. Strykers and armored personnel the already decreased workloads. carriers to Iraq and Afghanistan, “So, if the depot cuts back, it The depot’s “proactive peraffects them,” she said. “It’s not the direct-labor hours topped out sonnel management measures just us.” at 5.5 million, Hill said. such as the retirement incentives To those who would criticize In the years following the Sept. reduces the possibility of any the county’s economic reliance 11 attacks, 500 more workers — future layoffs,” depot chief of staff most of them temporary or term on the depot and the military Phillip Trued said in an email. sector in general, Sumners takes workers — were hired, everyone “As the war winds down we a practical stance. worked overtime, and there was a are seeing a reduction in our “Yes, we would love to diversteady stream of vehicles coming workload in the coming years,” sify more and more,” she said, to Anniston for repair. said Michael Burke, the general “but there just aren’t a lot of big Burke said workload at the manager of production operalocations right now. depot increased by almost 300 we’ve grown and grown,” Hill Sumners and Hill both have been tions at the depot. “And we are “You need to dance with the percent from 2002 “until the said. “So, even without the budworking with depot officials to working closely with our headone you brung.” point it peaked in 2008.” get cuts, you’re now pulling out mitigate the slow-down at the quarters to identify work that can That attitude is helped by At that point, the total operat- of the two theaters of war; you’re depot. fill those voids.” chamber and depot officials’ ing budget for the installation already looking at a naturally Two new installation facilities Hill and Sherri Sumners, the strong collective belief that the was $1.26 billion, Burke said. decreased workload.” dedicated to work on engines chamber president, pointed to installation will be around for “Our workload for all comHill’s job at the chamber is to and transmissions are recent visthe buyouts and host of other decades to come — through bat vehicles increased during head off those “natural” decreas- ible efforts to beef up the depot’s chamber initiatives as ways to surges and slow-downs alike. the timeframe as we produced es and other fallout that may workload in times of peace. keep the installation’s direct“I feel good about the future record numbers of vehicles — the come at the end of the year. And “We’re not seeing as many labor hours from falling below M1 Abrams and Stryker were two in addition to her work as Cham- vehicles coming in, but certainly of the depot. I feel bad about the 3.5 million in the current down current reductions,” Hill said. of our biggest programs,” he said. ber president, Sumners recently their components need and will years. “But as long as we have a military And after Sept. 11, 2002, small took on another job focused on continue to need work,” Hill said. Sumners said that level and as long as we have an Army, arms production at the depot minimizing economic fallout A renewed focus on foreign of work will help installation we’re going to have an ANAD.” increased, too. from the impending closure of military sales is another effort to employees maintain the skills Contact Star staff writer Cam“We’ve had such a good work- the chemical weapons incinboost production. Currently, 7 they acquired during the wartime load for the past 10 years and eron Steele at 256-235-3562. erator in Anniston. As a result, percent of the nearly $867 milcsteele@annistonstar.com

Impact of 9/11 still felt By Jennifer Agiesta and Jennifer C. Kerr Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A decade later, what happened on Sept. 11 still resonates for much of the country. Even more Americans now say the horror of that day changed their lives. A new poll by The Associated PressNORC Center for Public Affairs Research in Chicago finds that more Americans today say Sept. 11 had an impact on their lives than said so five years ago — 57 percent compared with 50 percent in 2006. As the nation prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of that haunting day, the chilling events that unfolded in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa., still evoke a stir of emotions for everyday Americans — from anger and shock at so many innocent lives lost to patriotism and pride in the heroes who emerged on hijacked planes and in the rubble of fallen skyscrapers and a shattered Pentagon. Ten years later, we are a nation changed — moving on, but still changed. Lisa Schmidt, 48, of Vancouver, Wash., thinks about Sept. 11 “just about every day” and almost every time she sees a plane. “The intensity of thinking about it, and confronting the thought of it, still is very uncomfortable and I didn’t know anyone who was killed or injured,” said Schmidt, owner of a marketing company. “It was a defining moment for how Americans define tragedy.” For some people, like Susan Garrison of Carthage, Tenn., her fear of more attacks keeps her away from airports. “I will not fly,” said the 54-year-old Garrison, even with stepped-up security. She said she hasn’t set foot inside a plane since Sept. 11. “These people are the types of people who would get jobs in airports. If they want to kill people, they’re going to do it.” Almost one-third, 32 percent, of those polled said they are concerned about becoming a victim of terrorism or having a family member harmed in an attack. That’s down slightly, though, from 38 percent in 2004. The poll also found Americans are less angry about having to fight a war on terrorism than they were a few months after the attacks — 57 percent say so now compared with 67 percent then — and worries about how the war on terrorism might affect daily life have faded since the days after Sept 11. In the AP-NORC poll, broad majorities said Sept. 11 changed everything from

the policy and spending decisions of our country’s leaders — 94 percent and 90 percent, respectively — to the unity of the American people. Eighty-eight percent said it brought us together. Soon after the attacks, the U.S. government was transformed with the creation of the Homeland Security Department, the Transportation Security Administration, the National Counterterrorism Center and a slew of other centers and government committees dedicated to keeping the country safe. Sept. 11 also changed the way we talk to our children. Conversations about “stranger danger” or “stop, drop and roll” have now been expanded to include delicate discussions about “people who don’t like us” and why we have to take our shoes off in those sometimes too-long airport security lines. Fifty-five percent of the people polled who have children 10 and under said they have talked with their sons and daughters about what happened on Sept. 11. For the other 45 percent, the subject had not come up. Rhonda Weaver, a 42-year-old attorney from Brandywine, Md., said she first talked about it with her 11-year-old daughter a few years ago. The child had come home from school asking about the attacks and why people would do that. “We just told her that there are some people who don’t like the way we live,” said Weaver. “They see us as an enemy and they did that as a way to kind of get back at us and make us feel weak.” Weaver said she has not yet talked about the attacks with her 8-year-old son. Ken Kreitner, 64, of St. Louis, was among the 89 percent in the poll who thought the attacks had an impact on the economy. “We had to restructure just about everything we do in this country today,” said Kreitner. “It’s cost us billions and billions of dollars to set up safeguards for travel in this country. That alone had a major impact on our economy.” For Kreitner, a Vietnam veteran, Sept. 11 was a day that changed the country. “It’s the first time in the history of our country that an act of terrorism of this magnitude ever took place. People finally got mad and they wanted something done about it,” he said. “Anyone with any sense at all realized our country would never be the same again and that we were not only going to pay with lives the way we did, but we were going to be paying for it probably for the rest of our lives.”

In memory of those who sacrificed so much on 9/11/2001


The Anniston Star

Page 4G Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nathan Solheim

— I remember —

J.C. Lexow/The Anniston Star/file

A crowd gathers in the Alabama Power Company showroom to watch live coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

T he silence: 9/11 made it all the way to Anniston

S Trent Penny/The Anniston Star/file

A hummingbird gets a drink of water from this feeder in Jacksonville as Old Glory waves in the background on Sept. 12, 2001.

PATRIOTISM Old word takes on new meaning By Laura Camper lcamper@annistonstar.com

Patriotism conjures up images of flags and Fourth of July celebrations, but some locals say it’s more than that — it’s loving and honoring the ideals this country was founded on. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the twin towers in New York, the Pentagon and on the United Airlines Flight 93 airplane forced down into a Pennsylvania field by passengers fighting their hijackers, the outward trappings of patriotism could be seen everywhere. Ken Rollins, member of the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, remembers that after the attacks, flags were sold out at all the stores in town. “You started seeing them all up and down my street,” he said. “Used to be, they would have flags of lilies and flags of sunflowers and NASCAR flags and now there’s American flags up and down there.” It’s something he credits to being hit in the gut. Before the attacks, Americans couldn’t remember being attacked on their own soil, and the heroic reactions from police, firemen and just ordinary citizens awoke a pride in the country. “I don’t know if it’s patriotism so much as it’s appreciation,” Rollins said. “The people I talk to, and again I’m in the veterans circle so I hear a lot of people talk a little bit different language, but we have a great appreciation for those that wear the uniform.” The Rev. Randall Reeves of First Baptist Church of Saks, which is having a commemorative service on the anniversary at 10 a.m, agreed. The attack brought on a surge of patriotism as well as brought people back to church, but that wasn’t a lasting reaction. “Tragic events seem to bring out a renewed interest in things of the Lord and religion,” he said. “But those are short-lived.” It’s something Reeves has seen many times in his work. The events bring out a need to reach out to others and to bond with people close to them, and the attack also caused a surge of patriotism. April Fausnaught, a local resident and Jacksonville State University student, called it a defensive reaction. “We get wrapped up in our own problems and then we’re surprised,” she said. “It was a wakeup call.”

She and her friend, Danette Toole, were sitting at a table in Java Jolt in Jacksonville doing homework, their books spread across the table. The event was a turning point for the country, they said. Marcelline Barry, who was sharing lunch with her husband, Hubert, at the Hardees in Jacksonville, said it seems like tragic events bring people together. She noticed it after Sept. 11. She noticed it again after the April 27 tornadoes. It reminds people of their vulnerability. “Our shield had been taken away,” Rollins said. “All the police and all the Guard and everything else just couldn’t protect us as we had come to believe.” But it also reminds people of their interconnectedness. Nita Walker of Birmingham stopped to talk while having lunch at the Hardees with her daughter, a student at JSU. People remember where they were when they heard the news, she said, what they were doing because it was so shocking and horrific to them. She said she was at work when she first heard the reports. “One of my coworkers had a small television,” Walker said. “I remember everyone gathered around that small, itty bitty television in amazement and shock.” The attack reminded them that they were all Americans. They all had something in common to protect, and differences in politics, in opinions didn’t seem so important, Walker said. Hubert Barry noted that the vast majority of Americans stood behind the war effort when the war in Iraq began. “They wouldn’t have done that without what happened,” he said. Of course, that feeling went away over the years, as real-life issues intruded on ideals, but that didn’t mean that patriotism had waned, said most of the people interviewed. “Just because we don’t see American flags doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” Toole said. “It’s in our heart,” her friend Fausnaught finished for her. The event may have brought out visible signs of patriotism, but it only magnified what was already there, they said, and the lessons learned will be remembered on this 10th anniversary. “I think everybody will do something in school,” Toole said. “Even on the radio, they’ll say, ‘Let’s take a moment.’ Lord, this’ll never be forgotten.” Contact staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.

“We get wrapped up in our own problems and then we’re surprised. It was a wake-up call.” — April Fausnaught, Jacksonville State University student

ept. 11, 2001, was my day off. Lying in bed that morning, my thoughts were on a surplus auction at McClellan that day. The idea was to get some cheap Army surplus for my place. I hadn’t turned on the TV or radio because, in the news business, a little silence and stillness can keep you from going crazy. And besides, Mike Mote over on WHMA still hadn’t gotten over the Alabama-UCLA game. The phone started ringing. I knew it was someone from The Star. I didn’t exactly feel like solheim working on my day off, so I let it ring a few times before reluctantly answering. It was The Star’s thenmetro editor Anthony Cook. “Nathan, this is Anthony. Have you heard?” “Heard what?” “A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center,” he said. I could hear in the background that the office was completely alive. At that time of the morning, it wasn’t supposed to be that alive. “So?” “They’re thinking it might be terrorists,” Anthony said. I could hear a twinge of annoyance from a man who possessed the patience of Methuselah. “We’re trying to get everyone we can on the story. It’s all hands on deck,” he said. “Does that mean you want me to come in?” “That would be nice …” Dial tone. I dragged myself out of bed and arrived at the old Star building on 10th Street. I entered the side door directly into the newsroom in time to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center live on TV. I heard several people gasp. I sat down at my desk and looked up to see Anthony standing in

front of me. He gave me my story assignment, but as he walked away he mentioned something that finally made me grasp the importance of the day’s events. “The last extra we did was for the Kennedy assassination.” I looked around and saw many of my colleagues trying to get updates about friends they knew in New York. Some people were crying. Others were silent. Others focused on their jobs. I tried to work on my story but wound up reading the AP Newswire for hours. Later, I found myself staring at a TV screen with John Fleming — then the Editorial Page editor. “You know,” he said, “Don’t go jumping to conclusions about who did this.” His point was that there could be several perpetrators. People forget Oklahoma City was only six years prior. But even then, I thought it had to be terrorists. They’d bombed the World Trade Center before. I fielded several calls from people asking if the Army was going to reopen Fort McClellan. I got an answer — probably from someone at the Joint Powers Authority — and started telling callers it wasn’t going to happen. There were questions about the Anniston Army Depot and the security of the chemical weapons stored there. I chased down a lot of rumors that day. Some time that afternoon, I walked outside and looked toward 10th Street. There wasn’t any traffic. I looked over at the Alabama Power property next door and saw no activity. I don’t remember what I wrote about or if it made the Extra edition, but I do remember the silence — the eerie stillness of it all — and the realization that 9/11 made it all the way to Anniston. Nathan Solheim worked at The Star from 2000-2005. He’s now the managing editor of DU Today, the University of Denver’s online news website.

Calhoun County Commission... Remembering 911

Commission Office 1702 Noble Street Suite 103 Anniston, AL 36201 Phone: 256-241-2800 We ask that you take a look at what Calhoun County has to offer...with our beautiful parks and residential neighborhoods, quality museums, superb recreational facilities, and magnificently restored historic sites. Our citizens enjoy a high quality of life, and strongly support the arts and entertainment. If you are considering expanding a current business or starting a new business venture, look at Calhoun County - you will be glad you did!

www.calhouncounty.org


The Anniston Star

Sunday, September 11, 2011 Page 5G

J’ville mother honors memory of son Dwayne Williams was killed in 9/11 Pentagon attack

said. “One woman said to me, ‘If only I had something tangible. Even if it is a piece of the Pentagon.’� Pearl’s voice broke for a second. “I have a piece of the Pentagon,� she said. “But I am also By Cameron Steele blessed that I had enough of my csteele@annistonstar.com son’s remains to give him a proper military burial.� JACKSONVILLE – Ten years Since her son’s funeral, Pearl has transformed the front room said, she has discovered other in Pearl Williams’ house from a blessings through community living area into shrine. Pictures of Army Maj. Dwayne outreach efforts in Dwayne’s memory. Williams line The Army Ranger’s name lives the wooden on through various monuments table next to the erected all across the state, a couch. citizenship award at Kitty Stone A dusty Elementary school and a scholarAmerican flag ship at Jacksonville State Univerfolded into a sity. His brother Roy, a journalist triangle acts as for the Birmingham News, wrote a centerpiece of a book about Dwayne and the another table terrorists attacks that took his life. against a wall. It’s titled: 911, God Help Us. Instead of d. Williams Pearl also spends time givpretty bowls and ing speeches at elementary glass figurines, a rugged chunk schools about the 9/11 attacks, of concrete rests next to the flag. something she feels passionately Yes, a decade has passed and it’s about because, she said, many of changed the shape of what Pearl Williams values most: A chipped- the children she speaks to now weren’t even alive on that dark off piece of the Pentagon is her day. touchstone now. “I think remembering is “When Dwayne got assigned to the Pentagon, I thought he would important,� Pearl said. “And people tend to forget how 9/11 be OK,� Pearl said. “I thought, affected all of us. My son gives ‘I don’t have to worry about Dwayne going to war.’ Sometimes Calhoun County, where many people in the community knew I’m still shocked thinking about him, and the state of Alabama, it.� that connection.� Thinking about the 9/11 terA memorial held each year rorist attacks, that is. Dwayne Williams, the oldest of at the Jacksonville City Cemetery helps to reconnect county Pearl’s four sons, was inside the residents with Dwayne’s memory Pentagon when a hijacker flew a and the memory of all those who plane into the building. lost their lives. That ceremony For 10 days after the attacks, is special to Pearl; it’s played a Pearl didn’t know whether vital role in her personal healing Dwayne was dead or alive. Durover the past decade. That’s why ing a recent interview at her she decided to stay in Calhoun home, the Jacksonville woman County for the 10th anniversary gazed at the broken piece of the Pentagon she keeps on the coffee of 9/11 rather than attend the special memorials planned in table. Washington. On Sept. 21, 2001, Army offi“I thought it was important cials notified Pearl that her son’s for me to be here,� she said. “This remains had been found. Ten years have not taken away year’s memorial service is going to be a little bit different. It’s the pain of that moment, but going to have a theme: Healing Pearl said she’s learned to feel and Remembrance.� blessed. Contact Star staff writer Cam“Some victims never found the eron Steele at 256-235-3562. bodies of their loved ones,� she

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Photos by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star

ABOVE: Pearl Williams looks at a display honoring her son recently in the living room of her Jacksonville son. BELOW: Williams holds a photo of her son on Sept. 11, 2001.

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Page 6G Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Anniston Star

Sunday, September 11, 2011 Page 7G

Where September never ends At McClellan’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, memory of 9/11 is always fresh By Tim Lockette tlockette@annistonstar.com

Noble Army Hospital’s emergency room hasn’t seen a live human patient in more than a decade. But it’s about to get more beds, an expanded waiting room and a new front entrance. Once the primary health care facility for a major Army post, Noble is now a hospital for robots. Almost every week, doctors here treat scores of mannequins — mannequins that bleed, mannequins that moan in pain, mannequins with green foam around their mouths. For the doctors on hand, the rush of patients is sometimes more than they can handle. That’s the point. “We can stress them here pretty easily,” said Rick Dickson, gesturing around a small, tiled waiting room that seems straight out of the 1970s. “But we need a facility that looks and operates more like a 21st century hospital.” Dickson is the assistant director for training for the Center for Domestic Preparedness, a $62 million-per-year Homeland Security training facility tucked away on the site of the former Fort McClellan, an 18,000-acre Army post that was closed in the late 1990s. The CDP, as it is known, is at the heart of the post-9/11 “new normal.” In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, local governments and lawenforcement agencies took on a new role. In addition to responding to everyday crimes and accidents, emergency responders started planning for catastrophic events, such as chemical attacks or pandemics. For most people, the changes have been pretty much invisible. A metal detector at City Hall, a side entrance that was locked 10 years ago and never opened again. Mass-casualty exercises that shut down a college dorm or government office for a day. Police officers who disappear into anti-terrorist training,

The fictitious town of Northville is where the first responders train.

and come back talking about the need for more awareness. The CDP is one of the places those officers disappear to. A place where first responders go to think about the unthinkable.

‘Not if but when.’ In the CDP’s main building, inside a big glass case, there are reminders of past attacks on America. A piece of metal from the USS Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor. A slab of concrete from the federal building in Oklahoma City. A shard of steel from the World Trade Center. It’s a reminder of how far the nation has come since the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. The air here is full of statements that seem to be straight out of 2002. “It’s really not a question of if a catastrophic attack occurs,” Dickson said. “It’s a matter of when.” But then, that was the saying here long before Sept. 11. The CDP got its start in 1998, when Fort McClellan was closing, and mass-casualty terrorist attacks were largely the province of Hollywood screenwriters. Dickson, a retired Army military policeman, has been here since the center was founded – as an obscure government agency that owned two buildings and trained hundreds of police officers in four disaster-response courses. “We were fortunate that there are a few people in government who can see around corners,” Dickson said. “There were people who had the foresight to see this threat before the public did.” After Sept. 11, the CDP’s growth exploded. The center owns the former Noble Army Hospital — now dubbed the Noble Training Facility — where doctors, nurses and hospital administrators tend to a hospital full of “dying” robots. It also owns “Northville,” a simulated town of gray cinderblock buildings, where trainees in chemical warfare suits practice evacuating mannequins after a simulated chemical attack. Hard by Northville is a white, windowless building where trainees suit up for “live agent training.” In other words, they don chemical gear and pretend to rescue people in a room filled with poison gas. The exercise is make-believe, but the gas in the room – Sarin or its deadlier cousin, VX — is real. Officials at the center say they train 82,000 emergency responders every year — 11,000 at McClellan and many more at training events around the country. The CDP offers 55 different courses, on everything from pandemics to suicide bomb attacks. Emergency responders come here from all 50 states, and they stay on the CDP campus in dormitories that once housed non-commissioned officers at Fort McClellan. Homeland Security officials say the CDP would have a reason to exist even if the Sept. 11 attacks hadn’t happened. They point to hurricanes, tornadoes and the threat of pandemic flu as reasons to train responders to be ready for disaster. But it’s clear the center owes much of its growth to the attacks. In fiscal 2001, the CDP trained 2,500 people. In fiscal 2002, it trained 14,000 — and the numbers have grown steadily since. And the federal government picks up the tab. CDP officials say that once trainees are selected by their local police agencies, Homeland Security pays for

their transportation and lodging. “It’s a good deal for local governments, especially in times like these,” said Shannon Arledge, spokesman for the center.

‘This baby … will die’ Every major war comes with its own set of absurdities. Destroying the village to save it. Taking the hill and giving it back. The fictional, but strangely realistic, Catch-22. The CDP has more than its share of dark ironies. There’s the Teddy Bear Room, where students learn to do triage by examining dozens of stuffed bears, each with a list of symptoms tied around its neck. There’s the Field Force Extraction class, which teaches responders how to remove nonviolent protesters who’ve chained themselves to each other — an odd fit, for a facility focused on disasters. And there’s the child-size mannequin in a hospital bed at Noble, its fate already scripted. (“This particular baby, in this scenario, will die,” Dickson said. “Not everybody lives, and that’s part of the training.”) But don’t expect to hear anybody joking here. Officials at CDP say every bit of the curriculum makes sense if you understand the scale of casualties from a chemical or biological attack. Even in the wake of Sept. 11, Dickson said, most of the doctors who train here don’t initially understand how catastrophic such an attack could be. “When doctors talk about mass-casualty incidents,” Dickson said. “They’re usually talking about a bus crash with 26 passengers. When you talk about hundreds of people showing up at your door with contaminated clothing, that’s a completely different situation.” Even the civil-disobedience training fits, CDP officials maintain. “Terrorists can take advantage of all sorts of situations,” Dickson said, noting that the 2012 political conventions, which are sure to draw protesters, may also become targets for terrorists. Police need to be able to handle those complex situations, he said. All of this is delivered with a deadpan seriousness that seems to come straight out of a Cold War nuclear bunker. And that mood is everywhere here. The guards are friendly, but with a hyperalert, watchdog stare. In every other hallway, there’s a picture of an accusing finger, and above it the words “Display your badge.” Ask CDP workers why they’re so single-minded, and they’ll tell you about Wayne Rhatigan, the New York police officer who foiled a bomb plot in Times Square last year. He was trained by CDP. So were some of staff at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., a hospital that rode out a devastating tornado earlier this year. “I think people are vulnerable to complacency if they aren’t in the business of dealing with these threats on a daily basis,” said Chistopher T. Jones, superintendent of the center. “Our students are dealing with the threats.”

Normal It may not hurt to be in a place where the “new normal” is, well, normal. The danger of chemical weapons is nothing new here: for 40-plus years, Anniston was home to one of the biggest

Photos by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

Trainees at the Center for Domestic Preparedness take part in a simulated chemical attack at ‘Northville,’ a mock village on the CDP campus at McClellan. Wearing chemical suits and oxygen masks, the trainees collect mannequins strewn about Northville and clean them at a makeshift decontamination facility. It’s one of several life-like disaster-response scenarios available to police officers, firefighters and medical workers at CDP, a $62 million-per-year Homeland Security training center. chemical weapons arsenals on the planet. Hundreds of local residents worked in highly secure chemical weapons bunkers, and everyone had a friend or cousin or uncle who donned a chemical warfare suit daily at work. Heather Hollingsworth is the 21st century incarnation of your uncle with the chem suit. By day, she works at Noble, where she dresses in medical scrubs and maintains the mannequins that populate Noble Hospital. At night, she takes EMT courses at Gadsden State. Oh, and one other thing. “I’ve trained with live agent 170 times,” she said. In a real chemical attack, CDP officials say, men and women would be decontaminated separately. Many of the classes that come through the center are short on women. When they are, Hollingsworth suits up, goes into the gas chamber, and risks exposure to VX. It’s deadly stuff. Arledge, the CDP spokesman, says you can die from contact with a drop of VX that’s just big enough to cover the statue of Lincoln on the back of a penny. (There really is a statue of Lincoln in the monument on the back of the penny, but you have to look really close.) Why train with live agent? Dickson said studies have shown that people who train in the standard military way — donning a suit and going into a room full of non-lethal tear gas — lack confidence in the equipment, and in their own ability to use it in a real-world attack. “If you did this training in the military, you probably reached up and broke

the seal on your mask if it got too hard to breathe,” Dickson said. “When you’re working with live agent, you don’t do that.” Asked where the CDP got its VX, CDP superintendent Jones said, tersely, “From the Army.” He won’t answer questions about how much poison gas the facility has on hand.

A math problem Ten years after the attacks, the budget austerity is a looming threat to almost every government program. Anti-terrorist programs may yet prove to be untouchable in the budget process; if an attack occurs, nobody wants to be the politician who just cut homeland defense. But continued funding is still not a given, especially at the local level. “Homeland Security training is very

Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

LEFT: A penny at actual size. RIGHT: Detail of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the penny. Live agent VX is so toxic that contact with one drop the size of the penny’s Lincoln statue is fatal.

expensive, and there’s not as much money to go around,” said Stacy Mann, a professor at Jacksonville State University’s Institute for Emergency Preparedness. Cuts have already appeared at the state level. Officials of Alabama’s Department of Homeland Security said earlier this year that their federal funding dropped by almost half, to $5 million, due in part to the end of stimulus funding. When Alabama legislators passed a tough immigration bill, and tasked statelevel Homeland Security with enforcing part of it, officials pointed out that they didn’t know how the department would pay for it. The director of CDP says he can see the conundrum states and local governments are facing. “I don’t think it’s complacency,” Jones said. “I think it’s a math problem.” Jones said he foresees “downward pressure on every agency” as the federal government tries to cut down on spending. Even the CDP is looking for ways to cut corners. Jones said the center is reviewing some of its policies on energy use, and is revamping the way it schedules travel for students coming to the center. With thousands of students per year, he said, some red-eye flights could save a lot of money. Jones acknowledges that it’s his job to worry. But he said the Arab Spring and the death of Osama bin Laden haven’t convinced him the threat of attack is passing. Far from it. “With the destabilization that is going on, and the presence of weapons of mass destruction in these countries, the risk may be increasing,” he said. Asked if the public has grown complacent after a decade without a major attack, Jones shook his head. “The fact that we’re all more alert,” he said, “may be the reason why an attack didn’t happen.” Contact Assistant Metro Editor Tim Lockette at 256-235-3560.


Page 6G Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Anniston Star

Sunday, September 11, 2011 Page 7G

Where September never ends At McClellan’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, memory of 9/11 is always fresh By Tim Lockette tlockette@annistonstar.com

Noble Army Hospital’s emergency room hasn’t seen a live human patient in more than a decade. But it’s about to get more beds, an expanded waiting room and a new front entrance. Once the primary health care facility for a major Army post, Noble is now a hospital for robots. Almost every week, doctors here treat scores of mannequins — mannequins that bleed, mannequins that moan in pain, mannequins with green foam around their mouths. For the doctors on hand, the rush of patients is sometimes more than they can handle. That’s the point. “We can stress them here pretty easily,” said Rick Dickson, gesturing around a small, tiled waiting room that seems straight out of the 1970s. “But we need a facility that looks and operates more like a 21st century hospital.” Dickson is the assistant director for training for the Center for Domestic Preparedness, a $62 million-per-year Homeland Security training facility tucked away on the site of the former Fort McClellan, an 18,000-acre Army post that was closed in the late 1990s. The CDP, as it is known, is at the heart of the post-9/11 “new normal.” In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, local governments and lawenforcement agencies took on a new role. In addition to responding to everyday crimes and accidents, emergency responders started planning for catastrophic events, such as chemical attacks or pandemics. For most people, the changes have been pretty much invisible. A metal detector at City Hall, a side entrance that was locked 10 years ago and never opened again. Mass-casualty exercises that shut down a college dorm or government office for a day. Police officers who disappear into anti-terrorist training,

The fictitious town of Northville is where the first responders train.

and come back talking about the need for more awareness. The CDP is one of the places those officers disappear to. A place where first responders go to think about the unthinkable.

‘Not if but when.’ In the CDP’s main building, inside a big glass case, there are reminders of past attacks on America. A piece of metal from the USS Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor. A slab of concrete from the federal building in Oklahoma City. A shard of steel from the World Trade Center. It’s a reminder of how far the nation has come since the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. The air here is full of statements that seem to be straight out of 2002. “It’s really not a question of if a catastrophic attack occurs,” Dickson said. “It’s a matter of when.” But then, that was the saying here long before Sept. 11. The CDP got its start in 1998, when Fort McClellan was closing, and mass-casualty terrorist attacks were largely the province of Hollywood screenwriters. Dickson, a retired Army military policeman, has been here since the center was founded – as an obscure government agency that owned two buildings and trained hundreds of police officers in four disaster-response courses. “We were fortunate that there are a few people in government who can see around corners,” Dickson said. “There were people who had the foresight to see this threat before the public did.” After Sept. 11, the CDP’s growth exploded. The center owns the former Noble Army Hospital — now dubbed the Noble Training Facility — where doctors, nurses and hospital administrators tend to a hospital full of “dying” robots. It also owns “Northville,” a simulated town of gray cinderblock buildings, where trainees in chemical warfare suits practice evacuating mannequins after a simulated chemical attack. Hard by Northville is a white, windowless building where trainees suit up for “live agent training.” In other words, they don chemical gear and pretend to rescue people in a room filled with poison gas. The exercise is make-believe, but the gas in the room – Sarin or its deadlier cousin, VX — is real. Officials at the center say they train 82,000 emergency responders every year — 11,000 at McClellan and many more at training events around the country. The CDP offers 55 different courses, on everything from pandemics to suicide bomb attacks. Emergency responders come here from all 50 states, and they stay on the CDP campus in dormitories that once housed non-commissioned officers at Fort McClellan. Homeland Security officials say the CDP would have a reason to exist even if the Sept. 11 attacks hadn’t happened. They point to hurricanes, tornadoes and the threat of pandemic flu as reasons to train responders to be ready for disaster. But it’s clear the center owes much of its growth to the attacks. In fiscal 2001, the CDP trained 2,500 people. In fiscal 2002, it trained 14,000 — and the numbers have grown steadily since. And the federal government picks up the tab. CDP officials say that once trainees are selected by their local police agencies, Homeland Security pays for

their transportation and lodging. “It’s a good deal for local governments, especially in times like these,” said Shannon Arledge, spokesman for the center.

‘This baby … will die’ Every major war comes with its own set of absurdities. Destroying the village to save it. Taking the hill and giving it back. The fictional, but strangely realistic, Catch-22. The CDP has more than its share of dark ironies. There’s the Teddy Bear Room, where students learn to do triage by examining dozens of stuffed bears, each with a list of symptoms tied around its neck. There’s the Field Force Extraction class, which teaches responders how to remove nonviolent protesters who’ve chained themselves to each other — an odd fit, for a facility focused on disasters. And there’s the child-size mannequin in a hospital bed at Noble, its fate already scripted. (“This particular baby, in this scenario, will die,” Dickson said. “Not everybody lives, and that’s part of the training.”) But don’t expect to hear anybody joking here. Officials at CDP say every bit of the curriculum makes sense if you understand the scale of casualties from a chemical or biological attack. Even in the wake of Sept. 11, Dickson said, most of the doctors who train here don’t initially understand how catastrophic such an attack could be. “When doctors talk about mass-casualty incidents,” Dickson said. “They’re usually talking about a bus crash with 26 passengers. When you talk about hundreds of people showing up at your door with contaminated clothing, that’s a completely different situation.” Even the civil-disobedience training fits, CDP officials maintain. “Terrorists can take advantage of all sorts of situations,” Dickson said, noting that the 2012 political conventions, which are sure to draw protesters, may also become targets for terrorists. Police need to be able to handle those complex situations, he said. All of this is delivered with a deadpan seriousness that seems to come straight out of a Cold War nuclear bunker. And that mood is everywhere here. The guards are friendly, but with a hyperalert, watchdog stare. In every other hallway, there’s a picture of an accusing finger, and above it the words “Display your badge.” Ask CDP workers why they’re so single-minded, and they’ll tell you about Wayne Rhatigan, the New York police officer who foiled a bomb plot in Times Square last year. He was trained by CDP. So were some of staff at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., a hospital that rode out a devastating tornado earlier this year. “I think people are vulnerable to complacency if they aren’t in the business of dealing with these threats on a daily basis,” said Chistopher T. Jones, superintendent of the center. “Our students are dealing with the threats.”

Normal It may not hurt to be in a place where the “new normal” is, well, normal. The danger of chemical weapons is nothing new here: for 40-plus years, Anniston was home to one of the biggest

Photos by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

Trainees at the Center for Domestic Preparedness take part in a simulated chemical attack at ‘Northville,’ a mock village on the CDP campus at McClellan. Wearing chemical suits and oxygen masks, the trainees collect mannequins strewn about Northville and clean them at a makeshift decontamination facility. It’s one of several life-like disaster-response scenarios available to police officers, firefighters and medical workers at CDP, a $62 million-per-year Homeland Security training center. chemical weapons arsenals on the planet. Hundreds of local residents worked in highly secure chemical weapons bunkers, and everyone had a friend or cousin or uncle who donned a chemical warfare suit daily at work. Heather Hollingsworth is the 21st century incarnation of your uncle with the chem suit. By day, she works at Noble, where she dresses in medical scrubs and maintains the mannequins that populate Noble Hospital. At night, she takes EMT courses at Gadsden State. Oh, and one other thing. “I’ve trained with live agent 170 times,” she said. In a real chemical attack, CDP officials say, men and women would be decontaminated separately. Many of the classes that come through the center are short on women. When they are, Hollingsworth suits up, goes into the gas chamber, and risks exposure to VX. It’s deadly stuff. Arledge, the CDP spokesman, says you can die from contact with a drop of VX that’s just big enough to cover the statue of Lincoln on the back of a penny. (There really is a statue of Lincoln in the monument on the back of the penny, but you have to look really close.) Why train with live agent? Dickson said studies have shown that people who train in the standard military way — donning a suit and going into a room full of non-lethal tear gas — lack confidence in the equipment, and in their own ability to use it in a real-world attack. “If you did this training in the military, you probably reached up and broke

the seal on your mask if it got too hard to breathe,” Dickson said. “When you’re working with live agent, you don’t do that.” Asked where the CDP got its VX, CDP superintendent Jones said, tersely, “From the Army.” He won’t answer questions about how much poison gas the facility has on hand.

A math problem Ten years after the attacks, the budget austerity is a looming threat to almost every government program. Anti-terrorist programs may yet prove to be untouchable in the budget process; if an attack occurs, nobody wants to be the politician who just cut homeland defense. But continued funding is still not a given, especially at the local level. “Homeland Security training is very

Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

LEFT: A penny at actual size. RIGHT: Detail of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the penny. Live agent VX is so toxic that contact with one drop the size of the penny’s Lincoln statue is fatal.

expensive, and there’s not as much money to go around,” said Stacy Mann, a professor at Jacksonville State University’s Institute for Emergency Preparedness. Cuts have already appeared at the state level. Officials of Alabama’s Department of Homeland Security said earlier this year that their federal funding dropped by almost half, to $5 million, due in part to the end of stimulus funding. When Alabama legislators passed a tough immigration bill, and tasked statelevel Homeland Security with enforcing part of it, officials pointed out that they didn’t know how the department would pay for it. The director of CDP says he can see the conundrum states and local governments are facing. “I don’t think it’s complacency,” Jones said. “I think it’s a math problem.” Jones said he foresees “downward pressure on every agency” as the federal government tries to cut down on spending. Even the CDP is looking for ways to cut corners. Jones said the center is reviewing some of its policies on energy use, and is revamping the way it schedules travel for students coming to the center. With thousands of students per year, he said, some red-eye flights could save a lot of money. Jones acknowledges that it’s his job to worry. But he said the Arab Spring and the death of Osama bin Laden haven’t convinced him the threat of attack is passing. Far from it. “With the destabilization that is going on, and the presence of weapons of mass destruction in these countries, the risk may be increasing,” he said. Asked if the public has grown complacent after a decade without a major attack, Jones shook his head. “The fact that we’re all more alert,” he said, “may be the reason why an attack didn’t happen.” Contact Assistant Metro Editor Tim Lockette at 256-235-3560.


The Anniston Star

Page 8G Sunday, September 11, 2011

Muslim Americans face uphill battle after terror attacks

‘Sept. 11 left a very big scar’ By Brian Anderson banderson@annistonstar.com

Dr. Abdul Ahad Kazi remembers clearly the thoughts that raced through his mind on Sept. 11, 2001, when he heard the men responsible for the terrorist attacks in New York City were Muslim extremists. “I just kept praying the news wasn’t true,” he said. It was likely a thought many American Muslims had the day of the biggest terrorist attack ever committed on U.S. soil. Shock, confusion, and most importantly, hurt. “Sept. 11 left a very big scar,” Kazi said, referring both to the general American population that lived through the events that took place 10 years ago, and to the Islamic community, which in the years since has faced an uphill battle among a public that often seems quick to lump American Muslims in with Middle Eastern terrorists responsible for claiming the lives of so many that day. “It is healing, but it is still a scar.”

Eid ur-Fitr Last Monday, those thoughts were far from the minds of many Muslims in Calhoun County who gathered at the Anniston Islamic Center to celebrate Eid ur-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Muslims from as far away as Gadsden came to one of the few buildings in eastern Alabama dedicated to Islam to gather for the large feast. Though the rain kept things indoors, the center set up a bouncehouse for children to enjoy and table tennis for the young adults on hand, while an open house was made available for parents to register their kids for the Sunday school at the center. The whole community, Muslim or not, was welcome. In all of the good cheer, the fact that Labor Day didn’t mark the true end of Ramadan might have been obscured. Eid actually fell on Aug. 31, a Wednesday. “It was a work day, so a lot of people couldn’t come,” Kazi said. “We just used the next available day.” It’s a move common to Muslims in the Western world who have to align their lives with that of the Gregorian calendar, which doesn’t always make lives easy for the millions of Americans who practice Islam. While a few days might not seem like too long to observe a holiday, there isn’t always such a convenient alternate day ready for observance. And sometimes, other problems complicate the matter — like last year, when Eid happened to be on Sept. 11. “We didn’t want a misunderstanding,” said Kazi, who, as president of the Islamic Center, put the celebratory event on hold for two weeks. It’s a statement with ultimately two meanings.

“If you ask me, Sept. 11 impacted all of us,” he said, admitting he feels uneasy when someone asks him about the terrorist attacks. “Many Muslims were in the Trade Center. It isn’t a secret that the Quran doesn’t condone killing without a just cause. It is not an Islamic act.” Khalid Khan emigrated from Pakistan to the United States in 1969, and started his ophthalmology practice in Talladega in 1975. In those 35 years, Kahn said he’s never felt persecuted because of his beliefs. “People know I am Muslim, and they are happy to be examined by me,” Kahn said about the patients who visit his practice. “They’ve never seen me do anything against Christians.” Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star In fact, it was after Sept. 11, Kahn said, when his A woman prays recently at the Anniston Islamic Center while observing Ramadan. neighbors and co-workers rallied around him the On one hand, it might seem don’t see someone who and now is a member of had to move to its current most. insensitive to those outside came to America, to live the Interfaith Ministries of location in a bigger build“They asked, ‘Do you of the Muslim community the American dream, who Calhoun County, is pushing ing on McCall Drive two feel safe? Is someone to have any celebration came to this country for an for the Islamic center, and years ago — Haq said it is attacking you?’” Kahn said. on the anniversary of an opportunity.” the Muslim community as important to demonstrate “They told me they would event — now a federally Signs of progress are a whole, to be more active the center’s growth in protect me.” sanctioned day of rememthere, however. A poll con- in making their presence strengthening the comIt is that kind of commubrance — when so many ducted by the Pew Research known. It’s one of the reamunity as well. The Islamic nity support, Haq said, that Americans lost their lives in Center and published sons Kazi invited the imam Center has been assisting he sees as a give-and-take a terrorist attack sprung by August 31 concluded that to Anniston. in relief efforts to help with from both sides. religious extremists. while Muslims in America “After Sept. 11, some of destruction from the April “They helped us in It would also be still feel they are being sin- us wanted to hide,” Kazi 27 tornados, holding open building our community insensitive to the Islamic gled out by anti-terrorism said about the feeling in the houses and planning to out here, and I came to help community in Anniston policies, 56 percent were Islamic community of tryopen a free clinic for Annis- them,” Haq said. — Americans, who live and “satisfied” with where they ing to avoid the “immediate ton residents at Regional The community, the work in the same country saw things headed in the scrutiny” placed on Muslim Medical Center. one Haq said is working as their Christian neighUnited States, up from 38 people. “Others such as “If you know your neigh- together to make Anniston bors — whose country was percent in 2007, and much myself were vocal in saying, bor, you feel more comfort- an open and friendly enviattacked for ideals they higher than the 23 percent ‘We detest this. This is not able,” Haq said. ronment, is also one that don’t share and that disgust of other Americans who what our religion teaches.’” It’s a reflection shared shares in the similar hardthem. said they felt similar. “Sept. 11 encouraged by those who have lived in ships and tragedies that “Muslims died on Sept. Local Muslims, evius to be more outwards, the community for much effect all Americans. 11, too,” Kazi said. “This dently, feel much the same for outreach,” Haq said. “If longer. Jacksonville State “When we remember is not what our religion way — slowly, acceptance we don’t tell people who University biology profesit, it makes us depressed,” teaches.” is progressing. we are, they won’t undersor Safaa Al-Hamdani has Haq said about the 10th “Sometimes when I was stand.” lived in Calhoun County anniversary of Sept. 11. “It Tension studying Islam, people As the number of Mussince 1979. Al-Hamdani is really hard to believe a would ask me, ‘Why do you lims has grown in the area “It was a total surprise said he doesn’t see Sept. 11 Muslim could do that.” want to study a religion for everybody,” said Dr. — so much so that the as an event related to Islam Star staff writer Brian that is against a certain Muhammad N. Haq, the Anniston Islamic Center at all. Anderson: 256-235-3546 people?’” said Chris Glenn, imam of the Anniston an Ashland resident who Islamic Center, recallbegan reading the Quran in ing the events of Sept. 11. high school. “That’s just a “We didn’t realize what misunderstanding, though. was happening. We were Something they don’t shocked.” understand, but between Haq, who came to the United States from Egypt in certain people, folks I 1990, was living in Houston know, there’s no problem.” According to Abdullah at the time, the imam of a Zettili, who moved from mosque in the city. Boston to Jacksonville just “On top of it, we found prior to Sept. 11, tension that the people behind the attacks were Muslim, so we in rural Alabama is not an were doubly shocked,” Haq issue, especially when compared to bigger cities. said. “We were the ones “I remember we had people started looking at.” neighbors who attacked our “Tension,” he said, mosque in Boston before summing up the feeling of Sept.11,” Zettili said. “Here, unease in one word. that’s very rare. I don’t hear It is indicative of the strained relationship Mus- things like that.” lims have with a country Reaching out that sometimes views them with suspicion, if not Haq, the local imam, has outright indignation since been in Anniston for less the attacks of Sept. 11. Last than a year, but he said he year national news closely already has come to apprefollowed the building of ciate the area. an Islamic center near the “It is more quiet and site of the twin towers in calm,” Haq said in comNew York City with the parison to the fast-paced kind of furor often saved for city of Houston. Even more presidential elections. In important, it is a commuAlabama earlier this year, nity he views as healthy, state Sen. Gerald Allen, Rkind and working toward a Cottondale, hoped to pass common goal. a bill barring Sharia law “It is very diversified from courts, even though with people from all ethno such example of a Sharia nicities and backgrounds,” law being used in American he said. “Relationships with courtrooms existed. neighbors is very good. “People still get suspiThere aren’t any issues cious when they see a going on like they have in Muslim, or when they see big towns and cities.” someone who they think is Haq, who majored in a Muslim,” Kazi said. “They world religions in college

WE PROUDLY SERVE AMERICA’S HEROES.

Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

Mohammad Khalid Qureshi chats with Safaa Al-Hamdani at the Anniston Islamic Center while celebrating the end of Ramadan.

www.baesystems.com


The Anniston Star

Sunday, September 11, 2011 Page 9G

Changing history’s course Events in the year following Sept. 11, 2001: SEPT. 2001

OCT.

NOV.

DEC.

JAN. 2002

Last piece of facade pulled down; underground fires finally out; viewing platform opens

All major debris cleared away

FEB.

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUG.

New York’s World Trade Center Rescuers start picking through rubble; death ɑWROOWKRXJKWɑWR H[FHHG

6WHHOEHDPVÉ‘LQ VKDSHÉ‘RIFURVV hoisted

Death count falls EHORZDV city finds duplications in missing-person reports

6L[PRQWKV É‘DIWHUDWWDFNV É‘WZRVKDIWVRI É‘OLJKWUHVHPEOLQJ towers beamed into night sky

5HFRYHU\É‘HIIRUW ends

6L[SURSRVDOV for rebuilding World Trade Center presented

Washington’s Pentagon Workers shore up weakened building

President Demolition George W. Bush completed KRQRUVYLFWLPVÉ‘DW ceremony to mark one month after attacks

Fifty U.S. mayors bring roses to mark VL[PRQWKV after attacks

([WHULRU restored; charred stone, time capsule É‘VHWLQZDOO

War in Afghanistan President Bush calls attacks “acts of war�; reservists called as U.S. plans military response

U.S., British warplanes strike Afghanistan

SEPT. 2001

OCT.

U.S.-backed Northern Alliance drives Taliban from Kabul, Jalalabad, Kanduz; talks on post-Taliban government begin

Hamid Karzai heads interim government; U.S. Marines seize Kandahar airport; U.S. bombs Tora É‘%RUDFDYHV seeking Osama bin Laden

3ULVRQHUVÉ‘DUULYH DWÉ‘86EDVHDW Guantanamo, Cuba

State Dept. says Wall 6WUHHWÉ‘-RXUQDO reporter Daniel Pearl, NLGQDSSHGÉ‘LQ 3DNLVWDQÉ‘LV dead

NOV.

DEC.

JAN. 2002

FEB.

Afghan refugees, some displaced for decades, begin returning home; U.S. leads assault in eastern Afghanistan on escaping Taliban MARCH

)RUPHUÉ‘$IJKDQ king Mohammad Zaher Shah returns after É‘\HDUH[LOH

Car bomb outside U.S. &RQVXODWHÉ‘LQ Pakistan NLOOV

APRIL

MAY

Afghan assembly (loya jirga) elects Karzai president

Pakistani judge convicts four militants in Pearl killing; in deal with feds, American Taliban John Walker Lindh pleads guilty to two charges

JUNE

JULY

AUG.

Rooting out terrorism Justice Dept. QDPHV alleged hijackers, arrests, detains PRUHWKDQ Osama bin Laden named key suspect

SEPT. 2001

Banks freeze É‘VRPHDVVHWVÉ‘WR VWRSPRQH\É‘IORZ to terrorists; National Guard patrols U.S. airports; Homeland Security office opens; É‘DQWLWHUURULVP bill signed OCT.

NOV.

Fla. newspaper editor is first victim of inhalation DQWKUD[VSRUHV found in mail sent to NBC, CBS, the U.S. Capitol, other offices; two D.C. postal workers die OCT.

\HDUROG Conn. woman LVILIWKDQWKUD[ victim; others have been made ill; FBI continues to investigate

Zacarias Moussaoui is first to be indicted for attacks; shoe bomber Richard Reid subdued on transAtlantic flight, arrested in Boston DEC.

U.S. troops sent to 3KLOLSSLQHVÉ‘WR fight group linked to al-Qaida

Federal Transportation Security Admin. begins to take over airport security

JAN. 2002

FEB.

U.S. sets controversial rules for military tribunals

MARCH

U.S. reveals ɑ)%,&,$IDLOHG ɑWRVKDUHNH\ information before attacks; “dirty bomber� -RVH3DGLOODɑD U.S. citizen with al-Qaida ties, arrested APRIL

MAY

Bush asks Congress to create Cabinet-level Homeland Security Department

JUNE

After flip-flopping on pleas, Moussaoui enters not guilty plea, is allowed to defend himself; trial tentatively set for September JULY

AUG.

Anthrax scare

SEPT. 2001

NOV.

World Bank employees sent home after DQWKUD[VFDUH

DEC.

JAN. 2002

International Monetary Fund says attacks will cost U.S. ELOOLRQ

Economists predict attacks will cost U.S. É‘PLOOLRQMREV E\HQGRI

FEB.

MARCH

APRIL

U.S. economy begins to rebound in first quarter IURP recession

Washington’s Reagan 1DWLRQDOɑ$LUSRUW ɑUHVXPHVIXOO operation

MAY

Postal officials announce plan to clean up Washington’s Brentwood postal facility, closed since October

JUNE

JULY

AUG.

Challenge to economy Markets close for four days; U.S. airports shut for two; stocks fall; Congress approves aid after airlines É‘FXW É‘MREV

Fed cuts rates to lowest levels VLQFH U.S. trade gap widens; consumer confidence plummets

Corporate profits fall, but share prices rise to pre-Sept. 11 levels

Airlines announce record $15 ELOOLRQORVVÉ‘LQ 

Source: AP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Washington Post, MCT Photo Service

Unrelated to attacks, share prices plummet on news of corporate scandals

US Airways files for bankruptcy; American Airlines announces more layoffs

Š 2011 MCT

Home of the

BRAVE

The Attack of September 11th, 2001 was intended to break our spirit and divide our people, but we have emerged even stronger and more united. As a community, the City of Anniston understands overcoming adversity. On this 10th Anniversary join me in remembering the tragic events of that day, and to celebrate the unwavering resolve of the American citizens. Just as Anniston faces its greatest challenges, together we shall overcome.

Mayor Gene Robinson

Sponsored by Gadsden State Community College and funded by Morehouse College School of Medicine through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


The Anniston Star

Page 10G Sunday, September 11, 2011

L.e. Forster Matt Korade

— I remember —

— I remember —

Uncertainty

W

aking up on Sept. 11, 2001, is the most vivid memory I have of a day that felt then, as it does now, hazy and hard to delineate. At that time, I was living in a mobile home in Weaver, and, although I was still relatively new to the park, I had become friendly with a couple, Kat and John, who lived next door. Kat was the one who came over that morning and woke me up by banging on the door and yelling my name. I leaned out of bed to answer the door thinking she needed a ride somewhere, but instead found her wide-eyed and out of breath as she talked about planes hitting buildings in New York City before she hurried off to tell someone else. I turned on my small black and white television to find coverage of a plane crashing into the Pentagon and tried to understand what was going on. While I did not know anyone in New York City, my brother and father both worked in Washington, D.C., and passed by the Pentagon each morning as part of their daily commute. As much as I’ve tried, I cannot recall when I reached them or how long it took. I only forester remember talking to my father as he assured me he was OK. The fact that my father worked for the U.S. Department of Defense and my brother managed some of the tallest buildings in the capital didn’t register the level of concern I would have had if I’d understood more. I dressed and got to work in a hurry, not knowing what my day would entail, only that I would most likely be trying to make sense of what was happening and what was next. Yet, unlike previous stories I’d done, there didn’t seem to be any strong answers from the area experts I called upon to provide input. No one was sure of what would happen next. The day passed by in what felt like confusion and frenzy as the majority of reporters stayed in the newsroom, something that rarely happened, save for election night. We watched the television and contacted sources as we tried to provide some answers and direction to a moment in time that eluded us all. Looking back on that day after a decade, I realize how uncertain I felt about where my life was headed, even before tragedy ensued. And then I found myself in a place that felt overwhelmingly uncertain. Perhaps time has a way of sorting things out. I was heartened to recently hear about tangible progress in re-building at Ground Zero just at the same time I learned that I will soon be a new mom. It seems starting anew is again possible after so long. L.E. Forster was The Star’s education reporter from October 2000 until July 2002. She lives in Chicago and works as an Associate Director of Early Childhood, supervising several nonprofit family resource centers for low-income families.

Smoke pours from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Matt Korade had friends who survived and friends who perished in the World Trade Center attacks. Diane Bondareff/Associated Press/file

Stopping and listening

I

was working as the Montgomery correspondent for The Star, covering the third special session in what had been a busy year. Lawmakers and the press corps for the most part continued about the business at hand — an agenda that included congressional redistricting and an ethics law overhaul — but an unusual solemnity, even a feeling of unity, had stolen over the usually partisan proceedings. In fact, the tone of the nation had changed. Being from New York, I appreciated the support and sympathy from those in Montgomery and Anniston, and, indeed, across the nation, over the horrible destruction in Manhattan and elsewhere. Their outpouring said we were Americans first, and patriots, before the accident of birth made us different. Around the capital, access to government buildings was closed off. Gov. Don Siegelman, who had been en route to meetings in Washington when the attacks took place, called a press conference to korade announce the actions his administration was taking to keep the public safe: The Alabama National Guard had been put on alert; the state Emergency Management Agency’s operations center had been activated, he said. In Anniston, residents were concerned about the chemical weapons beings stored in concrete bunkers at the Anniston Army Depot, and my metro editor, Anthony Cook, told me he had heard something about a train being stopped not too far from the city and a passenger, or passengers, being questioned by authorities. So I asked the governor about the rumor. He said, slightly surprised by the alacrity with which we had received the news, that the incident was being investigated. I heard from family that my cousin Cheryl, who worked at the Deutsche Bank Building adjacent to the World Trade Center, had escaped from the 40-story building, which was severely damaged in

the collapse of the south tower, by walking toward a patch of light from the street shining into the building’s darkened parking garage. She, like thousands of others, crossed a lower Manhattan bridge on foot to make it home that night. Uptown, my uncle Tom, a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, handed out bottled water and towelettes to the dust-covered evacuees who walked north on Columbus Avenue. I learned a family friend who worked at the World Trade Center had gotten lucky that morning, missing his morning connection in time to arrive at the towers just as the planes hit. He avoided injury, but a childhood friend, Michael McCarthy, perished in the attacks. At 33, he had just weeks before been hired as an assistant vice president at Carr Futures, on the 92nd floor of the north tower. I heard later that he made it all the way to the pedestrian bridge connecting the World Trade Center to the World Financial Center, across West Street, when the north tower fell. His body was found, a week later, next to a woman’s, and I was told it looked like they were holding on to each other — perhaps in a last dash for life across the 60-meter span. My mother informed me, also, that there was a rush on emergency supplies in the tri-state area. She and my brother had just bought gas masks. As this was unfolding, I was sitting at my tight cubical in the Statehouse press room, trying to write something that would make sense of the legislative session, when an update about the attacks came over the radio. Phillip Rawls, the Associated Press’s capital correspondent, stopped what he was working on and came over to my desk. We just sat there, the veteran newsman and the green reporter, quietly listening to the news, and it was moving to me — and terribly important in the midst of such heartache — that, at this time of tragedy and grievous loss, people would reach out, would stop what they were doing and listen. Matt Korade worked at The Star from December of 1999 to April of 2006. He’s now a deputy editor for legislative action at Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C.

Ashley hall

— I remember —

O Steve Helber/Associated Press/file

Inspectors look over the damage to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12, 2001. L.E. Forster’s father and brother worked near the Pentagon in September 2001.

An emotional experience

n Sept. 11, 2001, I didn’t see the towers fall until lunch. The world was watching the horror unfold in real time on CNN, and I could only imagine it for hours until I got in front of a television. At the time, I was The Star’s 24-yearold criminal justice reporter, and my normal shift was 2-10 p.m. I covered crime as well as spot news that haphall pened later in the day: car accidents, drug arrests, violent and property crimes. But I also covered high-profile criminal trials. On that morning, I was scheduled to be at the Calhoun County Courthouse at 9 a.m. for the

opening arguments of a murder trial. One young man had driven drunk and killed two other young men. Days later, the suspect would be convicted and sentenced to spend the greater part of his life in prison. But that morning, I found it difficult to concentrate. I awoke early for me with NPR blaring on my clock radio; I did not own a TV. The baffling report came in: A plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers. The reports escalated. My parents called. The second plane hit as I was talking to my mom. I didn’t want to go to the trial; I wanted to find a TV. I had moved to Anniston from New York a mere nine months earlier. She told me that I needed to get my head on straight and do my job. So I headed to downtown Anniston.  I was agitated, but I covered the

first hour and a half of the trial. During our break mid-morning, I called my stepfather. It was 11:30 a.m. in New York. What was going on? The towers fell. How many stories of the towers fell? How long would they be closed? They fell completely. But which one? Both of them. They fell? They’re gone. It was unimaginable. I didn’t actually see the images until I went to the newsroom on my lunch break and caught CNN on a loop. The energy at The Star was frantic but also morose. Folks were snapping at each other; no one was feeling confident on what to do, who to call. I ran toward the TV, and threw my bag on the floor. I watched for 20 or so seconds, then I sank to my knees and cried. Ashley Hall was the Anniston Star police reporter in 2000-2002. She is a wine seller living in Atlanta.

Plane crash after plane crash ... the day went blurry

P

igeons. I was thinking about pigeons the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. When it all began, I was cinching up my belt, getting ready to drive out to Clay County to find a guy I’d heard about who raises pigeons. Lots of them. I always thought of pigeons as an urban hobby, something done on Brooklyn rooftops by guys with no other access to nature. I’d even profiled one of them for a New York newspaper before I’d come down to Alabama to report for creamer The Star. I wondered why anyone in the expanses of Alabama would bother with the socalled “rats of the sky.” And so it was dirty, common birds that were my last pure thoughts that day. The man on the radio said a small plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I wondered who was the bigger

Matthew Creamer

— I remember — idiot: the guy piloting the plane or the broadcaster who must be getting the story wrong because, let’s face it, who could accidentally fly into a target so hulking in broad daylight. I was on my way out the door when I heard something about a fire in the Pentagon, but I didn’t stop to catch the whole story. I was driving south on Quintard Avenue when my cell phone rang. It was Anthony Cook, then The Star’s metro editor. “I think you should come into the office, man.” I wanted to find my pigeon guy. A.C. nudged me a little harder. He knew I had spent time in New York. “You should come in,” he repeated, his voice stripped of diplomacy. Back in those days, The Star was housed in that dusty old building on 10th St. When I got there, a lot of the staffers had already gathered in the rear of the newsroom, where the TV was. We were all slackjawed

by the live feed, the image of the towers smoldering, that dirty gray smoke pouring through the pair of gaping wounds. I wondered how long they’d be closed for repairs. That turned out to be a dumb thing to think. Minutes later, the towers fell straight down, as though their legs had been kicked out from beneath them. My knees were weak. Only then did I get it. I returned to my desk and fired up the AP feed. Reporters didn’t have the Internet on their computers, but we all had the AP, a wondrous thing in the era before Google News. I read that a plane had crashed — had been crashed — in Pennsylvania. Then the day went blurry. I recall doing very little as the staff around me gestated in short order a special afternoon edition of The Star. I didn’t really understand the point of doing that or anything else. I can’t even remember if I wrote anything for the

special. A.C. probably took mercy on me. No acts of journalistic heroism here. Days or maybe weeks later, I found my pigeon man, along with his 100 or so birds and assorted donkeys and cats in the community of Millerville. My feature ran on Oct. 15, 2001. Re-reading the piece now, I see that it was pretty unexceptional, maybe except for the last line: “A calico sits, licking its paw, as the pigeons coo nearby.” As moods went, you couldn’t go wrong with incipient violence those days. A year later, I was preparing to leave Anniston. Two years after the attacks, I was back in New York. Ten years later, I’m still in the city, just married, slouching into middle age. I proposed to my wife in a park not far from where the towers stood, where there’s the Fritz Koenig-designed sphere that once sat in the center of the World Trade Center. It’s damaged but not as badly as you might expect. Pigeons, of course, are everywhere down there. Matthew Creamer, a reporter for The Star in 2001 and 2002, is a freelance writer and editor living in Manhattan.


The Anniston Star

Sunday, September 11, 2011 Page 11G

Richard Raeke

— I remember —

Almost there ... but not quite

O

Trent Penny/The Anniston Star/file

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Capt. Kyle Comfort at Faith Temple in Jacksonville on May 8, 2010.

lasting impact

Military families still feel the effects of that day By Patrick McCreless pmccreless@annistonstar.com

Sgt. Charles Webb wanted to be a third-grade teacher. He saw the U.S. Army as a way to earn the money he would need for his education, so in 2000 he signed up fresh out of high school. The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, changed things however, culminating with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The former Alexandria resident died Nov. 3, 2004, killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive device. Though the 22-year-old did not join the military because of the terrorist attacks like so many others, Sept. 11 still stirs strong feelings from his mother, Barbara Webb. “It does, it makes me sad that Sept. 11 is the reason he ended up in Iraq,” said Webb, who lives with her husband, Conley, in Alexandria. “But he was very proud of what he was doing and patriotic for what he was doing, so it’s very emotional for me.” Webb was not the first Calhoun County resident to lose his life fighting in post-9/11 wars, nor was he the last. According to online databases and Anniston Star records, nine men from Calhoun County have lost their lives either in Iraq or Afghanistan since those two wars began. A quick search of their names on the Internet pulls up multiple website memorials where friends and loved ones have posted remembrances in their honor. The first Calhoun County resident to lose his life was Army Spc. Charles Haight, 23, of Jacksonville, killed Dec. 26, 2003, after his vehicle struck an explosive device. A 1999 graduate from Pleasant Valley High School, Haight played clarinet in the band and later joined the football team. Haight joined the Army after he graduated, with plans to earn enough college money through the GI Bill to become a nurse. To date, Capt. Kyle Comfort, 27, of Saks has been the last county resident to be killed in action. Comfort died May 8, 2010, in Afghanistan from an explosive device. Like Webb’s mother, Sept. 11 triggers strong emotions for Comfort’s widow, Brooke Comfort. “It does bring back some emotion — I don’t know if I’d have been in this position if Sept. 11 had not occurred, my husband’s death would never have occurred,” she said. Comfort said her husband did not join the military just because of the September terrorist attacks, but they were a factor.

“I think Kyle always wanted to be in the military, but when that happened, I think that was a kick in the rear for him,” she said. “But he just had a passion for the military. He loved what he did, and he believed we were making a difference over there.” Staff Sgt. Travis Nelson, 41, of Anniston was killed Dec. 12, 2005, in Iraq. For Nelson, the military was his life, serving in the Army from 1982 to 1992 and obtaining the Bronze Star for his efforts in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He enlisted in the National Guard in 2001 and then re-enlisted in the Army in 2004. Marine Lance Cpl. Cody Watson, 21, of Oxford died in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Capt. Donnie Belser Jr., 28, of Saks died Feb. 10, 2007, in Iraq. In high school, he excelled in band and wrestling. Staff Sgt. Robert Thornton Jr., 35, of Jacksonville was killed in Iraq in August 2004 when his patrol came under rocket-propelled grenade attack. A graduate of Jacksonville High School, where he played football, Thornton attended Jacksonville State University for one year before joining the Army. He worked for three years as an Army recruiter in Albertville before going to Fort Hood. Thornton had been on active duty for 12 years and served in Operation Desert Storm as a Reservist before going on active duty. Pvt. Michael Paul Bridges, 23, of Oxford was killed Nov. 2, 2006, in Iraq. Bridges was denied entry into the Army at first because he was too overweight. However, the desire to serve his country was so strong that he worked out for a year-and-a-half to lose 119 pounds so he could become a soldier. Capt. Torre Mallard, 27, of Anniston was killed in March 2008 in Iraq after his vehicle struck an explosive device. After graduating high school in 1998, he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for four years, graduating with a computer science degree. He was deployed to Iraq for his first combat duty in March 2003 and was promoted to captain in 2005. In November 2007, he was deployed to Iraq for a second tour. For Webb, though Sept. 11 is a sad day, she would rather hold onto the happy memories of her son — a boy who loved to skateboard who she enjoyed seeing mature into an adult. “I was very proud when he turned into a man,” she said. Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256235-3561.

“I don’t know if I’d have been in this position if Sept. 11 had not occurred.” — Brooke Comfort, widow of Capt. Kyle Comfort

Area didn’t see increase in recruiting By Laura Johnson

The National Guard enlisted 384 fewer Alabamians the year after the attacks. Command Sgt. Maj. Nolan Tay“I did not see the massive influx lor can still remember the swell of that everybody kept wanting to see in patriotism that permeated Calhoun our area,” Army public affairs officer County in the weeks and months John McCollister said of Alabama. following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror McCollister said statistical data attacks. shows that Alabamians are more Taylor, an Oxford resident and inclined to sign up for the Army than Army recruiter, said people young are people in other regions of the and old put their bids in to become country. So, he said, there was less servicemen and servicewomen at likelihood of a spike in the number that time. Some, like one 57-year-old of enlistments in Alabama than there man, didn’t make the cut. was in other parts of the country. “That was sad, because he was try“I almost would have been ing to do what he thought was right shocked to see a change because the for the country,” Taylor said. propensity, the desire to serve is so The following October enlisthigh in this area,” he said. ments surged, said Capt. Andrew J. McCollister said that despite the Richardson, a public affairs officer for local figures the Army and Army the Alabama Army National Guard. Reserve collectively enlisted about 1 But despite patriotic sentiment and million service men and women from the October rush, fewer Alabamians 2002 to 2011. The largest number enlisted in the National Guard in the of them, 750,924, signed up for the years following the terrorist attacks. Army. About a third of the approxiThe same is true of the Army and mate 1 million enlistments, 273,840, the Army Reserves, which saw enlist- were for the Army Reserves. ments for Calhoun and surroundRichardson said one of the reaing counties fall in the year after the sons fewer people enlisted in the attacks. National Guard following the attacks The year before the terror attacks may be because more existing Guard the Army enlisted 102 soldiers at members at that time were renewing its Oxford office. The year after the their contracts, leaving less room for attacks, 80 people enlisted locally. new members. Whatever, the reason, The Army Reserves signed up 44 he said the Guard has consistently recruits the year before the attacks maintained 100 percent of the men and 41 the year after. and woman needed to fill the numlbjohnson@annistonstar.com

ber of positions they’re authorized to fill. Another factor in the enlistment dip may have been that the Army and the Army Reserves didn’t have as many local recruiters at that time, Richardson said. But overall, he said, this part of the state is highly patriotic, in good times and bad. According to Richardson, Calhoun County and surrounding areas produce a high percentage of the Alabamians who sign up for the Guard. He attributed this to the county’s military ties, through the former Fort McClellan, the Anniston Army Depot and the Army National Guard Training Center at McClellan. Despite the figures, Sgt. First Class Thomas Jatko, a spokesman for the training center, said the terror attacks have served as one motivating factor for new recruits for a decade. Other motivating factors for enlistment, which existed before and after the terror attacks, include practical concerns such as job security. Even today, Jatko said, new enlistees cite the scenes they saw on Sept. 11, 2001, among the reasons they enlisted. “Most of them just talk about remembering where they were when it happened,” he said. “They’ll tell me I was 5 or 6 years old, 7 years old and I couldn’t wait until I was 17 so I could sign up.”

n Sept. 11, I was supposed to be at the Pentagon, covering yet another hearing about the destruction of chemical weapons at the Anniston Army Depot. But sensing that it was another go-nowhere conference, I decided to let our Washington intern handle it instead and stayed in Alabama. That’s not to say “I was almost there” because I wasn’t. The meeting wasn’t until the afternoon, and I would have been in some hotel room ironing my one decent dress shirt in preparation for the meeting. Instead, I awoke to a neighbor saying a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. My first thought was that it was a freak accident, but then the second plane hit. I knew it was time to get into the office. I didn’t have a company cell phone for the editors to reach me. As I mentioned, I had the thankless beat of covering the endless back-and-forth between county and federal officials over the destruction of the weapons at the depot. The doomsday scenario had always been that a plane could crash into one raeke of the bunkers and send a cloud of chemical toxins as far as Atlanta. But before Sept. 11, that possibility seemed more than remote — a one in 100 million “accident.” In all the conversations I had and meetings I attended about the matter, no one ever said that someone could or would intentionally crash a plane into the bunkers. At this point, I remember thinking that no one knew how many planes could be in the air. I don’t believe the hijackers had hit the Pentagon or crashed United Flight 93 yet. The remainder of the day was not very notable. I called depot officials for a boilerplate quote about its high alert status. I remember driving down Quintard Avenue and seeing that the gas stations on Quintard Avenue immediately jacked up their prices while lines began to form at the pumps. In the newsroom, the reporters spent most of the day staring at the TV set mounted on the wall. None of us could have envisioned the massive changes that were to come in our country. Richard Raeke worked at The Star from June 1999 until June 2002. He lives in Oakland, Calif., and develops renewable energy projects.

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The Anniston Star

Page 12G Sunday, September 11, 2011

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10 years later  

The Star's September 11 special section.