Jayhawks Remember 9/11

Sept. 10, 2010

Nine years ago our nation suffered the most devastating terrorist attack on its soil. Below are just a few stories from current Jayhawks about their experiences of the event.

Bonnie Henrickson

Bonnie Henrickson (Women’s basketball head coach)

Location on 9/11/01: Washington D.C. (2 miles from Pentagon)

Where were you when you first heard about the attacks?

BH: “I was two miles from the Pentagon recruiting in Washington D.C. I actually saw the smoke from the plane that hit the Pentagon.”

What were your first reactions when you saw the smoke coming out of the Pentagon?

BH: “I was terrified, scared and sad. It still gives me chills. I could feel the building I was in shake and could see the smoke from the crash.”

As the women’s basketball coach at Virginia Tech in 2001, did you have any athletes or members of your staff who had or knew of friends, families or co-workers involved in the tragedy?

BH: “None of our players lost any family members, but several had family in New York City who were terrified.”

Had you ever been to the World Trade Center or Pentagon before the attacks?

BH: “I visited the World Trade Center on a family trip when I was in college. I actually had a chance to go out on the top of the building and look around.”

Have you ever been since?
BH: “I have not been to the World Trade Center site, but I have driven by the Pentagon several times since the attacks.”

How should we remember/commemorate the attacks almost a decade later?
BH: “I think it is important for all Americans to take a moment to reflect on our freedom and the attacks on 9/11. We need to take time to give thanks to those who lost their lives and also for those who have lost their lives in other conflict. Our Freedom has a painful price for many Americans and their families.”

Thomas Robinson

Thomas Robinson (Sophomore, Men’s Basketball)

Hometown: Washington D.C. (2 miles from Pentagon)

How old were you on September 11, 2001?

TR: “I was in fourth grade. I was nine years old and I remember being in school and listening to the intercom in the classroom for every teacher to turn their TV’s on and to give as much information to us as they could. I just sat there watching it, as they called all of our parents.”

Did you know anyone who lived or worked near The Pentagon?

TR: “My mom actually worked downtown (Washington D.C.) during the time. I wasn’t able to get in touch with her at the time and I wasn’t able to leave school until she was able to get me. She was locked down at her work, so I didn’t even get in touch with her until after lunchtime that day.”

How scary was it for you and your classmates to know what happened was just a few miles away from your school?

TR: “It was very scary because all we knew was what happened after the first attacks (in New York) and then about 10 minutes later it hit D.C. After that, everyone was scared and the whole area was shut down because they were afraid the monuments and other places like that would get hit. Everybody was on lock down basically. I remember I stayed at school until about six (p.m.) that night when my mom was finally able to come get me.”

Tyshawn Taylor

Tyshawn Taylor (Jr. Men’s Basketball)

Hometown: Hoboken, New Jersey (5 miles from Ground Zero)

Being from Hoboken, N.J., you were just across the Hudson River from NYC, what did you see on 9/11/01?

TT: “I was in sixth grade and I was in school and we were watching the TV and we could see the Towers smoking from our school in Jersey City. My mother ended up coming to get me and my cousins and took us home to Hoboken. When we got home and looked out of our window, we could see everything that was going on. Hoboken is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, so there was nothing blocking our view. I didn’t actually see the Towers fall or anything like that, we were still in school when that happened. When we got home we just saw all the smoke and all the people on ferries coming back and forth from the city.”

Did you know anybody that lived or worked near the World Trade Center?

TT: “I had an aunt that worked in that area. Everybody was panicking until we found out she was alright. My aunt, though, knew somebody on one of the planes that was hijacked and crashed. Later, there was a movie made about 9/11 that had her friend’s plane on it. Whenever she sees her friend’s name in the credits, she just cries.”

How scary was it being so close to what was happening?

TT: “It was nerve wracking to me because when you are young like that and see adults panicking, as a kid your naturally just like uh oh, now it’s time for us to panic. If my mother is losing her cool, then there is definitely something wrong. I wasn’t really paying attention to the news when I was in school. All I thought was if I saw the adults panicking, I knew it couldn’t be good.”

How is your perspective different as a native from the area, then maybe someone who lives in the Midwest that wasn’t so close to the attacks?

TT: “We have all been affected by it on our own way. Just being an American, you were affected by it wherever you were – whether where I lived in Hoboken or here in Kansas. I think as nation this is something we just need to remember and keep getting better from it.”

Jim Marchiony

Jim Marchiony (Associate AD/External Relations)

Hometown: Hartsdale, N.Y. (27 miles from Ground Zero)

Where were you when you first heard about the 9/11 attacks?

JM: “I was in Indianapolis working for the NCAA where I had worked for 18 years. I’m originally from Hartsdale, New York, which is in West Chester County, about 40 miles north of the city. I remember as clear as day driving to the office that morning with a friend who was visiting from Long Island (N.Y.) hat weekend. We had no idea what was going on and walked upstairs to my office and somebody came in and said something along the lines of, ‘Hey something happened and the World Trade Center is on fire’. I turned on the TV in my office and just sat there transfixed just like everybody else for hours and hours and I will just never forget seeing the first tower collapsing. I am looking at the TV screen and could just feel my jaw drop. I will never forget that moment and how I felt.”

Had you ever been to the World Trade Center before?

JM: “I had never been up to the top, but living just 40 miles away, I can’t tell you how many times I was in Manhattan, saw the towers and took them for granted.”

Did you know anybody killed or injured as a result of the attacks?

JM: “I didn’t know anybody specifically, but my wife (Mary Beth) who grew up in Queens (N.Y.) knew people from high school who died. With us both being from that area, so many of us have friends who live and work in New York and to know that we knew people who were affected by it was terribly tragic.”

Have you been back to ground zero since the attacks?

JM: “I actually went that Christmas (2001) when we were back home for the holidays and I decided to drive down there. I parked blocks away and walked. Once I stood there I just had the same numb feeling that I had watching it all.”

As a native New Yorker, what would you like to see be re-built at the WTC Site?

JM: “I probably would like to see the same exact thing built. They (the Towers) were initially built so well, but they could be built so much better now and just to see them there again would be really cool. So much thought and discussion has gone into planning what will be there I am fine with whatever they decide, but in the end I’m just glad something will be there.”

What will the Jayhawks be doing to remember 9/11?

JM: “Obviously we’ll be thinking about it like the rest of the nation. We have some neat things planned for the football game. Volleyball and football staff will be wearing commemorative shirts (with Kansas in red, white and blue) to honor the heroes. In my mind though, the best way to honor them is how you live your life day to day and know that you just never know when it’s going to be taken away from you.”