Kathy Keith sat at her desk on that New York City morning 20 years ago, her office about 20 blocks from the World Trade Center. The building boasted a perfect view of the twin towers, she said. “I …
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Kathy Keith sat at her desk on that New York City morning 20 years ago, her office about 20 blocks from the World Trade Center. The building boasted a perfect view of the twin towers, she said.
“I remember someone saying, ‘Oh, a plane just hit the World Trade Center,’ so we all run to the window,” she said. “And we see the smoking north tower.”
Keith and her coworkers stood there, all staring at the surreal sight of smoke billowing across what had been a clear blue sky.
“At that moment, a fireball goes up and a second plane had hit the south tower,” she said. “One person next to me said, “We’re under attack. I’m leaving.’ Another person brought in a TV, so we can see what’s going on.”
People tried calling family but there was no service. They caught news that a plane had struck the Pentagon as well. Then the south tower began to collapse.
“So, we’re watching out the window, we’re watching the TV and the live version of it collapsing,” she said. “You could just see it go down and we’re just standing there going, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.’”
Keith recounted her story standing near the back of a crowd as Lone Tree’s remembrance ceremony for the 20-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, wrapped up. She leaned against a South Metro Fire Rescue truck as a couple listened intently, and later told it again for Colorado Community Media.
She said she appreciated remarks from Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet at the ceremony.
The mayor gave first responders a round of applause. She called for a moment of silence as a Boy Scout troop raised the official 9/11 Flag of Honor, bearing the names of the 2,983 people who lost their lives in the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Lone Tree was one of 60 communities across the county to participate in a remembrance ceremony planned by Global Youth Justice. After the flag raising, Lone Tree Teen Court members read the names of 50 victims.
Many people lost loved ones on Sept. 11, Millet said. They lost out on memories.
“Many of us lost innocence that day,” she said.
Everyone old enough to be aware at the time remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first learned about the attacks. Millet vowed that the nation will never forget 9/11.
“Instead of breaking us, that evil act united us,” Millet said.
Keith made it home from the battered city by trekking to the office building of a friend, who then joined her in taking a ferry to New Jersey, Keith’s home of 15 years.
“The only way to get out was either you walk across a bridge or something, or you take a ferry,” she said.
National Guard members watched over the packed boat as passengers looked to where the World Trade Center once stood. The crowd remained completely silent, Keith said.
“This was New York City, where it’s usually loud and noisy. And it was just silence and we’re on the ferry just watching the smoke,” she said.
Keith relocated to Lone Tree later that month and has been a resident for the past 20 years. Leaving New York City stirred mixed emotions. The community came together after the attacks, something she called an amazing thing to witness.
She had not been to a memorial or remembrance ceremony since. This year she decided to attend one, and she was glad she did. Keith called hearing children read victim’s names impactful for her.
“It hit me how many people from New York, New Jersey,” she said, “how many people were affected.”
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