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How We've Changed 

Locals reflect on 9/11 and its last impact

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey

Ryan Crocker

62, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan

How did you experience Sept. 11?

I was on the 0800 USAir shuttle from [Washington D.C.] to [New York City]. I could see the smoke from the first tower as we made our approach; the second tower was hit just as we landed. I watched them both collapse from the Queensborough Bridge. Three and a half months later, I was reopening our embassy in Kabul.

How do you think the attacks changed the country?

For those of us in the fight, military and civilian, our lives have been dramatically altered. I have been deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq for five years since 9/11, and have signed on for two more years in Kabul as ambassador. For those who have not been engaged, either directly or through a family member or close friend, life has changed very little except for tighter airport security. We are not a nation at war.

How do you think the attacks will be seen in the future?

If we can demonstrate the patience and resolve to succeed in Afghanistan, my hope is that the significance of these attacks will be that they were the only ones that ever occurred on the American mainland. My colleagues in and out of uniform are here so there will never be another 9/11.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey
Claudia Kirkebo

64, Barber

How did you experience Sept. 11?

I was in Florence, Italy, with my girlfriend and we came out of a little shop and we’re on the Ponte Vecchio bridge and all the cellphones started going off. And a little gal in the store closest to us came out and said, ‘Where are you from? Do you know what’s going on in your country?’ I said no. She said, ‘They have bombed your Washington, D.C., and your New York.’ We were there for a few more weeks. It was amazing when we came home, the difference in the United States.

What was the difference you saw when you came back?

There was no one in the airports, [there were] a lot of flags everywhere you went and everybody was united. The Democrats and the Republicans all of a sudden [had] found each other as friends.

How do you think the attacks changed the country?

I think we’ve drifted further apart, as far as the parties. I believe there’s a lot more corruption in the country. I believe that our young people are very angry and are not pushing themselves to go on in life. They’re becoming dependent on society.

How do you think the attacks will be seen in the future?

Because of what happened, I think my grandkids are more aware of what’s going on around them. But I think they’re learning to practice tolerance.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey
Michael Baumgartner

35, Washington State Senator

How did you experience Sept. 11?

I remember being woken up that morning by my Venezuelan roommate, telling me that the plane had crashed into one of those towers. I was going to meet with [a professor] to talk about teaching at Harvard College. He had not known about the towers. I told him about that… I just remember that total utter silence of everyone.

Given your experience in the Middle East, did the attacks seem expected?

Hindsight is always 20/20. I think the [USS] Cole bombing, the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, [showed] to folks who were paying attention, they [knew] there was a lot of frustration in that part of the world.

How do you think the attacks changed the country?

I think America recognizes a lot more now the significant threat of terrorism. I think it’s a remarkable thing about the decade after 9/11 that America hasn’t changed all that much. We had this terrorist attack, but we have been able to preserve most of our civil liberties.

How do you think the attacks will be seen in the future?

What I hope is that 9/11 is marked upon as perhaps the start of a renaissance period for the Middle East and the Islamic world. This isn’t a conflict where America is really a primary factor; this is really a conflict within Islam.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey
Mary Anne Brown

61, self-employed data manager

How did you experience Sept. 11?

I woke up, turned the news on and saw the second plane fly into World Trade Center. My mouth was agape.

Did it remind you of any other events in history?

I closely related it to when [President] Kennedy was killed, simply because of the emotion overload.

How do you think the attacks changed the country?

I feel very strongly that the country has changed as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., by people not being so passive. I saw that mindset change. I think people were more wary of what was going on around us, more alert, and more defensive.

Do you think future generations will be able to understand the attacks in the same way as people who lived through them?

The emotion that was produced as a result of just witnessing it — I don’t think can be replicated. You can tell your stories, but unless you personally have been overcome with those emotions, I don’t know how that would translate in the future.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey
Michael Ormsby

54, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington

How did you experience Sept. 11?

We didn’t have the TV on at home. I was taking my two sons to school. So the first thing I heard about it was when I turned the car on and National Public Radio was on and they were talking about [it]. I think the first tower had been hit by then.

How do you think the attacks changed the country?

I think America changed for the better right after the attacks. Like a lot of tragedies, it reminded us about what’s important. That our lives, our family’s lives, our well-being is very important to us. ... It had a moderating effect on the political system. For a brief period of time, people worked together in a bipartisan fashion. Unfortunately, I think the further we get away from the event itself, the positive things that happened to us as a result of the event have been lost.

How do you think the attacks will be seen in the future?

I think it’s important for us in our generation, particularly mine, to talk about this with our kids. ... It’s incumbent upon people of my generation to come forward and say we love living in this country and why, and I think 9/11 is an opportunity to remind each other what makes this country great.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey
John Thamm

73, owner of J.F. Thamm Gallery

How did you experience Sept. 11?

I was in Bisbee, Arizona. For some reason I turned on the television set that morning, and there it was.

What did you think of it when you saw it?

Well, it was obviously a conspiracy, wasn’t it? OK, there are two opposing scenarios here. The 19 Islamics who were the perpetrators, or the vast number of conspiratorial theories that float around on the Internet that are never, ever examined by the mainstream media, or rarely are. And so the public at large is presented with these two opposing thoughts.

Which one do you believe?

Since there’s never been an in-depth examination of what really happened, and since all the information that I’m able to acquire is through the mainstream media or the Internet, I suffer from cognitive dissonance, just like everyone else.

How do you think the attacks changed the country?

Before it happened, we were not embroiled in wars throughout the world as we are now. In my estimation it had an extremely negative impact on the last decade.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey
Lt. Joseph Siemandel

27, Wash. National Guard

How did you experience Sept. 11?

I actually was sleeping. I got a call from my mother. [She was] saying, ‘Have you heard what happened?’ I said no. ‘We were attacked, the World Trade Center was attacked.’ I turned on the TV and every channel had it. A friend and I spent the whole day watching coverage. When I had enough, I kind of walked away. It was too much to bear.

Did the attacks affect your decision to join the National Guard in 2002?

I joined for multiple reasons. National Guard is for the state. I love the state of Washington. 9/11 was a little bit [of the reason], but it wasn’t the main reason. The main reasons are always service to your country and state.

How do you think the subsequent wars changed the National Guard?

When I joined National Guard, what [friends in other branches] said to me was, ‘Have fun guarding my lockers when we’re gone.’ Out of the four of us, I was the only one who ever went into any of the war theaters. I want to say that stigma has changed quite a bit.

How do you think the attacks will be seen in the future?

This was our generation’s Pearl Harbor. Your grandchildren will hear about it, but they’re going to see it as a time when … we all stood together and said, ‘We are Americans,’ and that’s what they’re going to see from it.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey
Eric Beaulaurier

20, student

How did you experience Sept. 11?

I just remember waking up and seeing it on the news. And it was kind of freaky and surreal, but I was a little bit too young to understand exactly what was going on. I remember going to school and it didn’t really hit me. I didn’t really understand the gravity of what happened until actually fairly recently … like wow, that was really an insane thing and a lot of people died, it actually affected a lot of people’s lives.

How do you think the attacks changed the country?

Oh, all sorts of stuff. The economy has kind of gone downhill, not necessarily just from that, and security is through the roof. A lot of war spending, [although] I guess probably not a whole lot more than was already there.

How do you think the attacks will be seen in the future?

I don’t think it’s going to be really a big part of [future generations’] lives until they learn about it in their class or something like that. [It’s] something of high gravity for a lot of people of our age. There’s a lot of things that I don’t remember, horrific incidences, bombings and things like that … that don’t hold that much weight for me because I wasn’t around when they happened.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS BOVEY
  • Illustration: Chris Bovey
Natalie Love

25, Clean Team employee

How did you experience Sept. 11?

[I was] getting up, getting ready for school and my best friend calls me. She’s like, ‘Turn on the TV, turn on the TV.’ I turned on the TV right in time to watch the plane hit the second building. I just sat there in shock. She drove over as fast we could, and we just sat there in pure shock. Then we [went] to school and just sat around talking about it.

How do you think the attacks changed the country?

It’s more secure. We’re not having any terrorist attacks, I’ve noticed that. [There’s] no threats or anything that I’ve noticed.

How do you think the attacks will be seen in the future?

I think they’ll see it as in, ‘Wow, that happened,’ and how much it actually has changed. They’ll look back on that as something that happened, but now they’ll probably feel safer.

Local 9/11 Events

Trade Center Tower
The Spokane Valley Fire Department will display a steel beam from one of the towers in the World Trade Center in the lobby of its new administration building during a ceremony on Sept. 11 at 6:59 a.m., the time the first tower fell. 10319 E. Sprague Ave. (928-2462)

Patriot’s Day Memorial Ceremony
The Spokane Interstate Fair will host a Patriot’s Day parade on Sept. 11 at 1:30 pm, followed by a commemorative ceremony at 2 pm. Cost: $10; $7 youth and seniors. Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, 404 N. Havana St., Spokane Valley. spokanecounty.org (477-2770)

Remembrance Evensong
The religious service will feature music and members of the military, police, and fire department on Sept. 11 at 7 pm. Donations accepted. St. John’s Cathedral, 127 E. 12th Ave. stjohns-cathedral.org (838-4277)

The Guys
Anne Nelson’s play, as performed by the Bombay Cat Theater Project, will commemorate Sept. 11 at 2 pm and 7 pm. Free. Coeur d’Alene Public Library, 702 E. Front Ave., CdA (208-769-2315)

Hole in the Sky
Ignite! Community Theatre will perform the 9/11 play by local playwright Reed McColm on Sept. 11 at 2 pm and 7 pm. Donations accepted for a memorial fund. Interplayers Theatre, 174 S. Howard St. interplayers.com (795-0004)

POW/MIA Ceremony
The Washington State University and University of Idaho Air Force ROTC program will host a ceremony to honor military personnel taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, on Sept. 9 at 10 am. Donations accepted. University of Idaho, 851 Campus Dr., Moscow, Idaho. (208-885-7251)

Walk for Warriors
Show your support for men and women in the military during a 15-mile run/walk along the Chipman Trail between Moscow and Pullman on Sept. 10, 8 am-noon. Donations accepted. The event is sponsored by the Warrior’s Promise Foundation, which provides support service members. Chipman Trail, corner of Perimeter Drive and Hwy. 8 in Moscow, Idaho. (208-885-7251)

An Hour of Remembrance
The George Nethercutt Foundation will honor local heroism and commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 with live music, a multimedia presentation and speakers on Sept. 11 at 7 pm. Donations accepted. Former U.S. Representative (and Inlander contributor) George Nethercutt, Mayor Mary Verner and Colonel Paul Guemmer will speak. INB Performing Arts Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. nethercuttfoundation.org (742-9362)

Memorial Stair Climb
Participants will climb 110 flights of stairs — the same number that were in the World Trade Center towers — carrying a photo of a fallen firefighter. The event takes place on Sept. 11 at 9 am. Pledge donations will benefit the Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Bank of America, 601 W. Riverside Ave. firehero.org (208-640-4240)

Hometown Heroes
Commanders, veterans, and veteran advocates will discuss current affairs on Sept. 9 from 2-4 pm at Greater Spokane Incorporated, 801 W. Riverside Ave. The event will then lead to the Hometown Heroes rally/raffle at 4:30 pm in Riverfront Park. Donations accepted. The event will include presentations and speakers. Ticket proceeds benefit the Washington State Veterans Innovations Program. (664-4808)

Military Appreciation Day
The second annual event will honor men and women in the armed forces on Sept. 10 from noon-3 pm. Cost: $10. Proceeds will benefit Time of Remembrance of Washington. Valley Fourth Memorial Church, 2303 S. Bowdish Rd., Spokane Valley. (924-4525)

Care Package Drive
Veterans at the University of Idaho will hold a care-package drive for military personnel overseas on Sept. 10 from noon-2 pm. Suggested donations include baby wipes, sun block, aloe vera, chapstick, unscented tampons, body soap, hand sanitizer, lotion, tooth paste and brushes, disposable razors, playing cards, hard candy, CDs, DVDs, books and magazines. Kibbie Activity Center, 1000 Stadium Dr., Moscow, Idaho (208-885-7251)

Firefighters Ball
The formal affair will pay tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 with a silent auction, dinner, dancing and music by the Tuxedo Junction Big Band on Sept. 9 from 6-8 pm. Cost: $45. Coeur d’Alene Resort, 115 S. Second St., Coeur d’Alene (208-765-4000)

Veterans Memorial
Native American veterans who have died in all wars will be named and honored on Sept. 10 at 10 am. Following the ceremony will be food and an event fair. Donations accepted. Spokane VA Medical Center, 4815 N. Assembly St. (434-7504)

Human Rights Day
The Latah County Human Rights Task Force will discuss Japanese internment after Pearl Harbor and Islamophobia after Sept. 11 at the farmers market on Sept. 10 from 8 am-noon. Free. Friendship Square, Moscow, Idaho (208-883-7036)

Military Appreciation Day
View military equipment and exhibits in support of service members on Sept. 10 at noon. Donations accepted. Kibbie Activity Center, 1000 Stadium Dr., Moscow, Idaho. (208-885-7251)

— COMPILED BY JORDY BYRD

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