Where were you when 9/11 happened?
Most of us can remember where we were 17 years ago on September 11, 2001. Some Southwest Florida residents were confused and devastated when they saw America was under attack.
Others were too young to understand what was happening. They were in class at a Lee County School when the second plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. It was just after 9 a.m. and despite their age, they sensed something was wrong.
HelloSWFL took to the streets of Downtown Fort Myers — more than 1,200 miles from New York City — Tuesday to talk to our community about their memories.
One by one, people shared their stories — from grade school to adulthood. There were some tears, responses vented in frustration and reflections on the attack that lead them to personal growth. People in Southwest Florida described having family in one of the Twin Towers during the terrorist attack. The resulting panic feeling they had as there was little communication over the health of their loved ones other than pure speculation.
An overwhelming consensus of residents shared a similar sentiment. They knew that the world changed that day. Nearly 3,000 people died from the terrorist attacks with more than $10 billion in infrastructure and property damages.
There is an odd thing about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The most damaging strike by the terrorist faction, Al Qaeda, struck the World Trade Center. Unlike the Pearl Harbor attack, which is also remembered each year on December 7, the destruction of the Twin Towers can be watched on YouTube in its entirety.
Viewers can see the tragedy unfold as the South Tower is struck by a second place. As both towers crumbled from the powerful impact of American Airlines Flight 11 or United Airlines Flight 175, desperate people can be seen leaping from the building to their impending death.
The footage is devastating, but it will forever be a defining moment in American history and a memory that hasn't been lost by people in Southwest Florida.