Sept. 11, 2001 is a date seared in modern memory. After the day that has come to be called simply 9/11, Americans’ perceptions of the world changed. We asked people in Reporter Newspapers communities of Brookhaven, Buckhead, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs where they were on 9/11. They remembered. And they offered thoughts on just how their lives had changed since that day.

“I had returned from vacation the night before and was actually sleeping late that morning. A good friend saw the news on TV and called to check on me.  I was awakened by the phone call and told to turn on the TV.  By that time, both towers had been hit, but neither had fallen.  I was watching the TV when the first tower fell.  It was about then that the realization that America was under attack became evident.  At about the same time, the phone rang and it was work calling everybody in.  I returned to work that day and began policing for the first time in what many called a ‘wartime’ atmosphere.”
Maj. Robert Browning, Zone 2 commander for the Atlanta Police Department

“I was living in Seattle at the time. With a three-hour time difference, I didn’t hear about it when it happened. When I went outside, I noticed there weren’t any planes. It was eerily quiet. Finally, when I turned on the TV, I heard. Fortunately, I didn’t know anyone that died during that terrorist act. I did have friends that lived in New York and that worked in New York. I had seen the World Trade Center towers prior to 9/11 and have been able to go back several times [to the site] in recent years.”
Carlester Crumpler

Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran

“On a bright, beautiful Tuesday morning in Shreveport, La., as fire chief, I was on my way to visit [a station] and received a page from the dispatch center that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. When I arrived, crews were gathered around the television.  About two minutes later, we were stunned as we watched the second plane strike the second tower. I was devastated at the loss of American lives and particularly, the loss of 343 firefighters in less than two hours.  It took weeks for me to overcome the grief.  Watching the many firefighter funerals and memorial services on TV only made matters worse and I had to force myself to stop watching the news.
The greatest honor in the proud profession is not dying together as brothers and sisters in the line of duty; the greatest honor in our proud profession is living together as brothers and sisters in the line of duty.  As such, we have made a vow in the American Fire Service. We will never forget!”
Kelvin Cochran, Atlanta Fire Chief

“I think it’s hard for anybody to say it hasn’t touched them. It was an extremely tragic event for our country, but, at the time, it was a uniting event, too. It affected our daily lives, our view of terrorism. And I think, for me, it’s good to remember that life can come and go in an instant. [It’s a reminder] to take time to enjoy what you have, and to think of others.”
John Dickens

“I was in high school in Current Events class. We just sat at our desks and watched the thing in silence. It opened my eyes to what it means to being patriotic, the importance of having freedom.”
Abbie Doran

“I was [a nurse at Kennestone] Hospital. I was with a mom who had just had her baby 12, 13 hours before. We just sat down with her whole family and watched [the attacks on TV] and bonded together and cried. I’ll never forget being with that newborn baby, with that new life in the room.”
Angie Flowers

“Each of us has an indelible memory of the moment when we had first notice of the 9/11 disaster! I was at home when the phone rang and I unexpectedly heard the distraught voice of my husband. He said, ‘Turn on the television. The country is under attack.’ The horror transfixed all of us.”
Eva Galambos, mayor of Sandy Springs

“I was at a senior staff meeting of the Marietta Police Department when someone came in and told us to turn the television on. It felt like we were watching a Hollywood movie, only it was real.
The 9/11 attacks forever changed the way I view policing and my role and responsibility.  Not only do I have to be concerned about quality of life issues and criminal behavior, now I have to understand and safeguard against terrorists who might want to harm our communities.”
Billy Grogan, chief of the Dunwoody Police Department

“I was probably at school, in the fifth grade. I was shocked. But no, it hasn’t really affected me that much.”
Carlos Hood

“[After 9/11] I just think you appreciate the smaller things in life. You’re conscious of living every day to the fullest. You don’t know when a random act is going to happen.”
Susan Hull

“I was at my office in Buckhead. Somebody walked in and said a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought it must have been, like, a Cessna. I turned on CNN and saw the other plane hit the other tower. I grew up on Long Island and a couple of guys I grew up with died on 9/11. It changed my perspective of the world — for the worse. It made you aware that something like that could happen.”
Rob Keith

John McDonough, Sandy Springs City Manager

“The attack left a lasting impression on me about the lengths our enemies will go to do us harm and the importance of doing everything within our power to protect this nation.  As a result of the attack, I was recalled to active duty by the U.S. Marines in January 2003 to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom.”
John McDonough, city manager of Sandy Springs

“My wife had friends whose husbands were in it. Everybody was affected by a family member — one degree of separation. We were very directly affected by it.”
Allen W. Nelson

“I had just got into the office when we heard. A lot of people in the office were talking about it. We had TVs. It was all over the news. It was scary. I’m Muslim. It affected me a lot. It changed my life a lot in the past 10 years. You see a lot of subtle discrimination.”
Ifrah Rageh

“It definitely made us, our generation, aware that things can happen on our own soil. … It just raised our consciousness. I had a lot of my friends join the military after that. I think it made our generation feel more strongly about protecting the country.”
Christina Stern

“It was heartbreaking. It definitely makes me aware that tragedies of that magnitude can happen anywhere, especially if it happened in America. I think often we have a false sense of security here. It’s definitely made me appreciate life more.”
Sheryle Thompson

“I was living in Florida. It makes me appreciate the freedom that we have and the people in my life. Because you never know when it might be your last day.”
Castalia Thorne