Where were you that day?

B-A teacher recall the events of 9/11 and their impact on the world


Bradley Maule

This photo, taken by area native and Philadelphia journalist Bradley Maule, was shot from inside the north tower of the World Trade Center in January, 2001, just nine months before the attacks of 9/11.

Bellwood-Antis High School civics teacher Mr. Matthew McNaul remembers vividly September 11, 2001.

Mr. McNaul resided in Pittsburgh at the time, working as a carpenter laying wood floors. While on the job, one of his customers told Mr. McNaul that the World Trade Center had been hit by an airplane. He said that his first reaction was that it was an accident.

“I think at first we thought it was an accident but it was soon thereafter that the second plane hit and we realized we were under attack,” said McNaul.

Mr. McNaul said that he was startled at what actually happened. He vividly remembers calling his parents to tell them that he loved them.

“We were glued to the television,” said Mr. McNaul.

There was an eerie silence. You could only hear fighter jets. You couldn’t even see them.

— Mr. McNaul

Mr. McNaul also clearly recalled that the skies were clear. In Pittsburgh, he said, you can see and hear airplanes circle the city getting ready to land at the international airport. However, on that day the US government grounded all commercial flights.

“There was an eerie silence. You could only hear fighter jets. You couldn’t even see them,” said Mr. McNaul.

Mr. McNaul is among many B-A teachers that still clearly remember the events of 9/11 and how they felt after fifteen years.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, America was attacked by an Islamic terror group called al Qaeda. At 8:45a.m. an American Airlines plane, loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel, crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

At first Americans assumed that this crash was a mistake. However, we soon realized that it was nothing of the sort.

Eighteen minutes after the first plane hit, civilians noticed a second plane making a sharp turn towards the South Tower, slicing it near its 60th floor. Then Americans realized America was under attack.

At 9:45 a.m. Flight 77 crashed into the western side of the Pentagon. One hundred twenty-five military personnel and civilians were killed with the 64 people aboard flight 77.

United Flight 93 was hijacked by terrorists 40 minutes after its take off from New Jersey. By this moment in time, passengers had heard the news from New York. A group of passengers and some flight attendants made the decision to intercede, causing the plane to crash at 10:10 a.m. in a field in Sahnksville in Western Pennsylvania. To this day we still are not aware of this plane’s target, but it may have been the White House, the U.S. Capitol, or a nuclear plant. No one survived the crash.

Within these events both of the towers collapsed leaving The Big Apple covered in ashes and debris.

Many teachers at Bellwood-Antis have been affected by this tragic event in 2001. High school principal Mr. Richard Schreier was teaching at Huntingdon Area Middle School in 2001, and like Mr. McNaul he said the idea of no planes being flown in U.S. airspace gave him an “eerie” feeling.

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Tenth grade World Cultures teacher Mr. Charlie Burch said he “didn’t realize the scope of the attack.”

“I remember a lot of schools let out but we still held football practice. I tried to say we had to focus. Life goes on. I tried to talk to them about what occurred and ease their minds,” said Mr. Burch.

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Spanish teacher Mrs. Erin Smith, who was teaching at Tyrone in 2001, said that she was very “confused” when she heard the news.

“I wanted to call home. My good friend lives in Manhattan and I was very concerned, but the funny thing is she was concerned about me,” said Mrs. Smith.

Ms. Cunningham, a new English teacher in the B-A school district, doesn’t remember a lot about that day. She was in fourth grade at Myers Elementary when the event occurred. However, she remembers her parents having their eyes glued to the TV.

“At my age, I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was,” said Ms. Cunningham.

Mr. Tim Andrekovich was teaching in the middle school when he heard the news, and he said he was in shock. He said one of the lasting impacts of the tragedy is the heightened security one notices every day in many places in America.

“A lot of people feel unsafe anymore (when) traveling,” he said.

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Mr. Schreier said remembered that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 patriotism was very high, but that has changed in the years since.

But like Mr. Andrekovich he said awareness of terrorism and safety may be the most lasting effect of the tragedy.

“Awareness about terrorism and protection of the people of the United States is something I have noticed has changed,” Mr. Schreier said.

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9/11 is definitely the most devastating attack on U.S. soil, killing 343 firefighters alone. Nearly 3,000 innocent people died in the falling of the World Trade Center and other events that took place that day.

Fifteen years later, those who have fallen will always be in our hearts at Bellwood-Antis. We will never forget September 11, 2001.