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Morgan Dowler | Cartoonist
Morgan Dowler | Cartoonist

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that took the lives of thousands and forever changed the lives of millions. In honor of this day, the Editorial Board asked members of the Baylor and Waco community to reflect on their personal experiences from that day. We ask that while reading through the experiences of the following people, you also take a moment to honor and remember all those who lost their lives that day. 

Priscilla Bruntmyer, clinical education administrative coordinator, said she was in her third grade class on a military base before the first plane hit. Hope Koch, associate professor and holder of the Godfrey Sullivan Chair in Information Systems, said she was heading to class at Texas A&M, where she was working on her PhD. These are only a few of the responses we received…

Before the First Plane Hit

Photo Courtesy of Kim Smith

Kim Smith, Internship Manager – Department Health, Human Performance and Recreation

“I was 20 and interviewing for a job at Rural Metro Ambulance at 18th and Austin Avenue following completion of my Emergency Medical Technician certification so that I could have a part-time job during my junior year at Baylor.


Photo Courtesy of AP

Nadine Welch, Clinical Assistant Professor – Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders

I had dropped all of my kids off at their schools and was home by myself. My husband called and told me to turn on the news. Disbelief was my recurring emotion that day.”

9/11/2001 - 8:00am

First Plane Hits

Photo Courtesy of Matthea Williams

Matthea Williams, Clinical Associate Professor – Department Health, Human Performance and Recreation

“Our chaplain made an announcement in chapel about the plane hitting. I remember it feeling surreal. I was on a college campus, but not Baylor. Classes were canceled for the rest of the day. Students were encouraged to gather together for support [and] prayer and to reach out to family members who may have been affected.”


Photo Courtesy of Josh Ward

Josh Ward, Senior Academic Consultant – Hankamer School of Business

“I was a student. I remember being the prime age for military service. I was a senior, and I wondered where I’d be in nine to 18 months from that day going forward. Very sobering. Distracted. We had a test scheduled [at] 11a.m.; I think I got a 40. I couldn’t think about anything else.”


Photo Courtesy of Brent Phillips

Brent Phillips, Professor of Trombone – School of Music; Faculty in Residence – University House

“I was scheduled for [an] 11 a.m. Pentagon arrival. The “President’s Own” is tasked with Military District of Washington detail—at times to include Pentagon and Capitol ceremonies, in addition to our daily service at the White House. I remember getting a call from a fellow member in the band telling me to turn on the TV. Marine Band Operations called me, and I was told to ‘stand by.’”


9/11/2001 - 8:45 am

Second Plane Hits

Fire and smoke billows from the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 after terrorists crashed two hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and brought down the twin towers. Most Americans were guided through the events of the day by one of three men: Tom Brokaw of NBC News, Peter Jennings of ABC and Dan Rather of CBS. Each had extensive reporting experience before that, Brokaw and Rather were at the White House during Watergate, and Jennings has been a foreign correspondent. (AP Photo/David Karp)

Commander Jared Wallace, Waco Police Department

“When the second plane hit the south tower, I felt an immediate anger and desire to protect. There was no doubt we were under attack. The only questions were ‘How large of an attack were we under?’ and ‘Who was attacking us?’ Suddenly, things became much bigger. I went into protector mode, wanting to do whatever I could to protect lives and defend our country. Then, as the picture of the events that day became clearer, my mind stopped thinking about duty and service as a responder and was flooded with all of the personal emotions you felt as an individual who was witness to such horrible acts of terror, pain and fear from the victims and heroism from those aboard Flight 93, the first responders on scene and military at the Pentagon.”


Photo Courtesy of Ann Theriot

Ann Theriot, Clinical Assistant Professor – Department of Human Sciences and Design

“When the second plane hit the tower, I was in a room with a group of women having a Bible study, so we just stopped and prayed, which was comforting… It seems that we heard about the plane that hit the Pentagon around the same time as the second tower, and it wasn’t until that news came across that I remembered my father and my uncle worked at the Pentagon. I stood up in the middle of the prayer and said, ‘I’ve got to go. My family works in that building and my parents live about three blocks from the Pentagon. I need to call my mom.’ Thankfully, miraculously, my uncle, whose office was in the blast site, was at home recovering from surgery. My father, a naval chaplain, was conducting a military funeral at Arlington Cemetery right next door to the Pentagon and ran to the fence, felt the heat of the fire and watched it burn.”


9/11/2001 - 9:03 am

American Flight 77 Crashes into the Pentagon

9/11/2001 - 9:37 am

South Tower Falls

9/11/2001 - 9:59 am

United Flight 93 is Hijacked and Passengers Crash into Empty Field

9/11/2001 - 10:03 am

North Tower Falls

Photo Courtesy of AP

Jen Stephenson, Director of Baylor Opera Theatre

“In my dorm [at the University of Massachusetts], everyone had their room door open, and everyone was glued to the news. Occasionally, someone would come into the room from another room in sort of a dazed disbelief, and then wander out again. There was no lockdown. We didn’t have lockdowns back then. It has only been in the post-9/11 world where everyone knows about lockdowns. In the early evening, there was a gathering of thousands of people on the main quad of campus. We had a moment of silence, and never in my life before or since have I been witness to so many people being absolutely silent.”

9/11/2001 - 10:28 am

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 claimed 2,977 lives in one day, and awoke an entire nation to the reality that it was no longer untouchable. In response, the United States entered the War on Terror. This war required the support of a nation.

Wayne Hampton, Baylor adjunct lecturer for the Hankamer School of Business said the greatest honor and privilege of his life came when his manufacturing company in Waco began working 24 hours a day and seven days a week to up-armor over 7,000 military vehicles, protecting the soldiers sacrificing themselves to defend the U.S. from future days of terror.   

Those alive to remember 9/11 will most likely never forget where they were and how they felt when the first plane hit, and many will always hold that day heavy in their hearts. Those who gave their lives in fighting and service along with those whose’ lives were taken from them should forever be memorialized and honored. Anniversaries will come and go, but we should never forget that day when time stood still.

More on 9/11

10 Years Ago

1 Day After