Leila Case: Memories of 9/11 linger twenty years later

Published 10:32 am Thursday, September 16, 2021

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Leila Case
Columnist; ATR

Memories of 9/11 are still fresh twenty years later.

At the time I was in direct marketing at Habitat for Humanity International headquarters and just completed a conference call with our consultants in Washington, DC, when the phone rang.

It was Bruce on the line, his voice full of raw emotion. He said he was watching “Today,” NBC’s morning news program when it was interrupted with the breaking news and vivid images of the terrorist’s plane colliding into the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. With Bruce still on the line, I pushed my desk chair back, looked out of the large office windows at the cloudless blue sky and shared the awful news with my colleagues. Suddenly the second terrorist’s plane hit the Trade Center’s other tower.

Unbelievable. A few minutes later United Airline’s Flight 93 went down in Maryland at the hands of hijackers. And then another plane crashed into the Pentagon building.

“What in the world is happening?” Our country was under attack by foreign terrorists.

Almost immediately Habitat employees made their way to the large first floor conference room to watch the wide screen television, where we either stood or sat for hours watching the horrific news unfold. Tears were shed.

I recall a Habitat employee’s daughter was onboard Flight 93 and killed along with the crew and other passengers when the plane went down.

Our friends David and the late Harriett Peak were frantically trying to reach their son, Will Peak, a student at NYU at the time, on the phone and praying he was not near the attack area. He had been scheduled to work his part time job at a coffee shop near the Trade Center but couldn’t get there because of the attack.

It was a sad day for all Americans.  A day we will never forget. I have heard many poignant stories in the past few days but none more so than the powerful message delivered by the Rev. Richard Nelson, priest at Calvary Episcopal Church, in the excellent sermon he delivered Sunday morning. One of his best.

Elsewhere, the Shiver’s family, Lori, son, Aaron Shivers and his wife Brook Shivers each have September birthdays and we celebrated them at a family birthday brunch hosted by Lauren and Brandon Vann at their country home on Hodges Mill Road last Saturday.

And of course, Bruce and I were in front of the TV Saturday afternoon and cheered on the Georgia Bulldogs when they met the University of Alabama Birmingham at Sanford Stadium and defeated them 56-6. UGA fans Dr. Lou and Candy Riccardi, along with their daughter, Dr. Alex Riccardi and husband, Wes Turner, were happy to be back in Athens to cheer for the Dogs. They tailgated with Alex and Wes’ friends. Among others there were Mary and George Torbert and their family, George and Shay Torbert, and Georgia and Gray Torbert, Cassie Jordan and son Mason, and Steve Miller and son, Luke.

Others from here at the game were John and Whitney Crisp and their daughter Maddie Crisp, a UGA freshman, and sons John Henry and Charlie Crisp.

And Charles and Kim Christmas were in Tampa to pull for the University of Florida Gators when they played South Florida University.

Another good Saturday of good SEC football is in the books.

Be careful. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask.