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SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

Border region looks back on 9/11 on 20th anniversary

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American Airlines flight No. 11, which had taken off from Boston Logan International Airport, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) at 6:46 a.m. MDT. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. United Airlines flight No. 175, which also took off from Logan, crashed into WTC’s south tower at 7:03 a.m. MDT. American Airlines flight No. 77, which had taken off from Washington Dulles International Airport, crashed into the west wall of the Pentagon at 7:37 a.m. MDT. United Airlines flight No. 93, which had taken off from Newark International Airport, crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 8:03 a.m. MDT.

A total of 2,996 fatalities resulted from the crashes, including 33 crew members, 213 flight passengers, 2,731 ground fatalities (including emergency workers) and 19 hijackers.

As we near the 20th anniversary of 9/11, here are thoughts and memories of that day from some prominent local residents:

Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education member Maria Flores: “I was getting ready for school, as I taught fifth grade at Tombaugh (Elementary School), and I heard the announcer say, ‘A plane has hit the World Trade Center.’ I told my husband, ‘Turn on the TV, something is wrong.’ When he did so, the second plane struck the other tower. We were deeply shaken as we went to work, and all the teachers had the news on in the classroom, but were told to turn them off for the students. The students knew something was wrong, but we kept the information brief, without getting them scared. No one knew what to say and the feeling of unease continued to grow by the minute. The weight of the moment made it a day like no other, and in the evening, we went to Mass at the Cathedral, and cried. My brother lived in New York City at the time, and he saw the towers before they fell, from his roof. Being a doctor, he ran with supplies but there was no one to help.”

Former New Mexico Governor and NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers: “I was just going into a meeting at our company (Cimarron HMO) when someone called and said to turn on the television because a plane had just crashed into a building in New York. We turned it on in time to see live the second plane hit the tower. I remember the entire country came to a standstill. Shock would probably be the best way to describe the national mood. As unfortunate and tragic as 9/11 was, it was one of the few times in my life that all of America came together with a single focus and commitment. We are still living with the consequences of that day with regard to security issues, international relations and trust.” 

Las Cruces City Councilor Gabriel Vasquez: "September 11 forever changed the world and changed this nation. This year's remembrance should bring us an opportunity to remember how this tragedy once galvanized our nation, how it brought us together from every corner of the country to grieve for the fallen and to stand together as Americans. Today, we also commemorate the courage of those who gave their lives to save others, from the first responders to everyday citizens. Their selfless actions reflect our values and how we should strive to be together in community today."

State Rep. Doreen Gallegos, D-Doña Ana: “There are events in history that impact us for generations to come. I remember my parents being able to tell me where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated.  For me, it was 9/11. I have so many emotions tied to that day. The world stopped as we collectively watched in disbelief at death and destruction as the Twin Towers came down; being in awe of courage by the passengers on Flight 93 and of all the those who responded in New York and at the Pentagon; being uplifted by the bipartisan unity of members of Congress on the steps of the Capitol and the feeling of one nation of Americans standing together. This is the America I strive for; this is why I wanted to become involved in government to work to help my community. Now more than ever, it is so important that we come together and work through our differences in memory of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education member Pamela Cort: “I walked into an eerily quiet Las Cruces High School that morning and was summoned into a colleague's classroom just in time to see the second tower fall. Right after that, my husband called me and said they were sending all NASA employees home as a precaution. That call brought home the realization that even Las Cruces was vulnerable. It was a frightening time, filled with disbelief and many tears.”

Las Cruces City Councilor Johana Bencomo: “I was in middle school when the 9/11 tragedy occurred and no, I will never forget what that day was like. Many of the feelings I felt then remain today; fear, anger, and heartache. I hope we never forget the stories of those whose lives were taken, of those brave people who enlisted and have served, and the thousands of Muslim Americans who were hatefully targeted in the aftermath. This 9/11 feels especially heavy with the continued tragedies in Afghanistan. Let’s continue to hold those most directly impacted in our hearts and minds.”

“I join our state and our nation in honoring the lives lost on 9/11 and the lives of our military servicemen lost during the 20 years since,” said state Sen. Crystal Diamond, R-Sierra, Luna, Hidalgo and Doña Ana. “These brave men and women represent the spirit of America and remind us that from ash we can emerge even stronger if we unite as one. We honor the memory of our American heroes by holding strong to our constitutional freedoms and standing united as a nation under God.”

Las Cruces Police Chief Miguel Dominguez: “I remember 9/11 as one of the worst days that America has experienced; our enemies tried to destroy us and spread fear. The exact opposite occurred, Americans put aside their differences and stood together and more united than ever. I will never forget the bravery displayed by the first responders. We should always honor the heroes of 9/11 and never forget their sacrifice.”