Listen to these personal stories ...
Joseph DiSabato
Joseph Gerry
Edward Morad
Earnest Wilkins
Barbara Abbott
Brendan Fitzgerald
Joseph DiSabato
Joseph Gerry
Edward Morad
Earnest Wilkins
Barbara Abbott
Brendan Fitzgerald
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We Remember
Honored Dead: Victims of 9/11
Moments of remembrance on the South Shore and beyond
Stories of survival, heroics
Taunton man remembers the last day with his wife
Have things changed?
How attacks affected kids, and how are they now
Brockton native decided how much to give 9/11 families
Graphic: Sequence of 9/11 events
Audio interviews and editing for this series were conducted by Cory Hopkins, Diana Schoberg, Ryan Menard, John Kelly, Andrew Lightman and Ken Johnson from The Patriot Ledger, and by Jean Porrazzo, Elaine Allegrini and Craig Murray from The Enterprise.
Site Design: Stephen Ide


Still vulnerable today

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Letter writer thinks Americans
are still vulnerable today
Danny Wambolt, 88, of Halifax, wrote in to The Patriot Ledger shortly following the Sept. 11 attacks in his role as commander of the American Legion Post in Rockland. He wrote of pride in his country after an event he never thought possible.

He believes Americans are still vulnerable today.

“It broke on the television, on the news and on the radio and I didn’t know what to make of it. It shows how vulnerable we are.

“Of course a lot of people today are complaining about going to the airports – the searching, the shakedowns and everything else – but it was brought on by these fanatics.

“These fanatics feel they got us running.”

When the attack on Pearl Harbor took place, Americans retaliated, he said, and beat Japan.

“That is going to happen to this country eventually, we won’t be so vulnerable. But that’s not happening now. We’ve woken a sleeping giant.”

Like Pearl Harbor

Seniors relive past,
worry for future

RYAN MENARD/The Patriot Ledger
“You turn on the news, you can’t help worry," Saundra Skinner.
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For The Patriot Ledger

Evie Fowler remembers classical music was playing on her radio on Dec. 7, 1941, when the NBC news anchor interrupted to announce that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Her reaction was quick and intense.

“After Pearl Harbor, I was angry,” said the 84-year-old Weymouth resident. “I was angry at the Japanese, terribly angry.”

Yet that anger was rivaled on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City. And as the nation observes the fifth anniversary of the attack, Fowler said her feelings of mistrust and anger at America’s enemies linger.

“I was just horrified at that,” she said of Sept. 11. “I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.”

Many seniors like Fowler say that young people today are much more aware of the unrest around them than Americans were in 1941. And yet that awareness has not helped the country in its fight against terrorism, some say.

George Williams, a 78-year-old South Weymouth resident, said Sept. 11 has not inspired Americans the way Pearl Harbor did. Williams watched America defeat Germany, Italy, and Japan in World War II, and the Soviet Union in the Cold War, but now the country lacks the resolve to win the war on terror, he said.

Sept. 11 made Americans proud for a short while, Williams said. But the changes have not lasted, he said, and his hope in future generations has wavered.

“Unfortunately, there’s one thing wrong with the American people,” he said. “ They want instant solutions ... and unfortunately they don’t have the staying power to see everything through.”

North Weymouth resident Phyllis Collier, 82, said she also worries for the future. Collier was eating breakfast when she saw the Sept. 11 attacks on television, “and it was terrible, such a terrible, terrible feeling.”

Thinking about Sept. 11, the war in Iraq and the recent battles between Israel and Lebanon, Collier said the world seems a much more uncertain place than it was five years ago.

“It just seems unending,” Collier said. “We need to get it straightened out somehow, and we don’t know how.”

Marion Devine, an 84-year-old Weymouth resident, said she is more aware of what is going on in the world today than she was when she was younger. She only learned of the Pearl Harbor attack while walking home from a movie with a boyfriend, later that day.

By contrast, it was easy to stay informed during and after Sept. 11, she said.

“They were both horrendous, but I think (on) 9/11, I was more aware of what was going on with that,” Devine said.

Saundra Skinner, a 71-year-old Quincy resident, heard about Sept. 11 from her granddaughter, who called her while stuck in traffic outside Washington, D.C.

Now, Skinner said she watches more documentaries and news programs to stay informed. But that can be disturbing, especially since she worries for her niece, currently serving in the Marines.

“I just want to enjoy my life more, have more fun ...and not worry so much,” she said. “You turn on the news, and you can’t help it.”

Judy Briggs said she is more cautious in her travels since Sept. 11.

“I wouldn’t go back to New York,” said Briggs, 71, of Weymouth. “I used to go down there with my friends and take in a play. I have no interest to go back there because it’s a big target. Chicago is the same way.”

Now when she travels, Briggs said she stays in more rural areas and dreads major airports. The thought of her son’s office, inside a downtown Boston skyscraper, makes her cringe.

Fowler said she feels the biggest impact of Sept. 11 at the airport.

“I’m much more conscious now, and careful, getting on a plane,” she said. “It’s scary, taking off half your clothes and your shoes.”


‘I hope it never happens again’

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Name: Barbara Abbott
Age: N/A
Town: Assonet, formerly of Brockton
Job: Barber in Taunton
'It was just horrific, it was just horrible. It was just devastating. That's, that's all I can say. I hope it never happens again.”
How has 9/11 changed you?
It's changed it a lot. I think a lot different than (I) used to years ago. I grew up in a world where I didn't have to worry about everything and now it seems like I worry about everything.”

‘I thought it was two large smoke stacks’

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Name:Phil Cronan
Age: 58
Town: Taunton
Job: sexton, Annunciation of the Lord Parish in Taunton

'First thing that I can remember about that morning — for some strange reason I never turn the TV on, but I happened to turn the television on right after it had happened — and I didn't know what I was looking at. I thought it was two large smoke stacks until I saw the other plane hit the building. And then I realized that America as I knew it had changed forever.”
How has 9/11 changed you?
“Since that day, I don't think the security of the country has been up to par. But I guess things changed when you're attacked. I got a pretty good idea what the people at Pearl Harbor felt like.”

‘It’s definitely scary’

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Name: Violet Phillips
Age: N/A
Town: Sharon
Job: owner, Cuts & Creations Hair Emporium, Brockton

'Family — being (that) New York City is my hometown, it was very scary. I was actually, I remember, at the time I was signing up to take additional classes with school and I saw this over at the TV on the news. It was like a movie. It was horrible.”
How has 9/11 changed you?
“It changed it because you keep looking at everyone, you know, so different all the time. You do have a fear with all of the terrorism taking place, you look at everyone different. I work with the public a lot. It's definitely scary.”

‘This isn’t supposed to happen here’

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Name: Michael Breen
Age: 51
Town: Quincy
Job: N/A
'My defining memory would be being called in to see the plane hitting the Tower and (it being) confusing, just confusion, thinking that the plane strayed and crashed into the Tower and then after the other one crashed, feeling panic, confusion, scared. This isn't supposed to happen here.”
How has 9/11 changed you?
“Changing my life — in the beginning, travel, a little hesitant to get on a plane and travel. And constantly paying attention, reading the newspapers about different terrorist attacks. Viewing the whole world a little different right now. Not feeling as safe as it used to be.”