It was 10 years ago this week that, in the words of the songwriter, “The World Stopped Turning.” The coordinated terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 stunned the nation, and created an outpouring of rage and sympathy that has influenced all of America.
In the Garden Grove-Stanton-Westminster area, cities, businesses, schools and churches responded with a show of unity and offers of assistance, offering help through tears.
“It’s hard to imagine it’s been 10 years,” said Richard Tauer, now superintendent of the Westminster School District. “This is one of those days that’s burnt in your memory.”
Once the initial shock of the news wore off a bit a decade ago, locals began to react to the events on the East Coast. Flags fell to half-mast. School was not cancelled, but high school football games were called off.
On Garden Grove’s Main Street, during the normally boisterous Friday Night Car Show, attendees lit candles and observed a minute of silence for those lost in the attacks.
Not everyone was thinking about unity and brotherhood. The Islamic Society of Orange County, which maintains a mosque and an elementary school on 13th Street in Garden Grove was the subject of threats. One man was arrested and police were posted to keep the peace.
On Sept. 29, the City of Garden Grove organized a “Unity of America” rally that drew over 500 people to the Civic Center and collected nearly $2000 sent to a fund benefitting the families of police officers and firefighters lost on Sept. 11.
Keri Scott McDougall, now 29, of Westminster, was still sleeping when the news broke of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Her panicked boyfriend called her on the phone, saying “We’re being attacked! We’re being attacked.” She initially thought that Southenn California was under attack.
A college student at the time, she went to her one class of the day and found the large lecture hall deadly quiet.
“I can’t justify teaching history when there is history happening right now,” the professor said. “Go home.”
The world-wide support for America was something that especially struck her.
“The whole world stopped and had sympathy for us,” she said. “Now, I guess I’m nicer to my neighbors. You never know what’s going to happen.”
The effects of the 9-11 attacks have included some suspicions about people of Islamic faith or Arabic background. Air travel has become more complicated and security invasive, and perhaps passengers are more aware of the potential for tragedy.
“I’m sure I speak for thousands of others, but I have never been able to board a flight without thinking of those who suffered the horrors of that awful day, and I used to love flying,” said Sabiha Quidwai, executive assistant at the Islamic Society.
For some people, the emphasis on security has been excessive. Fiona Kupel, 14, of Westminster, tells the story of a 6-year-old girl whose sandal buckle set off an airport alarm, and how she was detained for 45 minutes while being searched.
This week, some local observances are planned. This Sunday, Westminster Mayor Margie Rice and the city council will commerorate the 10th anniversary during the city’s annual “Dia de La Familia” event from 1 to 5 p.m. in Sigler Park.
“We’ve had a memorial ceremony every year in our city,” Rice said. “We have a prayer and people share remembrances.”
On Monday, at the offices and schools of the WSD, administration and staff will gather around the flagpole for a moment of silence.
“Our gathering is an opportunity for us to remember and to express our patriotism,” said Tauer. “It’s important for us to be able to honor those who were lost on that day.”