Photos by James Hartley/The Et Cetera
Click any photo to see a slideshow:
Traffic at I-635 slows around the New Market Road bridge every Sept. 11 to honk and wave at flag-wavers who gather there each year to mourn and remember the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
People gather on the New Market Road bridge over I-635 in Mesquite. Tony Conttrell started the tradition on the first anniversary of the attacks as his way of mourning.
William King of Mesquite visits the World Trade Center beam at Freedom Park in Mesquite.
Heather McKinnon and her son Seamus McKinnon of Mesquite visit the World Trade Center beam at Freedom Park in Mesqutie. McKinnon said she had just taught her son about the attacks that morning.
Melissa White of Richardson grips a beam from the World Trade Center as she tears up. White was an American Airlines employee on Sept. 11, 2001. “I had the TV news on, and I saw it,” White said. “They said they thought some kind of plane has gone in, and I went –we knew it was our plane– I looked and immediately told my husband, ‘That’s an AA flight.’ … Then minutes afterwards the other plane hit.”
Samantha Horwitz, a survivor of the attacks on the World Trade Center, touches the beam of the World Trade Center at Freedom Park in Mesquite after a memorial service. Horwitz was a Secret Service agent working in Tower 1 and was in the elevator when the first plane hit. “The elevator car shook, the lights flickered and I just figured we were getting stuck in an elevator,” Horwitz said. “The doors flew open and we were hit with the hottest ball of dust and debris. We grabbed a couple of people that were in the elevator that were frozen in shock.” Horwitz said her training took over. “There was no thinking. It was just grab as many people as possible and get out.” Horwitz escaped the building as debris from the plane and building. She got into Tower 7, then Tower 2 was hit. She said she had no idea at the time that it was a plane and just thought it was an explosion or bomb. “It wasn’t until I got out onto West Side Highway that I realized the magnitude, “Horwitz said. “It was massive. I still didn’t know it was a commercial airliner until another agent … said ‘Oh my God, did you see the plane.” They made their way to a school, where Horwitz said she knew they were too close. “That’s when we started to see people jumping, and it took a second to comprehend what we were actually seeing and feeling, because when the bodies hit the ground you could feel it, the shockwave. After the tenth, I stopped counting. That’s what stays with me.” Horwitz said that is what still haunts her. She said she can still see it when she closes her eyes. “Tower 2 came down, and we ran into the school,” Horwitz said. “From there, some agents decided to cut up their shirts, wrapped them around their faces to go try to pull out victims. A couple of us stayed behind to set up triage. We all knew that nobody was coming.” Horwitz suffered from PTSD. She said it got so bad that on New Years Eve of 2003 she tried to kill herself. She got back into law enforcement after getting help and now runs an organization, Courage Above All, to train people to help PTSD victims. “If I can stop one person from pulling that trigger, it’s all worth it. … The 22 Kill rings, we don’t wear them on our trigger fingers just because.”