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Iowans in New York City Remember 9/11

posted on September 11, 2006

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The fact is, Iowans remain connected long after they have leave the state, as many have. Instinctively, we turn to these ex-patriots when something significant happens in their neck of the woods. They are an extension of us, our lens to the world. To understand the events of that day, we turn to the Iowans who lived close to the site that is now synonymous with the date 9/11.

As the Staten Island ferry approaches Manhattan, the gap in the skyline where the Trade Center towers once stood is perceptible even to those who don’t live here. The hole is all too apparent to those who witnessed their destruction.

Clark: So I actually had gotten to the Staten Island ferry and got on it, and we were going to take off.

Mundt: Barbara Clark of Iowa City had been living on Staten Island for only about six months when the planes struck the buildings. She had just boarded the Staten Island ferry that would dock in the shadow of the towers.

Clark: Suddenly a woman screamed, "It's going to hit, it's going to hit." And we look up and there’s like this other plane and then it was all mayhem in the ferry, because people were screaming and shouting and saying it was World War III and we're under attack.

Mundt: Despite living with constant reminders of the city’s grief, Clark remains on Staten Island. Many of those who perished worked in Manhattan. Many were fire fighters and police officers.

Clark: A really grim reminder of the event for me was waking up and, basically throughout the day and the afternoon, hearing bagpipes from those funerals in my home. It went on for what seemed an eternity at the time.

Michele Cook: It was horrendously emotional because as I watched the building come down -- you know, my apartment building is two blocks from that, and I don't know what’s going -- I don’t know where, who. I don't know anything. You can't see where anything fell. You can't see what -- you know, you just see dust and then all of a sudden there is only one building and then there's none.

Mundt: Jerred and Michele Cook had just, weeks before the attacks, moved into an apartment blocks from the towers. The Cooks also remain in the region, relocating to New Jersey across the Hudson from Lower Manhattan. Every day both take a train to Manhattan that returns them to the site of where the Trade Center towers once stood and where those who perished are remembered.

It was the loss of friends that day that triggered musician Don Brown’s decision to return, after thirty years in New York, to Des Moines. One friend was also a musician, Daryl Taylor, who played with Brown in the Latin group, Cocoa Suave. He worked and died in the World Trade Center.

Brown: After Daryl's passing, anytime I hear a Latin percussionist and I hear a Latin band performing, it always touches me because I know that Daryl was one of the best.

Mundt: Another friend, Dave Fontana, Brown describes as a Renaissance man, sculptor, youth worker, historian, and fire fighter.

Brown: He had just completed a shift in his firehouse. He was -- his firehouse was in Brooklyn, New York, and was on his way home when the news of the towers being struck came to him. And he turned around and went back into Brooklyn to join the members of his firehouse and to accompany them to the towers. Unfortunately, many of the members of that firehouse perished on that day.

Mundt: The Iowa transplants who remain caution the folks back home and those who visit to understand the tragedy is still a powerful presence for New Yorkers.

Jerred Cook: I don't call it Ground Zero. I know it's pretty much accepted that you say that but -- I can't even speak for most New Yorkers, but most of my friends don't refer to it as that. They know that it’s more than Ground Zero.

Clark: Even though it's been five years, to me and to I think most New Yorkers, it feels like not that long ago.


Tags: 9/11 history Iowa memorials National Security terrorism


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