Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflecting on 9/11 from Minnesota September 11, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:45 AM
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My son drew this image of the attack on the Twin Towers for a class assignment some 20 years ago. To this day, this drawing illustrates how deeply 9/11 impacted even the youngest among us. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted image)

TODAY I REMEMBER, honor, grieve.

I remember the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our country, my heart heavy with the weight of loss. Nearly 3,000 individuals died on that day when terrorists hijacked four planes—two hitting the World Trade Center twin towers, another crashing into the Pentagon and the fourth slamming into a field in rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Twenty-one years later, I recall exactly where I was when I learned of the attack. I expect that is the same for most every American, that moment in time forever locked in to memory.

I was in my living room with my 7-year-old son, who was not feeling well and home from school, and his friend, whom I was caring for that day. My husband called from work to inform me of the events unfolding in New York City. I switched on the television and watched in horror as the second plane targeted the second tower.

I reconstructed a tower using the same blocks my son and his friend used on September 11, 2001, to duplicate what they saw on television. These are also the same airplanes they flew into the tower. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

Perhaps I should have switched off the TV, not exposed two young boys to the horrific scenes. But I didn’t. Soon Caleb and Sam were building towers from wooden blocks and flying toy airplanes into the stacks, the blocks cascading into a pile.

That visual sticks with me and in many ways reflects how, even in Minnesota, far far away from the epicenter of death and destruction, the impact on ordinary life was experienced. Something as simple as two children playing on my living room represented reality.

On the campus of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, a plaque honors alumna Ann N. Nelson, who died on 9/11. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

I recall, throughout that day and in the weeks thereafter, feeling unsettled, wondering if more attacks would follow. It was a time of uncertainty and certainly of fear in our country. But it was also a time of unity. We were united in our horror, our grief and in our determination to stand strong as a nation. At least that’s my observation.

Perhaps today, on the 21st anniversary of 9/11, we can temporarily reclaim that sense of unity which has seemingly vanished. We can, whether in Minnesota or New York City, pause to mourn those who died, to support those who grieve personal losses and to reflect on this memorable moment in American history.

TELL ME: Where were you when you heard about the 9/11 terrorist attacks? And how are you feeling today?

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “Reflecting on 9/11 from Minnesota”

  1. beth Says:

    The drawing touched me very deeply and I will never ever forget that day

  2. Driving my kids to school on Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. I knew instantly that this was bad news, not an accident. As I drove into the Base I asked the gate guards if they had heard and what our threat level was at… at school all morning Air crews were coming into the school and pulling their children home. It was crazy for weeks after that, in and around the base. My kids wanted to stay home and I told them we were not going to let World events run our lives and we were going to school every day unless it closed! I felt routine was the best solution to chaos and still do to this day.

  3. Sandra Says:

    I was watching the Today show, before 10:00 a.m. answered a choir call for a special church service early evening, it was packed. #2 child, 6th gr. teacher, got one of the few available tv’s until parents started arriving. #1 child called in the afternoon to say she was driving from Chicago as all flights to Denver were grounded. She’d been in a business conference that was originally scheduled for NY in the WTC. She stayed over a day, hugged family, then drove to Denver. Just had to keep moving. Then, we all started trying to process what had happened, who did we know. This country had been attacked on home soil. We had family in NYC, they were ok, but feeling the same. Two have since left NY. We sang “Church Is One Foundation” with big brass this morning. Felt good.

    • How frightening that your daughter came “this” close to being in the WTC on September 11, 2001. The song choice with brass seems fitting for today’s worship service. Thank you for sharing these moments from your life and of your dear ones.

  4. Valerie Says:

    I was at work, Gary was at the airport, and heard about the attack there. Of course, all flights were canceled so he came back home. I was thankful he wasn’t on the plane already.

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