Lincoln’s heroes share memories of September 11

Channel 8 spoke with local law enforcement officials and first responders about what they remember about September 11, 2001.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Saturday morning, Lincoln residents gathered at the north side of the Capitol to honor and remember those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Channel 8 spoke with Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner, Lincoln Fire and Rescue Captain and spokeswoman Nancy Crist, and Nebraska Task Force 1 Chief Brad Thavenet about what they remember about 9/11 and why the day resonates so deeply with first responders and law enforcement:

Interviews were conducted with each person individually. Responses have been edited and sequenced for flow, length and clarity.

WAGNER: “I was in my office, I think we were in a meeting, starting our day like we normally do.”

CRIST: “I was actually working for the fire department, but I was on a transfer car. So it was a non-emergency transfer car that took patients back and forth from the facilities before I became a firefighter.”

THAVENET: “I had just gotten off shift, and had just gotten home, going through the normal morning routine, have the TV on.”

WAGNER: “Somebody said, ‘A plane hit the World Trade Center.’ So we started to turn on TVs, and then we saw the second plane hit. And then we thought, ‘What’s going to happen now?’ And then the Pentagon got hit.”

CRIST: “I can literally remember just stopping, and looking at the TV. I know I was in [Lincoln Fire & Rescue Station #2] and just being stunned. I don’t know any other way to describe it.”

THAVENET: “You almost have that sense of disbelief like, ‘Am I really watching something that has happened? Or is it almost like a slow-motion TV kind of thing?’

WAGNER: “We didn’t know exactly what we should do, but we knew we needed to do something, to try to strengthen and harden our building, just in case that might be a target, as unlikely as that might be.”

THAVENET: “Once you get kind of past that disbelief, then it’s the sense of helplessness. Here you sit, thousands of miles away, knowing that you want to do something, but you just don’t know how to go about doing it.”

WAGNER: “It’s important for the nation to know that what those heroes did that day, by running towards the towers, when everybody else was trying to run away from them, that epitomizes what law enforcement, first responders do.”

CRIST: “Those firefighters that entered those buildings, they had a job to do. And that’s the only thing they were focusing on, was getting everybody out of those buildings and trying to put the fire out. They didn’t have a thought about the events that we now know happened. They have a heart that continues to push them to try to save lives.”

THAVENET: “You kind of remember the event, but the trickle-down effect that it’s had throughout the years of all of the responders that showed up there. So you kind of sit and reflect on folks that are no longer with us or folks that are experiencing health issues that you may or may not reach out to on a monthly or even yearly basis. You take that time today to send a quick text message or a quick email just to let them know that they’re in our thoughts and our prayers.”

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