GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Joseph Scala, a resident of Appleton, was working in Newark, New Jersey, working just miles away from the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001.
“At 8:46, I see just thick black smoke off in the distance," he said. "And I'm probably 10 miles west, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, there's a fire, or whatever.' And as I'm walking in, I see our plant manager, and he's just like, 'Oh, you know, a plane just hit the World Trade Center. So I was like, 'Yeah, right,' and I just kind of kept walking. And as I walk in, everyone's kind of huddled around, and we actually watched the second one live in our conference room.”
Josh Poor, a resident of Green Bay, was in fifth grade, living in Kansas at the time, and he had been looking forward to football practice after school.
“All of a sudden, that happened," he said. "And my mom freaked out, and everybody was freaking out, and I wasn't able to go play football that day, and I was like, 'Oh,' and then I figured out why, and I was like, 'Oh wow, that's crazy.' It was very tragic."
Jody Rowland, a resident of Minneapolis, was driving in to work when she heard about the first plane crash on the radio.
“I remember walking into the building, and we were on the 26th floor, and everyone was crowded around the TV," she said. My first thing I thought about after that was where my kids are. They were all in school at the time, so I had concerns about, were we vulnerable as a tall building, were my kids vulnerable. There were a lot of people that thought they should go pick their kids about a school.”
With this Saturday marking 20 years since the terror attack in New York City, many Americans are taking the weekend to reflect.
“In some ways, we've changed a lot," said Rowland. "In some ways, we haven't changed at all, and I think that that's probably an opportunity for all of us, and also a challenge.”
As someone who watched the Twin Towers burn before his very eyes, Scala shares his story not to raise fear in others, but to show them how a tragic event doesn't have to divide us, he said.
“It was amazing," said Scala. "The unity and people coming together. I think all of us every day have a part of that fear in us. Afterward, that was a time of great reflection, and one of the factors in moving out of there was, a small part, concern over that. But terrorist threats are a threat every day, whether they're in major cities, airports, whatever they happen to be. I think that we obviously can't live in fear.”