MEDINA — Doris Booth writes that she and her co-workers were getting some fresh air outside the Brunswick factory where they worked on Sept. 11, 2001, when they heard a plane.
United Airlines Flight 93 was overhead in the distance turning around after al-Qaeda terrorists breached the cockpit and took control.
“Many of us watched the plane turn, though we did not know at the time that it was Flight 93,” Booth wrote in a letter more than a month ago.
The letter is covered front and back in Booth’s tiny handwriting and is included in a display at the Medina Library as a part of its Medina County Remembers 9/11 project.
Eric Lucius, assistant library manager, coordinated the project in an effort to memorialize the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 by collecting the memories of county residents. The letters ultimately will be turned into a scrapbook that will be available to schools and the public for informational use, he said.
On Sept. 11, 2001, two hijacked airplanes flew into the World Trade Center in New York City, resulting in thousands of casualties as the twin towers caught fire and collapsed. Minutes later, another plane, 231 miles southwest, crashed into the Pentagon, killing hundreds. Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa., after passengers fought back against their hijackers.
“It’s a teaching element that preserves history and a moment we all shared and how it affected people,” Lucius said. “You can read all sorts of books, but this is the only one that’s about Medina County residents.”
All branches of the Medina County District Library started collecting letters shortly after July 4 and will continue to collect them until a few days after Sept. 11. Though most libraries have Sept. 11 displays set up that include patrons’ letters and Sept. 11 books, the response from the community has been less than the librarians hoped for.
Susan Ungham, Brunswick Library branch manager, said she received few letters from library-goers.
“We’re expecting they’ll be more interested the closer we get to actual date, Sept. 11,” Ungham said. “We often walk by and see patrons standing and reading the letters.”
There are about 40 letters, including many sent to The Gazette, on display at the Medina Library. Booth, of Medina, said she saw the display a month ago and decided to write down her memories.
“To me, it’s one of those things that you need to stop at,” Booth said of the display.
For another Medina resident, the project was an opportunity to share how Sept. 11, 2001 changed her family’s life.
Hannah Kuo, 15, was only 5 years old on Sept. 11. In her letter, she writes:
“On that morning, my mom came to take me home. At first I had no idea what was going on. My teacher came out with us when my mom said that the twin towers were hit. When we came home, my dad was in front of the television and on the phone with some relatives that lived in New York. He was trying to reach his brother, and my uncle who had worked in the South Tower on the 91st floor. No answer. Fredrick Kuo, Jr. will always be in our hearts. We love you and we will never forget 9/11.”
An anonymous library patron wrote:
“I was in the police academy when our instructor came in and said the second plane hit the other tower. My jaw dropped in shock. I clung tight to my mother. I ended up joining the army.”
Rebecca Koehler, of Medina, also shared her story.
“My first child was due on 9/11/01. I remember kneeling on the floor in front of the TV, crying and wondering what kind of world I was bringing this child into. At the time, my husband was a commercial airline pilot and I was so grateful he was safe at home because my son was due any day. My heart hurt for the families of the pilots and all of those on board. My husband is now a full-time firefighter and paramedic and no longer flying, so I am even more grateful to the heroes of that dreadful day — the firemen, policemen, ordinary citizens, and more. I am thankful to live in a country that was made stronger through it all. God bless America!”
Dick and Vivian Staufer, of Medina, emailed a letter describing the outpouring of foreign support while they were traveling in Europe during the events of Sept. 11.
“Not having all the news we were not aware that the entire E.U. had called for a three-minute tribute of silence at 11 a.m. U.K. time. We were standing in front of a beautiful cathedral when the bells (pealed) three times. The entire area went silent for the full three minutes. There has been nothing before or since that has left more of a lasting impression of the day,” they wrote.
In total, all the libraries have collected about 60 letters. Lucius initially hoped to receive 500 letters, but he has lowered his goal to about 250.
“I’ll take a piece of scrap paper on the bottom of your car,” Lucius said. “No matter what side of political spectrum you are on, it affected all of us.”
The Wadsworth Public Library is also a participant in the “Remember 9/11” project, and has had only three participants so far. Wadsworth library patrons are encouraged to stop by and leave their memories to share with the public and contribute to the project.
Contact Michelle Sprehe at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.