September 17, 2021
By Boca Beacon Reader

September 11, 2021, marked the 20th anniversary of four coordinated terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda, an Islamist extremist group, against the United States. The attacks began at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed a hijacked commercial jet into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. A second hijacked jet crashed into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. A third hijacked plane hit the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., and a fourth hijacked plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field at 10:03 a.m., after passengers and crew aboard attempted to retake the aircraft from terrorists.

In less than two hours, 2,977 innocent people lost their lives, and our country changed forever.

This is part II of our coverage of the 20-year anniversary of that event, as told by island residents, both current and former.

Recalling 9/11 …

I had the TV on in the bedroom and I had gone to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. I walked back into the bedroom to see one tower on fire and it was near the top of the building. As I watched the screen I saw a jet plane fly into the building on the right. That was not a mistake! We were being attacked using jets. 

My thoughts went to my husband “Boca Jack” who had passed away less that a year ago. He had been in the navy for six years and I was happy that he could not see that America was being attacked. I couldn’t stop watching and then the building collapsed. 

So quickly!

I thought about the people who were in the building working or headed to their jobs. The second building collapsed. What a horrible thing to think the people were still in the Twin Towers and had no chance to escape. If anyone made it to the street they had to breath and the dust was thick. I couldn’t take my eyes off the TV.

I watched and listened to the TV and all that followed for the rest of the day. 

– Beverly M. Furtado, former Boca Grande resident and business owner

Counterattack …

Our Daughter, Tiffany Schuh was stationed in Norfolk, VA in the US Navy, as a photographer. On September 7 we went to Norfolk, VA to celebrate her 2lst birthday, tour her ship, the USS Roosevelt, and take her with us to South Bend, Indiana to say good-bye to all her siblings before she went on her rt deployment.

None of us expected the horrific events that were about to take place the day after we arrived in South Bend, on September 11. Our TV had been on all night and the moment we woke up we saw the first plane flying into the World Trade Center. It was only approximately 30 minutes after the 2nd plane hit the other tower of the World Trade Center that the US Navy called for Tiffany to return to Norfolk, VA. for an earlier deployment. It was difficult for her to find transportation to get back to Virginia but finally she was able to get a rental car.

We had just toured the USS Roosevelt from top to bottom. We were told that aircraft carriers are surrounded by many other vessels for added protection, but the thought of going to war was still very concerning. We trusted our Commander and Chief, George W. Bush and tried to maintain our faith in knowing she was in safe hands along with all the other men and women serving.

They USS Roosevelt departed from Norfolk, Va. on September 19 armed for war at pier side after these terrorist’s plunged jetliners into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. It was one of the first vessels out to the Arabian Sea where the carriers air wing started to launch a 1,000 milelong strike against terrorists and the Taliban.

It was a day in October when the commanding officer on the USS Roosevelt looked down on this desk and began to unfurl the piece of patriotic cloth that had hung over the remains of the World Trade Center. The flag was a temporary gift from the New York firefighters. Its “smoky odor” was a pungent reminder of what was lost on September 11 and what the captain and crew were fighting for. What an honor for these men and women now entrusted with this flag.

Sailors quickly learned about the sacrifices of war both large and small. They men and women on this carrier would set a record for one of the longest deployments since WW II approximately 187 days, with 159 days without a port call. Fortunately, not one sailor perished on this deployment.

We must all remember those lost on Sept. 11 and those survivors of Sept. 11.

Peggy and Doug Burns