On this day, 18 years ago, our lives in America changed forever. On September 11th, 2001, terrorists would hijack planes and crash them into the World Trade Centers, Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. This would result in the death of thousands of Americans. In this article, we look back and reflect on the reaction from WWE and our staff here at Wrestle Pages.
“I was in a military program at Fort Dix designed for those considering the military and to help graduate high school. At the time, I was in English and one of the leaders came in and told the teacher that the Twin Towers had been hit by airplanes. We didn’t think too much of it, thinking they meant small, personal airplanes. We wouldn’t realize the full extent of the severity until about 3pm to 4pm that day. Everyone was brought together in an assembly area and we were told what exactly happened. We were all in complete shock and awe at the official news.”
“As a fifth grader, I had no idea what was going on in the world outside. Living near Detroit Metro Airport meant kids were taken home and recess was canceled that day. It wasn’t until years later that I fully understood what happened that day. For me, it was, and now is, a day where the entire Country can unite.”
“I was in third-grade at the time and the day started like any other day. I woke up, ate breakfast, and went to elementary school in Townsend, Massachusetts. My teacher had decided to teach us long division, even though she said it was too soon, but she wanted us to be prepared. Shortly into the lesson, she got a call on the classroom phone. Then the PA system announced that school was ending early and to please go to the parking lot to get in the bus to go home.
“Everyone was excited to leave early, but we quickly noticed something was wrong. Teachers were all on edge and clearly trying to hold it together for us. The mood was somber and frantic. By the time we got on the bus, no one was excited. We knew something was very wrong, but no one would tell us anything. They told us our parents would inform us.
“When I got off the bus and walked through the door, my dad immediately rushed into the hallway and asked if I was okay. I said ‘Of course, Dad. Why wouldn’t I be?’ He then sat me down and explained that planes flew into some buildings in New York. Being such a young age, I didn’t quite grasp the concept of terrorism, but I understood this was bad. He wouldn’t tell me anymore, just that my family was okay. I was terrified and wondering if that sort of thing could happen here. In my young mind, New York wasn’t far from Massachusetts.
“The next day School was cancelled. My parents and grandparents stayed fixed to the television. They wouldn’t give me anymore information, and wouldn’t let me watch. They were trying to protect me from how scary the world had just became. 18 years later, I appreciate that. Many lives were lost that day, and I still remember how close everyone felt the days and weeks after. My heart and thoughts go out to anyone affected.”
“On September 11, 2001, I was a twenty-two year old recovering addict. I was living with my grandmother in my hometown just outside of Boston, and she volunteered me to hold campaign signs for a Congressional special election. So, there I was holding my sign, music blasting in my ears. I’ll never forget “Man In The Box” by Alice In Chains being interrupted mid-song by the DJ fighting back tears as she explained to the best of her ability what was happening in New York City. I immediately dropped my sign and started spreading the word to all the other volunteers since I was the only one with any form of media.
“I did my best to compose myself, but ended up going home for lunch and stayed there for a few hours, going from news report to news report, trying to gather as much information as possible. When we finished holding our signs, I walked over to my aunt’s house across the schoolyard from where I was. Information was being as released as fast as possible, and it was at my aunt’s house where I found out that not only did American Airlines Flight 11 & United Airlines Flight 175 (the planes that hit the World Trade Center) take off from Logan International Airport in Boston, but I had family friends and business acquaintances on those flights.
“The next few weeks and months were agonizingly difficult, both personally and for the nation. Funerals became common occurrences, and holidays and birthdays were spent mourning and celebrating the lives of those lost in the heinous attacks on this country. Eventually, our country healed to some extent, but that day is always present in everyday life.
“In 2015, I met my wife. A year later, we traveled to Staten Island to attend the funeral of one of her uncles – an uncle who had been injured in not only the September 11th attack, but also in the February 26, 1993 car bombing that killed six and injured over one thousand people. People say time heals all wounds, but does it really? Here we are eighteen years later, and our country and our world has never fully healed from that crisp autumn day.”
On Thursday, September 13th, 2011, WWF would go to Houston, Texas and put on a very special edition of Smackdown, broadcasting live, in what would be the largest public assembly following the tragedy. The show would open with Vince McMahon in the ring, publicly announcing that they would not be intimidated, would not live in fear, and would go on with business as usual.
Back in 2016, WWE stars gathered to discuss what it was like putting together that amazing show of patriotism. Here are a few excerpts:
“The WWE team was staying in a Houston hotel after Raw in San Antonio and preparing for the taping of SmackDown. We had a 7:45 a.m. production meeting scheduled in Vince McMahon’s suite to finalize our game plan. Vince, from his bedroom, yelled for us to turn on the television. Someone did and we all started witnessing the most tragic incident any of us could ever imagine. Honestly, it was much worse than I could ever fathom.” – Jim Ross
“I lived in New York City. The way that I found out was my friend called me and said, “I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay.” Because of the time difference, I was still sleeping. I’m trying to figure if I’m dreaming this or what. He was supposed to have a meeting in the towers and he was late, so he saw the plane hit and ran off. I turned on the TV and that’s when I actually saw the tower go down. Now I’m telling him what’s going on, because he has no clue. He’s just running. I’m telling him the tower is falling and then I lose contact and I can’t get a hold of him. And I lost it. I lost it.” – Lilian Garcia
WWE Superstar Zelina Vega lost her father on that day. He was working on the 103rd floor when the plane struck his Tower. He was unable to escape due to the plane impacting below him and cutting off the escape routes:
Today is certainly a day that changed @Zelina_VegaWWE's life forever and played a big part in her journey to become a @WWE Superstar. #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/27VnuyWJWH
— WWE (@WWE) September 11, 2018
— Thea Trinidad Budgen (@Zelina_VegaWWE) September 11, 2019
18 years ago on #Sept11 a senseless act of violence took parents from children, partners from spouses, friends from friends. May we all hold each other a little closer today. #NeverForget
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) September 11, 2019
In every passing year since.
For all the years to come.
We will #NeverForget.
— Triple H (@TripleH) September 11, 2019
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/rWDrCiwLuh
— 🌺 (@NiaJaxWWE) September 11, 2019
Perfect words. I will #NeverForget #911remembered https://t.co/3nNYSNzM7R
— Gail Kim-Irvine (@gailkimITSME) September 11, 2019
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) September 11, 2019
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) September 11, 2019
Today remember the victims, survivors, first responders, and all those affected by the events of September 11th, 2001. #NeverForget
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) September 11, 2019
In honor of the 18th anniversary of 9/11 today, here's @LilianGarcia with the first public assembly singing our National Anthem 18 years ago just 2 days after the national tragedy on that September day. #NeverForget #NeverForget911 https://t.co/tlWe4mOfXb
— (Waylon Myers) @TeamLilian (@TeamLilian) September 11, 2019
May we never forget that fateful day!