Locals Share Their 9/11 Stories
"We were staring right out the window on the observatory and we saw the planes hit, and we heard the whistling," said Christina Thomas, a student at Elmira College who was on a fifth grade field trip to the Empire State Building on 9/11.
"Half of my class was in the World Trade Center, and I lost three family members, so this is a very significant push to me," she said.
Thomas left the World Trade Center just 20 minutes before the first plane hit the tower. After years of counseling, she is now a college senior majoring in criminal justice, and she helped organize today's memorial service on campus.
"Everybody says never forget, like a date comes around once a year, but a person you've lost and someone you love is around forever," said Thomas. "So this is just kinda my way of remembering the people I've lost and the people who have been overseas who are fighting. So this is my contribution saying I will never forget you."
Also in Manhattan that infamous day was Steuben County Red Cross Director Brian McConnel. He drove down as part of a Southern Tier team to help first responders and realized that people's compassion for one another is what counts.
"What disasters do is disasters bring people together," said McConnel. "And while I was part of that, there were thousands of [other] people, too."