Sharon Eickhoff’s 9/11 Experience
On September 11, 2001 Ms. Sharon Eickhoff was 36 years old and teaching journalism at Mooresville High School.
“I was teaching class, and then I was scheduled to go on a field trip with the students to Lebanon. We never made it to Lebanon. The school called us back,” Eickhoff said. “Students on the bus were glued to their phones; some were crying and worried because they knew people in New York. I just tried to stay calm to keep them calm, but inside I was probably just as upset as they were.”
Once they returned they turned on the televisions after the first plane hit.
“The students and I watched as the second plane hit. All of us were in total disbelief, but the thought of it being caused by terrorists didn’t really sink in at first,” Eickhoff said, “I felt paralyzed in my thinking. I couldn’t believe our country was under attack. It made me think of Pearl Harbor and what people were feeling at that time. At first, I thought it was a terrible accident, but when the second plane hit and then the others; I felt a deep inner sense of insecurity. I felt helpless and wanted to go to NY to help. I think when people feel helpless; they try to find a purpose to regain some sense of control.”
Things were different that day.
“In the afternoon, we tried to conduct classes as best as possible, but all conversations revolved around the constant news coming from the media. In a way, we all came together more because I think we felt we needed a sense of security in a time of chaos,” Eickhoff said. “Driving home was indescribable. On every overpass, there were people waving the flag. Others were honking and chanting ‘U.S.A.’ I had never in my life seen such a display of American spirit as I did on that day and for many days after. It was an oxymoron – a terrible event brings out the best in people.”
The events of this day changed the lives of Americans forever.
“I have always been patriotic, so that part didn’t really change. I did want to become involved in the Red Cross more and I know that is what I will do when I retire. I feel that over the course of time, our personal freedoms have taken a hit as a result of 9/11,” Eickhoff said. “I also feel that there is much less trust among people which saddens me. I think 9/11 robbed us of our sense of invincibility, and now we are very quick to react to situations. We are willing to trade in our freedoms for safety, and I don’t know if, in the long run, that that is a good idea. Time will tell.”