It has been 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attack, yet it is a day that almost every American can remember with clarity. Doug and Linda Carter, of Dakota Dunes, were both working full-time when news of an aircraft hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City was reported to the world.

Doug and Linda Carter.

Doug and Linda Carter.

“I was at work, somebody came down the hall and said a plane just struck the towers,” Linda said. “Then we went to the radio and TV. When we first heard, we thought maybe it was a small plane accident. My second thought was ‘Oh no, was this really happening in our country?’”

Linda was employed in the downtown Sioux City office for MidAmerican Energy at the time and Doug was a sales manager at Team Ford. Both were living in South Sioux City on Sept. 11, 2001. They moved across the river to South Dakota in 2011 to enjoy retirement.

Doug was in a sales meeting when he first heard the tragic news. He remembered that there was a lot of uncertainty happening that day and in the days and weeks that followed. Work at the dealership came to a standstill on that fateful day.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he recalled. “It [the 9/11 attack] pretty much shut business down and the streets got quiet. You didn’t know what was coming the next day.”

Doug and Linda had great concern for the police officers and firefighters who put their lives at risk during the 9/11 rescue efforts. The Carters also could not stop worrying about those in the United States military service and how this attack on American soil would impact the nation’s soldiers. The whole thing hit close to home for the couple. While Doug and Linda did not have any family members serving in active duty during 9/11, they empathized with the soldiers and military families around the world.

“We had a son, in 1985, and a grandson, in 2014, at West Point,” Doug noted. “My dad was a World War II bomber pilot. He was shot down over Germany and he was a P.O.W. for 18 months.”

The 9/11 attacks ignited an apprehension that the country would start to experience hardships and war times like many had never seen. Linda reflected how security and safety measures for airports, travel in general and at her workplace got tighter post-9/11. She also understood that the United States Armed Forces were constantly working to keep the country protected during that chaotic and scary time.

“Many don’t know what our army and service [forces] mean to the protection of our country,” Linda commented. “I think all of a sudden it forefronted it with 9/11.”

Hearing the news of 9/11 on the television or radio is a common answer from many when they recall that tragic day. Sarah and Zacc Pearman, who live in Sandy Mead, were not yet married when the terrorist attack occurred. In fact, they were not even dating, as that would come later when the two met up at the University of Wyoming where Sarah studied nursing and Zacc attended pharmacy school.

Currently, Zacc is a pharmacist at Twelve Clans Unity Hospital, which is an entity of the Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System. Sarah is a Nurse Practitioner at MercyOne in Kingsley, IA. At the time of 9/11, Zacc was a full-time student and college basketball player at Mount Marty in Yankton and Sarah was a high schooler on the other side of the state.

Pearman family

Zacc, Isaiah, Taylor, Dakota and Sarah Pearman.

“I was 16 years old, a junior at Spearfish High School, when the 9/11 attacks occurred,” Sarah detailed. “I was driving to school by myself… I remember the radio announcers kept talking about a plane running into a building and the building collapsing, but I didn’t know where the Twin Towers were or really even what a terrorist attack was. I kept listening to the radio trying to piece together information from different radio stations. By the time I got to my first period class, the news was spreading through the students and we were all on high alert, stressed and tense. Some kids were crying, as they had family who lived in the New York area.”

Chicoine family

The Chicoine family, from left, Kandace, James and Aubrey.

She remembered that her principal made an announcement on the loudspeaker that all classes would be allowed to watch the televised news coverage during the morning. Sarah recalled that teachers attempted to get the students back to their normal routine in the afternoon, but it was almost impossible, as the tragedy was at the center of everyone’s focus.

See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.