Editors Note: The following article is the sole work of the author and it does not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of K2 Radio News or of its parent company, Townsquare Media. The thoughts expressed are solely those of the writer of this piece.

Those of us who lived through it will always remember September 11, 2001.

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It was a day, as cliche as it sounds, that began like any other fall day in Wyoming.

The birds were chirping, the leaves were falling, the sun was out. It was, for all intents and purposes, "a perfectly lovely day."

What we didn't know, what we couldn't have known, was that the day was going to change America forever.

While Casperites got ready for work, or packed their lunches before going to school, flights were being hijacked by members of the al-Qaeda.

American Airlines Flight 11 left from Boston Logan International Airport en route to Los Angeles International Airport at 5:59 A.M., Mountain time. This was roughly an hour and a half to two hours before most of us had to be to school or work. As coffee was being brewed and cereal was being poured, Flight 11 took off for Los Angeles.

15 minutes later, it the flight was hijacked. 30 minutes after that, it hit the first Twin Tower.

"I was out for a morning run listening to music on a small hand held battery operated radio," said Betsy Egeland-Zook. "I was about 2 miles from home - it was around 7:15 am when the music was interrupted with the emergency announcement that the first tower had been hit. I felt fearful of the unknown as I ran faster home to wake up my husband with the news, turned on the tv and watched it. I was running north on Missouri St. ( past Fox Hill Apartments) and I felt an urgency to get home. I’ll never forget this exact moment."

While Flight 11 was being hijacked, United Airlines Flight 175 also took off from Boston Logan. It, too, was bound for Los Angeles. At around the same time, American Airlines Flight 77 left from Washington Dulles International Airport, bound for Los Angeles while United Airlines Flight 93 took off from Newark International Airport, bound for San Francisco International Airport.

"Was working out before work," Stew Anderson said. "Watching news feed after first plane hit. Watched as second plane hit. Immediately stopped working out as I knew we were under attack. Changed clothes and headed to work. Was the county Emergency Manager at the time. We had to coordinate local resources to help guard facilities as well as deal with possibility of many planes diverted and landing at airport as they were all ordered to land. Continued doing this for a few days and then deployed to New York to help with family assistance with family members looking for their loved ones....spent the next month there. Very vivid memories still today."

At 7:03 A.M., Flight 175 hit the second Twin Tower.

"Heard that the tower was hit while listening to KTWO radio on my way to Alcova." Paul Hult said. "Got to school and turned the TV on in the library. 'Taught' from there that day. Remember watching the towers fall and all the fear and confusion that was going on. Will never forget it."

When you're a kid, like this writer was at the time, it's hard to understand the gravity of what exactly is happening. You know something bad happened, but New York City seemed a million miles away. There's a bit of disassociation involved because it's hard to imagine a world outside of your hometown when you're 13 or 14 years old. But then, your school is locked down and you're not allowed to go outside for recess or a lunch break. You've gone through tornado drills and things like that, but nobody knows how to prepare for an event like this, so everyone just does the best they can.

"I was on a school bus headed to school, 1st grade, and the bus driver turned up the volume on the radio to hear it over the kids," Nikki Stevenson said. "I was sitting near the front and even though I was young, I knew something horrible had happened. "Once we got to school, all the teachers crowded us into one room and we watched it on TV for the next few hours. Teachers were crying and the school called parents to come pick up their kids. It was very memorable."

At 7:37 A.M., Flight 77 crashed into The Pentagon, in Washington D.C.

"I was getting ready to go to work. It was a Tuesday morning," Angie Geiger said. "I was teaching Kindergarten and my own children were in first and third grades. The Today Show was on and I heard what they were talking about so I walked into my bedroom where the tv was. I watched the second plane hit the South Tower just after 7:00 a.m. We went to school, but everyone was in a state of panic...parents asking if there was even going to be school that day, people in tears and filled with fear. My teaching assistant brought a small tv to school and we watched all day. I remember feeling shell-shocked... numb and afraid... how could this have happened? Two months later, on November 11th, I arrived in Denver to become a live kidney donor for my younger sister who was very ill and needed a new kidney. These two events will always be tied together in my memory."

Teachers, not knowing any better, brought TV's into the classroom, so we could all watch history unfold. What they didn't count was was news crews capturing people jumping out of the buildings. Children were exposed to extremely traumatic visuals and, even then, many of us still didn't understand the significance of the events.

At 8:03 A.M., the final plane, Flight 93, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The passengers of the flight had taken the plane back from the terrorists and, even though they lost their own lives, they may have saved countless others.

"I was in my first period class because I arrive two hours before the start of school for swim practice," Amanda Lye remembered. "I walked in with breakfast in hand to find my teacher with the news on and the whole building in a complete 'hush.' We didn’t do any school work in that class and we all walked silent in the hallways. I remember hugging my friend, who was an Italian exchange student shortly after. She was telling me goodbye because they were being moved into a 'safe' area. The whole day and next week were a complete blur. I can remember the news broadcasts, pictures, videos, faces, but nothing about my life or what I did during that time period."

That's how it was for many of us. We forget certain moments but remember others one in extremely vivid detail. This writer remembers sitting at a lunch table in the 8th grade, talking with my friends about what would happen if somebody dropped a bomb on the school. I remember going home and watching the news on MTV. I remember George Bush, the president at the time, saying some deeply impactful words. It was the first time, really, that I paid attention to what the President of the United States was saying.

And I wasn't the only one.

At 8:03 A.M., the final plane, Flight 93, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The passengers of the flight had taken the plane back from the terrorists and, even though they lost their own lives, they may have saved countless others.

And that was one of the first instances of heroism that day. It would be far from the last. New York Police officers, New York firefighters, hundreds of different emergency responders, and every day citizens would spend the rest of that day, and many after, trying to save as many people as they could. Some, but not all, of the stories from that day would come out in various articles and documentaries throughout the succeeding years. We'll never really know everything that happened on that day. But what we do know, is this: The day was one of unspeakable tragedy, but there was something else on display that day.

It was the first time, in a long time, that Americans came together with a common goal. At first, that goal was to simply survive. But then, as the dust settled, as the fires were put out, as the smoke cleared, survival morphed into resolve. America, collectively, rose from the ashes and stood up. We dusted ourselves off, and we cried for our dead and we screamed into the sky with our chests out and our fists up and we said 'Is that the best you've got?"

America, for a long time after that, stood together as one. There weren't Republicans and Democrats - there were just Americans. September 11, 2001 was one of the worst days in this country's history. It was a day that would define us for years to come. But that definition didn't include words like scared, or broken, or defeated. On that day, America was defined by courage, by understanding, by strength.

That experience was different for everybody. The day, for those in New York, was vastly different than it was for those in Casper. But, it was similar in ways, too. We all stood together on that day, and on the days after. And no matter what we were doing, no matter what we believed, we did our best to remain strong, to support each other, to live in love. In the years after, some days are better than others when it comes to that. But Casper still, for the most part, tries to maintain the same sense of humanity. And we do that because we know how precious life can be, and how quickly it can end. We will never forget how we felt on on that Tuesday. And we will always remember what we were doing on September 11, 2001.

More accounts from that day can be read below:

We Will Always Remember: This is What Casper Was Doing on 9/11

Pictures from the Annual Casper Stair Climb Honoring 9/11 Victims

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