By Nikki McKim; Chelsie Alexander contributed to this story
On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes bound for California. The planes departed from airports in Boston; Newark, NJ; and Washington, D.C. September 11 would become an infamous date in American and world history, and the events of that day would forever change the world. As the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the following timeline, courtesy of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, can help people fully understand how events unfolded on that late-summer morning two decades ago.
Two of the hijackers pass through security at Portland International Airport in Maine. The men will take a short flight to Boston Logan International Airport, where they will join three other hijackers and board American Airlines Flight 11.
Two of the hijacked planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, will eventually crash into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. The day was a significant one on the New York City political calendar, as polling stations opened at 6 a.m. for primary elections.
American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston with 11 crew members, 76 passengers and five hijackers on board. The plane, which will eventually crash into the North tower at the World Trade Center, is filled with more than 76,000 pounds of fuel.
United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston with nine crew members, 51 passengers, and five hijackers on board. This flight also is loaded with 76,000 pounds of fuel.
American Airlines ground personnel are alerted by flight attendant Betty Ann Ong that Flight 11 is being hijacked. This call lasts roughly 25 minutes and Ong reports that the cockpit is unreachable. In the moments before Ong’s call, one of the hijackers stabbed Daniel M. Lewin, who was sitting in front of him in first class. Lewin is likely the first person killed in the 9/11 attacks.
American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport. The flight has 49,900 pounds of fuel and is carrying six crew members, 53 passengers and five hijackers.
The transponder on Flight 11 is turned off. This device is meant to allow air traffic controllers to identify and monitor the flight path of a plane.
One of the hijackers of Flight 11 unwittingly broadcasts a message to air traffic controllers alerting them to the attacks. The hijacker was attempting to communicate with passengers and crew within the cabin.
Around this time, roughly 80 people have already begun gathering on the 106th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center for a financial technology conference. The conference is one of many events on the Trade Center schedule that day.
The Boston Air Traffic Control Center alerts the military that a hijacking is under way.
United Airlines Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport. The flight was due to take off at roughly the same time as the other hijacked planes, but was delayed due to routine traffic. Seven crew members, 33 passengers and four hijackers are on board. The flight is filled with 48,700 pounds of fuel.
Five hijackers crash Flight 11 into floors 93 through 99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Hundreds, including everyone on board the flight, are killed instantly. The crash severs all three emergency stairwells, trapping hundreds of people above the 91st floor.
Police, paramedics and firefighters are sent to the North Tower.
While visiting an elementary school in Florida, U.S. President George W. Bush is notified that a small plane has hit the North Tower.
A flight attendant aboard Flight 175 reaches a United Airlines operator in San Francisco and reports the flight is being hijacked. By 9 a.m., various passengers on Flight 175 have called family members.
The Port Authority informs people inside the South Tower via a public address system that the building is secure and there is no need to evacuate.
The Port Authority Police Department orders both towers evacuated. One minute later Captain Anthony Whitaker expands the order to include all civilians in the entire World Trade Center complex.
An evacuation order is broadcast in the South Tower.
Five hijackers crash Flight 175 into floors 77 through 85 of the South Tower. All onboard the flight are killed, as are an unknown number of people inside the building. Two of the three emergency stairwells are impassable and most elevator cables are severed, trapping many people above the impact zone and inside elevator cars.
A second call for mobilization brings the total number of New York City Police Department officers responding to the scene to roughly 2,000. In addition, the FDNY issues a fifth alarm and deploys several hundred additional firefighters to the scene.
President Bush is informed that a second plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.
Flight attendant Renée A. May calls her mother and tells her that hijackers have seized control of Flight 77. When May’s call is disconnected, she calls American Airlines.
Amidst reports of additional hijacked planes, the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management at 7 World Trade Center is evacuated.
Hijackers crash Flight 77 into the Pentagon. All 53 passengers and six crew members perish, and 125 military and civilian personnel on the ground are killed in the fire caused by the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration grounds all flights, ordering all civilian planes in United States airspace to land. Departures also are prohibited.
Evacuations at the White House and the U.S. Capitol begin. Both the House of Representatives and Senate are in session at the time the evacuation begins.
Flight 93 is flying so low to the ground that passenger Edward P. Felt is able to reach an emergency 911 operator in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
The South Tower collapses after burning for 56 minutes. The tower collapses in just 10 seconds.
Continuity-of-government procedures are implemented for the first known time in American history.
Four hijackers crash Flight 93 into a field near the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. All 33 passengers and seven crew members on board perish. Passengers and crew had stormed the cockpit, and the plane ultimately crashes just 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington, D.C.
The E Ring of the Pentagon collapses.
The North Tower collapses after burning for 102 minutes. More than 1,600 people are killed as a result of the attack on the North Tower.
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urges the evacuation of lower Manhattan.
The last flight still in the air above the continental United States lands. Within two and a half hours, U.S. airspace has been cleared of roughly 4,500 commercial and general aviation planes.
Falls City sprang into action immediately checking on their own who worked and lived in Manhattan. The Tuesday, September 11, 2001 Falls City Journal reported David Taylor, nephew of Sally Campbell of Falls City worked in the stock trading business at the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Due to a delayed flight he was not at work that day. Leon Campbell reported to the Journal on the morning of September 11, 2001 that Taylor had been in California during the weekend attending a family reunion. Because of a flight delay, he didn’t arrive back in New York City until the early morning hours and decided not to go into to work that morning.
Sean Gatz a 1987 graduate of Falls City High School was in one of the twin towers that morning. To the relief of his family, Sean escaped unharmed.
Diann Witt and Debra Witt, daughters of Roger and Lois Witt of Falls City, and the Witt’s son David resided in Manhattan. Diann and David said the smoke and dust were filtering into the area where they resided, which was one mile from the site of the fallen buildings. Telephone service was spotty, but they were safe.
A few others reported to the Journal their families were safe during this time.
On September 16, 2001 over 100 local citizens gathered in the Richardson County courthouse (due to pouring rain and lighting) to express sorrow and solidarity.
At the urging of Troy Lovenburg and Falls City Mayor Marshall Maddox a candlelight vigil was held to commemorate the dead and injured – victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. The service had been planned for the Courthouse lawn but was moved in due to the weather.
As each person entered the building, many carrying small American Flags, candles were distributed. The lights were dimmed and a brief ceremony, featuring a moving speech by Councilman Pat Hoy began.
Mayor Maddox noted that ceremonies expressing sorrow and unity were taking place through-out the country. That so many people would come out on a Sunday night to express their grief and patriotism, “shows the type of people we are,” he said. The mayor also alluded to the outpouring of aid that continued to flow from Falls City and around Nebraska to the East Coast.
The Rev. Dale Lambert, pastor of First United Methodist Church, asked God to “comfort and assure us,” in a world scarred by terror. He said Americans must set their minds to justice, not the “hatred and vengeance” that fills the hearts and minds of the terrorists.
The audience, included several children, was somber as Hoy, a former Air Force fighter pilot who at the time flew commercial airliners, stood at the podium. His message was one of determination and inspiration.
“By coming here tonight, you demonstrate your sincere sorrow for the innocent victims of these attacks,” Hoy said. The service provided an expression of “devotion to country and your determination to achieve ultimate victory over this new enemy of our American way of life.”
Terrorists, “this new enemy,” believe they can “crumble the American spirit just as the World Trade Center crumbled” and that Americans are “weak and unwilling to accept the sacrifices necessary to win the struggle ahead,” Hoy said.
Hoy said American has always been “at its best when times are the worst.” This will be such a time, he said and quoted Abraham Lincoln: “That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain: that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom: and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
One week after the attack Bill Schock expressed his thoughts in a ‘Hangin Out the Warsh’ column:
September 18, 2001
“Since Tuesday’s horrific (and I have never seen that word used so much and so often) disaster, I have been asked numerous times how this compares to Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when the surprise attack by the Japanese killed 2,383 United States Servicemen.
Although quite a number of us from this community were in the service at the time and knew Japanese diplomats were in Washington in a very touchy situation, the treacherous attack on that memorable Sunday morning was a real shocker.
Unbelievable. Similarity No. 1.
But the Pearl Harbor attack was not on the U.S. mainland. Tuesday’s attacks were on the continental U.S. for the first time since the Revolutionary War. Difference No. 2.
The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands of people, immediately unified a national that had been anything but unified. The attack on Pearl Harbor did the exact same thing. Similarity No. 2
The day after Pearl Harbor, I was a GI working in the 134th Infantry Regimental headquarters and listening to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous “Day of Infamy” speech (a real rouser) which further unified the nation as he vowed ultimate victory. There was no doubt about it. FDR was our leader. This past week, Congress voted to give President George W. Bush the money and green light as he declared war on terrorism. He is the man in charge and is adamant that his administration will rid the world of terrorism. Similarity No. 3—we fervently hope.
The days after Pearl Harbor saw young men lining up at Navy, Army, Marine and Coast Guard recruiting stations ready to join the battle against Japan and Germany, which by this time also was our declared enemy. Thus far, there has been no mention—at least I have not heard of it—of young men jamming recruiting stations to join up for what lies ahead. However, I am not aware of any call for them to do so either. This is difference No. 3.
After Pearl Harbor, the nation was 100 percent geared up in the war effort and the dedication on the home front meant everything to the men on the military front and to the eventual victory. Everyone was in it together and made the necessary sacrifices over the entire four years of WWII.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case when men gave their service and lives in the Korean War. And that wasn’t the case when men gave their service and lives in the Vietnam War. Shame on the United States! About the only ones making the sacrifices were the mothers and dads, wives and the family members of those in service. Thank goodness the home front became more involved in Desert Storm.
At first blush, it appears that whatever it takes to run down the terrorists will be backed wholeheartedly by the nation’s populace for however long it takes. We’re hoping and praying that will be similarity No. 4, be
cause that is what it’s going to take.
When the United States and our Allies went after Hitler and the Japanese, we had enemies in our sights. We knew who they were and where they were but to battle them into submission took an awfully lot of blood and guts.
Now that war has been declared on terrorists, we’re not sure who they are and where we’re going to find them. That’s difference No. 5 and it’s a big, big difference.
There is absolutely no way that we cannot go all out to put a stop to terrorism. We are mighty vulnerable. There intense hate for us was demonstrated in the unbelievable suicide attacks of Tuesday. President Bush and Vice President Chaney have urged us to go about our business in a show of Democracy strength—that the terrorists can’t permanently bash our freedom and our way of life. This we must do, of course. But no matter what we—and they—say, we’re naturally going to be sneaking glances over our shoulders for what the terrorists might attempt next. But lets get on with it, big time.
We must dedicate ourselves to wiping out the terrorist movement—for our sake, for our children’s sake, for our grandchildren’s sake and for our great-grandchildren’s sake. We can’t let a group of barbarians destroy the freedom which hundreds of thousands of our fighting men and women have given their lives for in wars past. Both the President and Vice President call it “resolve.” Sounds like an appropriate word to me.
There is no other way to put it. THIS IS ONE WE HAVE TO WIN!
Similarity No. 5” Bill Schock
On September 23, 2001, An estimated crowd of between 1,200 and 1,300 area residents contributed over $8,750 to the Attack On America relief effort through the community pancake feed held at Prichard Auditorium. The event was sponsored by six emergency responder organi-zations as a way of helping their brethren on the east coast. Organizations involved in the event included the Falls City Rural Fire Department, Falls City Fire Department, Falls City Vol-unteer Ambulance Squad, Richardson County Emergency Management, Falls City Police De-partment and Richardson County Sheriff’s office.
Members of the organizations prepared and served the pancake and sausage breakfast. Along the walls were small posters which included the names of the responders in the sponsoring groups and their length of service to those organizations.
Richard Malcolm of the rural department said the initial donation count was $8,746, but that more funds had been received since the event. The aid, he said, was to be directed at the emergency personnel (and families) who responded (and continue to respond) to the terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon.
On Thursday, September 20, 2001, The Richardson County Board was expected to pass a resolution in support of President Bush. Furthermore, the resolution would urge Richardson Countians to “support relief efforts by giving blood at the nearest available blood donation center.” The resolution, 2001-2002-11, acknowledges the sudden and brutal attack by· foreign terrorists on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the hijacking of the fourth airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania.
The resolution described as “cowardly” and the “deadliest attacks ever launched against the United States.”
These acts “cannot be allowed to break the spirit of the American people,” the resolution states. It called on Americans and Richardson Countians to “show these cowards that they have truly failed” by standing “tall and proud.” It urged all Americans to “carry on with the regular activities in their lives.
In the resolution, the board “condemns the cowardly and deadly actions of the terrorists, expresses its support for the President “as he works with his national security team to defend against additional attacks, and find the perpetrators to bring them to justice.”
The resolution concluded with the call for blood donations.
On September 23, 2001, An estimated crowd of between 1,200 and 1,300 area residents contributed over $8,750 to the Attack On America relief effort through the community pancake feed held at Prichard Auditorium. The event was sponsored by six emergency responder organizations as a way of helping their brethren on the east coast. Organizations involved in the event included the Falls City Rural Fire Department, Falls City Fire Department, Falls City Volunteer Ambulance Squad, Richardson County Emergency Management, Falls City Police Department and Richardson County Sheriff’s office.
Members of the organizations prepared and served the pancake and sausage breakfast. Along the walls were small posters that included the names of the responders in the sponsoring groups and their length of service to those organizations.
Richard Malcolm of the rural department said the initial donation count was $8,746 but that more funds had been received since the event. The aid, he said, was to be directed at the emergency personnel (and families) who responded (and continue to respond) to the terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon.
Twenty years later, September 2021.
A “Post 9/11 world,”Your stories.
“September 11 marked Jack’s, my oldest son’s birthday, who was married and in Ecuador at the time with the Peace Corps. After the attack on the Towers, I never worried about them again because if something like this could happen “here,” it made me rethink about safety for my kids.
Another son (Jeff) was in DC, but I found out later he left the day before; the youngest son (Jim) was in Nebraska but was thinking about enlisting there and then.
I was in England, on my way to Scotland with Julian, and found about the events on the BBC radio as we left Hadrian’s Wall. We stopped in York, England, that night and watched the BBC that night, realizing that we were entering a terroristic war. After finding out where all the boys were and that they were safe, we went to Scotland. We found the guards at Edinburgh Castle armed with machine guns; after asking, we found out this was because of the attack.
I remember getting teary-eyed that week as the Buckingham Palace Guard played our national anthem on the BBC. We made it back to the States on the first flight out of Gatwick as scheduled, but people were understandably nervous.” Barb Tyler, Lincoln, NE
“I was in first grade when 9/11 happened. I remember having to sit in a circle on the rug in the classroom but being too young to understand the impact of what was truly going on.” Antonia Harring, Falls City
“I was in 5th grade in Mrs. Kottich’s class. She left the room for a while and then came back in with tears in her eyes and told us what had happened. Then she brought in a TV and turned on the news to show us what was going on. It was completely silent in our classroom as we all just watched in horror and disbelief.” Shandelle Gooch, Falls City
“I was in 3rd grade at Southeast consolidated. I remember being brought in from recess and Mrs. Joy sat us all down and she told us what was happening with tears in her eyes. She turned on the news and we all sat together. I did not understand much. I remember feeling very emotional. And her answering any questions she could. Life-changing for sure. And very vulnerable.” Allie James, Stella
“I was in Beatrice, middle school homeroom. We watched the news every morning in Beatrice. I think after the attack, we watched the news all day in every class.” Laura Goff, Falls City
“I was in 3rd grade in Lincoln. At Arnold Elementary. Everyone was super emotional, crying, and the teachers pulled the big, huge TV in on the cart. They explained it to us, but we really had no idea what was going on. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces and the sadness in their voices.” Heather Marie, Lincoln, NE
“I was in 8th-grade history class with me. Henderson. We had a moment of silence and watched the news the rest of class and for the rest of the day.” Crystal Kirkendall, Falls City
“My first year of college and I was walking through the Union (where food, couches and TV’s were) and everyone was stopped, watching it on the news. It was surreal more than anything. It didn’t really sink in until much later. Later on that year, I worked for a call center that had clients in New York. I got to hear a lot of first-hand accounts.” Courtney Keahey, Laramie, WY
“I was dropping Lane off at a friends and seen it on TV. We watched then when we got to work. Totally devastating and felt unreal.” Donna Lovenburg, Falls City
“I dropped Zavan (5) off at PCC. When Emmet (2) and I got home, I flipped on tv as I was going to let him watch a little bit of cartoons. I saw the towers and all the commotion. I tried calling Jared (all he had at the time was a bag phone); he was working on the road and did not answer. I called preschool and told them I was on my way to pick up Zavan. We watched the news all day and I remember just holding them and I cried a lot. Finally, later that afternoon, Jared realized why he had so many missed calls. The line on Harlan to get gas at Kwik shop was blocks…not one or two, I mean probably to the courthouse if not longer. I was almost five months pregnant with Cole. We were supposed to fly to Hawaii at the end of the month, but this mama was not going anywhere!!! The day the world stopped turning, I will never forget!”
Merci Kirkendall, Rulo
“I was in my first year of teaching in Hiawatha. When we all heard, we turned on the television and watched in horror and disbelief. I was a new mom as Easton was only eight months old. It all felt surreal. It was an emotional day. I remember getting home from work that day and hugging Easton even tighter and being thankful for our little rural town in the middle of the United States.” Jamie Vonderschmidt, Rulo
“I was in fourth grade, south school. Braxtons age, I remember our teacher (I think Gail Froschel) rolled in a TV cart and they announced over the speaker what was happening. We watched it on tv all day. I remember the classroom being super quiet all day and all of the teachers crying. Which, of course, meant all of us crying because we didn’t really understand.” Brittany Campbell, Falls City
“I was watching Good Morning America. My sister and her family were here visiting from North Carolina. Her husband was a marine stationed at Camp Lejeune. When news came of the first plane hitting the world trade center tower, GMA went live to the towers thinking it was an accident. I watched the second plane hit live on the TV. My sister was still sleeping, so I woke her up. Her husband was called back to base, but the flights were all grounded. We watched the news all day and saw the towers fall. It was a terrible day in our history! I will NEVER forget it!” Salena Cooper, Falls City
“Teaching. Mr. Hawley came to my room to say he had seen on the computer that a plane hit one of the twin towers. We were so confused, sad and worried! There were no wireless computers. Our internet connection couldn’t keep up, so we would go to the library to catch a glimpse of the TV broadcast. I did not share the information with the second-grade students. It was a hot topic the next day, though.” Kim Oliver, Falls City
“I was 37 yrs old and at home getting ready to leave for work and I always watched the news in the morning. A special report broke in. I was only half-listening when I heard someone say I think a plane hit the building. I knew they were talking about New York, so that stopped me in my tracks. It was then that I stopped and sat down to watch the TV and saw the second plane hit. I was gobsmacked! I was alone, wishing there was someone home to talk to. I sat stunned, watching the TV, knowing that I was going to be late for work. I reluctantly shut the TV off and left for work, thinking just how unbelievable it was. That somebody purposely flew into those buildings. When I got to work, some employees were crying, and the words most repeated were “I cannot believe this!” We found out later that a sister of one of our electrical contractors died in one of the buildings. I will never forget.” Penny Alexander, Lincoln, NE
“I had a two month old in my arms and had sent my daughter off to walk to north school…I will never forget sitting on the edge of the couch looking at the TV, then my newborn, then thinking of my daughter and wondering what I had done bringing these two into this kind of world…” Lee Clark, Perry, KS
“I was home alone, watching the news as usual when all the turmoil started, there were people running from the towers. The first thing I thought of was my kids, but that is always my first thought and what might happen next….I called the ones I could get hold of. Found out later I had a second cousin that was there but was not injured. She lived in Springfield, Mo. but was there that day. You never know. The thing I remember is we all came together the day the world stood still…what happened to us? Why can’t we come together again!!!” Susie Alexander, Barada
“We were living on base at Fort Hood, Texas. I was just waking up and saw the devastation on tv. The base had previously been known as an open base, meaning anyone could come or go. They instantly closed base. Anyone that was there was stuck there for a few days. You now had to show identification to get on base and had to have your vehicle searched before you could enter. They searched the inside, the trunk, and even searched under your vehicle using long mirrors. What used to be a 10-15 minute drive to get to where you were going on base now took 3-4 hours as you sat in line waiting to be searched. There was talk and fear of gas prices skyrocketing, and people were filling every vehicle and gas can they could find. People were scared to leave their homes. There was immediately talk of war and deployment. It was like a scene out of a movie and didn’t feel real.” Becky Littrel, Falls City
“I was at work when UMB was still in town, I heard it in the radio. I remember going outside and looking up and the sky was so quiet, no planes, no trails, just quiet it was very surreal. Driving home that evening, the realization that our lives would never be the same came over me.” Lisa Keller, Hiawatha, KS
“I was at work when a tenant called to say a plane had crashed into one of the towers. We had a major remodeling project going on and it was very difficult to concentrate on the work at hand in addition to the daily tasks. Remember my heart sinking as I saw the second tower fall and knew the weeks and months ahead we’re going to be very difficult. The positive, if there was one, was the coming together of all Americans standing together and working together for the common good.” Linda Ebel, Falls City
“When I learned of the attacks, I was on my way from middle school to high school. I went directly to the library to see what the news was saying. Since I had lived in Manhattan for a few summers and my first “tourist” outing was the twin towers, it was a very special place in my heart. I honestly didn’t believe what I was seeing on TV. Over the next few days, weeks, months, many, many songs were written for or about 9/11 and being a music teacher; we listened, talked and sang many of them and worked them into every lesson I could. My story doesn’t end here. My story starts here: You see, May 2002 was set to be the next FCHS Concert Choir Trip(tour) and on September 1, 2001, I had decided I would take the FCHS Choir members to New York City and the twin towers were on our list of things to do. Go to the top! When 9/11 happened, I had a decision to make…stay in Nebraska, change locations, or take the students to the Big Apple. We had a parent meeting and the parents actually wanted me to stay with NYC. That first NYC Choir trip was amazing and sad at the same time. Our tour guide had formerly worked in tower one and many of her friends were at work that day. She told us about the day, what the city was like, and how life had been since September 2001. She took us to a firehouse that had lost 13 firemen in the attacks and the choir was allowed to sing our “Choir Song” Hands Across America and the National Anthem for the firemen on duty. We then went to Trinity Church and hung our flag (that the group had signed) on the iron fence that surrounded the cemetery. Through the attack, Trinity Church stood tall. Since May 2002, I have had the honor and privilege to be allowed to take a choir trip to NYC every two years, except for 2020 (COVID) and on every trip, we visit the memorial. And every time, we have a different guide and every guide shares their personal story about 9/11 with our FCHS students. This is one way that I can help our Falls City Students learn more about what happened in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 and I hope they never forget.” Alisha Sutton, Falls City
“I was at work. The boss turned it on and we were glued to tv. Very sad and vulnerable that day but very proud of the way the country came together on the tragic day!!!” Lou Anne Munoz, Verdon
“My late husband, Ken Zoeller, and my sister and I were touring Colonel Williamsburg, VA’s restored village, when someone came and gave our tour guide a message. The guide abruptly ended the tour with no explanation. Most of the group found their way to a building where there was a TV and watched in horror at the replay of the fall of the twin towers. It was a pretty somber crowd eating at the restaurant that noon. That weekend, we were scheduled to attend the reunion of Ken’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fox Company, at the U.S Military Academy at West Point, NY. All the roads past Washington D.C. were immediately closed and the reunion was canceled. We finished out our time at Williamsburg and changed plans for the rest of our vacation. The reunion was rescheduled for September of 2002 and we were able to attend.” Joan Zoeller, Falls City
Shirley George came by the Journal office on Thursday, Sept. 2 with a story written by Scott Schock two weeks after 9/11 about her late husband that she wanted to share.
Shirley said Brian Daake once said he still shares the story of ‘the man late for his own funeral,’ and she’d like to share a condensed version of this story here.
“Shirley’s husband, Ed Hackett, a long-time Falls City businessman had gone back to Beaver, Penn. on September 8, 2001 with Shirley to attend his 50th high school reunion.
Mr. Hackett, 68, had experienced a recurrence of cancer in 1999 and had been receiving chemo treatments for about six months. Ed was determined to make the best of it and was “very excited” about returning to Pennsylvania for his class reunion, a three-day event that also included visiting relatives.
Once the Hackett’s had arrived Ed enjoyed “two very good days with family,” Shirley said. But, by Thursday he was feeling tired and on Friday she had to call 911. He was taken to the hospital and passed away on Saturday.
“He went home to go home,” Shirley said.
Shirley said those who knew Ed knew he was “very punctual” and he had a “very good sense of humor.” Therein lies the irony.
Ed Hackett a man who was never late for anything missed his own funeral.
Shirley came home from Pennsylvania and assumed that the attending physician would sign the necessary papers ensuring Ed’s body would be returned to Falls City for the services. But the doctor was not on duty Sunday or Monday and then on Tuesday came the terrorist attacks which grounded all commercial air travel.
Family members began to plan Ed’s services selecting Thursday for the funeral.
Dorr Funeral Home placed call after call to Pennsylvania, to the mortuary there, trying to determine when the body would arrive. But, there was nothing to be done. Planes were simply not flying.
Eventually word was received that Ed would arrive on Saturday, then Sunday.
Family members decided to go ahead with the visitation and funeral.
Shirley said a very difficult time had been buoyed by faith.
“It has sustained our family,” she said.
Knowing Ed has also helped his friends and family. To think such an on-time guy would be late for his own funeral, well, “we would have had a good laugh,” said Shirley.