News / USA

Texas Town Recalls 9/11 Terror Attacks

New York City, Washington and a field in Pennsylvania were the places that experienced the main impact of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. But in a world linked by mass communication media and the Internet, even people far from the scene, in small towns and rural back roads, felt shock, anger and grief.

Where is Nacogdoches?

View Larger Map
Shop clerk and singer-songwriter Cindy Grayson lives in Nacogdoches partly because she likes being away from the stress of big cities. She follows the news, but the wars and strife seem far away.

"Part of you does feel that it is happening way over, that it is still over there," she explains, "because we are so... I don't know, this is a whole other world here in Nacogdoches."

Still, she says the terror attacks of 10 years ago did bring fearful events closer to home.

So when the space shuttle Columbia broke apart over east Texas on February 1, 2003, dropping debris over the town and on her own property, she thought at first it was a terrorist attack.

"With the house shaking and everything, my first reaction was that they had blown up something in Dallas or that they had blown up Houston and we were just getting the vibration of it," Grayson recalls.

Personal connection

Many of Nacogdoches' 30,000 citizens feel a personal connection to America's war on terrorism.

Carolyn Adams has two sons in the U.S. military. She thinks U.S. operations in Afghanistan and the recent killing of Osama bin-Laden in Pakistan has reduced the terrorist threat.

"He's got followers, we know that," Adams says, "but I think getting him out of the way helped."

Retired doctor Carroll Gregory laments all the death and suffering in the wars and wonders if they really have protected the nation.

"I still worry that it could happen again; I am not sure we are safer," he says.

One of the people in charge of keeping people safe in Nacogdoches is police sergeant Gregory Sowell.

Improved security

He says the town is better protected than ever before because of financial grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"We have more equipment now than we ever dreamed of having, sophisticated equipment, for a town this size," he stresses, "and we have actively pursued these grants."

Sowell says the federal grants help towns in east Texas work together on an emergency network that can respond to any kind of disaster.

"These plans and these resources were activated in Nacogdoches, Texas during hurricanes Rita and Ike," he explains.

For the most part life here is slow and easy.

Emotional scars melt away

Even the emotional impact of that terrible day 10 years ago has eased according to Archie McDonald, a history professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

"Probably the majority of people if they did not stop and do the arithmetic could not automatically tell you if it is nine or 12 or whatever it is," McDonald notes. "But when we get more to it or closer to the date, they will focus on it more and there will be some kind of community observance."

McDonald thinks September 11 will eventually be like other historic dates we observe more casually, like Independence Day.

"The Fourth of July time now we all just have a party, we are not remembering the fact that a lot of people died because of what happened 235 years ago," he says.

So as the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the United States approaches, people here continue to hope that they, their community and their country remains safe.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs