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Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

New Harmony, Indiana, in September 2001. Firefighters raised the American flag while seeking funds to help send firefighters to the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York. (Courtesy June Head)
Terrorist attacks hit home in Cortez

Philip and Vivienne Kenyon andBill and June Head, left Cortez on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2001, to fly to Louisville, Kentucky. We arrived in Louisville that afternoon and checked into the motel.

Next morning picked up our car that Vivienne had rented. We hoped to visit the towns where Vivienne’s ancestors lived and to visit all the old forts in Kentucky. Our van was very nice. It had windshield wipers on the head lights. Had vents in the back seat. For three days we tried to close the vents. We found a dealer who showed us how to close the back vents. Just open the door and poke the button!

Before leaving Louisville, we purchased a Styrofoam cooler from Walmart and filled it up with crackers, sliced summer sausage, cheese, apples, bananas, cookies, candy bars that wouldn’t melt, potato chips and water. We didn’t know if we could find a place to eat out on the road. We ate from the cooler every day since we had food. We stopped to visit the Kentucky Historical Society as I had a relative working there and wanted to meet her. Our destination was “Holston River in Tennessee, Kentucky or Virginia.” My ancestors lived on the Holston River. Vivienne’s ancestors lived at Falls Branch, Tennessee. We went to Lair, Kentucky, where Vivienne’s ancestors lived.

The van that took Philip and Vivienne Kenyon and Bill andJune Head from Kentucky to Cortez after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Courtesy June Head)

We were very fortunate to find a tobacco farmer who allowed us on his property to view the tobacco shed and to visit the “Lair Vault on Lickin’ Creek.” At his suggestion we jumped the fence going to the vault to view the outside but found we could go inside if we opened the big steel door. One of the vaults had 1762 as the death date.

On September 10, 2001, we were at the Holston Settlement in Tennessee. We toured some of the area on the Holston River, We found a motel in Jonesboro, Tennessee, and not far from a library. On September 11, 2001, we arrived early at the library but no one was there. There was a lot of people in a small office building doing something! Found they were watching a small TV when the first aircraft, American Airlines 11 hit the World Trade Center. Then United Airlines 175 crashed into the second tower. What a shock to everyone. Then American Airlines 77 crashed into the Pentagon. A short while later the news broke that United Airlines 93 had crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Our minds were not on genealogy; not going to North Carolina as we planned. We all agreed we should head back to Louisville to try to catch our plane early and get back to Cortez. We had our cooler with food. Philip and Vivienne were very concerned about their son, Tom, who worked with the postal department at the Pentagon in D.C. We knew we were 400 miles from D.C. Not far if the terrorist decided to head to Tennessee. I had just purchased a cellphone for the trip so we started using it. One thing in our favor was we had traveler’s checks, cash and credit cards. We had an automobile, which a lot of people didn’t have, plus our cooler. We had medication and no time schedule other than the three days needed to get back to Louisville. We had only the cost of the automobile to pay for which we thought was about $,1200.

We headed back to Louisville to turn in our van, pay for it, and catch our plane. We were scheduled to fly out about the 15th of September to Cortez. Within one hour after leaving the library every place we looked was a tribute to what was happening. All marquees stated “God Bless America.” Some said, “Won’t Forget – We Care.” Small American flags were placed on all the lawns in town. We noticed flags on the lawns regardless of what state we were in.

The airline’s reported flights were canceled out of Chicago. If we were in Chicago, we would be sent to Canada, and no reservations could be made. They were opening up buildings to sleep in, and food would be available. They suggested we stay where we were. We found na AAA office and went in to pay the bill. They said “No, pay when you turn it in.” After short discussion, we decided to keep the van and head for Colorado. We were to turn it in at Durango, Colorado, in the same condition as we found it! Late that afternoon we found a motel that had a vacancy, so we had beds for that night. Every place we went people asked where we were from – guess it was obvious we didn’t have the “accent.” The next night while eating, the waitress offered free space on the floor to use in the big plantation house they had just rented. They could find a pillow and blanket for our use if we needed it. We thanked her but told her we had rooms. It was unusual if people didn’t ask where we were from. In a small diner in Arkansas on a Sunday afternoon, we stopped to eat, and we were the main attraction in the diner. When we were ready to leave, our meals had been paid for by the other diners, and we were wished a safe journey going home.

Glad we had our van. There were no used cars for sale. People needing transportation rented U-Haul trucks. Four salesmen from California hired a taxi to drive them home, as they had expense accounts. Three ladies who had attended a seminar on makeup always seemed to stop whenever we did. I visited with them in the parking lot. They were from eastern Colorado and had purchased a used car and wanted to know if they could follow us to Colorado. It was hard to get a room, but we managed, and I usually asked if they had a room for the women. We had to stay in one that was being remodeled. All paper was coming off the walls in Kenyon’s room. The sink in our room was held up by board stilts, but it was clean!

New Harmony, Indiana, in September 2001. Firefighters raised the American flag while seeking funds to help send firefighters to the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York. (Courtesy June Head)

We noticed that many fire departments were raising funds in order for two to three firemen to go to the Twin Towers to relieve firemen or first responders who had been on duty and needed to go home. We experienced lots of different problems on the road. It took us a week to drive from Kentucky to Cortez. About six weeks after we were home, everyone received a refund from United on our non-refundable tickets.

Julie Paige was the other board member mentioned. She was a flight attendant for United Airlines for 37 years before retiring and moving to Cortez. Julie has flown all over the world, but particularly liked flying to Sydney, Australia. Because of her seniority, she could fly with United wherever they went. Julie mentioned when United Airlines 175 crashed into the second tower, she lost two friends, Kathie Laborie and Al Marchand. When the news broke about United Airlines 93 going down in Pennsylvania, Julie lost four very good friends, Lorraine Bay, Sandra Bradshaw, Wanda Green and Deborah Walsh. Julie said they were trained for hijackings to Cuba, bombs and threats and unruly passengers but not dealing with terrorists. Julie believes the four flight attendants were probably deceased prior to the plane flying into the ground due to their training. She said one of the things that bothered her and the others with United was that the flight crews were not recognized during the first days of this tragedy as they were the first to die for their country. She mentioned that on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 here in Cortez, the American Legion Post 75 Honor Guard and the First Responders of Montezuma County presented her with the American flag on behalf of the flight crews lost on 9//11/2001, and the flag hangs proudly on her wall.