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Saturday, September 11, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.

20 Years After 9/11, Looking Back at How Northeast Ohioans Reacted to the Terrorist Attacks

photo of the front page of the Newark Star Ledger from September 12, 2001
Andrew Meyer
The front page of The Newark Star-Ledger from Sept. 12, 2001 reflects the sense of shock that gripped the nation following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

"Today we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country."

On Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush addressed the nation after the terrorist attacks that claimed almost 3,000 lives. Two planes hijacked by members of al-Qaeda struck the World Trade Center, one hit the Pentagon and one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after the passengers attempted to regain control of the aircraft.

Concern spread throughout the country that more attacks would target other major cities. Cleveland evacuated downtown buildings in response. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was evacuated and closed. Ohioans lined up at gas stations out of fear of possible fuel restrictions. Communities came together to grieve.

Joe Gunderman speaking to people in Ravenna the day after 9/11

"Our world is going to change."

Despite the fresh tragedy, some Northeast Ohioans attempted to return to their regular lives. For others, the attacks changed everything with a renewed sense of patriotism and need to help. American flags sold out across the country.

Ohioans struggled with the loss of lives. They also tried to come to terms with the loss of the perceived safety they felt from living in the United States. Others recognized that this kind of violence wasn't new in the world, just to America.

Joe Gunderman speaking to parents in Ravenna on how they're telling their kids about 9/11

"I didn't want to scare them."

On Sept. 12, people in Northeast Ohio were also trying to decide how to explain the terrorist attacks to their children.

Some parents worried breeching the topic in the wrong way would scare their children. Some struggled to even find the words.

Mark grew up in Akron and attended the University of Akron and Kent State University. He's worked in radio news since 1982 at WNYN Canton, WKSU Kent, and WCPN Cleveland. He’s been an anchor, reporter, news director, and program director. His reports through the years for NPR, PRI, and the BBC were aimed at letting the rest of the world know that Ohio is more than just a flyover state.
After a degree in broadcasting and theater from BGSU, Joe’s professional radio world commenced in Archbold, Ohio, in 1979, where he was the overnight deejay. In 1980 he transitioned to one of Ohio’s original radio stations, WSPD in Toledo. There he became a bone fide, mulit-award winning production director, and began paying serious attention to voice. In 1984 he came back to his hometown of Cleveland and became a full-time freelance voice artist, doing work heard all over the country. It was during this time that he was hired as an actor once a month on the WKSU production, “Standing Rock Access,” which ran from 1984-85. The freelance voice work has continued for over 30 years now. In addition to the voice work, in 1986 Joe joined, as production director, the highly successful team at Lite Rock 106.5 WLTF-FM/WRMR-AM in Cleveland, which through ownership change became WLTF-FM/WWWE-AM in 1990.
Abigail Bottar is a junior at Kent State University. She is pursuing a major in political science with a concentration in American politics and minors in history and women's studies. Additionally, Abigail is starting her second semester copy editing for The Burr.