William Welch, chief editor of the Erie Times-News, woke up like he did every other morning on Sept. 11, 2001. He brewed a pot of coffee and turned on the news.
Joe Morris, Ph. D., walked to his first class of the morning at Mercyhurst University, only a few weeks into his first year of teaching there.
A hijacked passenger plane began the largest terrorist attack on American soil in US history.
The plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, ripping through layers of glass and office spaces, all passengers dying on impact.
The entire nation turned its eyes to the television, wondering what could cause such an accident.
Morris recognized the scale of such an event. “This is going to be lifechanging,” he thought.
Then a second plane hit the South Tower, and everyone knew this was no accident.
Welch frantically searched for his keys and wallet, knowing a call would come in at any second to get to work. This was the first time since the Kennedy assassination in 1963 that the Erie Times-News ran a special edition paper.
There was one horrible truth surfacing: those who were not out of the towers were dead.
Morris and Welch could already sense the profound impact these 9/11 attacks would have on the future lives of Americans.
Welch became an Intelligence Studies professor at Mercyhurst in 2006, and both him and Morris had seen the huge growth of the Intelligence Studies and ROTC programs in the years after 9/11.
Welch describes 9/11 as part of American heritage — there was a world before 9/11 and there is a different world now.
In this post-9/11 era, Mercyhurst receives many ex-military personnel who fought in the “war on terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
No matter how the aftermath of 9/11 shaped campus today, the anniversary will always be a somber one.
Sept. 11, 2002 was supposed to be the first day of classes, but the Mercyhurst University administration held a memorial service in the Mary Garden instead.
Other than large milestone anniversaries, Mercyhurst no longer commemorates the date campus wide. The anniversary has become more of an internal remembrance. In that sense, the attacks and its victims will forever be engrained in the hearts and minds of Americans.
“I will just walk outside on a crystal-clear Fall morning, and I will be reliving the events of that day,” Morris said.