September 11, 2001. It was a day like today; a Tuesday, sunny skies, even the Yankees playing the Red Sox. Most say they can remember exactly what they were doing. I spoke with 2 retired military members and our New York State Senator and they say it was a day they'll never forget.
"We didn't know what would happen next," says Ian Sanderson, retired Colonel, U.S. Air Force.
"I had family and friends in the world trade center but you can't think about that," says Della Pray, retired Sergeant, U.S. Air Force.
"New York normally bustles and hustles but everyone was stopping. And there was this apprehension and anxiety because nobody knew exactly what was taking place," says Senator Joe Griffo, (R) 47th District, New York.
"One commercial air liner crashed, then the second one hit the World Trade Center, than we have one crash at the Pentagon, and you go when does it stop, when does it end?" says Sanderson.
Both Sanderson and Pray are retired military members who were assigned to the Northeast Air Defense Sector, or NEADS during the 9/11 attacks.
"Normally the air defense sectors were set up to detect and protect against threats emanating from outside our borders. But of course this threat started inside our borders so we weren't really expecting it," says Sanderson.
The Federal Aviation Administration, lost track of some of the commercial airlines and contacted NEADS, requesting military assistance. These planes were United 93, United 175, American 11, and American 77. Sanderson says they were ready when the call came.
"Search for missing air crafts, scramble jets, and the commander at the time made the decision to have them cap over a couple different locations," says Sanderson.
Pray says even 11 years later, she'll always remember.
"You're gonna have a bond with those people for the rest of your life, it's just, like today, you just think about everybody that you work with and you're just happy that they're safe," says Pray.
State Senator Joe Griffo was the mayor of Rome during 9/11, and he was in New York City that day.
"They destroyed symbols of America that day but the essence of this country is the people and the people rose. They came, they rose to the challenge, they came out of empathy and concern for one another. So in the worst of times, on that particular day, we also saw some of the best," says Senator Griffo.
"I'm proud of the choice I made to come in the military, proud to be a New Yorker and just you don't take life for granted," says Pray.
Both Sanderson and Pray have retired since the 9/11 attacks and are currently Junior ROTC instructors at the Rome Free Academy.