HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Thirteen years ago, four airplanes were hijacked. What ensued changed the country.
"They hit the Pentagon! We were like, who? What? What happened?"
Deborah Taylor is the accountant at Oakwood University. She was working in the nation's capital on September 11, 2001. She said a calm morning became panicked throughout the city -- a panic that increased with the more information they learned.
"It was difficult getting a call through because the lines were just overloaded," said Taylor.
Just blocks from the White House on the tragic day, she recalls the chaos as D.C. was shut down.
"Looking up, you could see the sharp shooters on the buildings," she said, "that's one thing I remember, the look of fear, and terror."
As Taylor thinks back on that day, she said she's thankful to live in a country where she is given freedom -- and hopes an attack like that never happens again. During her time near the capital, she said she lived close to BWI airport where she constantly heard planes flying overhead.
"But for those next few days...it was quiet. And that was eerie."
For New Yorker Kamille Robertson, watching her city fill with smoke was confusing through third grade eyes. "We didn't really know how drastic it was. We knew something was wrong, but we didnt really know."
Oakwood's morning assembly had a moment of silence commemorating the tragedy. Though their current student body was in elementary school at the time, it became more real when personal friends were affected.
"She was the teacher for vacation bible school for us, so we were really close," said Robertson. Her name was Michelle, and she worked at the World Trade Center. She went missing.
"A search team from our church, and the police, went to every hospital in the area to try to find her."
Those efforts eventually revealed that the woman did not survive. Kamille says her church community keeps her family in their hearts.
"I know it still hits them hard everytime they have to think about it."
On the anniversary of the attack, Robertson says she will think about her home in Queens, New York, where many of her neighbors have vivid memories. She said every anniversary, it feels as if the whole country is grieving for her hometown.