September 07, 2011 Edition

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Local State Farm Agent Adam Staples (left) discusses the terrorist attacks, which occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, with employee Todd Rowland. Staples, along with former Lawrence County resident Terry Pickrell, were attending group seminars at the World Trade Center during the events. Both were located on the 61st floor during the attacks.
TD Photo ~ Shantelle Prater

Attack remembered 10 years later

Lawrence County native Terry Pickrell visited The TD for an interview in September of 2001, a few days after escaping from the World Trade Center in New York City. He was there to attend a Morgan Stanley seminar on the morning of Sept. 11 when terrorists flew airplanes into both towers, causing them to collapse within an hour. Pickrell now lives in Ozark.
The TD ~ 2001 file photo
Shantelle Prater
Staff Writer

"We are filled with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger," former President George W. Bush announced to the nation on Sept. 11, 2001, after terrorist attacks sent the U.S. into a panic. Lawrence County residents joined the rest of the country in showing pride and patriotism by flying the American Flag and displaying red, white and blue ribbons.

Signs with inspirational messages such as "God Bless America" and "Pray for our Country" were displayed throughout the county, and churches and communities gathered for prayer services while organizations hosted events to aid those affected by the tragic attacks.

When asked, many, if not most county residents can recall Sept. 11, 2001; where they were, what they were doing, the way the event impacted them, especially those who experienced the terrorist attack first hand.

"My first impression of the World Trade Center was that it was really secure," said Terry Pickrell, a 1997 Hoxie High School graduate.

Pickrell, along with State Farm Agent Adam Staples of Walnut Ridge, was attending training-group activities with financial investment company Morgan Stanley on the 61st floor the World Trade Center during the time of the attacks.

"While I was in the building I was scared, wondering if I was going to get out. Once I got out, it was a broader and more national fear about how we as a country were going to respond," Staples said.

"Looking back it's hard to believe that I was actually there on Sept. 11," said Staples. "It still doesn't seem real to me. I'm just truly grateful that God spared us and allowed us to come out of there without even a scratch," Pickrell said.

Both men feel the event has provided them with a deeper understanding of how fragile life truly is.

"I live my life with an eye on the finality of it all, knowing that any given day could be my last," said Staples.

"The event has definitely helped me to put things in perspective," Pickrell said. "Things that I thought were important aren't any more. At the time, I was in New York training for a new career. The event helped me put my priorities in line. God, family and friends are much more important than a career and how much I make."

"It's such an epic event and played out on such a grand stage. When thinking about the 3,000 plus people who lost their lives, we completely disassociate the fact that one woman lost her husband, or two kids lost their dad, or some kids lost both parents that day," said Staples.

"We completely lose sight that the 3,000 who lost their lives are composed of individuals who lost their lives, each of which is a gut-wrenching story."

In 2008 Staples visited New York City, along with Ground Zero, where he stood 10 years ago on the day of the attacks.

"When I visited Ground Zero, a part of me thought 'I can't believe I was there," Staples remembered. "I can't believe I have a first-hand account of that story. But another part of me was like everyone else who visits the site, heart broken for those who died there that day and for those who lost loved ones during the event."

Pickrell has not revisited the city but would like to do so in the near future.

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