The Day After 9/11 from the Perspective of a Former Student Reporter

On September 12, 2001, Kellan Gault was a college student at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and on the reporting staff for her college newspaper. Now a resident of Sinking Spring, she remembers traveling to the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as if it happened yesterday.

“I think everyone remembers [where they were] that day,” said Gault, as she reminisced about the universal feelings of shock and horror that surrounded 9/11 and the days immediately following the terrorist attacks.

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“It’s one of those days that, if you were alive and old enough to remember it, you remember it. I equate it to my grandmother retelling where she was the day JFK got shot.”

Gault recounted that her campus closed in response to the attacks. At the time, she lived off campus, so she spent 9/11 driving back to school to ferry students who could not get home back to her apartment.

“[The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is] about 45 minutes away from the site, so the whole community was scared and locked down,” she said. “There were no cell phones as the system was overloaded…we tried calling home and no one could get through…I remember we all just felt helpless.”

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Gault shared that, in response to the horror surrounding them, she and her friends decided to try and be as “American” as possible while they were forced to sit and wait–they fired up the grill, played football, and watched the news as they thought they were witnessing the end of the world.

On September 12, she decided to visit the crash site of Flight 93 to report on the event for her college newspaper.

While the area was still heavily restricted, Gault was able to access the scene due to her press badge, and capture candid images from the day after the crash, which are shared here.

“The crash site was haunting…there were tons of people there, all in the same silent shock,” Gault remembered.

In a moving tribute to the compassionate unity of Americans in the wake of 9/11, Gault shared that those gathered at the site were not giving “a rubbernecker type of vibe…[instead] it was we are here, we are sad, how can we honor your lives.”

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Emily Fitzpatrick Kenniston
Emily Fitzpatrick Kenniston
I cover news on small businesses and local events.
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