After 12 years, the memories of 9-11 are still with local woman Honey Brown, who was there when the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were struck by planes and collapsed. Islamic extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Brown recalled the events that occurred that horrific and tragic day Wednesday morning when she spoke to Eighth Street Middle School students.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Brown has been living in Tifton for almost eight years and has been working as a receptionist at Sixth Street Academy for four years.
As she stood in front of the students in the school’s gymnasium with a screen behind her showing photos of what took place on 9/11 12 years ago, Brown described how had it not been for her waking up late that day, she would have been among the thousands of people who lost their lives that day. She was a community assistant for the Housing Authority and had an appointment in the North Tower at 8:30 a.m. to get her ID. The first hijacked plane struck the North Tower at 8:46 a.m.
Running late, not realizing what was about to take place and change our country forever, Brown hustled along trying to get to her appointment. She needed to take her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter at the time to daycare also. Fortunately, she never made it to her appointment, which was on the 88th floor of the North Tower.
She told The Gazette, “Every time I talk about it, I get goosebumps.” She said she’s a very prompt person, but that one day, she was late.
Brown said she was stuck on an island surrounded by water. She lived on the sixth floor in Far Rockaway, Queens. She could look out the window of her building and see the towers burning from the impact of the planes.
“A lot of people were affected. If you were just walking down the street, you were affected. Debris was flying everywhere,” she said, noting she was shocked and stunned. “It was a scary event and time.”
She said no one was coming in or going out after the two planes hit the World Trade Center. There was no communication. Everything was closed. Showing a photo of a plane striking one of the towers, Brown said, “Imagine that coming into your classroom.”
As she continued to show several other photos of people crying, helping others, etc., she said, “That’s where I was supposed to have been. I’m not supposed to be here speaking to you today.”
Grateful that she’s alive today, Brown says 12 years later, so many people are still affected by that tragic day.
“Imagine people seeing other people traumatized,” she told the students.
“I dodged a bullet by not getting up on time, but I was still affected,” she said, noting her ex-husband was in the National Guard at the time. “He was in the middle of it, getting people out of debris. He had to remove body parts.”
She said her ex-husband pulled five people out of the debris. He’s living today and received a World Trade medal and certificate of appreciation. Brown said 2,752 people, including the passengers on the planes and hijackers, lost their lives on 9-11, and 18,000 people have been estimated to have developed illnesses from the toxic dust. She also noted 1,344 people were trapped in the North Tower and only 14 escaped before it collapsed.
“Angels were with the fire people, police and EMS who gave their lives to save lives and protect lives,” she said, noting some of them also lost their lives; 343 firefighters died in the South Tower. In May, One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, was completed. It is the primary building of the new World Trade Center complex in New York City’s Lower Manhattan.
Brown says she visits New York once a year. She said home is not the same anymore. She believes what happened on 9-11 could potentially happen again, because “we’re not untouchable.”
“A lot of people lost their lives just because of them being free,” she said.
Following the assembly, Brown answered several students’ questions, and the football team led the group in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Although she and numerous others were affected by the 9-11 attacks, Brown told The Gazette that she’s been affected in a good way also. She’s never forgotten where she comes from, and she strives for better because “tomorrow is not promised.”
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.