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September 11: Twenty Years Later SWFL Looks Back

 Art rendering of twin towers and New York City skyline
Michael Donlan
Art rendering of twin towers and New York City skyline

It is a moment that defined a generation and changed everything.

For many, it took a few minutes for the unfathomable to sink in as something that had actually happened.

The WGCU News team takes a look back twenty years after September 11, 2001, talking with people who were forever changed by this terrible day.

Gaylen Papkov reflects on working in New York City on 9/11

Valerie Alker Cooper recounts the momentous day she was chosen to report on President George W. Bush from a Sarasota elementary school.

When she went out for her story that morning, WGCU’s Valerie Alker had to know it was a big deal to cover the President of the United States, but it’s unlikely she’d expected to have a front-row seat to a moment that is part of history.

Valerie Alker Cooper talks with Mike Kiniry
Michele Brice reflects on working in New York City on 9/11
Dr. Barry Lipton reflects on being a first-responder for the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team in New York on 9/11

A NYFD Paramedic's Story

Kenneth Davis was a paramedic for the fire department of New York City on September 11, 2001. He watched the plane crash into the first tower that morning as he drove into Manhattan. He suffered several injuries as he worked at the site that day and since then, his physical and mental health has declined as a result. Now living in southwest Florida, Davis's recovery is ongoing.

Kenneth Davis talks with Cary Barbor
Michael Schuhler reflects on being in Marine boot camp on 9/11

Naples Teen Reflects on the Loss of Her Father on 9/11: Eight Months Before She Was Born

While families were changed, and hearts were altered in the years after the attacks, infrastructure and security clamped down in a way we’d never experienced before- and they continue to evolve as threats arise- I’m reminded of the failed shoe bomber every time I have to take my shoes off at airport security.

Claudia Szurkowski talks with Mike Kiniry
Laurie Babcock reflects on living in New York on 9/11 and how after she began working for the World Trade Center Program
Christal Neimeyer reflects on being an FGCU student on 9/11 and how her 12-year-old grew up after the tragedy

Experiences of Local Muslims

Mohamed Al-Darsani runs the Islamic Center for Peace in Fort Myers and is a lifelong Muslim. Jeff George, of Cape Coral, converted to Islam in 2003. Both men talked about their experiences before and after 9-11, and how being Muslim affected their experiences.

Experiences of Muslims in Southwest Florida on 9/11
Brianna Catton reflects on experiencing both 9/11 and the Columbine shooting during her four years in high school
Dr. Win Everham reflects on his experience being a teacher at FGCU on 9/11

Hope and Healing after September 11, and Today

The unity of Americans in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 was evident in the waves of people who mourned as the country draped itself in its American flag. An attack on New York, the Pentagon, and in our airspace, ending in a Pennsylvania field, felt like an attack on everyone in this country. Mike Kiniry talks with Florida Gulf Coast University professors, Dr. Maria Roca and Patricia Fay, about how the FGCU community responded to the attacks, and how they brought people together for a day of hope and understanding on November 9th, 2001 (11/9/2001.)

FGCU professors Maria Roca and Patricia Fay talk with Mike Kiniry

Patricia Fay's 'Hope Pots'
Patricia Fay
Patricia Fay's 'Hope Pots'
Tara Calligan

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