Today -- September 11, 2016 -- marks the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. as well as the hijacking and crash of Flight 93. Many community members shared their thoughts and remembrances of that day.

I turned on the

television at a little before 9 a.m. and saw a close up of smoke pouring out of a building. At first, I thought a building in Cleveland was on fire, but soon realized what was really going on. The world had changed and I knew how an earlier generation felt after Pearl Harbor. I watched as the towers pancaked to the ground and an editorial cartoon the next day captured the mood well; the Statue of Liberty's grieving face with the burning buildings reflected in her eyes and tears on her cheeks. It seems like both last week and a lifetime ago.

Jeff Saunders, Stow Sentry reporter

I was in AP

Economics class in my junior year at Stow High School when I watched the second plane hit the tower with my teacher Dan Horrigan (now mayor of Akron) and a few others. The rest of the day, the halls were quiet--no joking, no smiling, barely any talking. Even as high school students, we understood our way of life as Americans would change for the worse. Fifteen years later, it's hard to imagine a world without the threat of terrorism.

Michael R. Rasor,

attorney and Stow City Council president

My best

friend John was doing his Emergency Medicine residency in the Bronx. He chose that because he wanted to be the best ER Doctor possible and he figured you needed to be in NYC to learn from the best. On 9/11, the moment I realized what was actually happening, I tried to call his cell phone. The news kept saying how phone lines, especially cellular lines, were jammed up but I kept trying to get through. I had no idea what he was seeing in his emergency room. I finally got through to his voice mail -- I told how proud I was of him and how much I loved him and how he was the best emergency doctor they could have in NYC at such a terrible time. I remember crying as I talked because I was so scared for him and his wife/

As it turned out, the "real" ER doctors went to the hospitals closest to Ground Zero and left him and other residents at their Bronx hospital. Serious casualties to be handled close to the scene, then less serious sent out to the Bronx and other areas. John said the worst part was that they didn't have any survivors come through, because there just weren't that many survivors. We talk about it from time to time, it greatly affected him. And later, his wife told me that John had saved that voice mail for as long as he had that phone/

Bob Pontius, marketing director, Stow-Glen Retirement Village

I was working

as the Police Chief in Munroe Falls on this tragic day. We immediately went on high alert until we were reasonably certain our residents were not in jeopardy. It was a scary situation not knowing what may happen next and trying to prepare for anything. It has made me more more vigilant for threats. I am saddened by the loss of life and also that the sense of togetherness as Americans displayed by so many has been lost and we are extremely divided.

Steve Stahl, Munroe Falls City Council Ward 3 and retired Munroe Falls Police Chief

Shortly after

9-11, I traveled to New York and saw the devastation first hand. The most memorable but unforgettable image was the photos of loved ones posted along a fence line surrounding Ground Zero. All of the individuals posted were reported missing with the hopes that their loved ones would be reunited with them. I can't even imagine how the last moments of their life played out. It brought a question to my mind/would I have been satisfied with how I lived my life to that point if I was taken so abruptly? In many ways I was, but it did make me rethink a few things that I wanted to change about my life.

I also attended the funeral of one of the Captains of the New York City Fire Department. At that time (mid- November) there were still about 6 services a day. I felt a great sense of pride and grief at the same time knowing this man and many others gave their life to try to save others. It was hard to fathom the number of funeral services that occurred day after day.

Three words stick in my mind when it comes to remembering 9-11/..Bravery, Honor, and Sacrifice.

Stow Fire Fighter

Sandy Ray

On a

beautiful 9/11 morning in Stow, Ohio, I was getting ready to go out of town for the Redmon Funeral Home. Before leaving, Bruce called me in to see the breaking news, from New York. Total shock set in! Driving to Columbus, all radio stations were broadcasting, the potential loss of life and I was asking, "God, where are you?" In Columbus, their TV was on and all of us for a short time, looked in silence, as if Velcroed to the screen. For me, in wondering where God was, I still believe that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to wrap His arms around the buildings so that they would implode. Remembering, let us remember to love one another and live knowing John 3:16. Blessings !

Pastor James Case, Stow Community United Church of Christ

Fifteen years ago,

September 11th began as one of those perfect mornings where the sky is blue and the temperature is not too hot and not at all cold. After taking our 2 youngest children to school, I took advantage of the beautiful morning to take a long walk. When I got home, a friend called to say that Akron University had cancelled classes and something horrible was happening in New York City. I turned on our television and like many other Americans, I watched in thorough disbelief. I remember thinking it had to be something like Orson Wells' War of the Worlds. My world seemed less bright even though the sun was still shining. My husband made a rare trip home in the middle of the day. I think we both needed to remember something good and solid: us. He also helped me talk myself out of going to pick up all four of our children who were attending SMFCSD schools: Indian Trail, Kimpton and SMF High School.

The compromise I made with myself was that I'd go eat lunch with our youngest daughters. I knew that this lunch visit was for my well-being more than anything else. I got to Indian Trail to find them happily eating lunch and excited to tell me they wouldn't have outside recess because there were just too many bees outside. Nothing unusual for early September in Ohio. Kudos to Indian Trail's staff. There were no afterschool activities in the district, which made for a rare early dinner at our house with everyone at the table. We didn't turn the TV on in an attempt to shield our 2 youngest daughters.

When tucking them into bed that night, thinking they could still believe that all was well in their world, our second-grader asked what would happen if more people drove planes into big buildings during the night. I don't remember how she'd heard about the day's events. Her dad was quick to answer that we were all perfectly safe because no planes were flying anywhere in our country that night. I walked quietly out of the bedroom with a very heavy heart and quiet tears falling off my cheeks.

To honor Patriot's Day this year, I will gather with all of TeamRV around our flagpole for the 5th time. We will remember what it means to be a patriot and what it means to be brave. Together, all 300 children and 42 adults will say the Pledge of Allegiance. I will be grateful for the opportunity.

Traci Kosmach,

Principal, Riverview

Elementary School

I remember the

day like it was yesterday. I was an assistant principal at Canton South High School. The main office always had the national news on first thing in the morning, so that's where I first learned of the attacks. Students and teachers were in classrooms doing their usual thing. I remember just watching in amazement and then didn't really think of the magnitude of it when I first saw it. Things were usually over-exaggerated by the news so I figured it was a bad plane malfunction or something of that nature. But the tone was different this time. There was anxiousness, nervousness in the tones of the reporters this time. So I stood and watched as the reports came in. We made the decision to lock down the school at the time; probably not what was needed, but we felt uneasy and felt like we needed to do something, anything. We couldn't call anyone, because nothing had actually happened in our building. I guess hopeless and not knowing what to do or how to react was the best way to describe it.

We informed the teachers and students what had happened, tried to reassure them that they were safe, and increased our security of the building. Some, not many, parents came and collected their children. They said they didn't feel they were in danger with us, but felt they needed to be with them at that time because nobody knew what was happening. Obviously we understood. It was in fact a very scary thing to be living through and in many ways watching as it unfolded. Again, helpless was probably the best way to describe it. We as educators have always pledged to keep our youth safe and we were doing so the best way we knew how because nothing had ever obviously prepared us for such a thing. It reminded me a little bit of the drills we had to do as a youngster in the case of a nuclear attack although we didn't crawl under the desks or anything.

I think that today's students understand that it was an event that certainly changed all of us that were here to go through it, but I think because it happened before many of them were born it becomes almost the feeling of a historic tragedy so the emotion becomes lost to them. But it has changed so much of the world that they now grow up in because of it. I worry that it is starting to be lost on our society as a whole because we have become so desensitized, but I am reassured when I see things like the heights of security and the borders that are still happening today because of it. That tells me that at least the leaders of this country have placed a priority on never forgetting.

Superintendent Tom Bratten, Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools

SHOCK! I was

working at Konica-Minolta in Hudson on 9/11. I came out of a meeting and the people in the office were watching a small TV. As events occurred throughout the day and the next couple days I remember how unreal and uncertain it all seemed. Later watching live TV with family and friends there were moments of anger, sadness and confusion. It is hard to believe that 15 years have passed and ground zero has been rebuilt. God bless America

Jack Idell, veteran

I remember

watching the horrific events unfold at the World Trade Center at the fire station with other members of the fire department. Only to then see a second plane crash into the other tower realizing that the first plan was not an accident at all. I thought to myself of all those people in the building, and of all the first responders rushing into a nightmare to help others that were now lost.

James Bowery, Munroe Falls service director and former Munroe Falls fire chief

I'll never

forget that day. I got a call from my wife telling me to turn on the TV. I did so right before the 2nd plane hit. From that moment on, I was confused and captivated along with eventually millions of others being made aware of this tragedy. As the reality of what actually happened sank in, I felt horror and hope in ways I never had before. It highlighted the worst of humanity while opening the door for displays of the best of humanity as people came together to help and serve one another.

To me it became a very real reset concerning what really matters most. Sadly not too long after the dust settled (literally), most things went back to the way they were before it happened as though it had never happened. I wish we could live for good with the awareness that was heightened that day without that day having been. My prayer is that we will keep looking for opportunities to be kind and do good just because we can and should.

Pastor Dan Page, Cornerstone Community Church

The events of

September 11th 2001 occurred 15 years ago, however for many Americans the details of that day are so vivid that it feels like just yesterday. I was attending a class at Kent State University that beautiful sunny morning. During a class break we found students starting to gather around a big screen TV in the media center. I knelt down next to my friend and watched as the news anchors attempt to report on a tragedy that had just begun. We witnessed the 2nd plane fly into the news broadcast and strike the South Tower of the World Trade Center. It was in that moment that we all knew. Our nation had bonded together with insurmountable acts of love and support. The world stood in solidarity amongst its American family and mourned the horrific tragedy we all took witness to that day.

It has been 15 years since the 9/11 attacks. The experiences of 9/11 have forever impacted me. As a 7th grade history teacher I have grown to see the historical events of our world through a different lens. September 11, 2001 is a history my students were not yet born to experience and one we will never forget. Share your story.

Eleanor Bosko, Kimpton Middle School

On the

morning of 9/11, I was working as a sales assistant at our family's business in Akron when someone interrupted a meeting and urged us to turn on the TV. The horror that was unfolding compelled me to act, so I went outside to lower our company's flagpole to half-staff, which required a forklift. That terrible morning gave new urgency and meaning to my military service, as I had recently completed four years with the 101st Airborne and been selected to become an Army Green Beret. A few months later, I began my special forces training as our nation was at war.

Sen. Frank LaRose, Ohio District 27 (R-Hudson)

I retired from

teaching in June of 2001, and the following fall was awful for me. I still rose at the crack of dawn, but had nothing to do except listen to the school buses go up and down my street. I occupied much of my time watching the morning TV shows. As "Good Morning America" was wrapping up, news broke in with the first tower being hit. I watched, transfixed, then horrified as I saw - in real time - the second tower hit. I remember jumping up from my chair, yelling, "No! No! This cannot be happening!" Tears ran down my face as I remembered that I had just been in the observation deck of one of the towers only three weeks before! I truly was in shock, and I was glued to the TV all day and well into the night.

Tom Stephan, retired SMFHS teacher

I shall never

forget September 11th of 2001. That morning, a friend called and urged us to turn to the news on public television.

We were watching in disbelief after the two airliners crashed into their targets! The massive twin towers literally disintegrated before our very eyes! It was devastating!

Today, we remember the countless police, fire and safety forces who gave their utmost while performing improbable acts of heroism on that fateful day.

We express our thanks to the families of these modern day heroes.

Harold Rowland, Army veteran of the Korean War era