'Time Passes Quickly'
Commentary on this story on Tuesday's Headlines Podcast .
Flags stood at half-staff Monday as Moore County observed the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Smaller flags lined the streets in Southern Pines. The Southern Pines Fire Department held a ceremony of remembrance.
Foxfire resident Frank Guerra was in Shanksville, Pa., for a memorial at the crash site of United Airlines flight 93. His granddaughter, Deora Bodley, died on the flight, which it is believed terrorists intended to crash into the U.S. Capitol Building.
He attended the memorial with his family, including his daughter and Bodley's mother, Debby Borza. He met President Bush and first lady Laura Bush for the third time.
"He did a good job," Guerra said from Pennsylvania on Tuesday. "It was the same thing with the first lady. It was very comforting having them there."
The National Park Service put together the event at the crash site and plans a standing memorial to the victims. Guerra thinks it will be completed by 2011.
Guerra said that it's important for future generations to mark the sacrifices made that day, not just on Flight 93, but in New York at the World Trade Center site and in Washington, D.C., at the Pentagon.
"We hope that future generations will continue to remember 9/11," he said. "It's a very important day in the history of our country. ... I just hope we can memorialize this day so that our country will never forget the loss of Sept. 11."
Guerra said it is particularly hard when dealing with the loss of a young person. His granddaughter was 20 when she died. She wasn't supposed to be on that flight that day, but jumped at the chance to board an earlier flight.
She was a student at Santa Clara University, fluent in French and wanted to be a child psychologist.
Guerra said that it doesn't seem like it's been five years.
"Time passes quickly," he said.
In April, Guerra and his daughter, who lives in San Diego, Calif., attended the premiere of the motion picture "United 93" at Ziegfield Theater in New York.
The actress who plays his granddaughter in the movie had no speaking parts. Guerra said he spotted a scene of her sleeping and one or two where she was standing in the background.
Nevertheless, he said the actress spent two days with Bodley's mother as research for the role.
Guerra said he and especially his daughter have been working on the memorial in Shanksville, Pa., where the plane went down.
Guerra said in April that his daughter is very active with the other families. It helps her deal with the loss.
She took part in an interview session that is going to be on the DVD of "United 93."
Sept. 11 affected every American in some way or another, but Guerra is one of several local residents who were impacted in an especially personal way.
Pinehurst surgeon Dr. Fabian Alzamora was in Manhattan when the attack occurred. He was in a conference room at the Southgate Tower Hotel in midtown. He went to the emergency room at St. Luke's-Roosevelt in Manhattan and helped with treatment as survivors came pouring in.
Ken Eichele was a chief in the New York City Fire Department on 9/11. He was playing golf in Long Island qualifying for an amateur tournament when the attack occurred.
He first heard that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, but had been told that it was a small plane.
Eichele didn't find out about the magnitude of the disaster until he finished his round that mid-morning. When he heard what happened, he immediately knew that many of his friends in the department had died in the collapse.
He managed to get across the bridge, through the wave of human traffic crossing it, to his department that day where he had to be on call in case other calls came in.
He did finally get to ground zero and spent nights and days searching for survivors and the bodies of his friends and co-workers.
Eichele, too, said it's hard to believe five years have passed. He watched many of the shows dedicated to the events of that day this week. The Golf Channel replayed a program it did on him, which Eichelle said brought back good memories of his friends, but the others made him sad.
"Every day that goes by I think about something about that day," he said. "But I don't dwell on it."
Hearing about the health problems of the firefighters who worked on the recovery concerns him.
"Clearly, they lied to us about the health risks to the guys on the pile," Eichelle said.
He knows that his lung capacity has suffered, but worries about more serious problems.
Though he suspected that breathing the dust from the debris was not good for him, he said he might have tried to take stronger precautions had he known just how dangerous it was.
"In my heart I knew it wasn't OK," he said. "If I had known how bad it was I might have tried to do something. Get a painter's mask or something."
Matthew Moriarty can be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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