One farmer lives about three miles from where Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania
By Diego Flammini
September 11, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Between 8:46 a.m. and 10:28 a.m. eastern time on that day in 2001, 19 men highjacked and crashed four commercial airplanes.
A total of 2,977 people died after American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center Towers, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Va., and United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Penn.
American farmers remember where they were when news of the attacks started to funnel in.
Larry Cogan, a hog, sheep and hay producer from Somerset County in Pennsylvania, was working at his family’s flower shop and greenhouse business, about three miles from where Flight 93 crashed.
“It was a gorgeous, cloudless morning,” he told Farms.com. “We were preparing to load chrysanthemums into a box truck for delivery.”
Cogan’s wife, Nila, told him to come inside the house after she saw the scenes of New York on TV.
“I walked outside and all I could see was a large plume of smoke to the east of us. It went up like a mushroom cloud,” Cogan said. “We didn’t see or hear the moment of impact. And as fast as the smoke rose, it vanished.”
Cogan didn’t believe the situation near his home was related to what happened in New York.
“I thought it was a small aircraft,” he said. “You don’t think about something like that happening here. But as the morning went on, we soon realized what was going on.”
Any farm work that day stopped for the Cogans and other farm families in the community as emergency vehicles and first responders attended to the crash site.
“My wife’s family had a dairy operation south of the impact area and they couldn’t even cross the road with forage wagons to fill the silo,” he said. “We just hunkered down in front of the TV like everyone else.”
For Cogan, that day marked the start of something new.
Life as he knew it had changed.
“It’s a benchmark in my life,” he said. “There was a life prior to Sept. 11 and now there’s a life afterwards. We look at the world differently and we look at relationships. I think a lot of people feel that way.”
Almost 13-hours away, in Hodgenville, Ky., Ryan Bivens and his father were about to start harvest, but they had to go back to the house first.
That’s when Bivens’s mother came out to tell them about what she saw on TV.
“My mom told us a plane had hit the World Trade Center,” he told Farms.com. “We walked in to watch some of the coverage and we actually saw the second plane hit. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
Watching the footage of first responders running towards burning buildings is personal for Bivens.
Members of his family served in the military or as law enforcement.
“My father served in the army, my brother was a volunteer firefighter and my (grandfather) was a retired state trooper,” he said. “We’ve got a great deal of respect for first responders in our family, and it puts a lump in your throat when you remember their bravery that day.”
When work on the farm started the next day, Bivens noticed a renewed patriotism in the community.
His father mounted an American flag on the side of a semi before making a grain delivery, and other drivers noticed.
“Other drivers honked their horns and waved at him and you could feel America coming together,” he said. “I know I’ve become more patriotic since then and I try to pass that down to my boys.”