Valley residents recall how they felt on 9/11

By Robert Guttersohn

Matt Dilullo of Youngstown smoked a cigarette while standing just outside one of the Western Reserve Transit Authority Federal Street Station bus stops.

He watched as hundreds of commuters line up, fill the green-and-blue striped buses and disappear in all directions. For the 29-year-old Youngstown resident who relies on public transportation, the possibility of more terrorist attacks is very real.

“If they can use planes to do what they did, who’s to say they can’t use buses?” Dilullo asked.

Unlike Dilullo, Sharito Mayo, who sat inside one of the glass-encased bus stops, said she never feels in danger when entering one of the WRTA buses.

Like Mayo, some of those interviewed from around the Mahoning Valley said fear of another terrorist attack is not a common thought, but they all remember where they were with great detail on 9/11.

“I don’t think too much about that day,” said Mayo while her 4-year-old son, Imad, scampered around the bus stop.

Sharito was 14 on Sept. 11, 2001, and lived in part of Philadelphia where many Middle Eastern families also lived. She remembered the way schoolmates treated her Middle Eastern friends in the days and weeks after the attacks.

“It’s ignorance,” she said. “They were throwing stuff at them.”

Mary Bare, who lives on Evans Lake in Springfield Township, was one who admittedly felt fear toward people who appeared to be Middle Eastern after the attacks but said she doesn’t feel the same now.

While waiting to take her father to the doctor on Sept. 11, she watched the news and saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center’s South Tower.

“I screamed,” Bare said. “But even then, I didn’t think it was intentional. I thought there were problems with air traffic control or something.”

But once the news station flashed a photograph of Osama bin Laden onto the screen, she knew it was intentional.

“I remembered seeing the same picture [in 1993] when he hit the basement of the World Trade Center,” she said.

One thing that has changed for Bare is how she gets from point A to point B.

“I haven’t been on a plane ride since, but I’d definitely be [scared] for sure,” she said.

Troy Conroy, 28, of Niles said he believes the military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq has a lot to do with the lack of fear he has toward another terrorist attack.

“I have faith in our military,” said Conroy, who served in the military from August 2002 to 2006. “The attacks don’t come here. Because of our military, they don’t attack the U.S.”

Conroy, like Bare, watched the second plane collide into the South Tower and didn’t realize it was a terrorist attack.

He was a senior in high school when it happened, and the school turned on every TV to cover the event.

“Teachers started talking about it,” he said while collecting care-package donations with 20-year-old veteran Tye Wilcox in Eastwood Mall for the military men and women serving overseas. “But no one thought it was a terrorist attack.”

But for 16-year-old Zack Tomasko, a junior at Boardman High School, he said he has lived most of his life with the War on Terror in the background.

He was in Robinwood Elementary on 9/11 and remembers teachers talking to him about it. But his more vivid memory came when he got home and saw his mother sitting in front of the television.

“I think she was crying,” he said while sitting on one of the benches at the Shops at Boardman Park. “She explained to me what happened, but I didn’t fully understand until a few years later.”

Living most of his life in the post-9/11 world, Zack does not envy past generations that grew up with less security checks and without the now-defunct, color- coded terror alert warnings.

“Every generation has one thing that defines them,” he said.

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