GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–Saturday marks 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was a time of deep sorrow for our country, but also a moment of unprecedented unity.
First responders from all corners of the country, including in the Upstate, helped in the aftermath.
The country watched in horror as the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded.
“What I didn’t know is just in a few days I’d be standing amidst the rubble that the world was watching on tv I’d see right before my eyes,” said Woodmont High School Principal Joe Foster.
Most ran from the crumbling towers, but many others turned to help.
“You protect your own, and then you go an help other people,” Mark Paris, a former hazmat first responder, said.
Paris headed to New York from the Upstate just days after the attack. He remembers the heat of the earth and the debris coming down like snow.
“When it changed from a rescue to recovery that was kind of like a quiet time, it was like, there’s nothing there,” Paris said.
At the time, Joe Foster was a police officer in southern Florida. He too answered the call.
“It was just vast, it seemed like a war zone and it was a lot to take in,” Foster said.
He’s now the principal at Woodmont High School.
“It is my deepest hope that none of these students ever experience and event like that, but it’s also my deepest hope that the generations to come never forget about what happened,” he said.
And although the tragedy of that day is an image stuck in many American’s minds, Foster and Paris hold onto something else too.
“It’s good to know there’s people out there you don’t know who they are but they’re out there and if something happens, they’re there,” Paris said.
“I’ve never seen more unity ever. As a country, as a first responder community, as a family of hurt patriots and hurt Americans I’ve never seen unity like that before. It was everywhere,” Foster said.