Former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker is bringing his solo country show to the Toledo Zoo Amphitheatre on Sept. 8.
Before he went solo, Rucker tried to convince his band to record a country album, but he said what they would have come up with wouldn’t be the same as the solo sound he has developed.
“It would probably sound a little different,” he said. “When you have four guys who are equal parts of a band, it sounds different than just one guy doing it. There are a lot of times when you want to do something that doesn’t go your way and you get outvoted. Doing solo, it’s all you. It’s easier. You get to make all the decisions.”
Even though Rucker is enjoying his solo career, Hootie & the Blowfish still gets together on a regular basis. The band has played six shows this year, and the band mates frequently play golf. Rucker tries to win as much as possible against them, because his other golfing partner is Tiger Woods.
“We both happened to be in the same bar one night in East Lansing,” Rucker said. “We’ve played a lot of golf together over the years. He always gives you a tip around hole 17 after he’s beaten your brains out.”
Aside from golf, one of Rucker’s favorite things to do in his free time is watch movies. He has seen his favorite, “Stir Crazy,” more than 100 times.
“I saw it again last week like I was watching it for the first time,” Rucker said. “My favorite movies in the world are ‘Godfather’ 1 and 2 and ‘Stir Crazy.’ Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor together are genius.”
Much like Woods in golf and Pryor in comedy, Rucker has become a pioneer in modern country music for African-Americans. In 2009, he became the first African-American to earn the Country Music Association (CMA) New Artist of the Year award. The only other African-American to win a CMA award is Charley Pride, who was named Entertainer of the Year in 1971 and Male Vocalist of the Year from 1971-72. Rucker hopes his success leads to more African-Americans emerging in country music.
“You hope so, but we thought the same thing about golf a few years ago with Tiger,” Rucker said. “I don’t think record labels are out looking for their African-American country singer. But those African-American country singers who send CDs, somebody might give it a listen now instead of it going straight to the trash.”
Before going country, Rucker started his solo career with an R&B album. He recorded “The Return of Mongo Slade” in 2001, but it wasn’t released by Atlantic Records because of contractual issues. Hidden Beach Recordings acquired the rights and released the album in 2002 as “Back to Then.”
“When I was a kid, Al Green and Gladys Knight were it for me,” Rucker said. “Then I started discovering The Beatles and other rock bands. ‘Hee-Haw’ has always been there for me. I still sing all those songs. The thing I always loved was that if you were someone in country music, you were on that show. So you got to see everyone in country music every week.
“When I got older, I discovered Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Foster & Lloyd, New Grass Revival, Doc Watson and Radney Foster, all these people that were blowing my mind. Ever since I heard Radney’s ‘Del Rio, TX,’ I said I was going to make a country record someday.”
Rucker recorded with Griffith on her 1997 song “Gulf Coast Highway.” In 1999, he provided backing vocals on Foster’s album “See What You Want to See.”
“Radney is my idol when it comes to country music,” Rucker said. “Every time I open my mouth to sing country, I’m trying to do Radney. He inspired me to make a record and to write songs for my record. Our friendship means the world to me.”
Rucker has also developed a solid relationship with Brad Paisley while touring this year.
“Brad’s awesome,” he said. “That was one of the best tours I’ve ever done. We had a blast. We’re going to Europe together in a few months. He’s my friend, he’s one of the best musicians I’ve ever played with and he’s an amazing dude.”
Paisley was featured on Rucker’s latest album, “Charleston, SC 1966,” on the track, “I Don’t Care.”
“The thing I like most about that song is it’s so Brad,” Rucker said. “It’s so funny and so out there. It’s unexpected by the two of us.”
Rucker brought one of his favorite legends into the country genre when Lionel Richie approached him this year to record “Stuck on You” for his album of country duets.
“Lionel Richie is more than an idol, he’s part of our DNA,” Rucker said. “Nobody calls me to do duets, and Lionel Richie called me. I was blown away. It’s one of those things I truly can’t tell you how great it was for me. I had a blast doing it, and when I heard it I loved it. Now, being friends with Lionel Richie is pretty cool.”
He met another legend Dec. 12, 1995, when he performed “The Lady is a Tramp” at Frank Sinatra’s 80th birthday party.
“It’s still one of the great musical moments of my life,” Rucker said. “When we finished, he asked me to come over so he could shake my hand.”
Rucker grew up with many genres, but one idol helped show him it’s possible to cross over the lines.
“The guy I don’t give enough credit to is Kenny Rogers,” he said. “I know all his songs. The great thing about Kenny is you heard him on the country stations but you also heard him on the pop stations.”
Rucker’s show starts at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8. Tickets are available for $27.50 and $42.50. The Toledo Zoo Amphitheatre is located at 2700 Broadway St.
Archive for September 8th, 2011
Former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker is bringing his solo country show to the Toledo Zoo Amphitheatre on Sept. 8.
Yeah, George Lucas is messing around with “Star Wars.” Again. And fans are going ballistic. Again.
It had been widely speculated that the famous filmmaker would once more be tinkering with his most famous work in advance of the Sept. 16 release of all six films on Blu-ray. This was confirmed with the release of details on changes to several of the films, beyond the “Special Edition” alterations made when last the films saw release.
Yoda, portrayed by a puppet in “Phantom Menace,” will now be replaced by a CGI-generated character in the film. (He remains as-is in the original trilogy.) Little tweaks have been made to effects here and there in several of the movies. The cry Obi-Wan Kenobi makes to scare off Sand People in “Episode IV: A New Hope” has been altered, for reasons no one can guess at.
And, most galling to many “Star Wars” fans, Darth Vader will now scream “Nooooo!” as he hoists the Emperor to his demise in “Return of the Jedi.” This seems to be a callback to the single most maligned moment in perhaps the whole of the prequel trilogy, when a freshly resurrected Vader cries a pathetic “Nooooo!” upon learning of his wife Padme’s demise.
Fans are up in arms as never before at these changes. Once more, people are calling for Lucas’ head, decrying him and everything he stands for. Any positives he may have contributed to the world up to now (like, say, creating the whole “Star Wars” enterprise for everyone to obsess over) are rendered null and void, because “Vader can’t scream ‘Nooooo!’ darn it!”
Is it Lucas’ right to change the movies? Yes and no. Yes, as a director, he has every right to alter a film in any way he sees fit. So he can have at the original “Star Wars” and the whole prequel trilogy, as far as I’m concerned. But, no matter how involved in the production he was, I’d argue that he has no right to mess with either “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Return of the Jedi,” because they were not his films. Especially now that neither of those films’ makers, Irvin Kershner or Richard Marquand, are still with us.
But even if you want to consider Lucas the auteur of the entire enterprise, whether it is fair of him to alter the movies is still open for debate. It’s not as if directors haven’t been changing their classics for years. “Special Editions” are released with alarming regularity these days. The great Ridley Scott has messed around with “Blade Runner” almost as much as Lucas has with his sci-fi epic. Steven Spielberg re-edited and changed “E.T.,” adding new effects and subtracting guns. Neither of these directors, however, has been the brunt of anywhere near the flack Lucas takes. Why?
For one thing, Lucas is the only one who insists upon his latest cuts being the only version of the films available. Pretty much anyone else who releases a new edition of a classic includes the original film, so fans can choose. Lucas has made it clear his new versions are to be considered the true version. For years, the original cuts were never released on DVD at all.
A 2006 edition of the films finally corrected this, apparently without Lucas’ blessing — though the versions released were bare-bones transfers that didn’t look nearly as good as they could have.
That’s what galls fans most — the idea that Lucas is dictating to them what their favorite movies should look like. Of course, he dictated what they would look like before they were ever released, too. But once they have been sent to the public for consumption, they stop really being the artist’s work alone.
I acknowledge all the amazing work Lucas has done. I don’t hate him, as many claim to. Lucas has contributed far, far more artistic good to the world than bad. And if he wants to tinker with his work, that is his right. But it is also my right, as a consumer, to choose not to buy it. If fans are genuinely that upset, maybe it’ll show in lackluster sales of the new release.
Email Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.
Junior linebacker Dan Molls suffered a lower leg injury in practice on Tuesday which will keep him out of the game against No. 15 Ohio State on Sept. 10.
Although it is still unknown how many games he will miss, he is expected to return to the lineup this season. A source close to the situation said that Molls was using crutches and a walking boot this week.
Senior linebacker Terrell Anderson is listed behind Molls on the most recent depth chart. Anderson has played in 23 games in his career but has never made a start. He recorded 18 tackles in 11 contests in 2010.
Molls earned Third-Team All-MAC honors and finished 10th in the nation with 143 tackles last year.
Angie Kromenacker spent more than 22 hours in labor on Sept. 11, 2001, bringing her son into the world while watching destruction unfold and fear spread across the nation.
Her son Kyle was born at 8:03 p.m.
“It was good to think of something good that happened,” Angie said. “Out of all the people that lost their lives and the tragedy, we still had a miracle happen that day. We still had something good that came out of it.”
Angie and her husband Steve haven’t had an in-depth discussion with their son about the events of 9/11, but Kyle has the basic facts down.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “The Twin Towers came down, and I was born on that day, so it was a special day. Osama bin Laden, the person that did it, has died. Since it’s the 10-year anniversary, they are thinking someone that was following him might have something planned on the day.”
Turning on the TV
Kyle was due on Sept. 10. Angie started feeling labor pains that evening, and they headed to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in the middle of the night. The next morning, Angie asked the nurses if she could turn on the TV.
“I knew that ‘Regis & Kelly’ was going to be on, and I don’t normally get to watch it because I’m at work,” Angie said. “We turned it on and it had just happened, one of the planes. Then the next plane hit. The rest of the time, that’s what the whole focus was on. The nurses kept coming in to check the TV and we talked about it all day long.”
“You just didn’t believe it,” Steve said. “‘What show is this? What’s on TV? What is happening?’ For the next 10 minutes, that whole floor was dead quiet, just silence. People were astounded. I’ve never seen a hospital that quiet. It was eerie.”
Steve and Angie met while working together at Owens Corning and have been married 11 years. She grew up in Defiance and is a help desk coordinator and he is a building engineer from Toledo. They also have a 7-year-old daughter, Paige and Steve has a 19-year-old daughter named Alexis. Kyle’s birth was a cause for joy, but it never felt like a day of celebration.
“It definitely wasn’t the happy mood of having a baby,” Angie said. “Everyone was much more subdued than what they would have been. You couldn’t believe it was happening. It took my mind off of everything else that was happening with the baby and all. The nurses kept mentioning that something good was happening on that day, too, besides all the tragedy that was going on. For me, it was kind of a whirlwind of watching the news and trying to focus on what was happening with him.”
“It was very surreal,” Steve said. “It set the tone for the day. We were just in awe. We were stuck in this hospital room, waiting for Kyle, and this whole event was going on. It was amazing how the hospital shut down.”
One year later
When Kyle turned 1, Angie reflected on the births of children whose fathers died in the attacks.
“A year later, they showed all the babies born from people who were killed in the buildings,” Angie said. “I’ve always wondered what you have to tell those kids as they grow up and explain what happened to their parents. It’s sad.”
The family has never let the tragedy of the day affect their celebration of Kyle’s birthday, but there was a different feel surrounding his first birthday.
“That first year was a special year,” Steve said. “That was a big year to a lot of people when they remembered it.”
“It was still fresh in everybody’s minds,” Angie said. “A year is not very long. You’re still trying to weed out what all happened and still getting the counts of all the people. You hear all these stories that come out. The first year really flew by. You couldn’t believe it had already been a whole year since it had happened, and you have a kid who is on the verge of walking. Every year when his birthday rolls around you think about how long ago that happened, but it still seems like yesterday. It’s hard to believe.”
Angie knows her son’s birthday will forever be linked with the events of that day.
“His birthday rolls around and that’s what people talk and reminisce about,” Angie said. “We saved a ton of newspapers and things. I had Steve go out and gather stuff so that we could have stuff to show him when he gets older. We saved a couple books on it. Those two things are always going to be tied together. He’s never really going to get away from that. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
Steve and Angie are starting to teach Kyle more about the events of 9/11 as his birthday and the 10th anniversary approach.
“He doesn’t know a lot about the details,” Steve said. “He hasn’t seen any movies on it and things like that, but that’s coming.”
It could come as soon as this weekend after Kyle’s curiosity was piqued during the interview.
“Do they have a movie on that day?” Kyle asked his parents. “Can I watch one of those?”
Kyle attends Kateri Catholic Academy, where his favorite subject is math. One of Kyle’s favorite hobbies is coin collecting. His uncle Rob Giesige gave him a commemorative silver coin with the World Trade Center towers on it for his birthday last year.
“I collect a lot of coins and two dollar bills and stuff like that,” Kyle said. “I was really excited when I got it. He got it at a coin convention. I’d like to go to one of those.”
Kyle also collects baseball and football cards and enjoys playing both sports, along with soccer and wrestling. He is the quarterback this season on a flag football team.
“I want to play tackle, but I didn’t want to play for a different school so I had to play flag this year,” Kyle said.
His favorite football team is Ohio State. After having a patriotic theme last year, Kyle’s party will be filled with OSU football decorations.
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Angie keeps looking back on the attacks and her son’s life.
“It gives you a chance to reflect back on everything that happened,” Angie said. “At work, it’s always something that you talk about. We always come back to the part that, even though all those horrible things happened, we still have Kyle that happened on that day.”
On Sept. 9, 2001, Rob Gschaar sat at the dinner table with his wife of 22 years, Myrta. Two months into his job at Aon Corporation, Rob discussed the 1993 terrorist bombing of his new company’s building, the World Trade Center. Two days later, tragedy struck the buildings again.
The attacks that brought down the towers took nearly 3,000 lives. Among them was Rob, who was on the 97th floor of the South Tower.
Life before Sept. 11, 2001
Myrta, a native New Yorker, met her husband Rob in 1987 through a work function. Myrta, a broker, found herself at a company party with rival insurance-worker Rob.
“He was the bad guy and I was the good guy,” Myrta said. “He worked for the insurance company so I had to get him to say ‘yes’ to what I want him to insure. He either accepts it or rejects it and most of the time they reject everything. So, I wind up marrying him.”
Myrta and Rob had struggled in previous marriages and wanted a better experience. Rob offered that second chance with a unique proposal lacking a traditional engagement ring. Instead, he gave Myrta a $2 bill and kept another. As Rob had described to her, they were like Yin and Yang, truly two-of-a-kind. With it also being the second marriage for both, the $2 bill was an ideal symbol for their love.
“He just gave me strength to be the best that I can be and just taking your past and moving to the future, learning from it and not making the same mistakes,” Myrta said. “He helped me find my love again, for myself especially. He never did anything bad, he was perfect. He was just a good husband and a good person. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He made me a better person.”
The couple lived in Rockland County, N.Y., as Rob joined Myrta’s family including her four daughters. After he was out of work for four years, Rob took a job at Aon, an insurance company inside the South Tower, on July 1, 2001.
Sept. 11, 2001, began like a typical Tuesday. Rob, who started his day much earlier, leaving around 5:30 a.m., routinely made his wife a cup of coffee that he left by the nightstand. Following a kiss on the cheek and a “Love you baby, see you tonight,” Rob was off to work.
When Myrta arrived at work, a co-worker informed her that a plane had just hit the North Tower. She quickly called Rob, located in the opposite building, who answered the phone saying, “Yes, it’s true.”
“He had a trembling voice and I knew something was really, really bad,” Myrta said. “He said ‘They are jumping. They are just jumping from the windows.’ He was in the South Tower, the 97th floor. From his view he was seeing people jumping. People on TV were just seeing specks. He was not seeing specks, he was seeing faces. That’s horrifying.
“I am on the other side of the phone panicking. I told him to drop what he was doing and just come home. He said ‘I’m going to see what we are going to do, what’s going to happen and if we are going to evacuate and I’m just going to call you back later. I promise I’ll call you back.’
“He said ‘I love you’ and then hung up the phone and that was it.”
That was the final conversation Myrta would have with Rob. Fewer than 20 minutes after a plane struck the North Tower, a second airliner en route from Boston to Los Angeles hit the South Tower. Myrta, who was not watching the broadcast, was informed by her boss of the incident.
“When I was still in my office my boss came out and told me ‘You may just want to get your things,’” Myrta said. “I said ‘What’s going on?’ and he said ‘Another plane hit and I think it’s the South Tower.’”
A friend of Myrta’s picked her up from work and brought her to her house, where she remained in the bedroom to avoid the news while friends stayed up-to-date with the events in the living room. Others gathered as their loved ones were also missing. Of all those in attendance, by the day’s end, only Rob remained unaccounted for.
Rob’s last moments
Following the tragedy of 9/11, Myrta was overcome with anger. Rob’s official status was still “unknown” and she held out hope that her husband was still alive, possibly amongst the wreckage or suffering memory loss. Myrta put up fliers with her husband’s photograph hoping for any sign.
Within the next two weeks, Myrta was contacted by a married couple who arrived at her house. The man, whose name is unknown to Myrta, claimed to work with Rob and was in the South Tower with him.
“They are sitting there and brought flowers,” Myrta said. “She came to tell me that if it wasn’t for my husband, her husband would have died. My husband saved her husband’s life.”
A few weeks later in October, Myrta held a memorial service for Rob. During the service, a woman in her 20s approached Myrta and told her a similar tale.
“She walked over and said ‘I just wanted you to know that Rob saved my life,’” Myrta said. “She said ‘I froze, I couldn’t move and my feet felt like they were lead grounded in cement but he pushed me to the door, told me to keep running and don’t look back. That’s what I did and I’m here today to tell you that.’”
Myrta, who was still mourning the loss of her husband, did not keep in touch with either party. Now in 2011, Myrta wishes she would have found out more.
“Back then I didn’t want to know about these people because they lived and Rob didn’t, so I separated myself from them,” Myrta said. “Once they left I just felt very angry. I didn’t bother keeping in touch with them. I didn’t want to and I regret that.”
Myrta continued to struggle with her anger during the next few years. After an unending routine of leaving the house only to go to work, she decided to seek medical help.
“I started to isolate myself,” Myrta said. “I was snapping over here and snapping over there and everybody was looking at me like they shouldn’t be around. I started to isolate myself from the human race. My anger kept getting worse and I realized I needed help and went to a psychologist.”
Myrta discovered that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress. Myrta began working to overcome the disorder. She began attending different churches each Sunday before finding the right fit, later being baptized as a born-again Christian in 2004.
Despite her newfound faith, Myrta struggled as she felt something was missing. That’s when she found a solution at an International House of Prayer.
“There was something still not right,” Myrta said. “I couldn’t be whole and I wanted to be whole and fill that void. One day we were at an International Prayer House and there were thousands of people in this house and everybody there was praying for the world. After several hours of praying I started voicing my forgiveness toward the people who murdered my husband. Then my life changed.”
Myrta’s forgiveness of the terrorists who took her husband’s life turned her own life around. She began to feel complete and no longer angry.
“After I did that I felt a joy and a peace in me, it was an experience like I had never felt before,” Myrta said. “It’s better to live in the light than to live in the darkness. Forgiveness is better than hatred. If we live in hatred, we will still be talking about terrorism and that’s why we have terrorism today. If we live in love, we won’t have terrorism. We won’t have to fight or have bickering.
A lost item
In 2005, Myrta received a call informing her of items belonging to her husband that had been found in the remains of the towers. Until then, she had no official proof of Rob’s death, only the assumption he was gone and not somewhere suffering from amnesia.
Myrta gathered inside a room with others, picking up loved ones’ recovered items, when she received a shock.
Among the items recovered were Rob’s wedding ring and his wallet, containing mundane items like a security pass and some cash. Tucked away inside the wallet was a lone $2 bill, the same one he had saved more than 26 years earlier when he proposed to her.
“When they pulled that out I could not believe it,” Myrta said.
With the bills reunited, Myrta received the closure she had waited so long for. She donated both $2 bills and Rob’s items found in the wreckage to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. She moved to Ohio in 2005 to be closer to her family, residing in Maumee.
Myrta is visiting New York for the first time since she moved away on this Sept. 11 for the 10-year anniversary memorial service.
A new season of Ready U will kick off Sept. 12 with a presentation on terrorism prevention called “See Something, Say Something.”
Lt. Tom Wiegand, emergency services/homeland security coordinator with the Toledo Police Department, will lead the hour-long session set for 7 p.m. at the Main Library’s McMaster Family Center for Lifelong Learning, 325 N. Michigan St.
Ready U, a yearlong disaster preparedness series presented by the Greater Toledo Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency, is designed to educate the public and prepare individuals and families for potential emergencies in Northwest Ohio.
Wiegand is scheduled to discuss the seven signs of terrorism.
“Terrorism prevention is the same type of community involvement as crime prevention. If you see something out of the ordinary, you have to say something,” Wiegand said. “These are indicators that provide a little guidance to communities on what to look for.
“If you’re living by a refinery and you see somebody taking a bunch of photos at all hours or if you see someone just watching the comings and goings, we characterize that as surveillance. If you’re working at a mall and someone is trying to elicit information about opening and closing procedures, that could be suspicious questioning. In 1995 when Timothy McVeigh blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, he took a lot of time buying supplies. If organizations or companies where some of that stuff can be bought notice suspicious purchases, we’d like to know who is acquiring supplies.”
The session will also cover the impact of terrorism on America and abroad.
“It’s good to look at that, especially in light of the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” Weigand said. “We’ll talk a little about current trends that are manifesting — more internationally than here, thank goodness — but we’ll talk about tactics they use and talk a little about targets.”
One thing Wiegand does not want to do is generate fear.
“We have to counteract what ifs with how likely a terrorist attack is in Toledo,” Wiegand said. “Let’s face it, the threat to New York City is much greater. They have much more critical infrastructure, more natural and historical icons, a much larger population compared to Toledo. But with that said, we do have soft targets and we do have gatherings that would be rather significant, so we want to make sure people are just aware and that they stay informed and have a plan.”
Wiegand hopes attendees leave with a greater understanding of ways they can help protect their community.
“Knowledge is the ally and fear is the enemy,” Wiegand said. “We’re obviously not as fearful as we were the day after 9/11, but we need to maintain vigilance because there still is a threat out there. There are still extremists out there who want to engage in violent behavior against this country for a wide variety of reasons.”
A new part of Ready U will be an initiative called Ready U Plus, which will provide emergency preparedness kits and one-on-one assistance in understanding the material to area residents who may not otherwise come into contact with it.
Included in the kits will be information and checklists covering general and seasonal disaster preparedness, a document on which to record emergency contacts and other important phone numbers, a checklist for important documents and records, and a disaster preparedness coloring book and crayons for children.
Caseworkers will reach out to clients served by Red Cross partner agencies, including East Toledo Family Center, Adelante, Family Services and Family First Council. They will review the information, help fill out forms and screen a nine-minute disaster preparedness film.
“We all must do what we can to prepare our families and make our communities ready for the next emergency,” said Joe Walter, director of the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency, in a news release. “Everyone can take three key action steps to get started: build a kit, make a plan and be informed. Ready U can teach people how.”
According to the Red Cross, 359 people attended at least one of the 10 sessions during Ready U’s inaugural 2010-11 season.
Other sessions in this year’s schedule include:
- Wednesday, Oct. 12: Fire Safety and Prevention
- Monday, Nov. 14: Winter Weather Safety, including winter storms and cold emergencies
- Monday, Feb. 13: Planning Your Victory Garden
- Monday, March 26: Summer Safety, including tornado and severe weather awareness
- Monday, April 30: Using Your Victory Garden, including canning and food storage
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor for the Ready U program.
For more information, visit ready-u.com.
We are now facing the anniversary of one of the most tragic events in the history of our republic. In thinking of this tragic event, I’m reminded of Nov. 22, 1963; I was in the Marine Corps, after boot camp at Parris Island. I was in a training session in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and we were training with the .50-caliber machine gun. The training was interrupted by the base command and we were returned to our barracks and told of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
That moment is and always will be indelibly imprinted on my mind.
That’s not to say that other events have not left a permanent imprint on me as a former first responder — they have. This brings us to another day imprinted on my mind: Sept. 11, 2001.
My day started at the University of Toledo where I was a visiting professor with a class and office hours scheduled that day.
My first impression about Sept. 11, 2001, as I got on my office computer, was that it was a hoax, similar to H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.” I then realized this was real, as New York and Washington, D.C., were victimized by the insidious series of events.
When I heard of the commercial flight westbound, just over Pennsylvania, my first thought was fear. Was it going to strike Davis-Besse and expose 20 percent of the world’s freshwater to nuclear radiation?
The somber realization that thousands were dead and not knowing how many attacks could still take place replaced the momentary feeling of fear.
By mid-day, all individuals who were not considered critical to the university’s ability to function were directed to leave the campus immediately — I was exiting the health and human services building and going to my car, when I observed a young female student wearing a hijab, crying and shaking in the doorway.
I drove off, but as I approached Dorr Street, I thought about my failure to come to her aid. I turned back to look for her, but she was not to be found. The guilt still remains and I hope someday I will have the opportunity to apologize for my failure to respond in a manner consistent with my core values.
The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 instantly altered life in the United States. To say that our freedoms have been changed would be an understatement. One example would be one’s experience at an airport pre-Sept. 11 compared to today. Would today’s security measures have been tolerated then, from a legal or social standpoint? The answer is academically and resoundingly no!
Our world has shrunk and with this tragic event, the life we enjoyed pre-9/11 will never return.
The one fact that has not changed is that the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were criminal and had no foundation in any religious theology.
Yes, we face challenges today and will tomorrow and yes, “let us never forget.” Peace can only be found with true communication, respect and trust between the religions of the world.
This is the challenge mankind faces as we strive for world peace. O
D. Michael Collins is the District 2 Toledo City Councilman. He can be reached at DMichael.Collins@toledo.oh.gov or (419) 245-1050.
As the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks unfolded on television, then-Perrysburg police sergeant Mark Wasylyshyn turned to his wife Jenna and said, “I need to go and help.”
With the blessing of the Perrysburg Police Department, current two-term Wood County Sheriff Wasylyshyn and fellow officer Jim Williams, a 22-year veteran, took a patrol car to New York City. They began a weeklong quest to offer their services to NYC officers.
“I had never visited the city prior to the attacks,” Wasylyshyn said. “I really had no idea what to expect.”
Every morning for seven days, Wasylyshyn and Williams would report to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to get their daily assignments. The Javits Center is located on the west side of Manhattan and is owned and operated by New York City. It served as the command center for volunteers arriving from across the United States.
The officers worked 12-hour shifts. Most assignments were to provide respite for their brothers-in-arms.
“These officers had been working 14- and 16-hour shifts for days on end,” Wasylyshyn said.
One assignment was security work in front of embassies representing 14 countries. Another day they were sent to Pier 36 on the Hudson River to do identification checks. Foot patrol duty in Times Square was shared with two officers from Texas. The four men were the only officers on duty in the normally bustling area.
Wasylyshyn said they were driven by adrenaline.
“It was such a life-changing, rare experience; I was never tired,” he said. “Although, I must admit I slept very well at night!”
As a result of the influx of volunteers, NYPD officers were given the chance to attend funerals, rest and eat. Many NYPD law enforcement officers went out of their way to find the Ohio volunteers to personally thank them.
“I remember watching this patrol unit crossing through barricades, you could see them walking for blocks directly toward us,” Wasylyshyn said.
When they reached the Perrysburg officers, the unit stated they “just had to meet the Ohio volunteers” and shake their hands, he said.
The citizens of New York City continued to amaze the officers throughout the week. Wasylyshyn and Williams would work security or in uniform patrolling the streets and people would come up and give them a hug and thank them for their work.
“We ate lunch at area delicatessens. It was difficult, if not impossible to get anyone to accept our money,” Wasylyshyn said. “A few times we had a meal at the Pfizer world headquarters, across the street from the Israeli embassy. The Pfizer executive chef introduced himself and there was a canine in our group. The chef asked what the dog’s favorite food was and the officer stated ham. He brought out a large silver bowl full of chopped ham.
“One day a little girl came up and gave us a plate full of cookies to show her appreciation.”
As Wasylyshyn directed heavy midtown traffic, cars did not honk and speeding ceased to exist.
“Every vehicle did as I asked,” Wasylyshyn said. “My hand went up and cars stopped. It was another reminder of how New Yorkers were on the same page, working to get through this together.”
After an assignment in Greenwich Village, the Perrysburg officers laid eyes on the destruction that was caused on Sept. 11, 2001. Wasylyshyn described the scene at Ground Zero as “surreal.” The day was misty and there was an autumn chill in the air.
“There seemed to be a large haze over the area. Heavy machinery and cranes were moving the debris. It was still on fire and we were told it was 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit at the base of the towers,” Wasylyshyn said. “My eyes saw the damage, I could feel the rain on my skin and a chemical-like smell hung heavily in the air. So many of my senses were taking in Ground Zero but my brain could not comprehend my surroundings.”
On Sept. 6, Wasylyshyn and Williams were present for the unveiling of an artifact from the World Trade Center. Now on display in the atrium of the Perrysburg Police Municipal Building is ae 3-foot, 15-pound piece of steel-door casing.
“The twisted metal frame reminds me of the steel beams that were standing in the smoldering debris at Ground Zero,” Williams said.
Wasylyshyn said volunteering was a life-changing experience.
“We look at so many things differently because of the attacks. We are much more aware of our surroundings,” he said.
Wasylyshyn said he would do it all over again, “without a doubt, without hesitation.” He said he hopes to visit the memorial in New York City upon its completion. He would like to show his children, who had just celebrated their second birthday days before the attacks, where their father had the opportunity to be a first responder.
Toledo’s chances of upsetting No. 15 Ohio State took a big blow today with the loss of one of its top defensive players.
UT Head Coach Tim Beckman confirmed to the Toledo Free Press that junior linebacker Dan Molls has been ruled out of the game against the Buckeyes due to an undisclosed injury.
A source close to the situation said that Molls was using crutches and a walking boot this week. It is unknown when Molls will be able to return to the lineup.
Molls finished last season earning Third-Team All-MAC honors recording 143 tackles, the 10th highest total in the nation.
The Rockets expected to return three of their top four tacklers from 2010, but without Molls, they won’t return any against Ohio State. Senior “star” Isaiah Ballard was dismissed from the team and senior Mark Singer was lost for the season with a shoulder injury.
Toledo resident Keith Meyer was a witness to the 9/11 attacks.
The former New York City resident was going to work on Wall Street six blocks away from the towers when the attack began.
“It was just a normal September morning,” Meyer said. “Still to this day when I see a cloudless sky it makes me think of that day.”
Meyer, a Long Island native, was on the subway traveling to his job at Kaller’s America Gallery, which dealt with items including historical documents and signed letters from historical figures including Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others. When he emerged from the subway, he had no idea what was occurring just six blocks away.
“I was underground for a while and I got to my subway station on Wall Street,” Meyer said. “I was coming up the stairs and some guy said, ‘They bombed the World Trade Center again.’ Immediately as I got up there was all kinds of crap flying in the air and some got into my eye. As I walked up to the building where my office was on Wall Street, they had TVs in there and it was on.”
Meyer watched the TV coverage downstairs with his boss and other employees for a while before they went upstairs. There they called a meeting and determined that with the New York Stock Exchange three buildings away from their location, the best course of action was to go home.
“We were thinking, if people are flying planes into the World Trade Center then they might blow up the stock exchange,” Meyer said. “We said, ‘Let’s not stick around’.”
Meyer returned to the subway and traveled toward Queens, just trying to get away from the site. On his way back, he saw the attack site clearly for the first time.
“We are on the train heading out and you come out of the tunnel and that was the first time I saw the towers on fire,” Meyer said. “You see it with your own eyes and it’s different than seeing it elsewhere. It’s just night and day.”
Meyer began checking his phone for updates. That’s how he discovered that both towers had fallen.
“You just don’t know what to think,” Meyer said. “There are so many things going through your mind.”
Following the aftermath of the attack, Meyer said that it wasn’t just the initial assault that bothered him and other New Yorkers, but also other consequences as time went on.
“It wasn’t just that day, it was the months afterwards. It just kind of drained on you,” Meyer said. “You would see the cars still in the lot from the people who never came home from the train. There were signs up everywhere of people missing. The smoke didn’t stop for months, it just kept smoking and it came into the office through our ventilation system.”
Meyer also discovered that he knew two of the people who were casualties of the attack. Previously a volunteer firefighter for seven years in Long Island, he knew firefighter Gerry Schrang as a member of Fire Rescue Co. 3, killed during the attack. He also grew up four houses down from Morty Frank, the vice president of institutional sales at Cantor Fitzgerald, located on the 104th floor of the South Tower.
“Every day there was a different funeral,” said Meyer of all the lost lives. “It was ‘Amazing Grace’ with the bagpipes just every day. It just drained you. The day was traumatic in itself but it was just a constant living with it every day.”
Not everything was negative for Meyer. One week following the attacks, Meyer found out that his wife was pregnant.
“Normally, it is jumping up and down great news, but I thought, what kind of world am I bringing my child into?” Meyer said.
In 2003, Meyer moved his family to Toledo, where he still resides.