OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -- The anniversary of the September 11 attacks is especially meaningful for one local woman who escaped and her children and grandchildren who were faced with fear and uncertainty.
Just a few days after the attacks, KCTV5’s Betsy Webster introduced you to a Kansas family, anxiously awaiting the landing of a plane at KCI. She went back to see the family, 20 years later, to get their perspective on that day they will never forget.
Austin Tedder was just five years old. In 2001, he gave us a five-year-old’s understanding of events.
“Twin towers,” he said then. “You know, in New York City, they got crashed down by two airplanes.”
“I could tell everyone was not okay and that I should probably not be okay,” 25-year old Austin reflected, “but I didn’t really understand why.”
Austin’s grandmother, Jane Tedder, was who they were waiting for at the airport. She was inside the hotel that adjoined the towers when the first plane struck the World Trade Center.
“All of a sudden, the building rocked, and the lights flickered on and off,” Jane remembered.
She made it outside, heard gasps and looked up to see people jump. The images still haunt her.
“Their choice was to do that or die in the flames,” she said.
As she navigated her way out of the debris, she saw people pitching in to help others. Workers from a restaurant pulled out cases of bottled water to give to those making their way out. Men were lifting people over a fence to help them escape.
“We had nothing,” remembered Jane. “No ID. No money. No credit cards. But we had all this help all the way along. The people were amazing.”
In the 20 years that have passed since the attacks, Austin says he has studied the history. And every year, he focuses on remembering.
“All of the almost 3000 that died,” said Austin. “All of the first responders and everyone that helped and gave their lives to try and get people out -- like my grandma.”
Jane took early retirement later that year, not because she was traumatized, but because the events reminded her how fleeting life is.
“I had a lot of volunteer work I wanted to do and I thought, if I’m going to do it, I had better get at it,” said Jane.
The phrase “Never Forget” means so much to this family.
Jane’s daughter-in-law, Cindi Tedder, said that she wants people to remember those lost in the attacks, but also, those who survived.
“I want them to remember the families,” said Jane. “And I want them to remember the people that are still here, what they went through. And I also want them to remember that it’s not that far out.”
For her part, Jane will never forget all those who got her through five days of chaos, living as a refugee of sorts, relying on the kindness of strangers.
“The thing I want people to remember is the goodness in other people,” said Jane.