People remember day that ‘only made us stronger’

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Barry McMichael plants flags on his lawn on the corner of East Water and Williams Streets in Muncy in honor of 9/11, on Tuesday morning. McMichael has been displaying the flags for 18 years, which have grown in number over to now cover his property and five of his neighbors. He says the motorcylist on the 9/11 ride give him the thumbs up and beep as they pass his home each year. He says it takes him about 3 days to put out all of the flags.

Those traveling the city’s downtown streets looked back at Sept. 11 as a time of great confusion, yet in others it inspired a deep-seeded need to come to the country’s aid.

It was a traumatic time, said Steve Putt, 42, of Williamsport, who was working during the time.

“I remember seeing the news coverage coming across the TV,” he said. “It was kind of strange because no one knew what was going on at the time.”

At first the only reports coming in were that a plane had crashed into a building, said Putt.

“Then there was a whole bunch of stuff that accumulated after that, as far as painting the whole picture of what was really going on,” he said.

Mariah Markle, 25, of Williamsport, was in school at that time but too young to come to conclusions, she said.

“I remember everyone’s parents coming to get them because they were so freaked out,” she said.

When Markle got older, she said, she was able to understand what happened.

“It makes me sick to my stomach that all those people had to die like that,” she said.

Jenna and Tommy Kuhns, 47, who now live in Denver, Colorado, but are native Williamsporters, said the attack led them to work in the defense industry for about 12 years.

“We got concerned because he had an uncle that was living and working in Washington, D.C.,” said Jenna Kuhns. “(Everyone) was just was mesmerized by what was going on the TV.”

In the end, Sept. 11 focused the Kuhnses on what they wanted to do.

Tommy Kuhns went to graduate school to study intelligence and security studies, and both moved to Washington, D.C., where he went to work for the intelligence community. Jenna Kuhns worked as a supporting contractor.

“It was our Pearl Harbor,” said Tommy Kuhns. “People just running and everyone just had a dazed look on their face because you don’t know what’s going on. It was definitely formative for us.”

The Kuhnses said they felt compelled to get involved.

The weight of Sept. 11 is still moving people to serve their country — Gage Rothermel, 23, of Williamsport, said he will soon be joining the military.

“The gravity of it didn’t really hit me until I was older,” he said. “I think it had a lasting impact on the nation as a whole.”

“It really only made us stronger,” he added.