As the nation remembers the 20th anniversary of the Nine Eleven attacks, the memories are especially vivid for an Estherville woman.

Cindy Hood was an air traffic controller at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center on September 11th of 2001. Hood wasn’t on duty but she was at the control center for a training session when the class was told an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

“First thing in a controller’s mind is ‘a controller screwed up,’ that’s just the natural thing,” Hood says. “We all looked out the window at the same time and it was a beautiful, clear Tuesday morning. We knew that even if a controller screws up, a pilot would not hit any building or anyplace where there are people unless that’s their destination.”

Several days after the towers fell, Hood took a group of Girl Scouts to Ground Zero to volunteer at a soup kitchen feeding the recovery crews. Between serving meals, they were able to observe something very solemn near the wreckage. “They had just found a body or a part of a body,” Hood says. “The ceremony we watched just really went to our bones and our heart. We stood there and gave respect to whoever it was.”

Hood and her husband, Mark, lived in the town of Deer Park on Long Island. A neighbor was among the firefighters who was killed when the towers collapsed. “I don’t remember much of the rest of 2001 or even the first part of ’02,” Hood says. “It was hard to get past the numbness. It wasn’t anger, it was just total numbness, especially when you have a next door neighbor, right across the street, a firefighter that died.”

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks with another 6,000 injured. It remains the deadliest terrorist attack in world history.

(By Ed Funston, KILR, Estherville)