Never Forget – The Royal Gazette


Today is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 against New York and Washington. We look back on that day and how Bermuda reacted to events.

News of the September 11 terrorist attacks reached Bermuda almost instantly.

Televised image of an airliner approaching the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. The plane crashed into Tower 2 (obscured) moments later as Tower 1 burned down after being hit a few minutes earlier by another hijacked airliner. Both towers collapsed to the ground shortly after. A plane also crashed into the Pentagon near Washington, and another airliner crashed near Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photograph by Reuters / Courtesy of NBC)

Smoke, flames and debris billow from one of the World Trade Center towers as a plane struck it on September 11, 2001. The first tower was already burning after a terrorist attack a few minutes earlier. Terrorists crashed planes into the two buildings and caused the two towers to collapse (Photo by Chao Soi Cheong / AP)

Four separate terrorist attacks took place in the United States that morning. The hijackers used commercial planes to strike the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. A fourth hijacked airliner crashed in a field in Pennsylvania before reaching its target.

Firefighters and rescuers fly a large American flag near the damaged area of ​​the Pentagon building at the US military headquarters outside Washington on September 12, 2001. The Pentagon and the World Trade Center buildings in New York have attacked on September 11 after terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and crashed them into buildings (photograph by Larry Downing / Reuters)

A number of financial services companies with ties to the island had offices in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Two Bermudans, Rhondelle Tankard and Boyd Gatton, and former Saltus student Robert Higley II, worked in offices in the South Tower and died in the attack. It was the second of the towers to be hit, but the first to collapse.

The New York City skyline changed forever after hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center towers (Photo by Kathy Cacicedo / Newark Star Ledger / Reuters)

Another Bermuda, Kristi Foggo, got off a train at the World Trade Center metro station and used an ATM at a bank a few floors up in one of the towers around the time of the terrorist attack. has begun. She reached her workplace at the nearby US Stock Exchange and it was there that she watched the attack unfold on television screens above the trading floor.

Boyd Gatton is remembered at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City (Photo provided)

In Bermuda, locals and visitors alike heard about the ongoing events in the newsletters. Some listened to radios on the beach, others received live television broadcasts. At Pickled Onion on Front Street, a TV was quickly installed in the restaurant so patrons could stay informed, and loudspeakers were also placed at the bottom of the stairs where people could stand and listen.

Journalists from the offices of The Royal Gazette, on Par-la-Ville Road, first gathered in the interview room to watch the latest news on a small television. A reporter who was on assignment at the Bermuda Biological Station was dispatched to the airport, and from there he briefed the press room on the situation, with the airport quickly becoming a hub for passenger flights. hijacked. All airspace in the United States and Canada has been closed by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the planes have been ordered to land at the nearest available airport.

The Royal Gazette the newsroom was a hive of activity, and the morning shift of five was bolstered when two evening shift reporters were called in at 10 a.m. In less than an hour, Editor-in-Chief Bill Zuill had a full editorial meeting and announced that a special eight-page edition of the newspaper would be printed that afternoon.

Journalists for the newspaper collected reports from all Bermudians in the New York area or around the Pentagon. Bermuda-based companies with staff and offices in the World Trade Center buildings have been contacted. In addition, feedback was gathered from residents and visitors, and the island’s security services were asked about measures being taken to protect Bermuda.

At the airport, displaced passenger planes continued to land. No less than 18 flights were diverted to the island.

“It was a unique and constantly evolving scenario. We have persuaded European airlines to refuel and return to Europe, ”Mike Osborn, the airport’s acting director, recalled later that day.

Hotel rooms had to be found for passengers on flights from North America and for visitors temporarily unable to leave the island. A coordinated response involved various organizations, including the Government of Bermuda’s Emergency Measures Organization.

Mike Winfield, who was then director of the Bermuda Hotel Association, participated in a conference call with the executive committee that morning. It was during the call that one of the participants reported that a plane had struck the World Trade Center.

The BHA quickly got together, helping visitors already on the island who were stranded and unable to return to the United States. These people have benefited from special rates for accommodation. Within hours, the BHA had identified 600 rooms available across the island to accommodate the hundreds of stranded people. Bermuda hospitality has spread far and wide as the number of people looking for accommodation has increased.

“The structure worked well. The airport informed the hotel association of passenger needs and requirements, ”Mr. Winfield later recalled.

The Royal GazetteThe special edition of hit newsstands at 2:30 p.m. The cover featured the headline “Terror Across America” ​​above a full-page photograph of the Twin Towers on fire. It contained foreign and local reports on the events of the day. There were no advertisements. Twenty-two thousand copies were printed and they sold out in just over an hour.

Journalists continued to compile articles for the next day’s paper, including interviews with guests arriving late at the Fairmont Southampton and a press conference by David Allen, the Minister of Tourism.

Henry Adderley, who was The Royal GazetteThe deputy editor of, later recalled: “We have set a final deadline at midnight. This mainly affected the copy [articles] from abroad where the Associated Press and Reuters were trying to corroborate the rumors that had circulated throughout the day.

It was several days before commercial flights resumed from Bermuda. The airspace of the United States and Canada was reopened to civilian flights on September 13.

Bermuda residents donated more than $ 50,000 to the Bermuda Red Cross, which was given to the American Red Cross to help the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks. A coalition of organizations, called the Bermuda American Relief Fund, raised more funds to help a handful of charities in New York City. The bulk of the funds, some $ 495,000, went to the Safe Horizon charity.

The island continues to remember the victims of the attacks.

Saltus Grammar School has a memorial tree and plaques in memory of Mr. Gatton and Mr. Higley, who were alumni of the school.

A 9/11 memorial was placed in the Bermuda Botanical Gardens in September 2007 to honor the nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11. The structure was built at Bermuda College and includes a piece of steel from the Twin Towers.

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