Shock. Disbelief. Sadness. Amazement.
Those words describe just some of Brainerd area residents' reactions to Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Throughout the city people paused from their work and gathered around TVs and radios to hear the latest news.
"It's almost too much to comprehend when you hear the World Trade Center has collapsed and that a plane has slammed into the Pentagon," Andrea Rice, Brainerd, said during a coffee break at the Eclectic Cafe.
Above the bar on TV smoke billowed from Manhattan Island.
The sidewalk in front of Coco Moon in downtown Brainerd served Tuesday as a forum for discussion of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.
"I guess that's what happens when 100,000 pounds of sheet metal crash into a building," said Seth Hewitt, Brainerd.
Down the street at Coco Moon several people sat at sidewalk tables and discussed the tragedy. Among them was Erin O'Neil, a Brainerd resident who had heard the news an hour earlier.
"What hit me the most was thinking about all those rescue workers who must have known going in they might not come out," O'Neil said. "A lot of those guys died trying to save others."
O'Neil said he was amazed at how well organized the attack was.
Minnesota Army National Guard Sgt. Patrick Fank, a military policeman at Camp Ripley, stopped a vehicle Tuesday at the camp's gate. The camp was under Threatcon Level Bravo, where only personnel with official business was allowed in after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. (Dispatch Photo by Clint Wood)
"Two hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center and in the same hour another plane hits the Pentagon? You don't pull that off that without some good connections and intelligence."
Frank Norvak, in town visiting from the Twin Cities, found symbolism in the two main targets.
"The World Trade Center stands for capitalism and the Pentagon for the U.S. military," he said. "I wonder how we'll retaliate?"
At the next table was Alicia Tobiason, Brainerd, who said, "It's insane. All those people dying, and they don't even know how many yet. I watched both buildings fall down. Think of all the injured, and hospitals are understaffed.
"But we can't jump to conclusions," Tobiason added. "You keep hearing about the Mideast and who is responsible. But there are a lot of innocent people from there who might be targets of racism."
Sarah Smith, a student at Central Lakes College, said her art teacher dismissed class after hearing about the attack and that the mood around campus was tense. "It's made me appreciate my loved ones more," Smith said.
With her was Shannon Rasinski, who also attends CLC. She said she was "sad, really sad and scared for the country. It's crazy to think they could get that close to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon without our government knowing what was going on. And how did they hijack the planes? Did they have guns on board? If so how did they get past security?"
Similar questions were heard everywhere as people tried to understand an event without precedent. In Brainerd and everywhere else it's the talk of the town.
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