WOONSOCKET – Chad Giguere, a senior at Woonsocket High School, was only seven when the two towers fell at the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, and he doesn’t remember much about what he was doing at the time.
He was too young to understand the full impact of what occurred that day and didn’t think too much about it as he grew up.
It was only when he watched a video of those events later in school that Giguere said he began to understand what a terrible event it had been for the nation.
“Honestly, it kind of drove me to want to serve my country,” Giguere said on Friday. He followed through on that interest by joining his school’s Jr. Air Force ROTC Wing and is now a Cadet 2nd Lieutenant looking ahead to joining the U.S. Army after high school.
The things he saw in the video, scenes now being played again upon the 10th Anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., drew “emotional feelings you can’t explain,” Giguere said. The terrorists commandeered airliners and flew them into their targets without regard for the loss of life they inflicted, he noted.
The day changed America and the way people, including local residents like Giguere, think about safety and security.
“They worked to make it more secure so we should be more safe, but then there is always that one person that can get through and do what he wants to do,” Giguere said. “We have to think about all the people like him and try to stop them. That’s all you can do.”
Ryan McLaurin, 18, also a high school ROTC 2nd Lt., joined Giguere at Friday night’s tribute to fallen members of the U.S. Military at the Elks Lodge on Social Street. He said he also was too young to understand the impact of Sept. 11 when it occurred.
As he learned what it meant in the years since, McLaurin said he found it difficult to know “there are those kinds of people out there that hate us based on the way we live.”
In the aftermath of Sept. 11, McLaurin acknowledged that changes have been made that are intended to make the country safer than it was before that day.
“I think it is safer but then again we will never really be safe,” he said.
What Sept. 11 did was make the country better able to face such attacks, he said.
“I think we are stronger than we were and I think we would be able to handle it better than we would have been able to back then,” McLaurin said.
There are people in his own generation who also want to do something to prevent anything like Sept. 11 from ever happening again, he said.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but I know there are a few of us that are here to make change and do what we can to help make the United States strong,” he said.
Another city resident, Linda Rivers, remembers Sept. 11 and believes the focus should be awareness of anything that might pose a new threat.
“I wish it hadn’t happened, but we can’t go back and change the past,” she said. “We can only go on with the future as we see it today and not make the same mistakes twice.”
“I feel safer today but I am always on my guard,” Rivers added. “We just can’t take for granted that we are safe anymore. We always need to be looking over our backs. I’ve instilled that in my children because today you never really know what is going to happen.”
Maureen McArthur, 74, of Woonsocket, said she still feels that what happened on Sept. 11 was a terrible thing.
“Ten years later I think all those responsible should be shot,” she said. “They are out there shooting our good guys.”
Loreen Thifault, 43, of 266 Walnut Hill Road, said she still feels like not enough has been done to prevent another attack on the country.
“I’m very sad for the family members who lost loved ones on Sept. 11 and I think about them a lot,” she said. “I think they could do more to make it safer but I haven’t really sat around and thought about it that much.”
Paul Delamare of Green-ville remembers working from his home and being on a conference call the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 and hearing something on the television in the next room.
He went over to the TV in time to see Flight 175 hit the South Tower in the second plane attack on the World Trade Center.
“It was a terrible, terrible, thing,” Delamare said. “At first you thought it just an accident. There are all kinds of air traffic up there and things do happen from time to time. But when the second plane came in, you knew something was very, very wrong.”
“The whole state of the country changed,” he added. “The whole state of the world, for that matter.”
Delamare said he doesn’t feel the country is any safer than it was in 2001 and that if anything, “we have to remain ever vigilant.”