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Country Artists Reflect On “That” September Day

When you hear the words “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning That September Day”, we all know what that phrase is referring to.  September 11th is a date that will never be forgotten, it is a day that has impacted our lives and hearts forever.  As we approach the 10 year mark of “that” September day, Country Artists take the time to reflect back, express their thoughts and share their memories .

KENNY CHESNEY – We played a fair in Pennsylvania on Sept. 10, and we were supposed to have driven from Pennsylvania into New York City that night and start shooting my video that morning, basically a block away from the World Trade Center the morning all this happened. But we canceled the video a couple of weeks before then, and I’d forgotten all about it. And I woke up that morning, I was on the bus. I think we were traveling through Virginia, and I went up to the front of the bus and turned the TV on to CNN and saw what had happened. It didn’t hit me at first. I was laying on the couch, just watching this and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I thought, “Oh, my God.” I said, “We’re supposed to be there.” And it was a weird feeling. You know, I’ve always believed in guardian angels, but it really makes you believe that there’s something up there. I’m glad we weren’t there. I mean, I feel for everybody that was there. I think we’ve all been changed forever by it.

MIRANDA LAMBERT – “9-11, I was a sophomore in high school; I was in the choir. And I remember even in my little-bitty town of East Texas — in Lindale, Texas — there was kids leavin’ school because their loved ones had been injured or killed in 9-11, so it affected so many people and so many lives, and it’ll never be forgotten as long as I live. I’ll always remember where I was and that feeling.”

JAKE OWEN –  “I’ll never forget, man, I was in school — I was taking a critical reasoning and thinking class, right off of the Landis Green in Tallahassee at Florida State University. And I remember sittin’ down that morning in class, and on the big projector, he had the news on, and he was like, ’Ah, some idiot,’ our teacher said, ‘Some idiot just flew his plane into the World Trade Center.’ And everyone’s like, ‘What?’ We couldn’t believe that. And then, it was right then, man, where all of a sudden, they started saying it was a terrorist act, and the next thing you know, they said, ‘There’s another one coming! There’s another one coming!’ And it was just…man, to sit there and watch that was one of the most horrific things I’ve ever seen with my own eyes.” 
“He [college professor] let us…obviously everyone got out early, and we were…I was walkin’ around, and I mean, on a campus full of thousands and thousands of people that walk around every day, it was just silent. Everyone was silent. And they were just kind of walkin’ around lookin’ at each other, I think appreciating that we’re even still there. Anytime 9-11 rolls around, it’s always one of those things where you think about 10 years ago and how much that changed our day-to-day lives and, you know, you just think about those people that lost family members and hope and pray that it never happens again.”

JOSH THOMPSON – “My memory of 9-11 was I was in school — the natural resources program at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin — and was just between classes, and there’s this great big screen in the commons area, and it was on the news — it was all over — and we just kind of all stopped what we were doing and watched. And you know, the rest of the day, all the classes, we all just spent watching the news and kind of not believing what was goin’ on. And I remember one of the teachers said then that our lives are about to change drastically, and he was right.”

DANNY GOKEY“9-11 was a very tragic event, and I remember I was livin’ with my brother at the time. I woke up one morning — my brother woke me up — he said, ‘Oh, man, you need to turn the TV on.’ He said, ’A plane just hit the World Trade Center.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ I couldn’t believe it, and so I got up, and I started watchin’ it, and I was just like, ‘What is goin’ on?’ But the thing that I think I remember more than all of it, than all the tragedy, all the despair of the situation is I remember America coming united together. I remember that night I went on the corner, just the corner outside my house, and there was people out there that were having candlelight vigils everywhere. People just standin’ on the corners of the streets, holding lighters, holding candles, and I joined ‘em. And I was like, ’Wow, this is amazing.’”

GARY ALLAN –  “On September 11, 2001  I was at the BBC in London to do a huge national radio show with their country program host, Bob Harris. The BBC were monitoring ABC and I remember standing around the monitors with a bunch of the BBC news people watching a replay of the first airplane hitting and then we were all shocked even more when the second plane hit.  Immediately after the second plane hit, the BBC staff  literally ran in all directions to get the news on the air.  The BBC asked if I would still go ahead with the radio show and I said I would. It was a somber show to be sure but I agree with the BBC staff members who told me that day , ‘we have to go on with our daily lives, we can’t let the terrorists win.’”

JASON ALDEAN – “I was like everybody else. I was scared, stunned, shocked and didn’t know what was going on. I wanted to be as far south from DC and New York City as I could. I called my dad because he had retired from the Air Force and asked him what I should do. He goes, ‘Man, if I was you, I’d pack up and get out of Nashville now. They’ve hit the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and I’m sure Music Row is next on their list.’ It put it in perspective how stupid I was being.”

DARIUS RUCKER – “I had an apartment in New York, and if you looked out my bedroom window, you could see the World Trade Center. I was on my way back home from playing a 7am round of golf, and was catching a noon flight. We stopped to get a drink, and I looked and saw the second tower come down. It was a vicious day.”

ERIC CHURCH – “I was driving in to work at the Shop-At-Home Network and listening to the radio when the news broke. I really couldn’t grasp what had happened until I got to work and saw it for myself on television. I watched the second plane hit the tower in real time. I had just moved to Nashville earlier that year, and all I remember is wanting to go home and be with those I loved. I’ll never, I’ll never forget that feeling.”

LADY ANTEBELLUM’S CHARLES KELLEY – “It was my birthday, believe it or not. I was in college and getting ready to go to class. My roommate came in and said, ‘Man, turn on the TV. Classes are canceled.’ And we all got up and watched it. It was just wild … It’s hard to put into words.”

ALAN JACKSON – “Performing ‘Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)’ live for the first time [during the CMA Awards] was tough for me. I hadn’t really sung the song much, first of all. So it was hard to go out there and sing something new anyway, and just the topic made it nerve-wracking, too. Other than being relieved that I got through it, I just felt very proud that it seemed to cause a reaction in people. I was proud that I got to do it, and that it seemed like it meant something.”

BIG & RICH’S BIG KENNY – “I was laying on my mattress on the floor of my apartment in Nashville and woke up to the morning news. I just couldn’t believe my eyes and felt great sorrow. A few days later, John Rich and I got on a plane. We would not let fear invade our lives. Airports, of course, were in a state of emergency at that time. I am always reminded each day is a blessing, for sure.”

TY STONE – “I remember I was working at Great Lakes Steel on Zug Island in River Rouge, MI.  I heard when I was on hold calling my boss.  I decided it was time to get off that island because I had no idea what they would be destroying next.  I went home to be with my family for the next few days.”

THE DIRT DRIFTERS JEFF MIDDLETON – I was working an office job in Nashville at the time and was on a conference call when I first heard of the attacks.  I went to high school in Manhattan and had commuted through the World Trade Center almost every day, so to see those buildings fall to the ground was overwhelming.  Like many people, I spent most of the day waiting to hear from my family and friends and I remember never feeling as far away from them as I did that day. Every time I fly into Newark Liberty Airport and see the New York skyline without the Twin Towers my heart breaks for my hometown.

FRANKIE BALLARD – “I was a freshman in college and was headed off to class when I saw on TV that the first plane had hit the tower…I just dropped my books and sat there for the next couple hours and watched. I remember not being able to comprehend how many people had just died…”

BRETT ELDREDGE – “I was very nervous the morning of September 11, 2001, simply because I had hardly studied for a high school algebra test, and knew I was about to fail it!  I remember feeling like it was the end of the world and all I could see was my mother’s disappointed face when I showed her a big, circled, “F” on the paper.  Then our teacher turned on the TV and that’s when I saw the first tower in flames. Suddenly a little ole math test didn’t even matter, in fact, I don’t even know if we finished the test. I remember every single student in the room had their eyes glued to the TV, all watching together, almost like a family, worried for their brothers and sisters who were going through something unimaginable…I remember the hurt, the anger, and most of all, the unity that every one of us shared as we went through this together”

COREY SMITH – “No event has been as philosophically jarring as 9/11.  It grimly marks a profound turning point in my life.   I was finishing up college at UGA and beginning my career as a Social Studies teacher.  Smug with learning, idealistic, and eager to show the world what I knew, I was happily beginning my student teaching experience at a high school outside of Athens.  As fate would have it, Sept. 11, 2001 was one of my first days at the head of the class. I turned on the classroom TV just before the 2nd plane hit.  In one foul swoop, my illusions were destroyed.  Terrified, angry, heartbroken, and confused, I sat among my students, sadly aware that we were all wondering the same thing.  Why?”

CRAIG MORGAN – “I will never forget where I was and what I felt on September 11th.  It was like losing a loved one.  It was sickening and horrible.   I was on a bison hunt and wasn’t able to get word until September 12th. I made the long drive back to Nashville to report to my reserves unit. We were activated, but not deployed. God bless America and all who serve day in and day out to keep us free.”

BUCKY COVINGTON – “I had just finished painting a car and heard it on the radio. When the 1st plane hit, I thought it had to be an accident. When the 2nd one hit, I thought- it’s time to kick some ass!”

CRAIG CAMPBELL – “I was cutting grass that morning. I came inside to cool down and saw it on every TV station and was totally shocked! So proud of the way our country and troops rallied together to pull through such a tragic time.”

MONTGOMERY GENTRY’S TROY GENTRY – “I was at home in bed when it happened. Angie and I woke up to the event unfolding on the news and we were just in shock.  Like most people, we thought it was just an airline mishap until the second plane hit.  I had a sick feeling in my stomach knowing people were trapped and might not make it out.  This is an event that I will never forget as long as I live.”

MONTGOMERY GENTRY’S EDDIE MONTGOMERY – “I had just gotten off the road and got in my truck and was headed to the little store to hang out that morning and had the radio on in my truck when they broke in with the news.  I ran into the store and told them to turn on the TV and we just watched in disbelief.  I’m still not over it.  Alot of a great Americans died that day.”

BRANTLEY GILBERT –  Brantley Gilbert was still in high school on September 11, 2001. Since then his family has felt the
effects of that historic day, with two of his family members currently serving in the war overseas.“I’ve got two cousins, one of ’em is in Iraq, he’s an Army Ranger. I have another one that’s in Afghanistan, he’s an E-7 Marine,” says Brantley. “I can tell you they’re both stand up men. They’ve had some close calls, both of ’em. And I tell ya I was talking to one of my cousins one night on web cam and I could see the red lights blinking behind him and I heard like an alarm go off and he disappeared from the camera and I didn’t hear from him for a week. So I can tell you there’s some pretty brave folks over there. I know my two cousins are.” Brantley’s cousins are never far from his mind and neither are all of them men and women currently serving our country. He says, “I’ve met several people that are home on leave that come to shows and I’m pretty proud … not pretty proud, I’m definitely proud of the people defending our country.”

RASCAL FLATTS – As the 10th anniversary of September 11th approaches, Jay DeMarcus can remember exactly where he was when he got the news and saw what was happening on that fateful day. “Well, we brought our families in that morning because we were getting ready to have our first gold party. My mom actually knocked on my bedroom door after the first plane had hit and I woke up, turned on my television and saw the second plane hit live on television. So I can remember it like it was yesterday. It’s amazing to me to think that it’s been ten years because it’s still so vivid in my mind.” Following 9/11 Rascal Flatts traveled overseas to spend time with the troops who were defending our country and attempting to hunt down Osama bin Laden, so when news of his death was released it was a very powerful moment they will never forget. “I think to see bin Laden killed, it had all come full circle, the reason we started fighting to begin with,” says Jay. “The people that had sacked us on that day had finally been brought to justice, and it was a very emotional, overwhelming feeling to get a message right before you go on stage, ‘by the way, bin Laden’s been killed.’” They were just about to take the stage at the Stagecoach Music Festival in Indio, California when they learned bin Laden had been killed. When they got on stage they announced the news to the 60,000 people who were there to see them play. “It was powerful,” recalls Jay. “Immediately they started chanting USA! USA! USA! It was really one of those moments I’ll never forget.”