The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

17 years later, 'it is a different world'

Region remembers day that rocked nation

 

September 11, 2018



New Mexico joins the nation and much of the world in recognizing the anniversary today of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that killed almost 3,000 people and injured thousands more, a decisive date early in the new millennium whose significance and impact resonate to this day.

For Dawson Chavez, it’s also his 17th birthday, born in a Clovis hospital within hours of the attacks that rocked the nation.

“We always saw it as a sad day, but a happy day for us,” said his grandmother Connie Gee. “(His mother) was starting to have contractions and stuff and I remember I saw the doctors staring at a TV set, and my thoughts were, ‘Why are you watching TV? My daughter’s having a baby.’”

They turned on the TV in Conlea Moore’s hospital room and watched coverage for a few minutes before returning to their own pressing matters. Some nurses mentioned the attacks on America, “but family members only spoke to her of the delivery,” said an article from this paper in 2002.

They caught up on the events soon after; in fact, the occasion for their distraction that day also motivated the family to keep detailed records of the historic event in years following, collecting “all of the newspaper articles from it,” Gee said.

That was her daughter’s first child and Gee’s first grandchild. There have been six more grandsons since then, and Gee believes they’ve all grown up in a different world, starting with Dawson.

“Most definitely. It’s just gotten scarier. It’s a scarier world because you never know what another country’s going to do or what your next door neighbor’s going to do,” she said.

Dawson grew up mostly in Clovis, but moved recently to Las Vegas, New Mexico, Gee said, and on Monday attended his little brother’s baseball game.

David Burch agreed Monday with Gee that the world changed that day 17 years back. Born in Portales, he had been working in Washington, D.C., for a couple of years at the time and returned with his young family to eastern New Mexico less than six months later.

“It was kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he told The News. “We had an 18-month old at the time, with grandparents in Albuquerque and Clovis. ... We decided to move back here to have more of a sense of normalcy.”

Burch had taken his regular route to work that morning from Fairfax, Virginia, to a metro stop just a mile from the White House. He described the “surreal” scene in a city that’s already “kind of an alternate universe” as the attacks unfolded.

“I worked in the technology field, so we’re working in a keep-it-cool type environment, then you overhear voices from other cubes saying a plane just crashed, into the towers,” he said. “Back in those days there were these wireless portable TVs, so I went to a friend’s cube and we watched footage...”

Amid unverified accounts of “car bombs in front of government agencies, people leaving town on (Interstate) 66,” Burch stepped outside to find people clogging the city’s double-wide sidewalks and blocking traffic. Avoiding the subway tunnel and taking a lift home with a friend, he remembers seeing the Pentagon in flames.

“It’s very surreal because you’re driving on these empty highways, then you go by the Pentagon, which is a big symbol of our military’s strength, and it’s on fire,” he said.

Burch, 54, still works in technology, here at Clovis Community College. He’s seen security laws beef up (airports, Homeland Security, the Patriot Act), and not only for the U.S. but in other country’s he’s visited since.

“I was in the military, and whenever I was in the military we had wars about every 20 years,” he said. “Now, we have never-ending wars. So it is a different world.”

 

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