21-year-old Backus woman killed in crash in Pine River


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Laura and Aaron Johnson enjoyed Wednesday at Lum Park in Brainerd.

Remembering 9/11


“I can remember being at work and somebody came in and said that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and I thought, ‘OK, well, maybe it was just an error,’ and I kept working. She came back and said another one just crashed. And I’m like, ‘Oh, my God!’ So we all just started talking about it and going to watch the news. Yeah, I remember it vividly.”


— Laura Johnson

“I volunteered at the Brainerd Fire Department but I was at my regular job at Liberty Tool and my wife called me at work. My boss made me run home and get a television set and we set it up and we basically didn’t work the rest of the day. Then after that we went down to the fire hall and I don’t remember much after that. Just watched everything at the fire hall about what was going on.”

— Aaron Johnson

“On September 11th, I was at work at Mercy Hospital and I just went into a room and I heard it on the news. I guess I just kind of felt really saddened and helpless because there’s nothing you could do, and I just felt kind of awkward about continuing on with my day taking care of patients when all that heartache was going on.”

— Brenda Jentsch

“I was at home on my computer and a friend of mine called and asked, ‘Are you watching television?’ and I said ‘No.’ He says, ‘You better turn it on.’ I was getting ready for a fishing trip. We were leaving the next day to go to Black Duck Lake. I turned it on and I saw the second plane hit the second tower and I’ll never forget it. I mean, that was just pathetic, and then to see those people jump out the windows like they did to their death, their certain death, was a real low point in my life.”

— Jim Erickson

“I was having a good time at the casino and I found out about it when I went to cash in my chips and someone standing alongside me said, ‘Holy smokes, there were at least 50,000 people killed in an attack on New York City,’ and that was it — then he left. Of course I was stunned and I went back and told my friends and, of course, it turned out to be a terrible tragedy, but not to quite the extent he made it out to be. Not belittling the tragedy — just relieved it wasn’t the 50,000 I at first thought.

“It was a terrible thing. That was the end of our playing at the casino that day. We all piled in the car and went home to get further updates on it.

“That’s a day I won’t forget — one of those days, like (the assassination of )John Kennedy in 1963.”

— Dale Swenson

“I remember I was sitting in class and all of a sudden they came over with the broadcast, and I just thought, ‘Really, what is going on?’ So I walked out of class and I found the nearest television set and I sat there and I watched and I could just see people crying hysterically and people were whispering, going ‘Oh, the Twin Towers were just attacked.’  There were 3,000 people killed or more.’ And if I remember right, all I could do was cry and think, ‘Why would anybody do that?’

“I can just remember tears running down my face as I watched the terror on TV, as families were scrambling to find their loved ones and they were thinking, ‘I don’t think I’m ever going to see them again.’ The entire school was piled around the TV — I know they let us out of class.”

— Brandee Stomberg

“I was at my kitchen sink and I was canning tomatoes and I had the television on — why I did, I don’t know, because I don’t normally. I think one of the Today shows or something was on. And when I heard the first announcement, they said, ‘Oh, that must be a terrible accident.’ That was the first plane. But that changed as the second plane came. Of course I just stopped canning. I had my pressure cooker going and I was making my next batch for the jars but I ended up sitting down and watching it and it was hard to believe, really hard to believe that anything like that would be intentional, especially to the World Trade Center.” 

— Mary Lou Cody

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2010 and works as a online reporter, content editor and staff writer. She is a world traveler, accused idealist and California native now braving the winters of Central Minnesota. She believes in the power of human resolve and hopes to be part of something that makes history by bringing an end to injustice in the world. Sarah has worked as a criminal background researcher, high school civics teacher, grant writer, and contributing writer with Causecast.org — tackling every issue from global poverty to bio-degradable bicycles. Her favorite thing about living in Minnesota is July. Sarah left the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2014.
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