One year later: Four people reflect on tragedy’s effects

One year ago as the Hill reacted with shock and disbelief over the terrorist attacks that struck New York City and Washington, D.C., a number of Western administrators, staff and students shared their stories of sadness and courage with us.

Today we catch up with them.

Amber Douthit

One week after after the tragedy of Sept. 11, Henderson junior Amber Douthit saw the horror up close – with her own eyes.

Douthit and her mother made the 12-hour drive to New York City to help as a member of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

It was a way for Douthit to overcome the feelings she was overcome by on Sept. 11 as she spent the day trying to find her aunt, who worked at the Pentagon.

After a day of much worrying, Douthit found out her aunt was in South Africa on assignment.

Douthit said that although she saw the attacks on television that day, her trip to New York – seeing the smoke and debris – provided a reality check.

“Seeing it on TV, you can pull yourself into thinking it was just a movie,” she said. “When you’re there, you’re thrown into the reality that it happened.”

Douthit spent a week in New York, helping the American Red Cross prepare meals daily. She slept in cot in a warehouse under the Brooklyn Bridge and showered in trailers parked on the street.

During her 12-hour shift, Douthit said she spent time talking and listening to victims. She listened to a woman who lost 13 co-workers and another whose nephew was still unaccounted for at the time.

“I wanted to be there to help anyone I came across,” she said.

When she came back to Bowling Green, she brought back a few lessons with her.

“It reinforced the point that life is fragile,” she said. “…Life is very short. You can take time for granted or friendship for granted.”

Now as the anniversary approaches Douthit has to deal with the feelings from the attacks and the death of father who passed away nearly two years ago Wednesday.

Tomorrow, Douthit said she wants to go to a memorial service the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is holding in Louisville.

“I haven’t made time to feel anything,” Douthit said. “I’ve buried myself in photo and schoolwork.”

But now, she is beginning the healing process, she said. With the help of friends and her faith she knows that she can deal with her feelings.