Artists Reflect on 9/11 as Nation Marks 20th Anniversary of the Tragedy


Written by Deborah Evans Price
Artists Reflect on 9/11 as Nation Marks 20th Anniversary of the Tragedy
Flowers are placed at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York on September 11, 2020, as the US commemorates the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

As our nation approaches the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that shocked America on Sept. 11, 2001, people are remembering where they were that somber day and how they felt as they watched those tragic events unfold.

   Sounds Like Nashville reached out to the country music community to see where they were the day the world stopped turning, to paraphrase Alan Jackson. Some artists, like Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, were in school. Others like Luke Bryan had just moved to Nashville, and were starting to pursue their dreams. Many watched and worried about loved ones who were in New York City at the time, including Mitchell Tenpenny whose grandmother, Sony/ATV Nashville President/CEO Donna Hilley, was in New York on business when the attacks happened. Lady A’s Charles Kelly was in college and it was his 20th birthday.

   It was a day Americans will never forget. Here Luke Bryan, Niko Moon, Michael Ray, Jeannie Seely, Keith Urban, Gretchen Wilson and many others shares their remembrances from Sept. 11, 2001.

Trace Adkins

“I remember I was sitting in my garage having a cigarette. My daughter Brianna had been born a week earlier. Actually, her due date was September 11th, and she came a week early. She was born on the 4th, so we were at home. The in-laws were there. My parents were there because we had the new baby and I’m sitting out in the garage smoking a cigarette watching that happen as it happened. I saw the second plane hit the building. It’s one of those things I’ll never forget. I’m still mad about it when I think about it.  It’s still illicits anger. I don’t think they’ve paid enough for what they did to us, so I’m still pissed off about it.

At the time lived, we lived south of the airport and we were on the approach when the planes would come in to land. We weren’t so close to the airport that it was a lot of noise, but we were there, and you could see planes all day long coming over the house. My other daughter Mackenzie—I think she was four years old at the time—and I remember when they stopped planes from flying.  I took her outside that day, and we laid down in the front yard and I said, ‘Let’s count airplanes.’ We laid there until she lost patience, which didn’t take very long. She said, ‘There are no planes today.’ And I said, ‘Yup, remember that.  If you don’t remember anything else, remember that there was a day when there were no planes in the air.  That’s all I want you to remember about this day that there were no airplanes.’ That was the only thing that I could do to try to impress upon her the importance of that day and that’s what I remember about it.”

Lauren Alaina

“I don’t remember it like I would remember something that would happen yesterday, but I definitely remember it.  I remember my dad picking me up from school, taking my brother and I out of school. As a six-year-old, I definitely knew something was wrong because dad worked and we rode the bus. Dad didn’t pick us up, so he picked us up and he seemed to be panicked. We went to my grandmother’s house which was about a half mile from where my elementary school was and when we got to the house, the second tower was hit. When we walked in and saw it, I remember seeing it and not understanding. I was a baby you know, and my dad cried. It was the first time I ever saw my dad cry so I knew something really bad had happened because daddies don’t cry in front of their six-year-old little girls. So that’s what I remember about it. And I just remember my dad later that night being outside on the phone pretty hysterical. Mostly what I remember about it was my dad’s reaction.” 

David Bellamy, The Bellamy Brothers

“We were home in Florida getting ready to fly out to meet our tour bus in Texas for a couple of shows. I was trying to sleep in that morning, but my son Jesse ran upstairs and told me to turn on the news and about that time, Howard called me to ask if I’d seen what was going on. Just as I was explaining to him that I’d been asleep, I started seeing television images of the plane hitting the second tower.

Of course, we were dumbfounded and watched the reports in disbelief like so many Americans did that day. We stayed in limbo most of that day not knowing what to do. We figured since all airplanes were temporarily grounded, all our shows would be canceled, but our agent called and said the promoter of the shows for that weekend wanted to know if we could still make it to Texas and if we’d take part in a tribute to everyone who lost their lives in the attacks.
So, we rerouted our tour bus, drove to the Florida Panhandle to meet it and proceeded to drive to Texas where we still did the two shows along with tributes for the fallen.
I remember standing in the parking lot of the hotel in Austin, Texas thinking how strange it was not seeing any planes in the skies.”

Kent Blazy

“I had loaded up the dogs in the car to walk them and turned on the radio to listen to Gerry House, a great DJ in Nashville. I came in the middle of a news broadcast and thought I was listening to an advertisement for a new action movie. When I realized it was actually happening [I] turned around and drove home and turned on the news and spent all day watching the unthinkable scenes. We checked on folks we knew in New York City and got sad details about the state of things. The thing that sticks in my memory the most was the quiet, with no planes flying in the Nashville skies for days. May it never happen again, anywhere!”

Joe Bonsall, The Oak Ridge Boys

“We all remember where we were on 9/11/01, but the thing that I think of often is that after this awful event 20 years ago, our great Nation pulled together as one. TOGETHER we put our differences aside and cared about our fellow citizens. TOGETHER we were appalled by the gall of terrorists to fly our own planes into our own buildings. TOGETHER we were moved by the brave young men who brought the plane down in Shanksville and gave their lives in that heroic deed. TOGETHER we were saddened by the hole in our Pentagon. TOGETHER we shook inside over how close that DC plane came to Arlington National Cemetery. TOGETHER we flew American Flags outside of our car windows. TOGETHER  we cried, prayed, and were Patriots! That is my memory. I wish it had lasted.”

William Lee Golden, The Oak Ridge Boys 

“On 9/11, my son, Solomon, was about a month old. I was sitting in my living room and knew my best friend Jeff, Solomon’s Godfather, had a flight that morning. He was to be on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to L.A. We didn’t know that he had changed his flight and I didn’t know if my best friend was on or off the plane. It was such a difficult day, not only worrying about my best friend, but our whole country. It is a day none of us will ever forget.”

T. Graham Brown

“I turned on the news that morning and thought that the first plane was an accident and then watched as the second plane hit. I felt a sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach as I realized that we had been attacked. I stayed glued to the television all day and night. I knew that our country had been changed forever. It was surreal and unbelievable.”

Luke Bryan

“It’s that moment where we all know where we were, and I had just moved to Nashville. I had moved to Nashville September 1 2001, so I had been in Nashville for 10 days. I remember I’m in Nashville, new place, fish out of water, so many things going on and I was in the bed. I had an apartment down in Franklin and I was in the bed and my sister woke me up, kind of frantically on the phone. She goes, ‘Hey turn on the news! A plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.’ I remember I popped right up and started watching it and then I was like so many people, I watched he second one fly into the tower. Once we all saw that we all knew that any level of coincidence was gone. It was a really trying time because you want to be with your family.  I remember wanting to drive home to be with my family, but I remember talking it out and really feeling a sense of loss and hurt and all of the emotions, being aggravated and frustrated. It was something I’ll never forget being by myself in Nashville, but I remember I had  developed a new friend group and I remember us sitting around talking about it. [There were] just a lot of emotions around that day and when you look at all of the challenges that have transpired since that day, it was certainly something that shook the whole world.”

Craig Campbell

“I was outside cutting grass at my mama’s house. I walked in to cool down and grab a glass of ice water and turned on the TV and it was on every channel. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was frozen, confused, angry and sad all at the same time.” 

Jeff Carson

“My wife Kim and I were sitting in bed that morning having coffee. We were watching Good Morning America while talking about how excited we were to be going to my very first album release party later that morning. I remember GMA’s hosts, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer. Kim and I both thought something strange when Charlie Gibson essentially broke down. I recall them announcing that a ‘small, single-engine’ plane had hit the World Trade Center. As we watched video of the smoke emerging from the Trade Center, I remember seeing the second plane hit the second tower, as they were airing live footage. Still gives me chills writing this. I went to New York City a few days later to join police officers from all over the country who wanted to show their respect by presenting state flags to them, sang ‘America The Beautiful’ at the service, and then went to a local cathedral, where other services were held for the police officers and firefighters who had lost their lives. I remember going to ground zero where I picked up a piece of glass from one of the towers that I still have today. Like everyone else, my emotions, then and now, turned from sadness, to unbelief, to rage. Soon, stories of unbelievable heroism began to emerge. The world will never be the same. I pray for God’s continued blessings on the best country in the world. God bless America.”

Lacy J. Dalton

“I remember watching it happen on TV and feeling helpless that there was nothing I could do.  I also thought it was inevitable that at some point we would be attacked on our own soil. That didn’t make it any less heartbreaking.  I became very aware that technology, with all its benefits, also made us susceptible to cyberattacks and the people involved that day are nothing if not patient.”

Rudy Gatlin, The Gatlin Brothers

“My heart still aches for the ones we lost that day. But I’m thankful that I live in a country in which we remember and take care of their families.  God Bless America and the Great Americans we lost!”

Amy Grant

“Vince was about to head for the airport the morning of 9/11. I remember Deanna calling and telling us to turn on the TV.

We watched as a plane hit the second tower.  Vince picked up his phone and called his longtime friend in New York, Greg. Miraculously Greg answered his phone. He was helping people out of the building. It was a nightmare.”

Lee Greenwood

“The events of 9/11are still a painful memory. I was trapped in Los Angeles for more than two weeks after the attack because of the FAA grounding all transportation. We canceled all shows and responded to the request from the mayor of New York for a firemans memorial at Yankee Stadium and a policeman’s memorial at Carnegie Hall in New York City. I sang ‘God Bless the USA’ at both of them. The smoke was still billowing from the trade towers when we first entered the site.

There were arrows on the walls of several buildings made with white chalk to show where the remains of those that had been recovered were being collected.

The smell in the air was a combination of chemicals, burning steel, and human flesh.

As America prepared to get back to live sports, I was the first singer to sing the anthem at a NASCAR race. It was in Dover, MD. It was not long after that I sang the national anthem at the fourth game of the World Series in New York City. (Yankees against the Arizona Diamondbacks) It went seven games that year with Arizona finally winning the seventh game. It’s on YouTube. Sports played an important role in America recovering from the attack.

This being the 20th anniversary of that terrible day we still mourn the loss of so many innocent citizens.”

Laine Hardy

“I have only known a life since that day.  My first birthday was the day after 9/11. The impact, heaviness and reverence of that day has always been stamped on me and my peers.”

Marlon Hargis, Exile

“At the time, I was working a day job as a property manager at a condo complex here in Nashville, as well as playing music. My daughter called me to tell me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. At the time, I thought it might have been a small plane, hitting the building by accident. I went and turned on the TV in our clubhouse, and realized something very serious was happening. I watched as the second plane hit in disbelief.
At that point, I closed the office and went home to watch the  unfolding events, wondering what the hell was going on, as reports of the other planes came through, and the Trade Center buildings collapsed. Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since those events. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

Sonny LeMaire, Exile

“I was feeding my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter in her high chair when a friend called and told me to turn on the TV because something had happened at the World Trade Center. I watched in shock as one and then the other fell! The counterpoint of my beautiful smiling baby girl and the horror of that day are etched forever in my memory.”

Wade Hayes

“I remember I was home enjoying a beautiful September morning. It was very peaceful. I was watching the news and saw the first plane hit the tower. I remember thinking this has to be some horrible accident! Then the second one hit, then the Pennsylvania field and Pentagon. I remember seeing President Bush as someone whispered in his ear what was happening as he was with the classroom of children. I was very confused and extremely worried not knowing what was going on. I remember it vividly.”

Raleigh Keegan – “I remember this like it was yesterday. I was in Mrs. Dougherty’s 5th grade class when she turned on the news so we could see what was happening. I honestly don’t remember much from my childhood, but I remember this vividly.”

Charles Kelly, Lady A

“I was in college and yeah, it was wild. I woke up, was gettin’ ready to go to class and I had a roommate come in and say, ‘Man, turn on the TV.  Class is canceled, you won’t believe.’  And we all got up and watched it.  It was just wild. It’s hard to put it into words, but I can remember it, and everybody can. It had such a huge effect on everybody.”

Johnny Lee

“I had just gotten home from dropping my son off at school in Branson when I saw the second plane hit the tower. I was in total shock and knew our world was forever changed. It’s so hard to believe it has already been 20 years. I was in New York City shortly after it occurred, and the devastation ripped my heart out. We will never forget those lost.”

Zachariah Malachi

“I was sitting in middle school math class and really didn’t have a clue what was going on. I don’t even really remember the teachers turning on the TVs like so many kids said happened at their schools. I just remember what felt like an age of innocence and then immediate change and obviously the country has not been the same since.”

Scotty McCreery

“I was in 2nd grade. I was in class and I remember the principle came on over the intercom and said, ‘Teachers please stop what you are doing. Turn off your TVs and go check your emails.’ We had no idea what was happening obviously, so I remember like the mood changed.  I think they even let us out of school early and we all went home. I remember getting home and I’m still so young at that point so I had the basketball in my right hand, and I was like, ‘Can I go see if Michael wants to play or something?’ And mom was like, ‘No, we have to sit down and watch the news. Something terrible has happened.’  I was still very young, but obviously as I’ve grown older I’ve realized what an awful tragedy that day was and what it means to our country. It’s pretty wild that it’s been 20 years.”

Niko Moon

“I was at my friend’s house and I was walking by his bedroom and his TV was on. I saw it on the TV and I just kind of stopped and was like, ‘What?’ because it just didn’t seem. I thought it was some sort of movie or something because it didn’t seem real. It looked like the news, but I thought it was some type of movie that they showed in the news.  I was just floored by it and every year when we get to this time, I definitely take a moment to think about that and think about how grateful I am to live in this country. That was a dark day, but I am grateful that we made it through that and as a people we didn’t let that stop us. Look at us now. We’re a stronger country than we’ve ever been.”

Sam Moore

“My wife and I were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on our way from Miami to Southampton, England to deliver Norwegian Cruise lines SS Norway to be refitted. We sailed on September 1. We were in New York on September 8, docked next to the Intrepid on the way out of port, heading back up to see the ships. The band was on the deck as we sailed past the World Trade Center towers. They were playing ‘God bless America’ and we were all singing. Four days later, we watched from our cabin as the second plane flew into the tower. I wasn’t scheduled to do it but come Sunday morning as we were still sailing to England, I got together with the band and we actually did an old-fashioned Gospel sing-a-long show with the passengers. It was a very scary time as we didn’t know when or if we were ever going to be able to come back home to the USA.”

Frank Myers

“I was in L.A. on a writing trip, and I remember coming out of the bedroom that morning and my friends had the TV on and about that time the second plane hit. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I remember thinking, ‘Are we under attack?’ I was stuck in L.A. for four more days after that before I was allowed to fly back to Nashville. I will never forget that day as long as I live.”

Randy Owen, Alabama

“I was on a bus in the desert going to Las Vegas and I never will forget it. I got up and everybody on the bus was looking at the TV. When that second plane hit the building, we all looked at one another and said, ‘This is not an accident. This is something really real.’ So we debated about what to do. We called the folks in Las Vegas about the show. Should we stay in the desert? Because there were all kinds of rumors that there was a possibility the next city that might be attacked was Las Vegas. I was scared to death. I’ll be the first to admit I was concerned. We didn’t know who was going to be next or what was going to be next, but we went ahead and checked into the casino. When I got to my room, I just wanted to see an American flag. I looked out the window and went to both sides of the room and looked and looked and finally I saw an American flag waving and I wanted to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I said the Pledge of Allegiance and somehow it made me feel better. . . I got a call from [my wife] Kelly. If you go back to that time and how it really was, I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again. All the flights were cancelled they grounded everything, so I told her, ‘I don’t know any way that I might get home unless you pray me back,’ and she said, ‘Well, I’ll sure do that.’ And so I started working on that song I wrote called ‘Pray me Back Home Again.’ I wrote the song and just kept it and never recorded it for years. That was my recollection of 9/11. Of course, that night we elected to say, ‘Stick it [to the terrorists].’  We played our show and it was our way of being rebellious against whoever tried to hurt us. Then we didn’t play the next night as a tribute to all the people we had lost and all the damage that was done. I still remember it. I will never forget it.”

 Shane Owens

“At that time, I had just got to work at a management company out of Panama City, Florida. I will never forget walking into the office and seeing the TV and what was taking place. After the first tower and The Pentagon was hit, I knew we were in trouble. Prayers for all the people still affected by that horrible day. God bless the USA and our great nation.”

Michael Ray

“I was in middle school when it happened and I want to say I was in English class, I think. I remember the principal coming over the intercom and they wheeled the TV in. . . I went to a smaller private-ish school so everybody was real together. We went down to the big part of the auditorium there at the church. I remember they turned the TV on when the second plane hit and me and my friends were like, ‘What is going on?’ We didn’t understand the World Trade Centers at the time. We didn’t know the magnitude really.  I never heard of the Taliban or any of that. I started realizing the parents were freaking out. Parents were coming to pick their kids up.  I went home with my mom that night and I started realizing, ‘Okay this is serious,’ but one thing I’ll say about all of that, I wish that we could bottle up and have everybody in society today drink it and that’s September 12th of 2001 because you’ve never seen more people come together, people unapologetically with their arms around each other. It didn’t matter. Political views didn’t matter. Walk of life didn’t matter. Nothing. We were one country all together and so united just as a community.  It didn’t matter all the stuff that’s going on now. It was just all of us. I remember I was always raised to be very proud of where I’m from, to be very supportive of our military, but I think that day is when I went, ‘Yeah! I’m an American. These are our troops. These are our men and women. Look at that flag flying. This is awesome!’ And that day, as a kid, I remember feeling that energy. It’s crazy to think it’s been 20 years because I remember all that like it was yesterday as I’m sure you all do as well, but it was definitely a time when it was an eye opener for my whole generation of kids who didn’t really understand what was happening.”

Collin Raye

“I was actually in Switzerland, finishing up a few days at a Music Festival there, heading to Zurich Airport, scheduled to fly home, on Sept 12th.  As we were taking our bags into the airport hotel to check in, we discovered on the lobby TVs what was happening in New York and Washington. Like everyone, we were horrified, and massively worried about our families back on the states. I was blessed to have my son with me on that trip. However, my daughter, her husband, and their baby daughter, my first grandchild, were back in Texas. All international phone service was down for a while, so there was no way to communicate with them to know if they were okay.  It was an incredibly helpless feeling.  International air travel into the United States stayed shut down for five days, the longest five days of my Life.  My son and I spent that time praying pretty much nonstop.  He had brought with him a mini-DVD player with some Andy Griffith episodes.  We watched the same seven or eight episodes, over and over, daily. That priceless slice of American culture from the golden past kept our spirits up, and made us hopeful.  When we finally were allowed to fly home and actually landed back in the United States, it was very emotional.  I have always loved and appreciated the freedom, safety and comforts of my country, and have always been so proud of America, but never like I was at that moment. That overwhelming feeling of pride and love for this Nation still fills up my heart from that day till the present. May God bless this Nation, again and may we NEVER forget the victims and the heroes, absolute heroes, of that horrific day as well as the American heroes who came before and since September 11, 2001.”

Bear Rinehart, needtobreathe

“I was in class in college when it started to come up on TV.  Obviously, everybody had a disbelief that it was real and then you’re watching it and your mind can’t make it real after seeing it. I remember having a couple of classes that same day and basically everybody just had a discussion about what was happening, which I think was really helpful for me. I was probably I guess 19 and just to hear everyone’s take on it was really helpful to process it in some ways. That’s what I remember is 25 kids in a classroom, all college age, who just left home and trying to make sense of the world and we had a chance to at least do it in a collective way.”

Jeannie Seely 

“I remember very well.  I was getting ready to fly to Chicago with a group from the Grand Ole Opry to sing the National Anthem at the Cubs game. When the first tower was hit, I remember thinking ‘I wonder how upset they would be if I said I really don’t want to do this,’ and then when the second tower was hit, I realized something terrible was going on and no one was going anywhere. The rest of the day was spent glued to the news, all of us reassuring each other that we were going to be alright, something none of us felt confident about, and praying for our country and appalled at the senseless cruelty of our enemies.  I’m feeling a lot of those same feelings today, and praying. God bless the United States of America. I have not forgotten.”

Larry Stewart, The Frontmen of Country

“I was sitting in my car downtown Nashville at Soundcheck the morning of the attack as we just got off the bus. I was listening in shock on the radio in the parking lot. It didn’t seem real, especially since Restless Heart had just stayed across the Hudson River in Newark, flew out of that airport the weekend before and we could see the towers from there. To think this was happening in America was numbing and scary. It still is!”

Ricky Skaggs

“Me and Kentucky Thunder were in Calgary, Alberta. We had just performed at the Canadian CMT Awards show the night before. We all had early flights back to Nashville the next morning. The band’s flight was 30 minutes earlier than mine. I finally boarded the plane, got my reading materials out and was ready for a long flight. I realized we had been sitting there for a pretty good while. Up front, I could hear the pilots talking to the tower and gate agents. I couldn’t hear well enough to know exactly what was going on, but in my Spirit I knew something wasn’t right. In a few moments, the gate agent came back on the plane and said that our flight had been cancelled and everyone was to get off and go to the American counter for more information. Well, when I got back into the gate area, I saw inside one of the restaurants that people had gathered around the television listening to the news and watching what was going on live. I said, ‘Oh my God, one of the Trade Buildings has been hit by an airplane.’ It didn’t feel like it was just an accident either. Planes just don’t fly into buildings by accident I said to myself. It wasn’t long after that, I saw the band coming back into the airport. Their flight had been turned around and sent back to Calgary. All air traffic had been shut down from going into the US. While we were all there at the restaurant talking, the second plane flew into the other tower. We all knew by then that this was no accident. This was a planned act of Terror, no other way to explain it. But why?  

With no flights going out for the near future, and nobody could leave and cross the border back into America, we were stuck there. We called home to our families and let them know we were alright. We prayed for the precious people in New York City, and especially those trying to get safely out of the Trade Towers. It was horrific to see this happening live. We felt so far from home. It was a very scary and uncertain time in our world right then. One I’ll never forget.” 

The Swon Brothers

Zach Swon
“Our high school had practically burned down the summer before, so we were having class in mobile trailers. I’ll never forget them stopping all class and rolling in TVs to watch the news with rabbit ear antennas. It’s like time stopped. Nobody said a word. The world as I knew it changed in an instant. All this time later, that feeling still hits just as hard.”

Colton Swon
 “I’ll never forget I was in the middle school band room at Oktaha and Mr. Owens stopped class and rolled out a tv. It was the most devastating  news and we didn’t know the magnitude it would have in years to come. It was quiet and cold feeling. Nothing will erase that horrific day from my mind. I still say prayers for the families still to this day.”

Mitchell Tenpenny

“I was 6th grade. I remember the teacher rolling in a TV and whenever they roll in those big TV’s it’s like, “Oh yeah, it’s something great! We get to watch a movie.’ That day wasn’t that case.  We were watching the TV for something different, and my grandmother was in New York at the time.  She ran Sony/ATV Publishing here. Her name is Donna Hilley and she was in a business meeting up there. I remember immediately when watching the first plane hit, we were watching TV when the second plane hit and just not knowing what was happening.  Our parents couldn’t come pick us up yet. It was like a whole panic mode, knowing my grandmother was up there too. I didn’t know what building she was in. I didn’t know if she was close to that and no cell phones were working so there was just this whole scary moment in life. Then my parents picked us up and we get home and watched the news. Then my mom and dad finally get that call that she was okay that night, but there was no planes coming in or out so she was stuck up there for like a week or so.  I’ll never forget that TV rolling in and everyone was like, ‘Is this real? What’s going on?  I was in the 6th grade so definitely old enough to understand everything and I’ll never forget that day ever.”

Aaron Tippin

“I was at my outdoor store that I owned at the time, having a conversation with a couple of police officers when a lady came in and said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.  We turned on the TV and since I’m a pilot I thought it was strange since the weather in New York looked beautiful that day.  I just assumed the pilot had a mechanical or medical issue but when the second plane hit, I knew something was very wrong.  I got on the phone to call [my wife] Thea and everyone else was doing the same, trying to get a hold of their loved ones.  Our lives have never been quite the same since that day.”

Bobby Tomberlin

“I was walking into the Nashville airport to catch a flight to Los Angeles to write with Steve Dorff and Mac Davis. It was the most haunting atmosphere that I’ve ever experienced.” 

Keith Urban

“I was in Florida. We had just played a show. It might have been the 9th or 10th, somewhere around there. It was right before it and then we decided to stay down and have a few days vacation on the beach down there. I remember that morning, I didn’t turn the news on and I’m really grateful that I didn’t because I had a few extra hours before I was aware of this reality that was going on that would change everything. The beach was deserted, and it was an eerie ominous feeling in the air. I couldn’t put my finger on it and when we ended up going back to the house that we were renting, we put the news on and that was the first time I saw what was happening. I couldn’t take it in. It was too surreal.  We couldn’t fly anywhere. I had to send my tour bus to come down to get me and then bus all the way back to Nashville.  My mom was staying with me at the time, and she was panicked and worrying about me being away and was anxious for me to get home.  It was a really surreal traumatic time for a lot of people.”

Gretchen Wilson

“Like most of us, I’ll never forget it. My daughter was born on November 9th the year before, so she was just 10 months old. I woke up to feed her as usual and turned on the news. I just remember holding and rocking my daughter and being so afraid—afraid of the world that I had just brought this sweet baby girl into.” 

Darryl Worley

“I had gotten home off the road that morning and went home to the Nashville area condo I shared with singer Brice Long, at the time, to get some rest . I was asleep, but my phone was just blowing up. So, I got up and looked at all the messages and missed calls telling me to turn on the TV because we were under attack. Brice and I started watching the footage, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My heart was hurting for those who lost their lives and the families who lost loved ones that day. I was overcome by this feeling that I had to go where my family was. There’s a large supply of electricity that comes from the Pickwick Lake area back home, and I thought ‘What If they attacked my hometown to take out that electricity source?’ I jumped in my car and left to get to my family. The sorrow, fear and unbelief that this could happen to our country was so heavy on my heart and mind. In the coming months and years, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support our military, our first responders, and those who lost their lives in those attacks. I’m from a military family, so I understood the fear and anxiety of having loved ones serve. Several years after 9/11, I felt the support in our country wane for the men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan sacrificing their lives to keep us safe and the first responders who lost their lives or were injured trying to save people from those burning buildings. So, ‘Have You Forgotten’ was born. The words of that song still ring true today.”