Flight 93 crash brought attacks closer to home

Kate Bigam

Pete Goldsmith, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, was working at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001. When the first plane hit the World Trade Center, he was in a meeting.

“Someone said, ‘There’s been an accident’ – that’s how they said it, an accident – ‘at the World Trade Center,'” Goldsmith said. “I didn’t think much of it.”

Fifteen minutes later, the second collision was announced. Goldsmith and his peers abandoned the meeting and immediately began to assess the impact the attacks would have on Indiana students. Faculty and staff set up televisions in the Student Union and circulated the campus to speak with any student who needed consoling.

Goldsmith said the attacks seemed much closer to home when the fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., less than an hour from the university.

“That really made the story very, very personal,” Goldsmith said. “Many students lived nearby, and we were all wondering what had happened. As you remember, we didn’t know yet.”

Goldsmith said Flight 93’s crash instilled “real fear” into many of Indiana University’s students.

To add to his fear, Goldsmith’s sister and son were both living in Washington, D.C., at the time of the attacks. Although they were far removed from the attacks on the Pentagon, he said both described the city as chaotic and difficult to travel during the aftermath of the attack.

Goldsmith said the events of Sept. 11 helped him recognize the value of life.

“It makes me much more conscious of how fragile life is,” he said. “All the people who went into that morning had no idea it was their last day on earth. It makes me appreciate life much more.”

Contact administration reporter Kate Bigam at [email protected].